A native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Penava most recently played for the Turkish Airlines Euroleague’s U18 Spars Sarajevo and D’Antoni is excited about the way he fits into the Thundering Herd.
“He’s very versatile, 6-foot-9, and long,” D’Antoni said in the release. “He’s skilled and he’s an outstanding student. He will fit in very well with our style of play. As a big man, he’s good with his back to the basket.”
D’Antoni has Serbian sophomore Milan Mijovic and Aleksa Nikolic returning while incoming freshman forward Aleksandar Dozic hails from Montenegro. The international flavor on the roster has definitely helped in more commitments and we’ll have to see if D’Antoni has tapped a pipeline that will help win him games.
2014-2015 Season Preview: Louisiana Tech the favorite in the ever-changing Conference USA
Conference realignment has been rampant the last few seasons, and Conference USA is still feeling the effects of it heading into the 2014-2015 season. Gone are East Carolina, Tulane and the league’s lone NCAA tournament team from last year, Tulsa. The conference welcomes in Western Kentucky as its newest member. If you’re scoring at home, that’s nine new programs and seven former members since 2013.
At least one thing looks to remain certain in 2014-2015, Louisiana Tech should finish atop the conference standings. The Bulldogs were one of four teams — Tulsa, Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss — to share the regular season title with a 13-3 record. Like previously mentioned, Tulsa left C-USA, Middle Tennessee lost four starters and Souther Miss is starting the Doc Sadler era after Donnie Tyndall accepted the Tennessee position.
Louisiana Tech returns plenty of key contributors, but none more important than head coach Michael White, who was in the conversation for several coaching vacancies this offseason.
The Bulldogs boast the league’s top back court with Kenneth ‘Speedy’ Smith running the show, Alex Hamilton back as the team’s top scorer and Raheem Appleby, who was sidelined for several weeks last season with an ankle injury. Michale Kyser mans the frontline with his 3.0 blocks per game, and he’ll be an important piece this season, as the Bulldogs’ biggest threat, UTEP, has two talented forwards.
The Miners may have finished fifth last season, but was only a game out of first in the top-heavy C-USA. Tim Floyd’s team is headlined by sophomore Vince Hunter and (12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Julian Washburn (13.1 ppg). Another team looking to make a run at the Bulldogs is newcomer, Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers join the league from the Sun Belt, and have been to two of the last three NCAA tournaments. Ray Harper’s team is aided by senior guards T.J. Price and George Fant — the team’s top two scorers at 15.5 points and 13.3 points, respectively –who will help with the transition against better competition.
Along with Harper, C-USA has three new coaches. Mike Rhoades came over from VCU to take over at Rice while Michael Curry (Florida Atlantic) and Dan D’Antoni (Marshall) join the conference from the NBA sidelines, despite neither of them having college basketball coaching experience.
In: Western Kentucky Out: East Carolina, Tulane, Tulsa
PRESEASON CONFERENCE-USA PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kenneth ‘Speedy’ Smith, Louisiana Tech
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged single-digits (7.8 ppg) last year, but he effected the game in so many other ways. He was second in the nation in assists (7.7 apg), was 10th in the nation with a 3.23 assist-to-turnover ratio, and he was also top 10 in the nation in steals at 2.5 per game. The senior guard was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year and is the only returning member of the league’s first-team from a season ago.
THE REST OF THE PRESEASON CONFERENCE-USA TEAM:
Alex Hamilton, Louisiana Tech: Another member of Louisiana Tech’s heralded back court. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged a team-high 14.5 points per game last season.
Pierria Henry, Charlotte: The 49ers top scorer from a season ago averaged 12.3 points, grabbed 5.1 boards and dished 5.8 assists per game.
Vince Hunter, UTEP: Hunter is coming off a great freshman campaign, averaging 12.5 points and 6.4 boards per game. Part of a talented front court duo with Julian Washburn.
T.J. Price, Western Kentucky: One of the top newcomers to the league averaged better than 15 points per game over the past two years in the Sun Belt.
If you follow women’s college basketball, you’ve probably seen some videos of coaches getting doused by cold water this summer.
The Cold Water Challenge, with its hashtag of #Chillin4Charity, is sweeping across the country thanks to a great idea from Arizona women’s basketball coach Niya Butts.
In a video uploaded to YouTube on June 16th, Butts had some cold water dumped on her head and challenged several Pac-12 coaching colleagues to do the same in the name of charity. The coaches that were challenged have 48 hours to also get cold water dumped on their heads and challenge others to do the same. If the coach that is challenged doesn’t accept and complete the Cold Water Challenge, they have to donate $250 to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, according to the stipulations created by Butts.
If the challengers accept the Cold Water Challenge, the person that put them up to it has to donate money back to the same cause.
Here’s the original video of Butts explaining the Cold Water Challenge and getting water dumped on her head:
As you can see, the Cold Water Challenge doesn’t look very pleasant — especially in the Arizona heat — but the charitable component and viral quality of the challenge has quickly made this a national thing.
Soon, coaches from all over women’s college basketball were joining in on the cause and the Cold Water Challenge has slowly infiltrated the men’s game as well.
It began with Marshall, as new head coach Dan D’Antoni was initiated into the challenge with the hope that men’s basketball teams would follow suit with donations coming for the Jimmy V Foundation.
Northwestern head coach Chris Collins and his staff then responded to Marshall assistant Chris Duhon’s request.
There are too many videos going on in #Chillin4Charity to add them all here, but hopefully this movement keeps growing and a lot of money gets raised for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and the Jimmy V Foundation.