Posted on: February 21, 2008 7:13 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2008 1:39 am

As Indiana moves forward, what's next?

The official announcement should come Friday, at which time Indiana administrators will explain how and why they suspended or fired -- but either way removed -- Kelvin Sampson as their men's basketball coach. I reported earlier that athletic director Rick Greenspan told five players at a Thursday meeting that Sampson will not coach the Hoosiers at Northwestern on Saturday, and so the question of whether IU will be making a coaching switch has been answered barring any legal problems or other developments (like a player revolt, as it turns out) that could move Greenspan off his position in the next 24 hours

Short of that, Sampson will be gone.

Dan Dakich is expected to take over on an interim basis.

And then it'll be interesting to see how the rest of this season unfolds, whether the Hoosiers can win a Big Ten title and advance to the Final Four despite their 22-4 record being overshadowed by off-the-court controversy. It's not unprecedented, you know? Look no further than Michigan's improbable run to the 1989 NCAA Tournament title under then-interim-coach Steve Fisher as proof. But unless Dakich does something similarly spectacular it's difficult to imagine him landing the job on a fulltime basis if only because IU was burned last time it hired an interim (when Mike Davis got the job on a permanent basis after leading the Hoosiers to the 2001 national title game) and administrations tend to shy away from making the same moves that previously led to bad results.

In other words, it's reasonable to expect a national coaching search.

But it's unreasonable to expect Bob Knight to be a factor.

Lets clear that up now.

Knight was great in his time, no question. But he has little interest in recruiting and elite prospects have even less interest in playing for him. Thus, hiring Knight would be a mistake because you can't win in the Big Ten without players -- especially when Ohio State's Thad Matta, Purdue's Matt Painter, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan are always going to have players -- and Knight doesn't seem capable of luring great players.

So who will Indiana hire?

Some of the names that have already surfaced (and make sense) are Washington State's Tony Bennett, Virginia Commonwealth's Anthony Grant, Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings, Tennessee's Bruce Pearl, New Mexico's Steve Alford, Xavier's Sean Miller and former Chicago Bulls' coach Scott Skiles. I'm confident any of those men would take the job, except perhaps Pearl. And so the sooner Indiana can land one of them the better, and then the Hoosiers can finally get to work on putting this saga behind them.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 21, 2008 8:24 am
Edited on: February 21, 2008 2:41 pm

What You Need To Know

Duke didn't look like a top five team.

But Memphis and Tennessee sure did.

Here's Thursday morning's edition of What You Need To Know.

Notable game from Wednesday:
Mike Krzyzewski suggested afterward that somebody might've invaded his players' bodies. If so, the invaders clearly aren't very good at basketball because they have caused Duke to lose two consecutive games -- the latest being that 96-95 loss at Miami that served as the Blue Devils' first loss to the Hurricanes in 45 years. Miami is now again in good shape as it relates to the NCAA Tournament and North Carolina is back in play in the ACC race. As for Duke, it needs to snap this losing streak Saturday against Saint John's. "We're going to turn this thing back around," said DeMarcus Nelson. "We've been too good all year to have whatever it is holding us back as a team. We're definitely going to find out what it is and address it. Our season is not going on a downward spiral."

Notable performance(s) from Wednesday: Ramar Smith hit 6-of-7 shots and finished with 19 points to lead Tennessee to an 89-70 blowout of Auburn that extended the Vols' winning streak to eight games. Meantime, Chris Douglas-Roberts made 13-of-17 shots and finished with 29 points to lead Memphis to a 97-71 blowout of Tulane that extended the Tigers' winning streak to 25 games. So, as expected, No. 1 Memphis and No. 2 Tennessee avoided slip-ups in their tune-ups for Saturday's showdown at FedExForum, and now John Calipari and Bruce Pearl can get back to taking subtle jabs at each other, which is always fun.

Notable game scheduled for Thursday: If UMass wants to make the NCAA Tournament it needs to start stringing wins, and at Rhode Island would be a good place to start. The Minutemen already have a victory over RIU that came earlier this month. But they head into this match-up tied for ninth in the Atlantic 10, and if they lose here they'll have 10 overall losses and an uphill climb ahead of them given that the rest of the schedule offers no opportunities for solid wins. In other words, If UMass doesn't beat RIU it had better plan on winning the A-10 Tournament. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 20, 2008 11:32 am
Edited on: February 20, 2008 11:32 am

Fifteen candidates for National Coach of the Year

Gregg Doyel wrote a column this week about the National Coach of the Year race.

His pick (at this point): Duke's Mike Krzyzewski.

That's a nice selection, assuming Roy Williams doesn't strangle Coach K before the ceremony.

