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.

Wichita State getting more national respect with non-conference scheduling

Joe Robbins/Getty Sports Images
1 Comment

Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.

Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.

According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.

Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.

USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year

J Pat Carter/Getty Images
Leave a comment

USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.

The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.

With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.

Following decommitment, four-star recruit makes eye-opening remarks about Ohio State

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)
1 Comment

Ohio State lost a four-star recruit on Wednesday when in-state Class of 2018 wing Darius Bazley opted to open up his recruitment.

As a rising senior who is just finishing his junior season of high school, Bazley’s decommitment isn’t going to immediately hurt the Buckeyes next season. But the 6-foot-7 wing’s comments about why he opted to open up his recruitment are pretty jarring.

In a story with Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch, Bazley opened up about why he decommitted from Ohio State. Bazley’s eye-opening remarks include how the Buckeyes might not get him ideal NBA exposure and how Ohio State might miss the NCAA tournament in his freshman year.

“I was excited when I first got the offer,” Bazley said to Jardy. “Ohio State is still a great place. It’s nothing against the school or anything, but my one ultimate goal is to get to the NBA and I just didn’t feel as confident as I did when I first committed that Ohio State was one of those schools that could get me there. At the end of the day I’ve got to perform no matter where I go, but I think there’s other schools out there that could put me on a bigger stage and in a better position to show those NBA scouts when I get to college what I can do.”

Bazley also didn’t appear to be pleased at the recruiting class coming into Ohio State for the Class of 2017, which is the class that is coming in this season. Remember, Bazley is a Class of 2018 recruit who still has to finish his senior season.

“Ohio State, they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year,” Bazley said to Jardy. “They didn’t even make the NIT, which is unfortunate, but I looked into the recruits they have coming into next year, they didn’t look too good for the future. So I felt like when my class came in, yeah, we would’ve been OK, but good enough to make the tournament? I don’t know. I just felt as if I was to de-commit, actually take my time, figure everything out it would just be a lot better.”

Ohio State was once one of the major destinations for one-and-done players a decade ago so these remarks are very surprising. D’Angelo Russell was a top-five pick in the NBA Draft only two years ago, and while the Buckeyes might not be as successful in recent years as they once were, they still get plenty of national exposure with regards to producing NBA talent.

The NCAA tournament comments might carry some more weight though. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA tournament in two consecutive seasons and things are also looking difficult for them to reach the Big Dance for next season. If Bazley wants to play in the NCAA tournament, then I could understand him wanting to open things up and explore more options.

Still, you don’t often see a player make comments like this about a school after decommitting–especially a program with as much national exposure as Ohio State. Bazley is likely going to face some heat for his remarks, but if those are his true feelings about a future life decision, then he should explore what else is out there.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.