Appalachian State

Report: Appalachian State in negotiations to fill coaching vacancy

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Around midday on Friday, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported Jim Fox, a longtime assistant to Bob McKillop at Davidson who had recently been promoted to associate head coach, was in negotiations to be the next coach at Appalachian State. Nothing is done yet, as evidenced by any iteration of the coaching carousel, but talks must be serious since a leak like Goodman’s occurred.

Fox is an intriguing candidate, partly because he was listed by Pete Thamel (of Sports Illustrated) as a candidate who should land a head coaching job during this offseason. As McKillop’s assistant for years, he understands what it takes to build a program, and ensure lasting success, and that experience could serve him well, provided he lands the job, as the team makes the transition to the Sun Belt Conference.

If Fox is indeed the athletic administration’s choice, the fate of Devonte Graham will likely be one of his first coaching decisions. A quick back-story: Graham committed to Appalachian State under Jason Capel, but after Graham decided maybe the program wasn’t for him, the guard wasn’t granted a release and he enrolled at Brewster Academy for a year. Graham hasn’t been allowed to speak with any other Division I programs — he is essentially on an island at Brewster, a highly coveted recruit who doesn’t want to attend the school he initially committed to — and this scenario needs to be resolved for both parties, ASU and Graham. When Capel’s contract wasn’t renewed, it was unclear what that action meant for Graham, and whomever — Fox or another option — becomes coach will have to either release Graham or somehow sell him on the direction he intends to take the program and convince him to be a Mountaineer.

VIDEO: Duke’s Grayson Allen beats No. 7 Virginia at the buzzer

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Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia sparks come-from-behind win over No. 13 Louisville

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia (32) goes up for a shot over Boston College’s Idy Diallo (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
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Demetrius Jackson scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and Steve Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 points in the final 20 minutes as Notre Dame landed a 71-66 win over No. 13 Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but Vasturia’s hot shooting combined with Notre Dame holding Louisville to just 15 points in the final 15 minutes made all the difference.

The Fighting Irish are not as good as they were last season, but they are built in a similar mold. Jackson, as we expected, as become one of the nation’s most dynamic point guards, impossible to slow-down in isolation and ball-screen actions. Steve Vasturia emerging as a legitimate secondary option offensively and Zach Auguste is one of the nation’s most underrated big men and one of the most dangerous as the roll-man in ball-screens.

Combine all of that with a handful of shooters creating space and Bonzie Colson’s emergence as a force on the offensive glass, and Mike Brey once again has one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks.

Where they struggle is on the defensive end of the floor, which is what makes the end of Saturday’s win so meaningful. The Irish entered the day ranked 232nd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which more or less means they’re as good as a bad mid-major program at keeping their opponents from scoring.

But they don’t have to be great to be able to win games.

They have to be good enough and they have to get important stops.

That’s precisely what happened on Saturday.

Whether or not that actually becomes a trend for this group will be something to monitor — it happened for Duke during last year’s NCAA tournament — but the bottom-line is this: Notre Dame does something better than just about anyone else in college basketball, and that’s score the ball.

On the nights they are able to gets some stops, they are going to be able to win some games. In the last eight days, they’ve proven that, beating North Carolina, Clemson on the road and Louisville.

And that makes them dangerous in March.