Each of the four teams that will make their way to Brooklyn for games November 23-24 will have two home games to play in the regional round. Those opponents will come from a four-team pool of Belmont, IUPUI, Kennesaw State and South Alabama, with those teams being selected well in advance of today’s announcement.
There will be a separate four-team event hosted by Kennesaw State November 23-24, and as is the case with the semifinal round in Brooklyn those games will be announced at a later date. Below are the regional round matchups.
Milwaukee Regional (hosted by Marquette) November 13: Belmont at Marquette November 16: IUPUI at Marquette
Raleigh Regional (hosted by NC State) November 15: South Alabama at NC State November 18: IUPUI at NC State
Baton Rouge Regional (hosted by LSU) November 16: Kennesaw State at LSU November 19: South Alabama at LSU
Tempe Regional (hosted by Arizona State) November 16: Belmont at Arizona State November 19: Kennesaw State at Arizona State
A native of the Ivory Coast, Kouassi should be able to help Arkansas as a rebounder and interior defender after the team lost sophomore Bobby Portis to the 2015 NBA Draft. In 19.6 minutes per contest last season, Kouassi averaged 4.6 points and 5 rebounds per game while also registering 1.3 blocks per night. Although limited offensively, Kouassi shot 46 percent from the field on the season.
A former four-star recruit out of high school, Kouassi was rated as the No. 66 overall prospect in Rivals‘ Class of 2011 national rankings and committed to Auburn out of high school. In one year with the Tigers, Kouassi averaged 1.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per contest in a little over 10 minutes a game.
The addition of Kouassi should give the Razorbacks more interior depth and a big man with some SEC experience under his belt.
Kennesaw State hires former Boston College head coach Al Skinner
Skinner, who has served as an assistant coach at Bryant since 2013, spent 13 seasons as the head coach at Boston College, winning 247 games and taking the Eagles to the NCAA tournament seven times. He made two previous trips to the tournament at Rhode Island, where he spent nine years.
While Skinner has a successful track record as a coach, it all came in the northeast, beginning his career as an assistant at Marist before stops at URI, BC and most recently, Bryant. His first priority will be to retain or hire assistants with ties to the Atlanta area.
There are connections between Skinner and Kennesaw State athletic director Vaughn Williams. The two both attended UMass, although their times in Amherst were separated by several decades. Williams went on to receive a Master’s Degree from Boston College in 2002, Skinner’s fifth year at Chestnut Hill.
Skinner will become the third coach the Kennesaw State program has had since 2013. Lewis Preston, who took a leave of absence during the 2013-14 season, was relieved of his duties in March 2014. Jimmy Lallathin was let go last month, after his first season as head coach.
He will be taking over a team that went 10-22 (4-10 Atlantic Sun) this past season, finishing second-to-last in the conference. The Owls program has lost 20 or more games in each of the last six seasons.
Wednesday afternoon the Gazelle Group announced that the field for the 2015 Legends Classic has been filled. The four teams that will automatically “advance” to the semifinal round at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn November 23 and 24 were known, with those teams being Arizona State, LSU, Marquette and NC State.
Wednesday’s announcement included the four teams that will play in the regional round were finalized as well.
Belmont, IUPUI, Kennesaw State and South Alabama are those four teams, and each of the four automatic semifinalists will play two games against those schools before heading to Brooklyn. Kennesaw State will host the subregional rounds between these four teams November 23 and 24.
Of the eight teams in the field three reached the NCAA tournament last month, with NC State beating LSU in the Round of 64 on their way to the Sweet 16 and Belmont losing to No. 2 Virginia in the Round of 64.
NC State returns a number of key players from that Sweet 16 team, including point guard Cat Barber, and while LSU lost starting forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey to the NBA they add a highly-regarded recruiting class led by Ben Simmons. Arizona State returns an experienced team in the first season of the Bobby Hurley era in Tempe, and Marquette adds one of the nation’s best recruiting classes led by five-star forward Henry Ellenson.
Matchups for all three rounds of the event will be announced at a later date.
Kennesaw State lets go of head coach Jimmy Lallathin
Kennesaw State will not retain head coach Jimmy Lallathin, after he only lasted one full season. Lallathin took over for former Owl head coach Lewis Preston in the middle of the 2014-15 season and coached this season before parting ways with the Atlantic Sun program. The news was first reported by ESPN.com.
The first-year head coach of the Atlantic Sun program will miss the Nov. 16 game against Cal as associate head coach David Rivers will coach the Owls instead.
Lallathin is being suspended after Kennesaw State self-reported violations to the NCAA.
After serving as interim head coach for 16 games last season, Lallathin was named the head coach at Kennesaw State in late March. Lallathin has been with the Owls as an assistant coach since June of 2011.
Overall, it doesn’t look good to suspend your head coach in-light of some NCAA issues, but if Lallathin can win games and make some noise in the Atlantic Sun in the near future, this will likely be forgotten.
Kennesaw State opens the season on Nov. 14 against Syracuse.