I’ve interviewed plenty of coaches. Some at the top of the profession, some in the middle, and some who seem mired in the doldrums. Typically, a coach in a difficult situation will try to strike a balanced tone when discussing the upcoming season: walking the line between rah-rah jingoism and monotone defeatism. Nobody wants to set expectations too high or too low.
Almost nobody, that is. Tony Barbee, the John Calipari disciple who took over at Auburn two years ago, has endured more than his fair share of hardship at the BCS level, but he’s still spittin’ fire about his team’s chances in the stacked SEC next season.
“This will be the most talented team I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Barbee told the Birmingham News last week during an interview in the men’s basketball offices. “Other people might be saying, ‘Well, we lost this guy, we lost that guy.’ Well, the players we brought in are better than the players that left. That’s why our program is moving in the right direction.”
Barbee’s passing mention of ‘lost this guy, lost that guy’ is code for a series of departures that rocked the program this offseason. The butcher’s bill currently stands at eight players gone: three in benign fasion as graduates, three more suspended and another two transferred out of the program. It’s not exactly the recipe for a healthy program.
Barbee says his team is becoming longer and more athletic in the bargain, with four freshmen and two transfers coming in. That may be true, but eventually, some form of team chemistry must emerge, or this team — just 9-23 in league play since Barbee’s arrival — will continue to go nowhere.
Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Notre Dame shot over 70 percent on 21 3-point shot attempts.
It wasn’t enough.
Tenth-ranked Florida State became the first ACC team to defeat the Fighting Irish with a 83-80 win Wednesday night in Tallahassee.
Johnathan Isaac had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Seminoles, who moved into a tie for the ACC lead along with Notre Dame and North Carolina, which all sport 5-1 league records. The ‘Noles shot 50 percent from the floor and had 39 points off their bench.
The Fighting Irish made 15 of 21 3-point shots on the night, getting six from Matt Farrell and five apiece from VJ Beachem and Steve Vasturia
Florida State continues the ACC gauntlet with a home test against Louisville on Saturday while the Irish have Syracuse in South Bend on Saturday.
The suspension that Arizona guard Allonzo Trier is currently serving is due to positive test for performance-enhancing drugs during the preseason, sources told NBC Sports.
Trier has missed the first 18 games of the season.
According to ESPN, who first reported the news, Trier has been cleared by the NCAA after an appeal, but he cannot suit up for the Wildcats until the drug is completely out of his system.
There is no timetable for his return, but the door is open for a return.
As a freshman last season, Trier averaged 14.8 points and shot 36.4 percent from three. He was Arizona’s best isolation scorer and their leading returning scorer.
Without Trier, Arizona has looked like a Pac-12 title contender. They are 16-2 on the season and undefeated in league play heading into their games at the LA schools this weekend.
In a battle of undefeated SEC programs, Frank Martin’s club came out on top.
Sindarius Thornwell finished with 20 points and six boards and Chris Silva added 11 points as No. 24 South Carolina landed a come-from-behind, 57-53 win over No. 19 Florida in Columbia on Wednesday night.
With the win, the Gamecocks remain undefeated in the SEC and just a half-game behind Kentucky atop the conference standings.
It was the first conference loss for Florida, who is among a handful of teams that have the look and computer numbers of a tournament team but who have yet to put together the wins they need to back that up.
Indiana’s tumultuous season may have encountered some more adversity.
Hoosiers sophomore forward OG Anunoby left Wednesday’s game against Penn State after going down clutching his right knee in the first half.
The incident came at the end of the first half, and Anunoby did not start the second half with the Hoosiers.
The 6-foot-8 Anunoby is averaging 11.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game while shooting 56.5 percent from the floor. He’s considered a potential lottery pick in June’s NBA draft.
Indiana was already without forward Juwan Morgan against the Nittany Lions due to a foot injury.
The Hoosiers, who opened the season ranked 11th in the AP poll, are currently 12-6 overall and 2-3 in the Big Ten, with losses in four of their last six games.
St. John’s has officially cut ties with Zach Brown.
Brown, a top-50 recruit, was released from his National Letter of Intent with the school Wednesday, just days after he was arrested for theft in Florida.
“It was a mutual decision to release Zach from his national letter of intent,” St. John’s coach Chris Mullin said in a statement released by the school. “We wish him the best of luck.”
Brown was arrested after allegedly reaching into a cash register and stealing money from it earlier this month. He was charged with a misdemeanor.
The arrest only adds to the list of issues for Brown as he was charged with a felony of credit card and robbery in May 2016. He was also dismissed from a school in Connecticut not long after enrolling after allegedly getting into a fight.
At one time, Brown was a top-10 recruit in 2017 and committed to UConn, but his off the court issues has resulted in the diminishing on-court opportunities available to him.