With Oliver Antigua leaving to take over the South Florida program, Kentucky head coach John Calipari had a vacancy to fill on his coaching staff. And on Thursday the school announced the news that surprised few, with Barry Rohrssen making the move from Pittsburgh to Lexington.
Lauded for his ability on the recruiting trail, Rohrssen joins John Robic and Kenny Panye on Calipari’s coaching staff. And in making the move to Kentucky, Rohrssen reconnects with a head coach he’s known for more than three decades.
“Barry has been part of my coaching family for the past 30-some years. We roomed together at Five Star as counselors, still in college, and have followed each others’ careers on the court closely,” Calipari said in the school release. “I’m thrilled with what he brings to our staff, both on court and off, in terms of coaching, recruiting and mentoring these young men.”
Rohrssen has nearly two decades of coaching experience at the college level, including two separate stints as an assistant at Pittsburgh and five seasons as the head coach at Manhattan. And while the news of Rohrssen’s hire was just announced, he was with his new boss in Sacramento last weekend watching Nike EYBL games during the lone open period of the spring.
With Rohrssen making the move from Pittsburgh to Kentucky, some have wondered what the impact will be on five-star 2016 guard Mustapha Heron. Heron is verbally committed to attend Pittsburgh, and the relationship between his family and Rohrssen did help the Panthers. However in a story written by Mike White of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette a couple days ago, Heron stated that he remains committed to Pittsburgh.
The addition of Rohrssen fills out the Kentucky coaching staff, but there’s still the question of whether or not NBA franchises will look to speak with Calipari despite his statement that he has no interest in leaving the program. With Calipari making that statement, the Wildcats can seemingly move into their offseason preparations with an eye towards their summer trip to a location that has yet to be announced.
No. 25 Texas A&M made a statement on Turkey Day, as they knocked off No. 10 Gonzaga 62-61 in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Danuel House led the way with 19 points for the Aggies while Tony Trocha-Morales finished with 14 points as Texas A&M picked up the win despite the fact that they did not score for the final eight minutes of the game.
Billy Kennedy’s club looked the part of an SEC contender, playing tough defense and keeping Gonzaga’s massive and talented front line in check. Perhaps most impressive was that they were able to hang on despite blowing a lead late in the second half, and that they did it with their defense. Gonzaga can score. They have big bodies inside and shooters to surround them, but Domantas Sabonis struggled with foul struggle throughout the game while Kyle Wiltjer did not score in the final 12 minutes.
Kentucky, at this point, is the clear-cut favorite in the SEC, and while Vanderbilt looked really good in Maui this week, A&M looks like they’re going to end up giving the Commodores a run for their money for second-best in the league.
On the other hand, this loss wasn’t a total disaster for the Zags. They had the final possession with a chance to be a good team on a day when Domantas Sabonis was rendered completely ineffective. And, more importantly, point guard Josh Perkins was terrific. He did have a late turnover, but he scored all 15 of his points in the second half as he helped keep the Zags within striking distance.
Texas A&M will play the winner of Syracuse and No. 18 UConn for the title.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: Syracuse vs. No. 18 UConn, 3:30 p.m.
For the first time since the Orange departed the Big East, the two former rivals will square off. Today’s battle will take place at the Battle 4 Atlantis, as the Orange knocked off Charlotte yesterday and the Huskies dispatched Michigan. To get ready for this battle, I’d suggest ready through the conversation @NoEscalators had with himself last night.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 25 Texas A&M vs. No. 10 Gonzaga, 1:00 p.m.
The other semifinal in the Battle 4 Atlantis could end up being just as good, as the Aggies — who might be the second best team in the SEC — square off with a Gonzaga team that has one of the best front lines in the country. This will be a good test to figure out just how good both of these teams are.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 20 Wichita State vs. USC, 2:00 p.m.: The Shockers will be without Fred VanVleet for this event. It will also be a chance for us to gauge just how good this 4-0 USC team is.
2. No. 23 Xavier vs. Alabama, 12:00 p.m: The Musketeers should have no problems dispatching Alabama.
3. No. 8 Villanova vs. Stanford, 4:30 p.m.: The Wildcats are, once again, as good as any team in the country. Josh Hart might be the nation’s most underrated star.
4. No. 14 Cal vs. San Diego State, 12:00 a.m.: Tyrone Wallace and company have been awesome this season. They get their first real test of the season tonight.
5. Providence vs. Evansville, 7:00 p.m.: Evansville is one of the nation’s best mid-majors, good enough to give the likes of Wichita State and Northern Iowa a fight in the Missouri Valley. And Providence? They got a kid named Kris Dunn. Heard of him?
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 3 Michigan State vs. Boston College, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 11 Arizona vs. Santa Clara, 11:30 p.m.
- No. 17 Notre Dame vs. Monmouth, 6:30 p.m.