Coaching positions filled at Memphis, UNLV, Texas Tech

SPECIAL NOTE:  On Wednesday, April 20 we found out the sad news that Syracuse lost a giant during the early years of the Big East Conference battles.  Dwayne “Pearl” Washington had a brain tumor and passed away at the age of 52.  Longtime Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim referred to the Brooklyn playground legend in a press conference as, “A very humble guy.”

He was the first Syracuse player to make the jump to the NBA after a stellar three-year career for the Orangemen during 1983-1986.  The steady point guard averaged 15.6 points per game, to go along with 6.7 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals.  Named as part of the 1984 All-Big East Rookie Team, he was the MVP of the 1986 Big East Tournament.  His most famous shot was a half-court buzzer beater on January 21, 1984 to beat Boston College, three years before the introduction of the three-point shot in college basketball.

A true giant in Big East basketball, his unselfish play and always thinking about the team first won him many fans throughout upstate New York.  He especially shined against similar giants like Patrick Ewing from Georgetown and the sharp-shooting Chris Mullin out of St. John’s.  He will be sorely missed as his Number 31 jersey will hang inside the Carrier Dome for decades to come.

**********************************************************************

In the last few weeks, there was lots of coaching news:

On April 14, Memphis filled the vacancy left behind by Josh Pastner in getting a credible, championship winning coach (1998 while with Kentucky) in Orlando “Tubby” Smith.  Smith is one of only two coaches to take five different schools to the NCAA Tournament (Lon Kruger of Oklahoma is the other).  Only time will tell if the Tigers will reclaim the heart of true Elvis wannabes before things get “All Shook Up” by February.

The very next day, Chris Beard bolted from UNLV to take over at Texas Tech.  The strange note about this hire was that Beard had accepted the Runnin’ Rebels job a few days after their exit from the Mountain West Conference tournament.

That created a new opening on April 16 when Marvin Menzies from New Mexico State took over the UNLV position.

Combine that with four-time NBA head coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr. taking over at Tulane, will 2017 be the year the mid-major comes up big again?

Other news worth taking note

Only two schools will be banned on the APR list as the student-athletes continue to get higher scores in most forms of academia.  That is excellent news for our leaders of tomorrow.

Alcorn State and Savannah State will be on the postseason banned list for 2017.

Considering there were ten schools on the banned list in 2012, the NCAA has come a long way.  If you want to read the full stats, point your browsers or tape your finger here:

http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/eye-on-college-basketball/25561126/only-two-schools-hit-with-ncaa-postseason-ban-due-to-low-apr-scores

NCAA extends Tournament deals with CBS and Turner through 2032

Eight year extension to current NCAA Tournament deal worth $8.8 billion

All television broadcasts of future Division I Tournament games will continue to air on CBS, TBS, TNT, and TruTV until at least 2032.  The deal also calls for expanded digital streaming rights, so more people can watch the 67 (or whatever number of games the tournament annually holds) either while they are at work and/or commuting along with those people who do not have access to a television–let alone a set hooked up with cable.

The deal will benefit the many thousands of student athletes in the fact that access to student funds will continue and scholarship opportunities will continue to present nice chances for future men and women to succeed in both Divisions I and II.

Bottom line, don’t expect too much change to the general tournament schedule with the lone exception that CBS will air the entire Final Four and national championship games in the odd years beginning again in 2017 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona and TBS (along with the Bleacher stream of hometown calls over on TNT and TruTV) will air those three prominent games in the even years starting again in 2018.  Turner also will continue to head up the music festival seen during Super Saturday at the host site.

But figuring that the TV ratings were at all-time low and that digital ratings are seeing double the numbers of video streams across most digital and mobile devices, there is no question the appetite on how fans consume the games is changing.  And there will be more changes to come throughout the remainder of the contract in terms of how we consume this data and more importantly, how more easily accessible newer technologies will be coming down the pipeline (as scary as it might be for some newbies out there).

The full report can be found at this link here:

http://www.ncaa.com/news/basketball-men/article/2016-04-12/turner-cbs-and-ncaa-reach-long-term-multimedia-rights

Breanna Stewart and Buddy Hield are the 2016 Wooden Award Winners

SONG SELECTION:

“These Are Days”, by The 10,000 Maniacs

Found on the Our Time in Eden album

Released September 29, 1992 via Elektra/Wea Records

This past Friday night in Los Angeles, the second annual televised awards honored the best players in men’s and women’s college basketball.

If you managed to catch that awards show on ESPN2 (or the replay overnight early Saturday morning on ESPNU), you might have had an instant chuckle or two when Denzel Valentine and Michigan State Head Coach Tom Izzo tried to master the salsa as if they were going to be auditioning for ABC’s hit series, Dancing With The Stars.

Nonetheless, the real reason to watch was seeing all the hardware being handed out by the greats of the sport (albeit Bob Cousy was not formally in attendance, so he sent in his thoughts via video instead).

Years from now, when one looks back at the 2015-2016 college basketball season–no question, it was topsy-turvy at times.  But the most important takeaway for me as a hoops superfan was that for the first time since the days after the tragic passing of Hank Gathers in March 1990, I had so much fun watching the games.

Every night featured compelling storylines and plenty of talented players that were definitely worth keeping two eyes and ears on during the 40 minutes (and then some in some cases with the dramatic triple overtime games when Oklahoma played at Kansas in January, along with during the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament).

In the end, only a select few were chosen by members of the Los Angeles Athletic Club in association with Wendy’s Hamburgers (love me a double burger with cheese, heavy pickle and hold the onions every time–especially if you travel underneath the El railroad tracks at Wabash Avenue in downtown Chicago south of Madison Street…what a sight to behold).

Here are the winners for 2016 and what a special group this turned out to be:

Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year

Buddy Hield, University of Oklahoma

Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year

Tyler Ulis, University of Kentucky

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Center of the Year

Jakob Poetel (pronounced like famous comedian Yacov Smirnoff),

University of Utah

Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year

Denzel Valentine, Michigan State University

Karl Malone Power Forward of the Year

Georges Niang, Iowa State University

Legends of Coaching

Tubby Smith, Texas Tech University

John R. Wooden Women’s Player of the Year Award

Breanna Stewart, University of Connecticut for second straight year

Next stops, the WNBA followed up by Rio and the Summer Olympics.

Her remark in answering a question posed by ESPN’s Rece Davis, “Do you ever lose in anything?” was how she simply took a back seat when Breanna answered, “Earlier today (Friday), I lost in bowling.”  Rece followed up by saying, “I bet you were pretty mad about it.”  She gave off a brief scowl, paused for a moment and then said, “Yeah.”  No question, Breanna Stewart deserved everything she did in her four years at UConn in rewriting some key portions of the women’s college basketball history books for decades to come.

John R. Wooden Wendy’s Men’s Player of the Year Award

Buddy Hield, University of Oklahoma

His story of constructing baskets out of crates, loose nails from his uncle and lots of plywood is definitely the stuff of legend.  From a very humble upbringing on the Bahamas to being one of the best players in the Big 12, these last four years have shown us how hard work and discipline can make quality players household names.  No question about it, as I said during my Final Four preview blog a few weeks back–the types of shots Buddy Hield makes are simply out of this world and not many guys have done it going back to the 1960’s when Rick Mount of Purdue fame was filling them up in the early years of Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Congratulations once more to all of the deserving award winners in giving us loyal fans a season to remember for years to come.

As for me, it is time to put this blog to bed unless there is any news involving movement of coaches, the pending North Carolina academic scandal and what the NCAA will hand out their specific punishment sometime during the summer, and of course–the 2016-2017 schedules of your favorite teams.

However, I am not going away on WordPress for good.

Please kindly point your web browsers or for some of you, gently tap to the link below for key news involving the United States Olympic Trials and some basketball news involving the NBA and WNBA’s elite as they again will vie for gold in Rio de Janiero, Brazil less than four months from now.  I am sure you will find some names that you might remember from NCAA Tournaments past suiting up for other countries, as is usually the case every four years.

Inbetween, please take some time to savor the most relaxing music outside of the Equator–the cool sambas and passionate bossa novas that make up the distinctive voices of Brazilian jazz.

You can find my weekly CD/MP3 album reviews at this link:

https://bigzbossanovabeat.wordpress.com/

And by the time the Olympic flame is snuffed out and when the balls beginning dribbling again with the start of practices returning in earnest come fall, expect a decent sized preview blog to kick off the 2016-2017 season sometime during the week of October 23.

No question, my online plate is going to be full most of this off season–long after the last notes of “One Shining Moment” resonate in the back of my ears for years to come.

For the rest of you who only follow me during the season and especially during the NCAA Tournament, I hope you all have a nice spring and a relaxing summer.  Please try not to get sunburn, so I can see your kind comments when the games start up for real again come November.

So long, everybody.

 

 

Josh Pastner leaves Memphis

Deal in place to become new coach at Georgia Tech

According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN and other media reports, Memphis is seeking at $10.6 million buyout with no offset clause in his contract.  But after compiling a 167-73 record during the past seven seasons, his Tigers did not reach the NCAA Tournament the last two years.

Combine that with not producing quality talent in recruiting and many other players that decided to transfer, the crowds decided not to show up like they did during John Calipari’s final year when Memphis was flirting with a perfect regular season in 2007-08 (of course, their trip to that year’s championship game was later vacated by the NCAA due to some players missing test scores).  The Memphis administration knew the writing on the wall even before their ACC Tournament appearance in Orlando.

