Missouri hires Kim Anderson to replace Frank Haith

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Missouri’s coaching search is finally over, as the Tigers announced on Monday afternoon that they had hired Kim Anderson to replace Frank Haith.

Anderson is a Missouri alum and spent the past 12 seasons as the head coach at Central Missouri, a Division II school that he led to three Final Fours and the 2014 national title.

“I’m honored and humbled to have the opportunity to return to Mizzou and lead a program that our family is so vested in,” Anderson said in a statement released by the university on Monday. “When we took over in Warrensburg 12 years ago, we faced an uphill battle. We had support, we had a winning history and great campus leadership, but the program had lost its identity. I see that same opportunity here at Missouri.”

Anderson has never been a head coach at the Division I level, but he has spent decades as an assistant at high-major programs, having worked on staff at Missouri for 11 years in two stints and spending seven years at Baylor under Gene Iba. He also worked for the Big 12 conference for two years.

Anderson is a son of Missouri, through and through. He holds two degrees from the University, played there, coached there and spent the last 12 seasons at another school in the state. He’s also, at 58, the oldest coach in the SEC despite being a Division I rookie. That doesn’t mean that this hire can’t be successful — all you need to do is look at Bo Ryan to realize that this method can turn a program into a consistent winner — but that doesn’t mean that the Tigers handled it all that well.

Haith left for Tulsa on April 18th. That’s a week and a half ago. Missouri could have made this hire on that day.

What did they do instead?

Waited until the day after a very important live period — the only one that coaches will get to go on the road to evaluate during the spring — to hire a guy that they could have had the second that Tulsa called Haith. Oh, and they spent a reported $42,500 to do it.

I get it. They paid the money and took the time to try and find a guy that would make a splash. They would have been dumb not to take a swing at Gregg Marshall or Mike White or any of those other young coaches that have been tagged with ‘hot’ label. But regardless of who they hired, Missouri was foolish to wait until the day after the live period to make this hire.

The key for Anderson is going to be hiring a staff that can land him players. The most important person to keep on staff is Tim Fuller, although there were rumors earlier during the Coaching Carousel that he was looking at leaving the program.

He’s also going to want to keep the young core of this team together. Wes Clark, Johnathan Williams III, Torren Jones, Shane Rector. Those are talented pieces that can be leaned on in the future. Keep them around.

But the bottom line is that he can coach. Just about every coach I’ve talked to about Anderson raves about him, and it’s not an unprecedented move to hire a guy that’s had success outside Division I. Ask Wisconsin about Bo Ryan. That’s worked pretty well. John Beilein had a stop at Canisius and Richmond, but he’s not a bad coach, is he?

He’ll need to get guys into the program — doesn’t matter how well you coach them if your guys are just overmatched from a talent perspective — but if he does, there are a lot of people that think this hire will be successful.

Myself included.

Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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Regional Finals – Sunday, March 26

2:20 p.m.,CBS, New York
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:05 p.m., CBS, Memphis
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

Lonzo Ball has officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft

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Following a season-ending loss in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, UCLA freshman point guard unsurprisingly announced that he will enter the NBA Draft.

“That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate the fans,” Ball told reporters.

The 6-foot-6 point guard has a strong case to be the No. 1 overall pick. It could be almost too enticing for the Los Angeles Lakers to pass on a Southern Cal product if the ping pong balls fall in their favor. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were in Memphis for Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kentucky.

Ball, in an All-American freshman season with the Bruins, averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation’s best 7.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

He ended his college career with an 86-75 loss to the Wildcats, scoring 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting, with eight assists.

VIDEO: Florida’s Chris Chiozza beats Wisconsin at the buzzer

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK — So you didn’t think the NCAA Tournament had enough excitement this year?

Wisconsin and Florida solved that problem for you.

The Badgers started things, as they erased a 12-point deficit in the final 4:15 to force overtime, a stretch that included an 8-0 run at the end of regulation that was capped by a Zak Showalter running three with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 72.

Wisconsin jumped out to a lead in overtime, but the combination of an inability to make free throws and and this epic chasedown block from Canyon Barry left the door open for the Gators, who eventually won the game on this running three from Chris Chiozza:

What.

A.

Game.

If we get a better one than this, I just hope I’m courtside for it.

KeVaughn Allen led the way for the Gators with 35 points, and no one else on the Gators scored more than eight points, but it didn’t matter. The Gators are still headed to the Elite 8, and Mike White will have a chance to play for the right to go to the Final Four in his first NCAA Tournaments.

Replacing a legend like Billy Donovan was never going to be easy, but White is doing an admirable job.

The other subplot here: With the win, Florida becomes the third member of the SEC in the Elite 8, and with a regional final against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon, it guarantees that there will be at least one SEC team in the Final Four.

While there were celebrations in the Florida locker room, Wisconsin’s was one of devastation.

The Badgers started four seniors, including tournament stalwarts Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, who played in their 17th career NCAA Tournament games.

Hayes had 22 points, but he’s going to be haunted by the free throws he missed. He was 7-for-14 from the line on the night, including four missed freebies in overtime. The end was similarly heart-breaking for Koenig, as he was a non-factor in overtime due to an injury he suffered on the possession before Showalter’s game-tying three.

Both of them are going to spend years thinking ‘What if?’ That’s how the NCAA Tournament works.

Everyone leaves in tears, either because they’re cutting down the nets at the Final Four or because their season — their career — just came to an end.

Hayes and Koenig were no different.

VIDEO: Canyon Barry saves Florida with epic chase down block

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Florida’s Canyon Berry had the best chase down block since LeBron James in the 2016 NBA Finals.

It kept Wisconsin’s lead at two points and gave the Gators a chance to tie and, eventually, win the game.

Look at this: