Georgetown/Florida preview: More basketball, more aircraft carriers

Leave a comment

The best part about the few week or so is the teams that realize non-conference games are for great games, not blowouts, so they make sure to put one or two on the schedule. Florida and Georgetown knew that, and they did it.

Forget that, the best part about the first opening games is the gimmicks. And this one also involves playing on another aircraft carrier. The Hoyas and Gators will play aboard the USS Bataan in Jacksonville.

Not much separates these two teams. The Hoyas are a team that is paced by steady play from the guards and wings, namely sophomore  Otto Porter, who is due for a huge season. Much-hyped freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera is expected to come in and replace the now-graduated Jason Clark and his 14 ppg. In fact, there’s a lot Georgetown has to replace: Clark, Hollis Thompson (12.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Henry Sims (11.6 ppg, 6 rpg, 3.5 apg). Porter will fill some holes, but the biggest question mark is who will pick up the defense? Glue guy Nate Lubick should help (started all 33 games last season), as should Markel Starks (25 starts, 7.1 ppg).

Florida? Well, they stay Florida. Erving Walker is really the only player they lost, with volume (understatement) shooter Kenny Boynton back (15.9 ppg, 44-percent from the field), as well as slasher Mike Rosario and a tall shooter in 6-10 Erik Murphy (10.5 ppg in 2011-12). Patric Young will be asked to shoulder just as much of the front-court load as last season and he’s got the size to prove it. The biggest question mark in this game is if the suspension of point guard Scottie Wilbekin is going to change anything in the Gators attack. Boynton will take over at the point for the three games he’s out and expect Rosario, who played a sizable amount of  point in two seasons at Rutgers, to play some as well.

Weather might have an affect on this one, the same as it will on the  Ohio State/Marquette game. Wind will decide how much these teams shoot from deep, which makes it advantage Georgetown, who will be more adept at getting to the rim. Florida will also have to avoid turnovers and bad shots. Unfortunately, with shot-happy guards handling the ball like Boynton and Rosario, that might be a challenge.

Remember a few years back when playing outside was an amazing event? Now it’s aircraft carriers. Your move, college football.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

David Harten is the editor of The Backboard Chronicles. You can follow him on Twitter at @David_Harten.

Reports: Rhode Island’s Dan Hurley mulling UConn, Pitt options

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Even before Rhode Island’s NCAA tournament came to an end Saturday in the Round of 32 against Duke, speculation was running wild about the future of Rams coach Dan Hurley.

Stay or go. If it’s go, where to?

There was no clarity, but maybe some progress Monday.

Both Connecticut and Pittsburgh, the prime candidates to pry Hurley away from Rhode Island, spoke with the coach, but no decision had yet been reached, according to multiple reports.

Hurley was set to meet with Rams athletic director Thorr Bjorn on Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. Heart Connecticut Media’s Jeff Jacobs reported that UConn was “closing in on an agreement” with Hurley but that Pitt was continuing its pursuit.

Hurley has led the Rams to the NCAA tournament the last two years and signed a seven-year contract with Rhode Island worth approximately $1 million per year last off-season. UConn was paying Kevin Ollie, who led the team to the 2014 NCAA title before being fired after this season, an average of $3 million per season while Kevin Stallings reportedly was due a buyout of nearly $10 million when he was fired by Pitt this season.

What Hurley will have to weigh beyond the financial circumstances will be his ability to win at either UConn or Pitt, should he decide to move on from Rhode Island.

Ollie – well, really Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright – showed you can win a national title out of the AAC at UConn. The league adding Wichita State only strengthens that point. Pitt, meanwhile, may be a tougher job now than it was when Jamie Dixon had it rolling since their move from the Big East to the ACC.

CBT Podcast: Recapping the first weekend of the 2018 NCAA Tournament

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Eamonn Brennan of The Athletic joined Rob Dauster for an epic, two-hour podcast on the first weekend of the tournament. It was so good that we had to split the podcast into two parts. On this show, the two go through everything that happened in the South and West Regions, from Sister Jean to UMBC to Nevada’s comebacks to Kentucky’s chances at a Final Four.

