Chaz Williams UMass

The Secondary Break: Tuesday’s Links

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Chaz Williams appreciates UMass’ Coaches vs. Cancer effort (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
The Coaches vs. Cancer “Suits and Sneakers” initiative is one that reaches many people across the country, due primarily to the fact that the disease has impacted so many. One of those is UMass point guard Chaz Williams, who lost his father to cancer at the age of nine.

Marshall’s Thomas eager to hit his full stride (Huntington Herald-Dispatch)
The Marshall Thundering Herd haven’t performed as well as they would have liked to this point in the season, and the same can be said of their new addition Chris Thomas as well. Once one of the most talented players in his high school class, Thomas is still looking to hit his stride in his first season in Huntington.

Zags continue to bide their time until all are healthy (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga hasn’t had the best of fortune when it comes to health, with multiple rotation players missing time due to injury this season. However, even with the Bulldogs having those issues they’re still in first place in the WCC with games at Santa Clara and San Francisco next on the schedule.

Coaches hurt the most by new foul rules (Real GM)
With much being made about the strides made to improve freedom of movement, it’s always good to see what the numbers say. While there’s been more scoring and more foul calls, some coaches are being affected by the changes more than others.

Our biological clock is ticking (The Mid-Majority)
While this is the final season of The Mid-Majority, which has celebrated the achievements of mid-major programs for a decade, there are still some really good stories to be told. One is that of Fairleigh Dickinson, which is slowly finding its way under first-year head coach Greg Herenda with an assist from senior point guard Sidney Sanders.

Akron, Cleveland State are ready to grind (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)
These weeks can be tough for some college basketball programs, as we haven’t reached the stretch run but there’s still a need to remain focused on the task at hand. Results impact seeding in conference tournament, and in the case of both Akron and Cleveland State those conference tournaments are their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

Analyzing the problems and potential outcomes for five struggling teams (Sports Illustrated)
After hot starts to the season, programs such as Baylor and Ohio State find themselves in search of answers ahead of the final full month of the regular season. At least the Buckeyes ended their losing streak with a win over Illinois on Thursday night; the climb back up may be even more difficult for the Bears.

Sun Belt approves new scheduling format

Sun Belt Conference
Sun Belt Conference
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With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.

And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.

Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.

Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.

Former Wichita State assistant returns as a consultant

Chris Jans, Gregg Marshall
Associated Press
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Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.

Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.

“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”

While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.