Jim Phillips, Chris Collins

Season Preview: Winners and Losers of 2013’s Coaching Carousel

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Northwestern Athletics

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..

Every season, the Madness of March isn’t just the happenings at the NCAA tournament. With seasons coming to a close, that’s the time of year when coaching changes are made and schools made the decision on who will be the future of their program. This year, there were coaching changes at 45 Division I programs. How will some of those new faces fare?

SIX HIRES DESTINED FOR SUCCESS

Chris Collins, Northwestern: Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament. Ever. And while that may seem like it’ll make it tough to find success at the program, remember that Collins is a Chicago guy with Chicago ties that had a front row seat to see how another high academic program — Duke, where he played and was an assistant — is run. And this may just be me, but the fact that Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament is a positive in my mind. There are no expectations! This isn’t Kentucky. This isn’t even Illinois. All Collins has to do is get good enough to make the Big Dance, and he’ll be a success. Recruiting has already picked up, as the Wildcats currently hold a commitment from top 75 recruit Vic Law.

Andy Enfield, USC: Enfield has never failed at anything in his life. He was a D-III player that managed to become a shooting coach for NBA guys. He helped build a tech company from the ground up that is now valued at more than $100 million. He was a successful assistant with Florida State, he turned Florida-Gulf Coast into Dunk City in just two years, and he married a maxim model. Why would I doubt he can find a way to turn USC into a winning program? He plays a style that kids enjoy and, perhaps most importantly, went out and made a pair of great hires by landing assistants Jason Hart and Tony Bland, which mean he’ll get players. Case in point: USC is in the mix for top five recruit Stanley Johnson, along with Kentucky and Arizona.

Bobby Hurley, Buffalo: The Hurleys win everywhere they go. Their M.O., at least at the college level, is to take a struggling program and almost instantly turn it around. See Danny at Wagner and Rhode Island. Bobby is already recruiting well in Buffalo, as he landed a commitment from a high-major recruit already.

Joe Dooley, Florida-Gulf Coast: Enfield left the roster anything but bare for former Kansas assistant Joe Dooley. Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson are both back, as is a front line with more than enough high major-caliber athletes. Enfield did the dirty work getting Dunk City all the publicity the school could handle, and Dooley has the recruiting chops to build on that success.

Casey Alexander, Lipscomb: In recent years, Belmont has dominated the Battle of the Boulevard. So what did Lipscomb do? They went and hired a Belmont alum that spent nearly two decades as Rick Byrd’s right hand man. The Bisons will bounce back.

Danny Kaspar, Texas State: As far as I know, Kaspar has spent his entire life within the state of Texas. He most recently built Stephen F. Austin into a powerhouse in the Southland. Why can’t he do the same at Texas State?

SIX HIRES THAT MAY NOT TURN OUT SO WELL

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Steve Alford, UCLA: I’m not sure that I see a major difference between Steve Alford and Ben Howland. Both are coaches with midwestern roots that are defensive-minded coaches and like to grind out wins. Granted, Howland had quite a bit of success doing that in Westwood, going to three Final Fours and winning the Pac-12 the year he got fired. I also think that Howland is a better coach that Alford, which means that the Bruins locked in a downgrade for seven years with an absurdly high buyout. Perhaps the biggest negative on Alford? He’s not Andy Enfield.

Brandon Miller, Butler: I want to see Brandon Miller succeed. I want to see Butler relevant in the Big East. The hardest thing to do in coaching is to succeed as the guy after The Guy, and unfortunately for Miller, he’s replacing Brad Stevens. The Bulldogs are a young team with some potential, but they aren’t in the Horizon anymore. This will be the first year the Bulldogs are a member of the Big East, and that’s not an easy transition to make with a future hall of famer at the helm, let alone that future hall of famer’s replacement.

Tubby Smith, Texas Tech: Smith was fired at Minnesota after putting together too many promising starts that were derailed in February. How is he going to recruit to Texas Tech? Where will he pull players from? Perhaps the best news for him is that everyone in the program is simply relieved to be a year removed from the soap opera that was Billy Gillispie.

