Syracuse v Georgetown

Speculation about Jim Boeheim’s retirement isn’t going to go away

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When talk of Jim Boeheim retiring comes up, the evidence used to prove that he’s considering it is completely circumstantial. Boeheim himself, as recently as Saturday, emphatically stated, in no uncertain terms, that he hasn’t thought about retiring.

“There’s nothing to talk about because I haven’t given a thought to it. I’ve never … ever … ever … ever … said anything about retiring,” Boeheim told Bud Poliquin of Syracuse.com on Saturday afternoon, after Syracuse lost to Georgetown at the Verizon Center. “I’ve said the same thing all year, and all last year: I just want to get through the year. I have no plans to retire. Could I retire? Anything can happen, but I have no thoughts right now. If I was thinking about it a little bit, I’d say, ‘Well, I’m thinking about it.’ But I’m not. That golf line was just a joke. The season’s almost over. In a couple of weeks, I’ll go play golf. But not permanently. I don’t like golf that much.”

The reason that Poliquin had to track down Boeheim and ask him about his retirement was the result of something he said in the postgame press conference.

“I’m pretty much ready to go play golf someplace,” he said. “If I was 40 years old, I would be real upset. I’m not 40 years old. That should be obvious.” This came after the 68-year old Boeheim made a long, rambling and wistful statement in remembrance of the Big East and the Syracuse rivalry with Georgetown. As I wrote on Saturday, it was easy to tell that Boeheim was looking back fondly on an era that was coming to a close, but whether the era in question was Syracuse’s time in the Big East or his tenure as the coach of the Orange was unclear.

What we do know is that Boeheim isn’t getting any younger. Syracuse is leaving the conference that he helped build and breaking up a rivalry that he’s been a central figure in for 33 years. Retiring and sending Orange basketball into their new era with a new coach, leaving as the only man to have the title of ‘Syracuse head coach’ in Big East history, would put a nice little bow on his career.

Boeheim’s made it clear the move to the ACC doesn’t necessarily excite him, making it perfectly clear he doesn’t think Greensboro, NC, compares to New York City and that he doesn’t look forward to having to eat at a Denny’s on trips to Clemson. Throw in the fact that his hand-picked successor is interviewing for coaching gigs on the other side of the country, and it just fits.

So no, Boeheim hasn’t made any comments about retiring. The ones that can be interpreted as a veiled hint at his future can also be read as another example of a grumpy old curmudgeon saying the things grumpy old curmudgeons say.

But don’t expect the speculation to go away, not when Boeheim’s retirement this offseason would be a poetic way to end his story.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Indiana lands four-star Class of 2017 wing Justin Smith

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Indiana landed an athletic wing commitment on Monday night as four-star small forward Justin Smith pledged to the Hoosiers on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 Smith is a native of Lincolnshire, Illinois and comes from Stevenson High School as he’s regarded as the No. 105 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings.

A high-flying wing who is great in the open floor, Smith should fit the Hoosiers’ uptempo system perfectly and if he’s able to get a more consistent perimeter jumper then he has a chance to be a really nice piece for Indiana.

Smith joins three-star guard Al Durham in Indiana’s recruiting Class of 2017.

Michigan State addingTom Izzo Hall of History wing in remodeled Breslin Center

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall and the longtime Spartans head coach is receiving another unique honor in the remodeled Breslin Center.

The school announced over the weekend that the Tom Izzo Hall of History will be added to the Breslin Center renovations as the building is supposed to be completed by the fall of 2017.

“The Tom Izzo Hall of History will become a great gathering place on our campus where together we can celebrate the excellence of Spartan Basketball and MSU Athletics,” athletic director Mark Hollis said in a release. “When this facility project is complete it will be the finest college basketball facility in the country, so it’s only fitting that Tom’s name will be a permanent part of it.”

Overall, this is a nice addition to the Breslin Center, especially since Izzo and Michigan State basketball will forever be associated with one another. It should be cool for fans to go through it and re-live great moments in Michigan State history and the wing is another nice recruiting tool that can help point out all of Izzo’s biggest accomplishments.

 

Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament moving to Orlando amid Zika concerns

Lon Kruger
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Amid concerns over the Zika virus, the annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced a change in venue on Monday. Rather than staying on the island, the tournament will move to Orlando and all games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.

The dates and teams will remain the same for the event as it will be played Thursday, Nov. 17, Friday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 20. The field for the event includes Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Tulane and Xavier.

“We enjoy the beauty and accommodations that are afforded in Puerto Rico and wanted to make every effort in playing the event in San Juan, but the concern for student-athlete and spectator welfare became the primary driver in the decision,” Pete Derzis, senior vice president of ESPN Events said in the official release.  “We intend to return to Puerto Rico in the future.”

Puerto Rico is currently under a Level 2 alert for Zika according to the CDC. Since there have been cases of Zika on the island with native mosquitoes, it’s probably a smart move to eliminate all concerns over the virus if they can easily move the tournament elsewhere. It probably isn’t ideal for fans who purchased travel packages to Puerto Rico to watch the event, but it’s a small price to pay for the safety of everyone involved.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is also upset with the decision as Executive Director Ingrid Rivera Rocafort released a statement on Monday night.

“We are disappointed about this decision that we believe has been based on fear not the facts about Puerto Rico,” the statement read.

“There is no public health reason to cancel the Puerto Rico Tip Off or any sporting event in Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that our strong fan base and local spectators would have turned out to support their teams. Less than one percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million population has contracted Zika, a far cry from projections. The hype and misinformation is fostering irrational decisions.”

PHOTO: Purdue unveils statue of John Wooden outside Mackey Arena

John Wooden (Purdue Athletics)
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John Wooden will forever be associated with the UCLA program for what he did while coaching there.

10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. Not bad, right?

What some people may forget is that before he got into coaching, Wooden was one of the best basketball players in the world. He played his collegiate ball at Purdue, where he was a three-time all-american and the 1932 National Player of the Year.

To honor Wooden’s legacy as one of the greatest Boilermakers ever, Purdue built a statue of Wooden and unveiled it in front of Mackey Arena this weekend:

“Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,” Jim Hicks, the alumnus that donated the statue, said. “I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.”

One of the neat touches of the statue: Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is right there for all to see.

North Carolina lands third commitment in 2017 class

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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North Carolina picked up their third commitment in the Class of 2017 on Monday in big man Brandon Huffman.

A four-star prospect who will play his final season of high school ball at Word of God Academy in North Carolina, Huffman’s strength at this point in his development is as a defensive presence around the basket. He stands 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and should be able to help replace Kennedy Meeks, who graduates this spring.

Huffman’s development on the offensive end of the floor isn’t quite there yet. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman is still learning how to be more influential on that end.

Huffman joins Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek in UNC’s 2017 class.