AP Photo

2013-14 Season Preview: Top 10 coaches on the hot seat

1 Comment

source: AP

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

As the 2013-14 college basketball season begins, we have a new batch of coaches sitting squarely on the “hot seat”. Although “hot seat” is probably an overused cliché sports term at this point, it still applies as long as there are coaches that need to win and make changes in their respective programs in order to keep their jobs. This year’s top 10 features some familiar names and some coaches that have accumulated tremendous amounts of success in the past, only to fall on recent hard times.

1. Rick Barnes, Texas: Mack Brown isn’t the only veteran Longhorn head coach on the hot seat. After missing the NCAA Tournament last season, accumulating his first losing record in 15 seasons in Austin, and not posting a winning record in the Big 12 since 2010-11, Rick Barnes is feeling the heat at Texas. Roster turnover has been high this offseason as well and top recruits in the state of Texas have recently stayed away from Barnes and the Longhorns. With Monday’s announcement that Texas Athletic Director — and long-time Barnes supporter — DeLoss Dodds is retiring, it only makes the speculation grow.

2. Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest: When your own fan base is taking out front page ads calling for your dismissal like Demon Deacon fans did in March, it isn’t a very good sign. Bzdelik is only 11-42 in the ACC in his three seasons in Winston-Salem and with the ACC only getting stronger, that record isn’t going to improve very easily any time soon. Bzdelik needs to win over the fan base and win some games to save his job. But for now, websites like FireBZ.com live on.

3. Herb Sendek, Arizona State: Arizona State has made one NCAA Tournament in Sendek’s seven seasons in Tempe and the expectation will be to make the tournament this season after an NIT bid last season and the return of Pac-12 co-Freshman of the Year Jahii Carson. With eight newcomers and a dramatic increase in offensive tempo, will Sendek’s new-look Sun Devils rise to the occasion and potentially save his job?

source:  4. Johnny Dawkins, Stanford: Before Dawkins’ tenure, the Cardinal had made the NCAA Tournament in 13 of 14 seasons before missing out on the Big Dance in all five seasons under the former Duke assistant. Dawkins has made the postseason in three of five seasons at Stanford — winning the NIT in 2011-12 — but he’ll need to make the tournament to keep his job.

5. Tony Barbee, Auburn: There have been as many players that have left the Auburn program — 12 — as Barbee has SEC wins in his three-year tenure. When you throw in a point-shaving scandal to boot that isn’t a very good sign. The Tigers lost 16 of their final 17 games in 2012-13 by an average of 12 points.

6. Craig Robinson, Oregon State: It’s tough to win in Corvallis, but the Beavers have never finished at or above .500 in Pac-12 play under Robinson and haven’t shown any signs of significant improvement.

7. Ken Bone, Washington State: The Cougars finished 13-19 and 4-14 in the Pac-12 last season and lose their best player in all-conference forward Brock Motum. Bone has never made the NCAA Tournament in four seasons in Pullman and things don’t appear to be getting better very quickly.

8. Mark Fox, Georgia: Despite having the SEC Player of the Year in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Bulldogs finished with a losing record in 2012-13 and Fox has made the Tournament once in four seasons in Athens.

9. Ben Braun, Rice: Conference USA has grown significantly weaker the last few years and the Owls have still continued to struggle. Rice finished 1-15 in league play last season and Braun is 19-61 in the league in five seasons at the helm.

10. Oliver Purnell, DePaul: DePaul is only 30-64 and a horrific 6-48 in the Big East under Purnell, but with a new Chicago arena becoming the focus of DePaul’s administration and with four more years remaining on his seven-year contract, Purnell should be safe for at least another season.

N.C. State’s Dennis Smith Jr. fully recovered, ready to go

Kelly Kline/adidas
Kelly Kline/adidas
Leave a comment

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Dennis Smith Jr. sure looks ready.

North Carolina State’s prized freshman point guard is pushing through a workout in the practice gym on a hot July afternoon, and there’s no sign of the knee injury that defined his past year.

He’s sprinting along the baseline to bury a catch-and-shoot corner 3-pointer. He’s dribbling between chairs and stutter-stepping his way to a pull-up jumper. He’s launching himself at the rim for a dunk off the dribble.

“I don’t expect to be rusty at all,” Smith said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I was feeling kind of nervous at one point, but I went in and did a workout and then I was thinking, `I’m putting in all this work so all the nervousness should be out of my mind.’ I had no reason to be timid.

“I just have to go out there and perform, no excuses.”

A lot has happened for Smith in 12 months. The Fayetteville native suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in a game during the Adidas Nations event featuring top prospects. He had surgery, picked N.C. State, graduated from high school early and enrolled in college in January to rehab and learn the Wolfpack’s system before his debut later this year.

Tuesday marks one year since the injury for the 6-foot-3 Smith, ranked by ESPN as the nation’s No. 1 point guard when he signed last fall.

“We’ve tried to be real conservative with him as far as not letting him do too much too fast,” coach Mark Gottfried said. “At his age, he can’t wait. He’s dying to play every day.”

Smith started earning his leadership role as soon as he arrived in Raleigh, pointing out instructions to teammates or calling them to the gym for extra work even though he couldn’t play. He figures that time observing from the sideline has prepared him to replace high-scoring floor leader Anthony “Cat” Barber.

“I feel like I’ve gotten smarter, definitely,” Smith said. “I see the game totally different now. I read pick-and-roll easier. I feel like I’ve gotten more sound on defense because I understand angles better.”

The physical work to get back has been tougher.

