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Report: Marist head coach Jeff Bower to become Detroit Pistons general manager

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In one season as the head coach at Marist Jeff Bower put together a record of 12-19 (9-11 MAAC), increasing the program’s conference win total by three games from the season prior. And with leading scorers Chavaughn Lewis and Khalid Hart returning, the Red Foxes may be able to take another step forward in 2014-15.

However, the Marist program may have to attempt to do so without its head coach. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, new Detroit Pistons president and head coach Stan Van Gundy is expected to hire Bower as his general manager. Bower has plenty of experience at the NBA level, including a seven-year stint as general manager in New Orleans, and he and Van Gundy have known each other since they were young college assistants.

Losing Bower, especially at this point in the offseason, would be a big loss for Marist to absorb. Marist will also have to account for the graduation of guard Jay Bowie and center Adam Kemp, who combined to average 22.2 points and 12.8 rebounds per game in 2013-14.

Marist did sign a five-member recruiting class for the 2014-15 season, a group that includes three front court players to help account for the loss of Kemp. But as is the case with any coaching change, the status of those recruits (and the players in line to return) will be dictated by who the school hires and how quickly that process is completed.

Report: Did Tom Izzo turn down a $35 million deal to run the Detroit Pistons?

Tom Izzo
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has had his fair share of NBA interest over the years.

The 59-year-old Izzo has made six Final Four appearances and won a national championship in 2000, so why wouldn’t The League be interested?

Izzo’s name has been linked to the Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers this offseason and it appears the Pistons were pretty serious in their pursuit of Michigan State’s longtime head coach.

According to a report from Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Pistons even put forth an offer to Izzo.

How serious was this offer, you ask?

The Detroit Pistons reportedly offered Izzo the same five-year, $35-million deal the team eventually gave to Stan Van Gundy to run and coach the team:

(Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders) kicked the tires — inquiring about their interest through conversations without formal interviews — on college coaches Tom Izzo and Fred Hoiberg as well as veteran NBA coach Stan Van Gundy, but discussions didn’t go beyond that.

(Izzo was offered the same five-year, $35 million offer to coach and run the Pistons that Van Gundy eventually accepted last week. Izzo also declined when Cleveland fired Mike Brown and called for the second time in four years. Hoiberg, too, appears content to remain in college coaching, at least for now.)

If Izzo really did turn down a $35 million offer to have complete control of the Detroit Pistons, then he must either really love Michigan State or must really not want to coach in Detroit.

With the Pistons coming off of back-to-back 29-53 seasons, they’re not exactly an attractive fit right now and for a first-time NBA coach and president of basketball operations like Izzo would have been, it would have been a very difficult turnaround.

Tom Izzo on Michigan State: ‘This is a pretty good place for me right now’

Tom Izzo

Michigan State doesn’t play again until Friday night against Virginia in the Sweet 16 in New York City. However, its head coach was in the news on Tuesday afternoon.

A report surfaced that the Detroit Pistons were eyeing Tom Izzo as its new head coach after firing Maurice Cheeks during what is now a 26-44 season. Izzo was tempted by the NBA in 2010 when the Cleveland Cavaliers made a push to uproot Izzo from East Lansing. Izzo, in his 19th season as the head coach at Michigan State, went on SportsCenter on Tuesday to remind NBA executives that he is still happy as a college coach.

“I’ve always said I’d never say never to anything because you never know what it brings,” Izzo said. “But I got so much more work to do here. I have a great president, a great AD and a football coach that I really get along [with]. So this is a pretty good place for me right now. We’re in a pretty good spot. Program’s in pretty good shape.

“Ain’t broke, so why fix it?”

The Pistons are looking for their fifth head coach since 2008. Since Izzo took over the Michigan State program in 1995, Detroit has been through 10 different head coaches.

Izzo and his Spartans, the No. 4 seed in the East Region, take on top-seeded Virginia on Friday night inside Madison Square Garden. Tip is scheduled for 9:57 p.m.

College Hoops Week in Review: Five Thoughts

Mike Moser, Demetris Morant, Daquan Cook
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Could an injury to Moser actually be a blessing in disguise for UNLV?: Before I get to my line of thinking, I want to emphasize something: this is no way, shape or form a good thing. Miker Moser dislocated his elbow — according to head coach Dave Rice, it was “very dislocated” — in a win at Cal on Sunday night, an injury that didn’t cause a fracture but will force Moser out of the lineup for an extended period of time. Maybe even the rest of the season. Considering this kid’s talent and the fact that he passed up on a chance to enter the NBA Draft after a breakout sophomore campaign, the pain from popping an elbow out of place isn’t the only reason this injury hurts. No one wants to see him sitting on the bench. No one.

