Posted on: April 2, 2008 11:38 am
Tuesday was a crazy day.
First Sean Sutton was canned.
Then Tom Crean bolted for Indiana.
All the attention paid to those developments made me lose track of a few things I wanted to address here. But now I'm going to address them here because I'm in between radio interviews and have a few minutes to type.
-- Hopson commits to Vols --
It was no surprise when Bruce Pearl expressed his desire to remain at Tennessee on Tuesday.
You would too if Scotty Hopson just committed to your school.
Hopson pledged his allegiance to the Vols on a Tuesday visit, meaning Pearl will now coach -- unless I'm forgetting somebody -- his first McDonald's All-American next season. The 6-foot-7 wing is a dynamic scorer, somebody who should be a starter from the outset and help offset the losses of Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith. So this is a huge deal by any measuring stick -- a credit to the work of UT assistant Steve Forbes, who has been relentless in his approach to Hopson since the Kentucky native opted not to go ahead with his commitment to Mississippi State in the early signing period.
-- Western Kentucky is looking for a coach --
Hiring an assistant at a major program worked last time for Western Kentucky.
That's why it's likely the school will move similarly to replace Darrin Horn.
And the obvious choice is Texas assistant Ken McDonald.
McDonald worked at WKU from 1998-2003 and helped Dennis Felton lead the Hilltoppers to three NCAA tournament appearances before leaving with Felton to take over at Georgia. McDonald spent one year there and then joined Rick Barnes' staff at Texas, where he has assisted his boss in further establishing the Longhorns as one of the elite programs in the country.
Far as coaching searches go, this should be simple.
McDonald makes sense at WKU on a lot of levels.
He'd be good there.
-- There will be no Florida-Ohio State NIT final --
Ohio State beat Ole Miss in the NIT semifinals.
But Florida lost to UMass.
Consequently, we will not have a Florida-Ohio State NIT title game this season, which will deny us a repeat of last year's NCAA tournament title game. And that's too bad. But Ohio State still has a chance to snag another runners-up trophy if it can manage a loss to UMass. So that's a reason to watch the championship, if you were looking for one.
Posted on: March 31, 2008 11:05 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2008 11:07 pm
The Associated Press All-America teams were released Monday.
They are mostly reasonable.
No real complaints here.
As for me, I did my All-America teams two weeks ago. So I'm stuck with them. But every year the NCAA tournament changes my beliefs, makes me like certain players more than I liked them before the postseason. Last year it was Mike Conley. This year it's Stephen Curry and Derrick Rose. So if I could do the teams again right now they might look more like this ...
(Must read explanation of my way of thinking: Remember, I do not simply select the best five players and make them first-teamers while the next five players become second-teamers with no regard to the position those players play. Rather, I try to make the teams in the traditional sense, meaning every team I assemble must have somebody who can dribble the ball, rebound the ball, shoot the ball, pass the ball, etc. Otherwise, it's a flawed team, and I'm not interested in having flawed teams. But I do hate how this logic forces Kevin Love to the second team. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. But I can't have three bigs on the first team, and I'm taking Tyler Hansbrough and Michael Beasley on the first team. And if you think that's stupid, well, you might be right. Like I said, I hate it. But what can you do?)
Updated First Team
G: Derrick Rose (Memphis)
G: Stephen Curry (Davidson)
G: Chris Douglas-Roberts (Memphis)
F: Michael Beasley (Kansas State)
F: Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina)
Updated Second Team
G: D.J. Augustin (Texas)
G: Eric Gordon (Indiana)
G: Shan Foster (Vanderbilt)
F: D.J. White (Indiana)
F: Kevin Love (UCLA)
Updated Third Team
G: Darren Collison (UCLA)
G: Jerryd Bayless (Arizona)
G: O.J. Mayo (Southern California)
F: Brook Lopez (Stanford)
F: Luke Harangody (Notre Dame)
Posted on: March 30, 2008 11:41 pm
Four No. 1 seeds.
Four talented rosters.
Four accomplished coaches.
Man, is this gonna be fun or what?
Now I know some don't like it, having all four top seeds heading to San Antonio. They swear it's predictable (even though it had never happened before) and complain that it eliminates the Cinderella factor. My view: Screw Cinderella! She usually gets exposed in the Final Four anyway. I mean, as nice as that George Mason story was two years ago we all knew the Patriots had no shot to win the national title; it just wasn't gonna happen. So I'm pleased this NCAA tournament produced four legitimate powers, any of whom can reasonably expect to cut nets next Monday night.
Memphis opened as a 1-point favorite over UCLA.
North Carolina opened as a 3-point favorite over Kansas.
That's an indication these games are expected to be tight. And though I've never claimed to be a historian, I can't recall another year when we had four teams so good that there was no way to make a dumb prediction about how things might unfold. Seriously, is there any combination of Final Four winners that could be mocked?
Taking Memphis and North Carolina to advance is reasonable.
But so is taking UCLA and Kansas.
Or UCLA and North Carolina.
Or Memphis and Kansas.
And regardless of what happens in Saturday's semifinals, we're gonna have a Monday title game featuring a pair of worthy championship contenders. So buckle in and get ready because this should be great. The Road to the Final Four only has four cars remaining -- high-powered luxury vehicles, every last one of them
Posted on: March 30, 2008 6:01 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2008 9:47 pm
I mean, you remember the last time these schools played, don't you? It was in the Elite Eight of the 2006 NCAA tournament, and Ben Howland used the opportunity to paraylyze John Calipari's dribble-drive motion offense in a game that was painful to watch.
Both teams were terrible offensively.
Or, as Howland would put it, terrific defensively.
Either way, the result was a 50-45 UCLA victory, and you really need to take a look at the box score to understand what took place. Here's the link. One highlight: UCLA won despite recording just four field goals in the second half. Another hightlight: Memphis shot 11.8 percent from 3-point range.
Posted on: March 30, 2008 2:22 pm
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Regardless of what happens in Sunday's Elite Eight games the Final Four will feature three coaches who are veterans of the event and one first-timer.
Already in are UCLA's Ben Howland (for the third time) and North Carolina's Roy Williams (for the sixth time). Joining them first will be either Memphis' John Calipari (who took UMass in 1996) and Texas' Rick Barnes (who took Texas in 2003). Then either Kansas' Bill Self or Davidson's Bob McKillop will complete the field. Neither of those have ever made the Final Four.
Posted on: March 29, 2008 2:25 pm
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If the four favorites win in the Elite Eight it'll be the first time all four No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Final Four.
For what it's worth, Las Vegas thinks it's going to happen.
No. 1 UCLA is a 6.5-point favorite over No. 3 Xavier.
No. 1 North Carolina is a 6-point favorite over No. 3 Louisville.
No. 1 Memphis is a 3-point favorite over No. 2 Texas.
No. 1 Kansas is a 9.5-point favorite over No. 10 Davidson.
So oddsmakers either love Kansas (which is reasonable) or they still aren't impressed with Davidson (which is unreasonable). Regardless, whatever transpires in Detroit will be a fabulous story given how there are only two options -- one that includes Bill Self making his first Final Four and another that has Davidson pulling a George Mason.
Posted on: March 28, 2008 10:52 am
Edited on: March 28, 2008 10:57 am
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jeff Capel's decision to sign an extended contract for more money with Oklahoma took the leading candidate to replace Dave Odom at South Carolina out of the mix. Even worse, it removed a minority candidate from the equation. And if you believe Seth Emerson's recent story in The State (which you should, by the way) then it's clear South Carolina was hoping to fill this position with a minority in order to add diversity to an athletic department that has had just one black head coach in its history.
His name is Curtis Frye.
He's a track and field coach.
And it now appears Frye might remain the only black head coach at the school because South Carolina doesn't seem enamored with any other potential candidates who fit that description outside of VCU's Anthony Grant -- a man unlikely to take a bottom-tier SEC job given how he's arguably the hottest name in the business and a potential candidate for practically anything and everything that is already open or will open elsewhere in the coming weeks.
Miami's Frank Haith and Tulane's Dave Dickerson are the most logical candidates now.
But are either of those guys the guy South Carolina wants?
Multiple industry sources are skeptical. So now most believe this search could evolve into something the school didn't necessarily plan for, which is a broader (not to mention extended) search including candidates it never expected to consider. Among those are Western Kentucky's Darrin Horn, UMass' Travis Ford and Davidson's Bob McKillop. But either way, the point I'm trying to make is that Capel's spurning of South Carolina now has everything being revaluated and the initial plan to add diversity might no longer be the priority it once was.
Posted on: March 27, 2008 5:17 pm
Edited on: March 27, 2008 5:18 pm
CHARLOTTE -- My pal Andy Demetra is always researching and looking at numbers. While doing so this week he discovered something interesting related to North Carolina.
As you probably know, the Tar Heels scored 113 points in a first-round win against Saint Mary's and 108 in a second-round win against Arkansas. Sounds great, right? But from a historical standpoint this does not ensure future dominance considering that since the field expanded to 64 in 1985 none of the five other teams that have scored 100 in back-to-back NCAA tournament games have gone on to win the national title.
Here's the list ...
1987: North Carolina (lost in the Elite Eight)
1988: Oklahoma (lost in the title game)
1989: Virginia (lost in the Elite Eight)
1990: Loyola Marymount (lost in the Elite Eight)
1993: Kentucky (lost in the Final Four)
The last team to actually score 100 points in back-to-back NCAA tournament games and win the national title was the 1965 version of the UCLA Bruins, according to Andy. Either way, don't expect UNC to score 100 against Washington State in the Sweet 16. The most points the Cougars have allowed to anybody this season is 81 to UCLA on Jan. 12.