Eddie Jordan, Rutgers: Jordan did a marvelous job finding a way to make Rutgers capable of competing in the AAC this season, but that doesn’t bode well for Rutgers in the long term. They’re headed to the Big Ten, where programs with much stronger hoops tradition and fan bases than Rutgers have found themselves buried behind the big dogs.

Richard Pitino, Minnesota: Pitino’s got the pedigree, he’s learned from some of the best in the business, and he seems destined to be successful in this business. But Minnesota, like Rutgers, seems to have a cap on how good they can be in the Big Ten. At best, they will probably be the ninth-best program in the Big Ten when Maryland arrives. That’s a tough place to build, especially if Pitino misses out on the Big Three of Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis.

Dave Wojcik, San Jose State: The Mountain West has been one of the deepest conferences in the country the last few years, and they’ve only gotten better with the additions of Fresno State, Nevada and Utah State. Wojcik will be starting at the bottom, which is never easy. At least he has a cool court.

Pac-12 Commissioner Scott has no issue with pregame protests

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has no issue with players protesting during the national anthem long as it’s done in a respectful way.

Athletes across the country have staged a variety of pregame protests after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem in protest of police violence against African-Americans and minorities.

“Very much believe in the idea of freedom of speech and individuals’ right to express themselves,” Scott said. “I’ve also always seen sport as a great platform for positive social change. To the extent that they’re individuals that want to use their celebrity or use the platform to try to send a positive message and make a positive impact on society. I think that’s great.

“I’ve seen plenty of examples in my career of tennis players and others doing that. As long as it’s done in a respectful way, in a way that’s not demeaning to other people and not disruptive, I think it’s absolutely fine.”

The entire Indiana Fever team recently knelt during the anthem before a playoff game. Several other NFL players, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe and scores of high school and college players also have participated in some form.

Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade gave an anti-violence speech at the ESPYS and expressed their support of the values behind the Black Lives Matter movement in July.

University of California-Berkeley professor emeritus Dr. Harry Edwards told the Associated Press in July that today’s athletes have a level of power that Muhammed Ali and others didn’t have in the 1960s, and they have begun using it to speak out against violence both by and against police. The newfound power of today’s athlete comes from monetary wealth, celebrity status and having the vehicle of social media to communicate directly with the masses.

CBT’s 2016-17 College Basketball Season Preview Schedule

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Believe it or not, but college basketball season technically begins this week, as programs around the country are allowed to start practicing as early as September 30th, this Friday.

With that in mind, it’s time for us to kick off the process of previewing the 2016-17 season, getting you ready for everything that will happen in our beloved sport for the next five months with a series of predictions that, hopefully, won’t prove to be totally and completely wrong by the end of the year.

Here is a complete schedule of everything you can expect to see from us over the next six weeks.

And be sure to bookmark this page, as we will be updating the schedule with links as each story gets posted. That way, if you miss anything — which is unlikely if you follow @CBTonNBC on twitter and like the College Basketball Talk page on FaceBook — you can go back and find it quite easily.

AWARDS

Sep. 27: NBCSports.com All-American Team
Sep. 27: Expert Picks and Predictions
Oct. 31-Nov. 4: Preseason Top 25 Countdown
Oct. 31: Mid-Major All-Americans
Oct. 31: Mid-Major Power Rankings

RANKINGS

Oct. 24-28: Top 100 Players Countdown
Oct. 25: Top Back Courts
Oct. 25: Top Front courts
Oct. 26: Top Lead Guards
Oct. 26: Top Off-Guards
Oct. 27: Top Wings
Oct. 27: Top Big Men

CONTENDERS SERIES

Oct. 3: Final Four Sleepers
Oct. 10: Final Four Favorites, part 1
Oct. 14: Final Four Favorites, part 2
Oct. 17-21: Title Contenders

CONFERENCE PREVIEWS

Sep. 29: WCC
Oct. 4: ACC
Oct. 5: Mountain West
Oct. 6: Atlantic 10
Oct. 7: American
Oct. 11: Big Ten
Oct. 18: Big 12
Oct. 25: Pac-12
Nov. 1: SEC
Nov. 8: Big East

