Herb Sendek

Which college basketball coaches are on the hot seat in 2012-13?

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of The Lists we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

As the coaching carousel keeps spinning, many coaches who were on the hot seat in 2011-12 have now been fired or moved on to other destinations. But some remain, poised to have a season that puts their teams back into contention, others feeling that seat getting hotter by the minute.

Herb Sendek, Arizona State

Coming off of a 10-21 season with the Sun Devils last year, Sendek caught a tough break when two of his assistants left for positions at other Division-I programs late in the summer, nearly rolling over his entire bench days before classes started at ASU.

On the court, Sendek is losing his top two leading scorers from last year’s team, Trent Lockett, who transferred to Marquette, and Keala King, who was dismissed from the team for “unacceptable conduct.”

The one bright spot for Arizona State will be the addition of electric point guard Jahii Carson, who was ruled academically ineligible last season.

Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest

Bzdelik is 21-42 in his first two seasons with the Demon Deacons, and with a wave of transfers leaving the program in the off-season, including Tony Chennault, Tony Fields, and Carson Desrosiers, Wake Forest will be leaning more on a big freshman class to pick up the slack.

That freshman class includes seven players, within that is Top-100 guard Codi Miller-McIntyre, and Bzdelik has gotten a heard start on 2013 with a commitment from Top-100 player Greg McClinton.

Wake tied for last in the ACC last season, and another year like that could be the end for Bzdelik with the Demon Deacons.

Ben Howland, UCLA

Many thought that UCLA’s subpar season and the less-than-flattering Sports Illustrated story about the program could spell the end for Howland in Westwood. The thing is, had he been let go, that would have put in jeopardy the stellar recruiting class slated to come to the Bruins this fall.

This is Howland’s moment. Assuming Shabazz Muhammad is cleared to play, pending the results of an NCAA investigation into his initial eligibility, the Bruins have the collection of talent to make noise in the Pac-12.

Skeptics ask whether the pieces fit together, but this is the best chance UCLA and Howland could get to be a consistent Top 25 team.

Coaches Who Have Cooler Seats This Season

Stan Heath, USF

After being talked about as a coach possibly on the hot seat in 2011-12, Heath responded with a defensive-oriented team that went 22-14 and made a trip to the NCAA tournament. Look for guard Anthony Collins to continue to grow into one of the more effective point guards in the Big East after an impressive freshman season.

Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss

Kennedy got a contract extension through 2014 after winning 20 games with the Rebels in 2011-12. He has a solid 2012 recruiting class coming in, which should help, including Anthony Cortesia, Martavious Newby, and Terry Brutus.

Craig Robinson, Oregon State

Robinson, the brother-in-law of President Barack Obama, this month signed a contract extension through the 2016-17 season.

His Beavers won the CBI championship in his first season, but have since made two other CBI appearances, no NIT trips, and had no NCAA bids. They finished 7-11 in the Pac-12 conference last season and 21-15 overall.

Robinson will have to compensate for the loss of leading scorer Jared Cunningham, who left early for the NBA draft and was selected in the first round.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.