How did SMU hire Larry Brown? By almost quadrupling basketball coach’s pay

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SMU made a splash in the coaching carousel in 2012 when it hired Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown as head coach. The hire marked Brown’s return to college coaching for the first time since 1988 when he was on the Kansas sidelines.

How did SMU lure Brown, a coach who had won a title in the NCAA and the NBA, to Dallas?

According to a report from Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, the school was able to land Brown by nearly quadrupling the basketball coach’s salary. Brown was hired in April 2012, and in the remaining eight months of that year Brown made a sum of $1.9 million in total compensation, according to Berkowitz.

On an annualized basis, that put Brown’s pay at almost $2.8 million. SMU tax records showed [Matt] Doherty being credited with about $635,000 in 2011 and just over $650,000 in 2012, including just over $485,000 in severance pay.

The Mustangs were set to move into the Big East (which then became the newly-formed American Athletic Conference) in 2013, and the acquisition of Brown paid off immediately in terms of on the floor success, recruiting and fan interest.

The renovated Moody Coliseum saw six sellouts in the final two months of the 2013-2014 season, as the Mustangs cracked the top 25 for the first time since the 1984-1985 season. While SMU was snubbed from the NCAA tournament due to its weak non-conference schedule, SMU is projected for a big upcoming season. The Ponies are ranked No. 10 in the College Basketball Talk Way-To-Early Top 25.

Leading scorers Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy return, with Moore joined by Emmanuel Mudiay, the No. 2 overall recruit in the Class of 2014, in the back court. SMU is also a finalist for five-star center Myles Turner, the No. 9 overall recruit, according to Rivals.

SMU president Gerald Turner has been for reform in college athletics, but has clearly seen the benefits of big spending.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.