Sep. 29: America East
Sep. 30: Atlantic Sun
Oct. 3: Big Sky
Oct. 4: Big South
Oct. 5: Big West
Oct. 6: CAA
Oct. 7: Conference USA
Oct. 10: Horizon
Oct. 11: Ivy
Oct. 12: MAAC
Oct. 12: MAC
Oct. 13: MEAC
Oct. 14: Missouri Valley
Oct. 17: NEC
Oct. 18: Ohio Valley
Oct. 19: Patriot
Oct. 20: SoCon
Oct. 21: Southland
Oct. 24: SWAC
Oct. 26: Summit
Oct. 27: Sun Belt
Oct. 28: WAC

LISTS

Sep. 26: Best Non-Conference Games
Sep. 28: Programs on the Rise and Decline
Sep. 28: Impact Transfers
Sep. 30: All-‘Yup, He’s Still In School’ Team
Nov. 1: Top Dunkers
Nov. 2: Coaches on the Hot Seat
Nov. 2: Key Assistant Coaching Hires
Nov. 2: Best, Worst Head Coaching Changes
Nov. 3: Impact Freshmen
Nov. 3: Breakout Stars
Nov. 7: Under-the-Radar Stars
Nov. 8: X-Factors
Nov. 9: Potential Cinderellas
Nov. 9: Most Important Players
Nov. 10: 68 Things To Watch For

Illinois PG expected to be ready for practice

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Illinois point guards and injuries have been an unfortunate trend over the past two seasons with Tracy Abrams, who missed the past two seasons with a torn ACL followed by a torn Achilles the next year.

On Sunday, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported some good news for an incoming Fighting Illini floor general. Te’Jon Lucas, a three-star prospect from the Class of 2016, will be fully cleared for the start of practice, according to Rothstein. In February, Lucas had broke his fibula in his right leg in two places during a game.

Lucas had committed to Illinois the previous September.

Abrams received a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA in June, and he decided to remain in Champaign for his final season. If healthy, he’ll be the starter. Jaylon Tate is also back for another season. But they are both seniors, which makes Sunday’s report important for John Groce’s program. Lucas will be on the floor Day 1 of practice, being molded for the future by two experienced guards.

The 5-foot-11 Lucas is the only true freshman on the roster.

Illinois begins the 2016-17 season on November 11, hosting Southeast Missouri State.

Xavier adds to class with three-star center

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Xavier added a fourth piece to its 2017 recruiting class on Sunday morning.

Kentravious Jones, a 6-foot-11, three-star recruit, committed to the Musketeers. He announced the decision via Twitter.

Chris Mack’s current recruiting class is headlined by four-star swingman Naji Marshall. The incoming quartet also includes guard Elias Harden and forward Jared Ridder. But Jones’ commitment fits an area that needs to be addressed for the Musketeers moving forward. Xavier isn’t particularly deep when it comes to big men. That frontcourt only gets thinner once RaShid Gaston, a graduate transfer from Norfolk State, exhausts his eligibility after this season.

Jones, along with current freshman forward Tyrique Jones, gives Xavier a young foundation for the future. Jones is an old-school, big-bodied center. He’s got a nice back-to-the-basket game, and had his best stretch of the summer during the UAA Finals. In three games with the Atlanta Xpress, he averaged 15.3 points, shot 59 percent from the field, and grabbed nine boards per game.

Conditioning will be the emphasis for him over the course of the next year. However, we have seen Xavier work well with a big, skilled centers in the past (see: Stainbrook, Matt). According to Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Jones has dropped 30 pounds.

Sunday morning’s news may not even be Xavier’s last score on the recruiting trail. The Musketeers have one scholarship remaining (two, or three if Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett enter the NBA Draft this spring), and are in play for several coveted prospects like point guards Paul Scruggs, Quade Green and Matt Coleman, as well as forward Kris Wilkes.

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.