Posted on: November 18, 2008 2:16 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2008 4:57 pm

Dear Gary (on the hot seat)

Here's Tuesday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: How hot is that seat now for Dennis Felton?

-- Billy

Hotter than it was at this time yesterday, I assure you.

Of course, Billy is talking about Georgia's 74-53 loss to Loyola of Chicago, which was not a good development Monday for a man who by all accounts would've been removed after last season if not for an improbable run that resulted in an SEC tournament title. A week in, it looks like the SEC is going to be down (and not nearly as good as I initially thought). But a Georgia team that can't handle Loyola of Chicago is a Georgia team that likely won't be able to win many games even in a weak SEC, which could get the Anthony Grant-to-Georgia rumors flying sometime around January.

On this subject, it should be pointed out that four of the 10 men I referenced in the Coaches on the hot seat column already have losses to inferior opponents. In addition to Felton, Tom Penders (at Houston) opened with a loss to Georgia Southern, Ernie Kent (at Oregon) took a loss against Oakland and Mark Gottfried (at Alabama) opened with a loss to Mercer. That's no way to settle a skeptical fan base, which is why all four would be wise to get things turned around ASAP.

Posted on: November 7, 2008 10:19 am
Edited on: November 7, 2008 10:21 am

Dear Gary (on possible surprise teams)

Here's Friday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: Who do you think will be a surprise Elite Eight or Final Four team this season? Could it be the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who are trying to make a statement from their earlier disappointments? Could it be UNLV, which by a slim few are projected to be for real? Or do you have somebody else in mind?

-- Josh

First, Gonzaga making the Elite Eight will not be a surprise. That's a preseason top 10 team with one of the nation's best rosters. So regardless of what the Zags have or have not done in the past, it should shock nobody if they end up in the Elite Eight or even the Final Four.

Anyway, how about this: Let's identify teams ranked outside the top 20 of the AP poll who might make an Elite Eight.

I'll list four.

1. Syracuse

2. Wake Forest

3. Ohio State

4. Alabama

I picked all four based on the idea that they have the talent to advance. I love Syracuse's roster (specifically Jonny Flynn), Wake Forest and Ohio State have great young players and Alabama intrigues me because of the possibilities with Ron Steele and JaMychal Green. So anyway, I guess those are my "surprise" teams for this season.


Posted on: July 29, 2008 1:28 pm
Edited on: July 29, 2008 1:29 pm

JaMychal Green is "terrific"

You know how it's fun to go to nightclubs and people-watch?

It's the same way with coaches on the summer circuit

I love to coach-watch -- to sit back and see which guys sit together, joke together or avoid each other altogether. What happens in the bleachers is usually more interesting than what happens on the court, particularly if you have a seat near Bob Huggins, who can make an AAU game fly by with one hilarious story after another. If you're bored, a seat next to Huggins is the cure. Consider that your Tip of the Day.

So anyway, I was sitting in the bleachers one afternoon last week next to Davidson's Bob McKillop and we were chatting briefly about -- what else? -- the growing legend of Stephen Curry. I had just seen the All-American guard at the LeBron James Skills Academy and was telling McKillop how impressive Curry was both on and off the court, as if he needed to hear it for the 752nd time. Then Alabama's Mark Gottfried walked by, and I found it interesting that McKillop went out of his way to stop Gottfried and relay a message.

"Your boy is terrific," McKillop said.

Gottfried's boy, case you didn't know, is incoming freshman JaMychal Green.

McKillop coached Green earlier this summer on the U18 USA Basketball national team that won the silver medal in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship. Green averaged 11 points and 8.4 rebounds in five contests, which is a reason for Alabama fans to be excited. Yes, the loss of Richard Hendrix will hurt. But a healthy Ron Steele (fingers crossed) combined with Alonzo Gee and Green could be enough to make the Crimson Tide an SEC contender, particularly if Green is genuinely terrific, like McKillop said and everybody else seems to believe.
Posted on: June 16, 2008 11:42 am
Edited on: June 16, 2008 11:44 am

Dear Gary ...

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: You really don't get it, bud. (Alabama coach Mark) Gottfried is most vulnerable when expectations are high. (With Ron) Steele and (Richard) Hendrix back, even you said it, hey should contend for the SEC West. (But) check the record; that's when (Gottfried) flops. The best thing that can happen to him is for Hendrix to go pro; then he's got an excuse. As far as the fans are concerned, trust me on this, the powers that be in Tuscaloosa could care less about our wishes or about what's right. On the day Steele's double knee surgery was announced, Gottfried should have been fired. He ran an NBA lottery pick into the ground.

-- Raymond

I understand Alabama fans have grown impatient with Gottfried after two straight NCAA tournament misses. That's why I wrote the column. But, in his defense (and I made this point in the column), he spent the 2006-07 season playing with an injured Steele and the 2007-08 season playing without Steele completely. That made his job tough, and while I know it comes off as an excuse I'm willing to accept it as a reasonable excuse, at this point.

As for the running-an-NBA-lottery-pick into the ground comment, I can see both sides of it.

Did Steele play hurt?


But I don't remember him ever telling Gottfried he couldn't go and Gottfried making him play. Guys play hurt all the time; we tend to praise them and call them tough. And though in hindsight it seems crazy that Steele kept playing despite the nature of his injuries, I don't recall it being considered ridiculous at the time despite him clearly not being the same player.

Either way, Ron's little brother, Andrew, is set to play for the Crimson Tide next season, and that's worth noting because if the Steele's really thought Gottfried ran their son into the ground do you think they'd willingly send another son his way? I don't. So let's agree to see how this season goes, see whether Gottfried can take a roster that should be talented and make it a winner.

If so, he'll get a raise and contract extension.

If not, well, then his detractors might be too much to overcome.
Posted on: June 11, 2008 3:28 pm

Hendrix will probably delay decision until Monday

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Richard Hendrix still doesn't have a first-round guarantee.

He still doesn't know if he'll get one.

He still doesn't know if he's going to return to Alabama.

And that should pretty much cover the important details surrounding the All-SEC forward, who worked out for the Grizzlies on Wednesday morning alongside Jiri Hubalek and David Padgett. Between you and me, Hendrix was only moderately impressive in the 75-minute workout, just OK in most parts, so it remains unclear (if not doubtful) whether he can really be a first-round pick. Still, the 6-foot-9 forward has four additional workouts scheduled before Monday's deadline, and he said he's likely to delay his decision on whether to remain in the NBA Draft until the last possible moment.

"You just have to give it your best effort in these workouts and hope to impress someone," Hendrix said. "Then what happens happens."

Want an interesting sidenote on Hendrix?

Rivals.com rated him the ninth-best prospect in the country coming out of high school in 2005. The top eight (in order) were Gerald Green, Josh McRoberts, Monta Ellis, Andray Blatche, Martell Webster, Andrew Bynum, Louis Williams and Julian Wright, all of whom are already in the NBA. Just behind Hendrix at No. 10 was Tyler Hansbrough, who will be everybody's preseason National Player of the Year. No. 11 was Greg Paulus, No. 12 was Mario Chalmers, No. 13 was Brandon Rush, No. 14 was Keith Brumbaugh and No. 15 was Shawne Williams.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: June 3, 2008 11:19 pm
Edited on: June 4, 2008 12:42 am

Eight schools in play for Iowa State transfer

Iowa State standout Wesley Johnson has been granted a release to transfer to any one of eight schools.

On the list are Arkansas, Connecticut, Marquette, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova and West Virginia. Fine programs, all of them. But it was hard not to notice that Kentucky, Alabama and TCU were not included because those have been the three schools most connected to Johnson in recent weeks, so much so that sources have told CBSSports.com that the Iowa State staff privately felt behind-the-scenes tampering could've led to Johnson's initial decision to transfer.

Obviously, there is no proof. That's why everybody has mostly been quiet. But it appears ISU made it clear to Johnson that Kentucky, Alabama and TCU were not schools to which it would automatically release him. Otherwise, those institutions would've certainly made the list.
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