Roughly a year ago, Smith was lying in a bed after surgery trying to stay positive. He asked trainer Ja-Rell Bailey to bring him some free weights for upper-body exercises even if he couldn’t do much else, an example of why Bailey described Smith as “a man determined.”

Smith’s father said the rehab emphasized building leg strength to protect and stabilize the injured knee, something his son said he will keep doing in both legs for years to come. Smith’s work has helped him go from 180 pounds to a college-ready 192-pound frame.

“He’s got his bounce back, so he can dunk and everything,” Dennis Smith Sr. said. “But what Junior has got, God gave it to him. . A lot of times you run into kids who are built off of hype because they do a fancy move or have a good game. Junior ain’t hype. He’s the real deal.”

Regardless, Gottfried expects Smith to have “a learning curve.”

“For me,” he said, “I think what you see in November is going to be much different than what you see in January.”

The Wolfpack will look much different, too, after missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five seasons. N.C. State welcomes Scout.com’s No. 6-ranked recruiting class that includes five-star Turkish big man Omer Yurtseven. Senior guard Terry Henderson returns from an ankle injury that sidelined him 7 minutes into last season. Charlotte transfer and former Conference USA freshman of the year Torin Dorn Jr. will play after sitting out last year.

Still, Smith is the guy stirring the most buzz for Wolfpack fans – something he has no trouble embracing.

“I really don’t feel that pressure though,” Smith said. “I feel like if you come in and you expect to play well, then you should have those expectations of people talking. It’s just playing basketball to me. I’ve been doing it my whole life.”

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Washington lands commitment from Mamoudou Diarra

AP Photo
AP
Leave a comment

For the second time this summer, Washington has landed a commitment from a forward in the Class of 2017.

On Friday, it was Mamoudou Diarra that pledged his future to Lorenzo Romar. Diarra is a 6-foot-8 combo-forward that is currently unranked by Rivals but was targeted by a number high major program.

Washington landed a commitment from Michael Porter Jr. earlier this summer, and given Porter’s standing as the potential No. 1 player in the class, the Huskies will be in the mix for the best crop of freshmen in the country in 2017-18. Romar has also landed commitments from four-star guard Jaylen Nowell and three-star guard Blake Harris.

RELATED: How the Michael Porter Package Deal came to fruition

Diarra played his high school basketball in St. Louis.

Xavier lands second top 100 commitment in 2017

Leave a comment

Xavier landed a key commitment on Friday morning in Naji Marshall, one of the Musketeers’ top targets in the Class of 2017.

Marshall is a la 6-foot-5 wing from Washington D.C. that is currently ranked 62nd in the 2017 class by Rivals. He’s a scorer that has shown off a versatile offensive game, averaging better than three assists on the Under Armour Association circuit.

This is the third commitment from head coach Chris Mack in the class and the second top 100 player to pledge to the Musketeers. Marshall picked Xavier over Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia Tech, among other.

Four-star 2018 guard Coby White commits to North Carolina

North Carolina coach Roy Williams, center, reacts with his team behind him after a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament against Pittsburgh, Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Washington. North Carolina won 88-71. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Leave a comment

With guards Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek having committed in their 2017 recruiting class, North Carolina received a commitment from one of the better guards in the Class of 2018 Thursday night. Four-star guard Coby White, who’s ranked 61st in his class by Rivals.com, made his pledge to Roy Williams’ program. News of White’s commitment was first reported by Scout.com.

The 6-foot-4 White is a native of Wilson, North Carolina, where he attends Greenfield HS, and he played his grassroots basketball for the CP3 16U basketball program this summer. His commitment to UNC comes just a couple days after the ACC school offered him a scholarship.

White took an unofficial visit to UNC in June, and his play in July ultimately led to the program making the aforementioned scholarship offer. By the time White enrolls in Chapel Hill, current veterans such as Joel Berry II and Nate Britt will be out of eligibility. Among the perimeter would could potentially be on campus in 2018 are freshmen Seventh Woods and Brandon Robinson, and sophomore Kenny Williams.

White is the second commit in the 2018 class for the Tar Heels, with 6-foot-7 guard Rechon Black being the first.

Point guard Small to transfer from Oregon

SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 18:  Kendall Small #21 of the Oregon Ducks shoots over Derek Mountain #40 of the Holy Cross Crusaders in the second half during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 18, 2016 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Leave a comment

After navigating a lack of depth at the point to win the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles and earn the program’s first-ever one seed in the NCAA tournament, Oregon will have no such issues in 2016-17. Dylan Ennis, who missed most of last season with a foot injury, is back for another season as is returning starter Casey Benson. Add in freshman Payton Pritchard, whose shooting ability can help a team that struggled from three a season ago, and Dana Altman has multiple players to call upon at that spot.

That left Kendall Small, who played just under eight minutes per game as a freshman, in a spot where it would have been tough to earn more playing time as a sophomore. As a result he’s decided to transfer, with the news first being reported by Scout.com.

In addition to the three guards mentioned above, sophomore Tyler Dorsey also has the ability to make plays with the ball in his hands. Small will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at whichever school he chooses to transfer to, and he’ll have to sit out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules.

A 6-foot guard from Anaheim, Small’s best outing came in Oregon’s 77-59 win over Savannah State on November 23. In that game Small accounted for nine points, four assists and three rebounds in 23 minutes of action. But he played double-digit minutes in just four games after the Ducks began Pac-12 play in early January, the last of which being Oregon’s win over Holy Cross in the first round of the NCAA tournament.