And though I believe it's too early to name a winner just yet, I feel comfortable providing a list of 15 legitimate candidates.

So here is a list (presented in alphabetical order):
  • Rick Barnes (Texas)
  • Randy Bennett (Saint Mary's)
  • Mike Brey (Notre Dame)
  • Jim Calhoun (Connecticut)
  • John Calipari (Memphis)
  • Keno Davis (Drake)
  • Trent Johnson (Stanford)
  • Mike Krzyzewski (Duke)
  • Sean Miller (Xavier)
  • Matt Painter (Purdue)
  • Bruce Pearl (Tennessee)
  • Bo Ryan (Wisconsin)
  • Herb Sendek (Arizona State)
  • Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt)
  • Brad Stevens (Butler)
Posted on: February 20, 2008 2:52 am
Edited on: February 20, 2008 11:04 pm

What You Need To Know

Kelvin Sampson won again.

So did his old school.

Here's Wednesday morning's edition of What You Need To Know.

Notable game from Tuesday: If Kelvin Sampson is going out, he's going out in style. The embattled coach led Indiana to a 77-68 victory over Purdue that created a three-way tie in the loss column atop the Big Ten standings between Indiana, Purdue and Wisconsin. Put another way, the Hoosiers now have a real shot at a league title, and who knows what else? But it's become increasingly obvious over the past few days that the odds of Sampson finishing the season aren't good. In fact, it's doubtful he'll coach Saturday against Northwestern, those excessive phone calls and the alleged lies that followed set to do him in.

Notable performance from Tuesday: Baylor's Curtis Jerrells got 29 points against Oklahoma, but he needed 31. Or 30, at least. And he would've hit that number if he wouldn't have pulled a Darius Washington with one second left in overtime and missed a pair of free throws that allowed the Sooners to escape with a 92-91 victory. One make would've forced a second overtime. Two makes would've won the game. Instead, Jerrells provided two misses, and now Baylor has dropped four consecutive games.

Notable game(s) scheduled for Wednesday: Saturday's showdown between No. 1 Memphis and No. 2 Tennessee won't be quite so big if the Tigers and/or Vols lose before it gets here. That's why it's crucial (for the sake of the game) that Memphis wins at Tulane and Tennessee beats Auburn at home. Auburn and Tennessee tip at 7:30 p.m. ET. Memphis and Tulane tip at 8 p.m. ET.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 19, 2008 2:57 pm

Asbury is the right pick for Pepperdine

Pepperdine will introduce Tom Asbury as its new coach Wednesday.

It might be a great hire.

It might be a terrible hire.

But rather than pretend to know (or care), I'll just use this opportunity to post a link to what is my favorite Asbury clip of all-time -- if only because it is the lone Asbury clip I've seen. So here you go, basketball fans. Click this link and enjoy ... and then celebrate the man Pepperdine has picked as its next coach.

(Yes, I'm extremely immature)
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 19, 2008 10:11 am

What You Need To Know

Saint Mary's routed Pepperdine.

D.J. Augustin routed Texas A&M.

Here's Tuesday morning's edition of What You Need To Know.

Notable game from Monday: Saint Mary's hit 17 3-pointers, and it's difficult to lose when you do that. Consequently, the 23rd-ranked Gaels defeated Pepperdine 100-64 and improved to 23-3 overall and 10-1 in the West Coast Conference. Their second showdown with Gonzaga is scheduled for March 1. That's the game that will likely determine the WCC champion.

Notable performance from Monday: Texas' D.J. Augustin finished with 27 points and nine assists in a 77-50 thrashing of Texas A&M. The sophomore point guard made 9-of-14 shots -- including 3-of-5 3-pointers -- in just 27 minutes and solidified his status as a first-team All-American while helping the seventh-ranked Longhorns to their sixth consecutive victory.

Notable game scheduled for Tuesday: Kelvin Sampson could be coaching his final game at Indiana when Purdue visits Assembly Hall for a contest that will help determine the Big Ten title, one way or another. IU is 21-4 overall, 10-2 in the Big Ten and ranked 15th in the nation. Purdue is 21-5 overall, 12-1 in the Big Ten and ranked 14th in the nation. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 18, 2008 5:43 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2008 8:13 pm

The Poll Attacks

Wisconsin belongs between Purdue and Indiana.

If you voted differently this week you voted wrong this week.