But this will make Rice’s decisions easier to make in the near future. You see, Moser is a natural four in today’s college basketball. He’s 6-foot-8, he can rebound and defend in the paint, but he can also step out and knock down a three. Spread the floor offensively and protect the rim defensively. It’s ideal. It’s also a position that is currently being manned by Anthony Bennett, whose 25 points and 13 boards pushed his freshman year averages up to 18.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Khem Birch returns next week, and if he’s as good as the hype says he is — I know we always hear a transfer being forced to sit out is the best player in practice, but sometimes that turns out to be the case — than that means Moser would be forced to the small forward spot.

Because you don’t sit a talent like Mike Moser, even if it means playing him out of position.

With Moser out of the lineup, however, that means that the Chuck Brothers — Bryce Dejean-Jones and Katin Reinhardt — can take up residence on the perimeter with Anthony Marshall manning the point, and while I don’t love that trio being tasked with distributing the ball when the front court is where UNLV’s strength lies, it may end up being a better option that using an out-of-position Moser.

Kansas is on track to become one of the nation’s elite: The thinking about Kansas throughout the preseason was that this would be an elite defensive team that will slowly develop into a very good offensive team as Elijah Johnson learns to be a point guard and Ben McLemore becomes more comfortable in a feature role offensively. Well, the former is true, as Withey has become the nation’s premiere defensive force in the paint, anchoring a defense that currently ranks sixth in defensive efficiency, according to Kenpom. And McLemore? He’s averaging 16.0 points with an offensive efficiency rating of 116.0 (a really good number) and a usage rate of 25.6% (meaning he’s the focal point offensively). As he becomes a more consistent three-point shooter (he’s currently at 31.4%), those numbers will only improve.

The only thing Kansas is really waiting on is Johnson, or Naadir Tharpe, to learn how to protect the ball offensively. Kansas is going to be right there in the mix all season long, and a 36 point shellacking of Colorado on Saturday is only further evidence of that.

How many teams constitute ‘the nation’s elite’?: Here’s the way I see it right now: Duke and Indiana are the nation’s top two teams as of this moment. It doesn’t really matter how you rank them — I still have IU in the top spot, but if you want to put Duke there because of who they have beaten this season, I have no qualms with that — but those two need to be No. 1 and No. 2. I think Michigan is the third best team in the country, followed very closely by Syracuse at No. 4. The next tier is made up of Louisville, Kansas and Florida.

I consider those seven teams the ‘nation’s elite’. Arizona, Cincinnati, Ohio State, Gonzaga, Missouri, Illinois, Creighton, anyone from the Mountain West — they’re not on that same level.

What does the loss to Illinois tell us about Gonzaga?: I’m torn over this. Illinois was quite impressive in winning at Gonzaga on Saturday night, but just what does a win at Gonzaga mean right now? The Zags have one of the biggest and most versatile front lines in the country, and their back court is loaded with talent and athleticism, but there are two major concerns I have with this group:

  • Kevin Pangos is a terrific player, but he’s not a point guard; he’s a scoring guard that can handle the ball. The only point guard on Gonzaga’s roster is David Stockton, and he turns the ball over far too often and is a defensive liability, especially when he shares the floor with Pangos. And while Pangos is struggling a bit early on this year, he still needs to be on the floor for this team.
  • The Zags are going to have an advantage in the paint in every game, and they certainly had one against a much smaller Illinois team. But they couldn’t get the ball to Elias Harris, Kelly Olynyk or Prmezek Karnowski in the second half against the Illini. Some of that was due to a zone that Illinois was in, but there was also an issue with perimeter players hunting shots. Is this going to be a consistent issue? Because if it is, Gonzaga won’t be playing to their strength.

It’s too early to write off the Zags, but this loss was a worrisome development given the way the past couple of seasons have gone.

Brandon Triche, the nation’s most prolific starter?: Here’s a cool stat for you: Brandon Triche has started all 115 games of his college career. He’s never missed one and never come off of the bench for one. The record for most starts in a college career was set by Kyle Singler, who started 147 games. Singler came off the bench once as a sophomore, however, which is why former VCU Ram Bradford Burgess holds to current NCAA record for most consecutive starts with 146. Syracuse has played eight games this season, which means that if they can make it to the finals of both the Big East tournament and the NCAA tournament without coming off the bench or missing a game, he’ll be able to break Burgess’ record and tie Singler’s record while setting his record for most career starts without missing a game or coming off the bench in a career.

