Billy Taylor

Former Ball State head coach Billy Taylor joins Iowa staff as director of basketball operations

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After posting an 84-99 record in six seasons as head coach at Ball State, Billy Taylor was relieved of his duties back in March. Despite the way in which his tenure in Muncie ended, Taylor’s 15 years of college coaching experience can be an asset to a program.

That’s one reason why Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery decided to add Taylor to his staff as the program’s director of basketball operations, with the move being announced by the school on Saturday.

The two have worked together before, as they were both members of John MacLeod’s staff at Notre Dame during the 1998-99 season, and Taylor was one of McCaffery’s assistants at UNC-Greensboro (1999-2002) before becoming the head coach at Lehigh.

Taylor will replace Jerry Strom as Iowa’s director of basketball operations, with Strom making the decision to retire at the end of the 2012-13 season.

“We are extremely excited to have Billy Taylor join the Hawkeye family,” McCaffery said in the release. “I’ve known Billy since he was a teenager, having recruited and coached him, as well as being on the same coaching staff at Notre Dame and UNC-Greensboro. Billy is someone with tremendous character and will be a great asset to our program.”

Overall Taylor has a record of 165-168 in 11 seasons as a head coach, with his one NCAA tournament appearance coming with Lehigh in 2004. Taylor won’t be allowed to actively work with the players in his new role, but having another experienced voice in the room should be a positive for McCaffery.

Iowa reached the title game of the Postseason NIT last year, and with the majority of their key contributors returning (forward Aaron White and guard Devyn Marble being two) the Hawkeyes are expected by many to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.

Iowa will play six games in Europe next month, making stops in London and Paris. The games will serve as an opportunity to get a head start on preparations for the 2013-14 season, in addition to incorporating newcomers Jarrod Uthoff (sat out last season after transferring in from Wisconsin) and Peter Jok into the system.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Big South moving 2016 conference tournament

Cliff Ellis
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The Big South is moving its 2016 men’s basketball tournament out of Coastal Carolina and a new site will be figured out by November. According to a release from the conference the Big South is using a league bylaw that stipulates that members leaving with less than two years of notice are not eligible to host championships. Coastal Carolina announced this summer that it would be leaving for the Sun Belt as of July 2016, so the Big South wants to find a new location that benefits teams staying in the league.

The Big South men’s and women’s conference tournaments are now also going to be split into two unique events, with the men’s championships being held Thursday-Sunday, March 3-6. The women’s event comes the next week from March 10-13. Bids for both events will come into the league and a new location will be selected in the next few months.

It will be interesting to see if the site of the conference tournament is moved to a campus site or placed at a neutral venue. That type of thing could alter how the NCAA tournament autobid gets played out. With Coastal Carolina coming off of back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances, this obviously changes their approach to the postseason now that they have to leave their city.

Virginia Tech could redshirt sophomore guard

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Virginia Tech is trying to decide what to do with injury sophomore guard Ahmed Hill, who had surgery this summer to deal with a tear in his patella tendon in his left knee.

The 6-foot-5 Hill has still not been released to work out with the team, but he is about a week to 10 days ahead of schedule in his rehab. But the injury is still nagging enough that Hill might not be healthy enough to really contritbute this season. Head coach Buzz Williams is deciding soon whether he wants to redshirt Hill or not.

Hill started a team-high 30 games for the Hokies last season, averaging 8.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.

“I don’t have a decision on (Hill),” Williams said to reporters on Monday. “I will make the final decision. I’ll let (him) and his mom be a part of it, but I want to make a decision using the wisdom of doing this for a long period of time. If you let a kid make the decision, they always want to play.

“Right now, I don’t feel comfortable that I would want to play him. It’s just too early to be able to have much more of an answer than that.”

It’s still a rebuilding year for Virginia Tech, but they do get Maryland transfer Seth Allen, who is a talented guard who can score. The Hokies were hoping to have Hill and Allen as complimentary perimeter scorers, but now the plans might have to be altered. Williams went on to say that he would like to make a decision on Hill’s status by Halloween.