Over the last four-plus years, Kentucky assistant coach Orlando Antigua has been a valuable member of head coach John Calipari’s coaching staff. Antigua also served as Calipari’s assistant on the Dominican Republic’s men’s national team for the last two years, helping lead the program that Antigua played for during the 1990s.
On Thursday it was announced that Antigua would be promoted to head coach of the Dominican national team, stepping into the position that’s been open since Calipari stepped down from the position last year.
“I’m extremely excited to have this opportunity. Anytime you can coach and be a participant of a national team, it’s very special,” Antigua said Thursday. “For Coach Calipari and [athletic director] Mitch Barnhart to allow me to take part in this opportunity means a lot, on a personal level as well as professionally.
“I’m also thankful to the Dominican Federation, [general manager] Eduardo Najri and [president] Rafael Uribe for their confidence in entrusting this program and team to me. It is my goal to build upon the recent success we’ve enjoyed and continue to make this a program the Dominican Republic can be proud of.”
The Dominican national team fell one win short of qualifying for the London Olympics last year, and the team included players such as Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks and Francisco Garcia of the Houston Rockets. Also on the team was 7-footer Karl Towns Jr., a verbal commitment to Kentucky and one of the top players in the Class of 2014.
Those three will likely figure prominently in Antigua’s plans as he looks to build the Dominican Republic team into one that can take the final step and qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The new position will also give Antigua more experience as a head coach, something that could pay dividends down the line when it comes to his college coaching career.
Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.
The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.
We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
- Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
- Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
- Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
- No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
- No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
It’s Tuesday, which means that it is once again time for the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.
And you’ll be shocked to find out that Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield is still No. 1 in those rankings. By a pretty wide margin.
The rest of the top 10?
They can be found here, at the CBT FaceBook page. Follow that page for the countdown: