Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 2013 Class Announcement

Pitino’s assistants at Minnesota will out-earn Tubby’s from previous regime

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Minnesota is throwing a bit more money to its current coaching staff than it did in previous years.

According to a story in the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, first-year head coach Richard Pitino will have more money invested in his lowest-paid assistant than former head coach Tubby Smith had in his top aide last season.

Dan McHale, who came over last week from Seton Hall, will be the highest-paid assistant coach on staff at $215,000. The lowest-salaried coaches, Ben Johnson and Kamani Young, will make $181,000 each. In 2012-13, Ron Jirsa, Smith’s no. 1, made $161,916.

Vince Taylor (who made $151,126) and Saul Smith ($91,755), also made considerably less than the new regime will make.

The new Director of Basketball Operations, Steve Goodson, will make $75,000, compared to last season’s D.B.O., Josh Adel, who banked $45,000 in salary.

There had been echoes that while Minnesota was on the way up in the B1G in talent, the program was lacking in a few areas. Among those were namely that Williams Arena, while one of the more iconic college basketball forums in terms of ambiance and tradition — it’s been around since 1928, and has undergone three renovations — was old and recruits couldn’t be sold on the fact that they’d play there. They also are one of the few major programs that doesn’t have a practice facility.

The salaries are a good start to show that the Golden Gophers are making an effort to be competitive at the top level of one of the best conferences in college basketball.

If Pitino can convince the meat of the current roster to stay and get some solid recruits, he could be the man to take Minnesota to the upper echelon, at least every once in awhile, of the B1G.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.