Florida State University

Report: Stetson to hire Florida State assistant Corey Williams

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Just one head coaching vacancy remains at the Division I level, and that position may be filled in short order.

According to Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com Stetson is expected to hire Florida State assistant Corey Williams as the school’s new head coach. Williams, who has spent the last six years on Leonard Hamilton’s staff in Tallahassee, was an assistant at Oral Roberts for seven seasons before joining Hamilton’s staff.

Stetson has scheduled a press conference for 2:30 p.m. Monday afternoon to announce the hiring of a new head coach.

If Williams is the pick he replaces Casey Alexander, who stepped down last month after two years at Stetson. In two seasons at Stetson, Alexander went 24-36 (17-19 Atlantic Sun) with Adam Pegg and Chris Perez earning all-conference honors in 2012-13.

With Pegg (15.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) out of eligibility and Perez (15.1, 4.1) transferring the Hatters have to replace their top three scorers from a season ago, with guard Joel Naburgs (10.1, 4.3, 3.9 apg) being the other key departure.

Stetson does have four players signed to a National Letter of Intent, and they’ll join a group led by guard Aaron Graham (11.2, 3.6) and forward Willie Green (8.3, 6.6). Green started all 31 games for the Hatters last season, leading the team in rebounding, while Graham was one of the better sixth men in the Atlantic Sun.

“I am determined to move quickly to find a coach who will be dedicated to returning Stetson men’s basketball to its proper place,” Stetson AD Jeff Altier said at the time of Alexander’s departure.

“We will move aggressively to find a new coach who will lead our program with character and passion, as well as a commitment to this fine university and its student-athletes.”

Williams has plenty of experience at the collegiate level as an assistant, and he also won an NBA title as a player with the Chicago Bulls in 1993. Williams, who played two of his four seasons at Oklahoma State for Hamilton, was quite the athlete as he was drafted by both the Bulls and the Kansas City Chiefs.

The hope for Stetson is that Williams’ work at Florida State as a recruiter and a tutor of guards will help turn the Hatters into a consistent contender in the A-Sun.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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.