Observations: Mike Montgomery a tough act to follow at California
Whoever takes over for Mike Montgomery at Cal will have big shoes to fill and while Dominique Hawkins didn't show up big in the box score, he did in a big way against Michigan.
1. Mike Montgomery's successor at Cal will have big shoes to fill: The 67-year old Montgomery had a winning record for 16 consecutive years in Pac-12 play (six at Cal, 10 at Stanford). That's beyond impressive. Sustaining success is one of the hardest things to do in college basketball and not many people did it better than Montgomery. The good thing for whoever succeeds Montgomery? There will be plenty of quality players remaining on the Bears' roster. Cal returns a strong core in Jabari Bird, Jordan Mathews, David Kravish, and Tyrone Wallace and should have enough leftover talent to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid in 2015.
2. Dominique Hawkins played a big role in Kentucky's win: The 6-foot guard didn't score a point or take a shot in the Wildcats' 75-72 win over the Wolverines, but he did an unbelievable job defensively on Nik Stauskas in the second portion of the game. The Michigan star sliced up Kentucky's defense for 18 points in the first half but then everything changed after halftime. John Calipari put Hawkins on Stauskas for large stretches in the second half and gave the freshman pit bull no help side responsibilities on defense. Stauskas only scored six points after halftime and two of them were at the free throw line late in the game. The performance by Hawkins again reiterates that players can still have a major impact on a game without showing up in the box score.
3. South Florida's hire of Orlando Antigua is perfect move at perfect time: Why does this move make so much sense? It's real simple. The location of this job falls right into Antigua's wheel house. After serving as head coach of the Dominican Republic's national team last summer, Antigua will be in a prime spot to immediately aid the Bulls' program with his international rolodex. South Florida has easy access to several foreign hotbeds that the longtime Wildcats' assistant can tap into immediately. Another reason to like this hire? Pedigree. Antigua has been with John Calipari since Calipari's last season at Memphis in 2009 and will begin his first head coaching job with three Final Fours and a national championship on his resume. The personnel on the Bulls' roster isn't terrible either. South Florida has two quality young big men in freshmen Chris Perry and John Egbunu along with a talented point guard in Anthony Collins, who only played eight games this past season due to a knee injury. If Collins can get healthy and Antigua can add a perimeter piece or two in the late signing period, the Bulls will have a chance to make a jump next season in the American.
4. If John Lucas winds up at Houston, expect Myles Turner to follow: And that would create major shock waves throughout college basketball. Lucas has emerged as a legitimate candidate for the opening at Houston and multiple sources have told CBSSports.com that the top remaining high school player in America will follow him if he indeed becomes the next head coach of the Cougars. Lucas has worked out Turner on a near daily basis over the past few months and is in his ear more than anyone during the recruiting process. Houston has struggled to be relevant nationally since the mid 1980s, but that would immediately change if it hired Lucas and he brought the 7-foot Turner along for the ride. With Turner, TaShawn Thomas, DanuelHouse, Danrad "Chicken" Knowles, and point guard L.J. Rose, the Cougars will immediately be able to compete with every team they'd have to play in the American.
5. UConn's run proves SMU should have been in the tourney: I usually let things like this go immediately after Selection Sunday, but the facts are the facts. The Mustangs swept UConn this season and now the Huskies are now headed to the Final Four. I'm well aware that Larry Brown's team had a few bad losses but they also had several impressive wins and two of them were against UConn. The Mustangs belonged in the NCAA Tournament and that's just a fact of life. Instead, SMU will play in the Final Four of the NIT this week at Madison Square Garden and while that's still an important step for this program, the Mustangs still deserved the opportunity to compete in the field of 68. There's only one way to describe this situation -- a miscarriage of justice.
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