Kevin Ollie denies report he ‘plans to visit’ with the Lakers about coaching position

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There’s a negative side to having a coach put together a¬†successful season: all of a sudden he becomes a targeted acquisition.

This isn’t a problem if you’re Kansas or Duke or North Carolina. It’s not an issue if the coach in question is a Lute Olson or a Jim Calhoun, legends that are inseparable from their program.

It does, however, become a bit of a nuisance for guys like Kevin Ollie and Fred Hoiberg. Both are former NBA players that have long been considered to be future coaches at the highest level. Hoiberg turned Iowa State into a Big 12 contender in four years, which was enough to get him named as a favorite for a job — Golden State — that hadn’t even come open yet. That was the second time that his name had been bandied about as a potential replacement at the NBA level.

For Ollie, it was only a natural thought that he would be interested in replacing Mike D’Antoni with the Lakers. He’s a UConn alum, but he’s also a native of Southern California that grew up at a time when Showtime was at its peak. That’s what it wasn’t a surprise when FOX Sports’ Bill Reiter tweeted out that Ollie ‘plans to visit‘ with the Lakers in the coming weeks about potentially moving back west. Reiter also said that Ollie is planning on staying at UConn, but that he ‘wants to listen’ and ‘have a conversation’ about the opening.

Ollie denied the report on twitter on Tuesday afternoon, and he may be telling the truth.

But he’s also in the middle of trying to leverage a surprising run to the 2014 national title into a bigger contract with the school.

And what better way is there to gain leverage in contract negotiations than to say, ‘hey, the Lakers are courting me.’ After all, Mike D’Antoni was making $4 million-a-year.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.