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Friday, July 09, 2004

College Basketball Roundup

Many topics to blog on today:

1. The Ohio State coaching job. Well, after indicating that they were going to give a second interview to at least Willis Wilson, the Buckeyes got their first choice after all. Welcome to Columbus, Thad Matta. You have had a great career so far, and good luck in the Big 10. For Buckeyes fans, the hope is that Ohio State hired Matta with enough time left in the July recruiting period to sign some big names. While Ohio State has some ground to cover to get back to the first division, this is not your older brother's Big 10. The league just wasn't that good last year and, outside Tom Izzo (and, to a lesser extent, Gene Keady), has no huge names in men's college basketball coaching.

2. The Xavier coaching job. Matta's joining Ohio State left open the Xavier job, where he leaves a hard act to follow (even if he had a hard act to follow in Skip Prosser, now at Wake Forest, and perhaps the only alum of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to excel at Division I college basketball coaching). Xavier acted quickly and hired its top assistant, Sean Miller. His ascendancy to the top job at Xavier, a top-major school, gives Miller a happy ending. A few years ago, when Herb Sendek's job at NC State was in jeopardy, Miller bolted Raleigh for Xavier to assist Matta. At least one national publication called that move a lateral one at best. Miller obviously saw trouble in Raleigh, and, well, his judgment turned out wonderfully for him. Yes, he's the same Sean Miller who once was the magical ballhandler who was the Big East Rookie of the Year and first-team all-Big East as a senior. Good luck, Sean. The expectations in Cincinnati are probably higher than they are in Columbus.

3. Fran Dunphy and Willis Wilson. Bridemaids, again, and, for the same job, again. SportsProf doesn't know much about Wilson, but Dunphy has more than paid his dues and he has the results to boot (results which, even allowing that Wilson coaches a Rice team that is at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to basketball recruiting in its league, Wilson does not have). Time is running out for Fran Dunphy to get that job that would prove to be a "step up." But Dunphy is happy in University City, and he's a hero on the Penn campus. Ivy foes beware: Fran Dunphy hasn't gone anywhere.

4. Villanova. Ugh. They get put on two years' probation but don't lose any scholarships and don't get banned from post-season play because of recruiting violations that occurred from '01 to '03 (SportsProf had read that implicated in this scandal were the same types of telephone credit cards that were part of Villanova's scandal about 8-9 years ago involving Kerry Kittles). Given that the penalties are rather small, this seems like "double secret probation." But, looking more closely, you have to wonder about how much longer the winning-starved Villanova alumni will support Coach Jay Wright, who came to Philadelphia's Main Line about 4 years ago after a great run at Hofstra. Certainly, the administration can't be thrilled with 2 years' probation. SportsProf thinks that if Nova doesn't make the Big Dance this year, Wright will be given the gate.

5. LaSalle. Uh-oh. Horrible problem there with 2 alleged rapes, one that took place a month ago and one that took place a year ago. Allegedly (and the Phila. papers have been all over this one), two guards on the basketball team, including the star of the team, were involved in a rape on campus a month ago. They have turned themselves in, and the Phila. police believe they have an excellent case (they have obtained DNA samples from the accused). The surfacing of that rape allegation led to the surfacing of an allegation about a rape that took place in 2003, where the accused is a former basketball player, and the accuser was a member of the women's basketball team. SportsProf is looking into all of the details, but the newspapers have reported that LaSalle has put both the men's and women's basketball coaches on administrative leave with pay until they complete their investigation. The allegations are that the coaches discouraged the '03 victim from coming forward. Awful stuff for a good school with a rich basketball history.

6. And a word about Coach K. They didn't make you the coach at Duke because you weren't a bright guy. The Lakers' job must have been tempting, but you made the right decision here. You already have dealt with an aching hip; you didn't need to give yourself an aching head. You might have lost Deng and Livingston, but somehow you'll find a way for your Blue Devils to get to more Final Fours and win at least one more national championship before you retire. Here's the big challenge for you now: will you be around long enough to eclipse Dean Smith's record for most career wins?


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