On this show, the two go through everything that happened in the East and Midwest Regions, from Villanova and Duke steamrolling to Michigan State collapsing to Syracuse and Clemson and Texas Tech and Purdue. It’s all in there.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Eight viral heroes from first weekend of March Madness

Getty Images
Leave a comment

One of my favorite parts of the NCAA tournament is seeing who comes out of nowhere to turn into a viral celebrity during this month of madness.

By my estimation, we had eight true candidates for the award of March Madness Viral Celebrity of the Year. Here they are:


He was more fired up for Houston’s success in the tournament than any Houston fan in the history of basketball in the city of Houston.


Jordan Poole is spelled a lot like Jordan Peele, which inevitably led to people tweeting at Peele instead of Poole. Peele’s thank you tweet was a highlight of the first weekend.


Having to answer questions from a bunch of reporters after suffering the most humiliating moment of your life is not an easy thing to do. Having to answer ridiculous and stupid questions could be intolerable, which is why I loved Ty Jerome’s response to a stupid question he was asked:


I loved seeing Robert Williams’ teammate do a panotmine windmill in the background while Williams was throwing down a windmill in real time on Providence:


Nevada head coach Eric Musselman has led his team to the Sweet 16, cussed on live television and gone shirtless to celebrate with his team, but the star of the Musselman family is his daughter Mariah:


He really does have great hair:

2. @UMBCAthletics

This dude lived the dream of every twitter user out there. When your shot is there, you have to take it.


Mic drop:

VIDEO: Eric Musselman celebrates Nevada win without a shirt

Leave a comment

Nevada head coach Eric Musselman went shirtless to celebrate his team’s come-from-behind win over No. 2 seed Cincinnati on Sunday.

I guess this is better than dropping F-bombs live on national TV. Maybe that’s why they had Steve Lappas talking over him …

Penny Hardaway to be named next Memphis head coach

Getty Images
1 Comment

The worst-kept secret in college basketball no longer appears to be a secret: Penny Hardaway is going to be the next coaching at the University of Memphis.

ESPN is reporting that a deal has been agreed upon. The Memphis Commercial-Appeal is reporting that Penny was waiting for his season to end with East High School before he made anything official. NBC Sports can confirm that an announcement is expected to be made early this week, likely as soon as Tuesday, to introduce the former Memphis and NBA star as Tubby Smith’s replacement.

The truth, however, is that we all knew this was what would be happening the second that Memphis formally fired Tubby Smith. Hell, we knew it a month before that decision was made final. This was always how it was going to play out.

What’s interesting to me is now the discussion of whether or not Penny will be able to handle being a Division I head coach, because it’s been hit or miss with basketball programs hiring legends of their past. Chris Mullin and St. John’s hasn’t exactly gone to plan but Fred Hoiberg was quite successful at Iowa State. Kevin Ollie won a title with UConn then fell off a cliff. Patrick Ewing’s start wasn’t great, but he was better than expected.

Where does Penny fall on this scale?

Well, let me just drop this section of a column from Geoff Calkins in here:

Hardaway isn’t a guy who woke up one morning and decided he’d like to be a Division I head coach. He’s not a former player who got bored with retirement and decided he’d like to do something other than play golf.

Hardaway started coaching at middle school. Middle school! Because an old friend needed some help.

Then he built one of the best AAU programs in the country. Then he spent years coaching a high school team.

Does that sound like someone who doesn’t want to roll up his sleeves and do the work? Does that sound like someone who is just in it for the glory and the glitz?

The truth is, if it weren’t for Hardaway’s iconic stature, he might be characterized as a grinder, as a guy who worked his way up from the lowest levels of basketball on the strength of his relationship with the kids.

I think that this is going to work out for both Penny and Memphis, especially if Penny hires a staff that can help him with the intricacies of running a college basketball program.