Pastner takes over for Brian Gregory, as he attempts to bring the Atlanta based school respectability in the hotly contested ACC.  The Wrambling Wreck have not appeared in the NCAA Tournament during the last five years, so it will be interesting to see how things pan out over the next seven months.

Valparaiso fills coaching vacancy, stays in-house

Matt Lottich is slated to be the new head coach at Valparaiso University.  A deal is in place according to CBSSports.com and other multiple media outlets that reported on Thursday afternoon.  Lottich has been a Valpo assistant during the last three seasons in helping the Crusaders reach the NIT final game recently.  The one-time Stanford player takes over for Bryce Drew, who signed on for six years to be the coach at Vanderbilt University.  Valpo loses a few key pieces but hopes to retool and reload for another competitive season in the Horizon League that saw Wisconsin-Green Bay surprise a lot of people in reaching the Big Dance and Oakland (Michigan) making waves out of their own at the inaugural Vegas 16 Tournament.

I will have one final major update to close out this memorable 2015-2016 season sometime over the weekend highlighting the second annual men’s and women’s Player of the Year awards ceremony that is taking place in Los Angeles.

You can see the show tonight (Friday) starting at 8 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2, with Rece Davis and one-time Virginia Tech head coach Seth Greenberg hosting.

Enjoy your weekend, first one without college basketball until early November.

Historic Four Women’s Titles in a Row for Connecticut

Historic first on another front after the game

At Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Tuesday night, UConn was left with one mission and one mission only–win and make history.

That they did and then some.  The final score was UConn 82, Syracuse 51 and it wasn’t even close.

For the record, Breanna Stewart had 24 points to go along with 10 rebounds and six assists and was named for the fourth consecutive year as the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four.  It is a first for any woman or man to win three, let alone four straight years.

This was also an historic win on the coaching front, as Geno Auriemma passed the late legendary UCLA coach John Wooden with his 11th national title since 1995.  Wooden accomplished his feat by winning 10 titles between 1964 to 1975.

The Lady Huskies finished 38-0 for the season, which extends their record to six seasons of being undefeated.  Only the 1971-74 UCLA 88 game winning streak and the 1967-73 consecutive championships earned streak remain as distinct possibilities of being broken.

But figuring since I mostly type and post stories of men’s basketball, this story on the women’s side of the ledger was too important not to ignore.  Breanna Stewart without a doubt, should do extremely well in the WNBA and hopefully will earn a much deserved slot in the upcoming Rio Olympics this coming August.

And then we will probably see the similar song and dance again on ESPN:

  • The recruits from our nation’s high school earn the chance to be on the starting roster come November and every opponent will pretend that in their minds it is like a tournament game for them.
  • UConn breezes through the season winning every game they play by double digits.
  • The Lady Huskies earn one of the four Number 1 seeds on Selection Monday, 25 hours after the men’s draw is released to the world on CBS.
  • Three weeks and a day later, will history be made again come 2017 and beyond?

This we know for sure, the future will be more interesting to watch than ever before, both for the women and especially the men.

For tonight at least, let us celebrate the Connecticut women’s basketball program and honor what they have truly accomplished.  They have completely shattered the once dominant program in Tennessee and made it all their own.

 

Bryce Drew becomes new head coach at Vanderbilt

Deal in place for Valparaiso graduate to take over at Nashville based school

SI.com reported on Monday that Valparaiso’s favorite son will be leaving the small Northwestern Indiana private school to become the new head coach at Vanderbilt University.  Bryce Drew, 41, will replace Kevin Stallings and follow a bit in his brother Scott’s footsteps–after Scott coached Valpo for one year, he moved on to Baylor and has created quite a program of talent with several NCAA Tournament appearances along with being in two Elite Eights during his tenure.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported on Tuesday that the deal is worth six years.

Coming off the school’s NIT runner up finish last Thursday and making one of the most memorable tournament buzzer beaters way back in 1998 during the first round Midwest bracket against Mississippi in Oklahoma City, it seemed very logical that this move takes place.  As a coach during his 5 years back at his alma mater, he reached the NCAA Tournament twice and claimed four Horizon League championships.

It basically came down to Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech, and Vandy won out since it is a private school in a Power 5 Conference in the SEC.

At least, the Commodores will have someone with true basketball pedigree in hoping to stay in step with the powers that are Kentucky and Florida.

Send your prayers to the other side of Tobacco Road

This note is too important not to ignore.

On Sunday, longtime Duke head coach Mike Kryzezewski underwent successful left knee surgery.  He is undergoing rehab at the famed Duke University Medical Center.  Hopefully, he will be back behind the bench one last time representing Team USA during the upcoming Rio Olympics come August.