Oregon v Saint Louis

Saint Louis removes head coach Jim Crews’ interim tag

1 Comment

To follow along with the 2013 Coaching Carousel, click here.

The wait is finally over at Saint Louis.

The school has officially removed the interim tag of Jim Crews, making him the head coach after Crews led the Billikens to a 28-7 record (13-3 Atlantic 10) and the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament titles.

Crews was named interim head coach when poor health forced the late Rick Majerus to step down, and all Crews did was lead a veteran-laden team to one of the best seasons in the history of the program.

Saint Louis fell to Oregon in the NCAA tournament round of 32, but while the end of the season was a disappointment for SLU the loss doesn’t negate what Crews and the team accomplished.

But the time in which it took SLU to come to a decision regarding Crews’ status raised eyebrows within the city, and the school was criticized for seemingly dragging its feet on the matter.

Moving quickly would have allowed Crews and his coaching staff greater momentum as it tried to compensate for lost time recruiting. As is, an announcement today falls within a week of next Wednesday’s national signing day.

SLU has instead taken more than twice as long to extend Crews than UCLA needed to offer its post to three outsiders. (Coincidentally, three coaches whom Crews’ team beat in six of six games.)

Saint Louis loses three key contributors from this season’s team in guard Kwamain Mitchell and forwards Cody Ellis and Cory Remekun.

And with four more players being seniors next season, the work Crews and his staff does on the recruiting trail (especially the 2014 class) will be very important when it comes to the long-term prospects for the program.

Currently SLU has two commitment in the 2013 class, 6-5 small forward Mike Crawford (Tipton, Ind.) and 6-8 power forward Reggie Agbeko (Buffalo, N.Y.).

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Duke knocks off No. 13 Louisville in first game of critical four-game stretch

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Leave a comment

Grayson Allen scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half and Brandon Ingram added 18 points, 10 boards and four assists as Duke picked up a critical win over No. 13 Louisville in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Monday night, 72-65.

A call this a critical win for the Blue Devils because it kicks off what may be the most important two-week stretch of Duke’s schedule This weekend, the Blue Devils square off with No. 9 Virginia. Next Wednesday, they’re at the Dean Dome to take on No. 7 North Carolina. Four days after that, they head to the Bluegrass State to pay a visit to Louisville.

 

With the way that Duke has been struggling on the defensive end of the floor without Amile Jefferson, that’s a stretch that could derail Duke’s season; entering Monday, all four of those games were losable. But a four-game winning streak — or even going 3-1 in that stretch — could completely change the tenor of what has been a fairly disappointing year for the defending champs, and that’s before they get Jefferson back to 100 percent.

And the difference was defensively, at least in the first half.

I’ve written in this space a number of times about how opponents know what they’re going to get from Duke defensively. Coach K, traditionally, plays half court man-to-man defense, switching every exchange — ball-screen, off-ball pick or simply when two players run by one another — that doesn’t involve the center. In recent years, he’s played some zone in situations where he defense has struggled or, like this season, when he doesn’t have the depth to risk foul trouble. We’ve even seen some 2-2-1 pressure from him of late.

But on Monday night, Duke played straight man-to-man for much of the game, and in the first half, it seemed to fluster the Cardinals. They scored just 24 points in the first 20 minutes, and while Louisville did find a way to break Duke down defensively in the second half — they shot better than 55 percent from the floor after the break — but part of the reason Duke was able to win this game was the lead they built. After a three from Allen opened scoring in the second half, the Blue Devils were up by 14, and while Louisville made a run down the stretch, they could never get control of the game.

Duke is becoming appointment viewing for basketball nerds like me that pay too much attention to X’s-and-O’s to see what kind of wrinkle Coach K is going to put in to try and compensate defensively, so I’m not sure that this performance sticks. But it is worth noting that this was the first time in eight games the Blue Devils gave up less than 1.0 PPP, and the first time since Dec. 19th they did so against an NCAA tournament-caliber team.

As far as Louisville is concerned, you have to tip your hat to those kids. They played their hearts out and fought back from a big deficit in one of the toughest places in the country to play. They did all that three days after their school ripped their hearts out with an NCAA tournament ban for this season.

So good for them. You never know how a team is going to react to something like that, but the Cardinal players showed that they have some serious fight in them.

Iowa State’s starting center Jameel McKay remains suspended

Iowa State forward Jameel McKay celebrates on the court at the end of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 82-77. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Leave a comment

Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.

“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”

McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.

“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.