And I'll explain why in the Poll Attacks ... right after I destroy the credentials of Kent State and Cornell

AP poll: Kent State and Cornell got votes this week. That's proof that voters are either dumb or being different for the sake of being different (or dumb) because Kent State and Cornell -- scrappy as they might be -- belong nowhere near anybody's Top 25 ballot. A team shouldn't be capable of getting votes if it still doesn't have any good wins in the middle of February unless it also doesn't have any bad losses. In fact, I'm going to add that to the official Gary Parrish Rules of Voting Memo I plan to send to all AP voters next October so I can stop spending every Monday exposing flaws.

Frankly, I get bored doing this every week.

It's not even fun anymore.

Anyway, back to Kent State and Cornell.

Kent State is 21-5 overall, and I understand why that might look nice at first glance. But 15 of those 21 victories have come against teams ranked outside the Top 100 at while 10 have come against teams ranked outside the Top 200. Put another way, that's a 21-5 record against a schedule ranked 153rd nationally, and it features no Top 50 wins and two losses to opponents ranked 195th or worse (No. 197 Toledo and No. 286 Detroit). The Golden Flashes have only played two Top 50 opponents. They lost to North Carolina by 29 points and to Xavier by 13 points. And that's why Kent State shouldn't be getting the three points it got in this week's AP poll from the Idaho Statesman's Nick Jezierny.

(If that name sounds familiar it's because Nick is the same voter I Poll Attacked last week. I'm sure Nick is a swell guy. But he might be the worst voter in America. Not only does he have Kent State at No. 23, but he has Butler two spots ahead of North Carolina and three spots ahead of UCLA. I love Butler, but that's ridiculous. And Nick, if you're reading this, you're on your way to induction into the Poll Attack Hall of Fame.)

Cornell's body of work is similarly unimpressive.

Cornell is 16-5 overall, and I understand why that might look nice at first glance. But 15 of those 16 victories have come against teams ranked outside the Top 100 at while 10 have come against teams ranked outside the Top 200. Put another way, that's a 16-5 record against a schedule ranked 237th nationally, and it features no Top 50 wins and two losses to opponents ranked 195th or worse (No. 198 Colgate and No. 208 Bucknell). The Big Red have only played two Top 50 opponents. They lost to Duke by 14 points and to Syracuse by 16 points. And that's why Cornell shouldn't be getting the one point it got in this week's AP poll from The Washington Post's John Feinstein.

(If that name sounds familiar it's because John is ... ah, you know who John is. He's a brilliant author, a living Legend and a gift from God for the Poll Attacks.)

Coaches poll:
No team in the Top 25 of this silly poll has a losing record against the Top 100 at except Wisconsin (3-4 against the Top 100). Yet somehow the Badgers are 10th in the coaches poll -- ahead of such schools as Xavier (10-4 against the Top 100), Connecticut (9-5 against the Top 100) and Stanford (9-4 against the Top 100).

Also ranked below the Badgers: Purdue.

And that's the one that really doesn't make sense.

The Boilermakers are 5-3 against the Top 100, the winners of 11 consecutive games and occupiers of the top spot in the Big Ten standings. If that's not enough, voters should also know that Purdue has beaten Wisconsin -- not once but twice.

1/26/08 (at Purdue): Boilermakers 60, Badgers 56.

2/9/08 (at Wisconsin): Boilermakers 72, Badgers 67.

To be clear, I don't mind Wisconsin being ranked; I like the team a lot, particularly how it owns two wins over Indiana. But it's difficult to make sense of the Badgers being 10th in the coaches poll when the only smart thing to do is to have them somewhere between Purdue and Indiana -- which is why I had Wisconsin at No. 15 in my Top 25 (and one) -- four spots below No. 11 Purdue and one spot ahead of No. 16 Indiana.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 18, 2008 10:12 am
Edited on: February 18, 2008 8:14 pm

What You Need To Know

Wake Forest got a huge win.

Kevin Love had a (somewhat) huge game.

Here's Monday morning's edition of What You Need To Know.

Notable game from Sunday: Dino Gaudio got the biggest win of his career, an 86-63 victory over No. 2 Duke that led to a storming of the court. It was nice to see, particularly for a program that has endured tragedy with the death of Skip Prosser. And the byproduct is that it should shoot Tennessee to second in Monday's AP poll, meaning Saturday's game at FedExForum between Memphis and Tennessee will be a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown.

Notable performance from Sunday: Kevin Love sank a pair of 3-pointers and finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds to lead UCLA to a 56-46 victory over crosstown rival Southern California. The freshman center has scored in double-figures every game this season while recording 15 double-doubles for the Pac-10-leading Bruins.

Notable game scheduled for Monday: Two of the top three teams in the Atlantic 10 will get together when Xavier plays at Rhode Island. The Musketeers are 21-4 overall, 9-1 in the league. The Rams are 20-5 overall, 6-4 in the league. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Category: NCAAB
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