No other senior in the country has started every single game in his career. The closest is Drew Crawford or Northwestern. He’s currently at 110 career starts, but he came off the bench once as a sophomore. Ohio’s DJ Cooper has started 114 games in his career, but he’s come off of the bench four times. Kenny Boynton has 112 career starts, coming off the bench once in each of his first three seasons. Elias Harris has 108 starts, but he missed a game as a freshman and as a sophomore and came off the bench once as a sophomore.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Kentucky’s ‘Camp Cal’ could turn the season around

John Calipari

John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats lost two straight, one at home snapping a 55-game home winning streak and marking the first time Calipari has lost inside Rupp Arena while on the UK sideline and if that wasn’t enough, Kentucky went from being No. 8 in the nation to be unranked…in a week.

Safe to say Coach Cal is not happy and so the emergence of ‘Camp Cal’ has occurred.

For the past two days, the Kentucky roster has gotten up at 7 a.m. for workouts, followed by an afternoon practice. This will continue until Calipari is satisfied with his team, that started entered the season ranked No. 3.

Camp Cal started after Calipari was unhappy with his team’s efforts in an 88-56 win over Samford, a game in which the Wildcats only outscored the Bulldogs by one in the second half. Calipari certainly wasn’t happy with Saturday’s loss to Baylor.

This lack of effort, especially in Tuesday’s second half against Samford, sparked Coach Cal to use a “forced breakfast club” to get players to begin their days together with training. Classes have already ended at UK, meaning more time has opened up for extra workouts. However this could all be over soon – or extended through Christmas break – depending on the Wildcats performance against 3-5 Portland on Saturday

“We’ve got a good group of guys, we really do,” said Calipari. “They just don’t know how hard you’ve got to work or what kind of investment you have to make in this sport. I’ve always had a couple of guys on the team that could drag others. We’re still trying to find that mix.”

One of the main issues with the team thus far is the uncertainty at the point guard position. Junior point guard Jarrod Polson was great for the season-opener against Maryland in Brooklyn. But in a John Calipari team, the point guard has always been critical, whether it be Derrick Rose, John Wall, Brandon Knight, or Marquise Teague. That floor general was suppose to be Ryan Harrow, who has been unable to find a role after battling illness and dealing with a family matter the first few weeks of the season.

Since then, Archie Goodwin, making the transition from the two guard has filled into that role.

“I worked out like three times on Thursday,” said Harrow. “I was just trying to get a workout in and I’ll work out tonight. … We want to be in shape. We need something.”

At 5-3, this isn’t where Kentucky was expecting to be, but Camp Cal – whether it ends on Saturday or continues through the holiday season – this could make or break the Wildcat’s season.

“It may be a month and half before you really see,” said Calipari. “It won’t change overnight.”

Kentucky has three games remaining on this current home stand – Portland, Lipscomb, and Marshall – before a Dec. 29 road game against rival, Louisville.

Terrence is also the lead writer at and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

UPDATE: Michael Dixon accused of, never charged with, sexual assault

Michael Dixon
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Michael Dixon is a potential all-american candidate for Missouri, but he has yet to suit up for the Tigers as he has been suspended by head coach Frank Haith since late October. When the suspension was originally announced, Haith made it seem like it was an academic issue, saying that it wasn’t a legal problem but “more about the everyday choices we make and the cumulative impact it has.” He followed that up by saying, “Mike has had some time off to work on some academic stuff, and he has done a nice job, he’s made some strides in that area.”

Seems pretty clear cut, right?

Well, rumors started flying during the Tigers’ trip to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis that there was more to the story than a simple academic issue, enough so that Haith felt the need to open his press conference after a 68-65 win over VCU with this: “Before we get going here, I want to reiterate one thing — that Mike Dixon has been suspended for a violation of team rules, OK? I know there’s a lot of rumors and allegations going on out there. It’s something I’m not going to address.”

Those rumors stemmed for a series of tweets that were fired off by someone claiming to be a victim of a sexual assault by Dixon. She has since deleted her account, but you can find the tweets here. They were in response to these tweets from Kim English, which have also since been deleted.

The big news today is that we now have confirmation that Dixon was, in fact, accused of sexual assault. Terez Paylor of the KC Star is reporting that Dixon was accused of forcible rape on August 20th but was never charged due to a lack of evidence. Columbia police investigated, but the case was closed on November 16th. This would lend credence to the theory that Dixon is currently suspended as his case goes in front of the school’s student judicial board, as English insinuated in his tweets.

(UPDATE: There are quite a few very, very graphic details of the encounter here, courtesy of Steve Waletnik of the Columbia Tribune.)

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.