Mike Hopkins

Miami head coach Jim Larranaga speaks to his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Princeton at the Bank United Center in Coral Gables, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. Miami won 76-64. (AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)
Associated Press

No. 13 Miami pulls away late to beat Syracuse 64-51

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) The seeds for this win were planted more than two years ago, when Ja’Quan Newton turned down a scholarship offer from Syracuse and committed to play for Miami.

It stung the Orange then, and hurts even more now.

Sheldon McClellan scored 22 points, Newton made two big 3-pointers in the second half to kick start a Miami offense that was dreadful for most of the game, and the 13th-ranked Hurricanes pulled away late to beat Syracuse 64-51 on Saturday.

Newton finished with 14 points for Miami (12-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which won its seventh straight despite missing its first 16 tries from 3-point range. Newton was 2 for 2 from beyond the arc, while his teammates were a combined 1 for 23.

“The whole game, they were playing off me,” said Newton, who pulled a groin muscle in the final minutes. “I noticed it in the first half. … They were a big two 3’s, the biggest two 3’s of the game, probably.”

Not probably. There’s no doubt.

“The difference in the game,” Syracuse interim coach Mike Hopkins said of Newton’s 3-pointers. “Got to give him a lot of credit.”

Both of Newton’s 3’s gave Miami the lead, the second one putting the Hurricanes on top for good and starting a 12-0 run that would give them a 56-44 edge with 2:46 left.

Malachi Richardson scored 20 points for Syracuse (10-5, 0-2), which has dropped its first two league games for the first time since it started the 1998-99 Big East season 0-2.

Michael Gbinije added 10 points for the Orange, who were outscored 47-26 in the second half.

“Second tough road game that our kids played in and they gave a great effort,” Hopkins said. “They really executed defensively.”

The Orange led 25-17 after the first 20 minutes, absolutely frustrating a Miami team that came in averaging 85 points on 51 percent shooting. The Hurricanes were shooting only 19 percent at the break – and missed all 11 of their 3-point attempts. And if not for McClellan managing 11 points by halftime, it could have been much worse for Miami.

“Players respond to challenges one of two ways,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “Either they start thinking negatively … or they respond positively and start to dig down deeper defensively.”


Syracuse: Hopkins is 4-4 as the replacement for Orange coach Jim Boeheim, who is one game from satisfying the nine-game suspension handed down as part of Syracuse’s NCAA sanctions. … The Orange have lost six straight road games going back to last season – that doesn’t count their three neutral-site wins at the Battle 4 Atlantis in November – and have dropped their last five ACC games.

Miami: The Hurricanes improved to 4-8 in their ACC openers. … It was the second straight slow start for Miami, which had 27 first-half points against Princeton. Until Saturday, that was Miami’s season-low for a half. … Miami improved to 7-1 at home. … The Hurricanes got to the line 34 times, compared with 14 for the Orange.


Syracuse shot 9 for 28 in the first half, and shot exactly that again in the second half. Miami, after a 5 for 27 start to the game, finished by making 13 of its last 25 attempts. “That 2-3 zone is really annoying,” McClellan said.


The seats at Bank United Center were mostly filled with orange-clad fans – which, ordinarily, would be a good thing for Miami and its orange-and-green color scheme. But included in that crowd was a contingent of about 2,500 Syracuse backers, many of whom made the trip from Central New York as an escape now that winter has finally seemed to strike. Temperatures at game time: 80 in Coral Gables, 32 in Syracuse.


Syracuse: Hosts Clemson on Tuesday.

Miami: Hosts Florida State on Jan. 9.

Syracuse assistant recovering from surfing injury

Syracuse Hopkins
Associated Press
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The Syracuse basketball program is dealing with its first injury of the 2015-16 academic year, and it’s head coach Jim Boeheim’s eventual replacement who’s currently at less than full strength.

Assistant and head coach in-waiting Mike Hopkins suffered a neck injury while body surfing in California, as first reported by Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard. Hopkins, who played collegiately at Syracuse and has been a member of Boeheim’s staff since 1995, was on vacation visiting family when the injury occurred.

The good news in all of this is that while Hopkins is wearing a neck brace, the injury was not deemed to be severe in nature.

While Hopkins must wear the brace, the neck injury is not severe. Hopkins has been overseeing workouts with Syracuse players at the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center. He has also been on the road recruiting this past week, including a trip to New Jersey.

Hopkins, who was officially named Boeheim’s successor in late June, will take over as head coach in 2018.

Syracuse makes it official that Mike Hopkins will take over in 2018

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For quite some time the general assumption was that whenever current Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim decided to call it a career, Mike Hopkins would be the man to take over the program. Having played for Boeheim in the early 1990’s, Hopkins has been a member of the Syracuse coaching staff since 1995.

Thursday the school announced that Hopkins has now been given the title of head coach designate, meaning that he will take over as head coach when Boeheim retires in 2018. Syracuse has made 14 NCAA tournament appearances during Hopkins’ time on staff, and he’s been an important asset to the program in regards to both recruiting and player development.

“I’m honored, humbled and grateful for this special opportunity,” Hopkins said in the release. “Very few people are afforded the privilege to coach at their alma mater. I want to thank Chancellor Syverud, the Board of Trustees and Jim Boeheim for entrusting me with this great program.

“Coach Boeheim has created one of the most preeminent college basketball programs in the country, one that is committed to a standard of excellence and consistency.”

Making this news official is a positive step for Syracuse, as opposing programs cannot attempt to use Boeheim’s eventual retirement against the Orange in recruiting. Prospective players now know for sure who will take over when the Hall of Fame coach retires, and the fact that it’s a person who’s been a part of the program as either a player or coach for the last two-plus decades (outside of the two years he played professionally) helps with continuity.

Hopkins is one of three Syracuse alums on Boeheim’s coaching staff, with former guards Adrian Autry and Gerry McNamara being the others. The Orange, who missed out of postseason play as a result of a self-imposed postseason ban for NCAA rules violations, return three starters from last season’s 18-win team.

Reductions in scholarship, off-campus recruiting will have significant impact on Syracuse moving forward

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Friday afternoon the NCAA revealed its findings in an investigation of the Syracuse athletic department, with both the men’s basketball and football programs being punished. Jim Boeheim’s program took the most significant hit. In addition to being placed on probation for five seasons they’re also losing 12 scholarships over a four-year period amongst other penalties.

The recruiting angle is what could be most damaging for Syracuse, as they’ll also have to navigate restrictions with regards to who will be allowed to recruit off campus. The school recommended in its findings that one off-campus recruiter be eliminated for a six-month period during the 2015-16 season; the NCAA ultimately ruled that two coaches will be banned from leaving campus to recruit for the next two years beginning June 1.

However this ruling may not have as big of an impact as it would appear to at first glance. Why? Because in addition to serving as an assistant to Duke Mike Krzyzewski on the USA Basketball coaching staff, Boeheim has also served as chairman of the US Junior National Team Committee since 2005. That means he observes many of the nation’s top prep talent at youth national team tryouts and can interact with them as well.

Will that change due to the NCAA ruling? That’s a question that has yet to be answered, but if Boeheim remains in that role that is one way in which to ensure that elite prospects are still interacting with Syracuse in spite of the recruiting restrictions.

With Rakeem Christmas moving on and four players having signed a National Letter of Intent, Syracuse will be at 13 scholarships next season which is the maximum allowed per NCAA rules. With forwards Moustapha Diagne and Tyler Lydon and guards Frank Howard and Malachi Richardson all signed, the school will not have to begin the process of cutting scholarships until the 2016-17 academic year.

While that avoids a potentially messy situation from occurring this offseason, Syracuse still has some significant moves to make. Here’s a breakdown of their scholarship players, by class, in the 2015-16 season. And you’ll notice that the majority of them will have eligibility remaining beyond next season.

Seniors: Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije
Juniors: DaJuan Coleman (redshirted this season), B.J. Johnson, Chinoso Okoboh, Ron Patterson, Tyler Roberson
Sophomores: Kaleb Joseph, Chris McCullough
Freshmen: Moustapha Diagne, Frank Howard, Tyler Lydon, Malachi Richardson

Syracuse is also still in contention for the services of five-star big man Thomas Bryant, so there could be some shuffling of the roster to come in the offseason should there be a need to make room for him. With Christmas out of eligibility and Coleman having struggled with knee issues for much of his college career, landing Bryant would be an important recruiting win for Syracuse if they can make it happen.

Looking beyond next season, with four-star forward Matthew Moyer having verbally committed to Syracuse in the 2016 class Syracuse (at this time) has 12 scholarships accounted for in the 2016-17 season (Cooney and Gbinije moving on). With the scholarship penalties being what they are, that is the first season in which the Orange would be limited to ten available scholarships.

The combination of a reduction in scholarships and less time to recruit off-campus means that Syracuse will need to be even more selective in recruiting. Casting a wide net would not be feasible given the resulting lack of resources. Another question that could impact the future of the program: how does all of this impact assistant coach (and head coach-in-waiting) Mike Hopkins?

He’s had multiple opportunities to accept head coaching jobs in the past, most notably discussing the USC vacancy in 2013 before ultimately deciding to remain at his alma mater. With Boeheim moving further away from the 1,000-win mark due to the vacating of games, how will Friday’s developments impact when Hopkins takes over? There’s only one person who has the answer to that question, and it’s Jim Boeheim.

The biggest concern at this time is accounting for the scholarship and evaluation sanctions, as they’ll impact the strength of the Syracuse program for years to come.

Has Oregon State narrowed its list of head coaching candidates?

OSU Robinson Firing
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Normally by this point in the offseason the vacant head coaching positions in college basketball are filled. However currently there are three positions that have yet to be filled: Florida A&M, Mississippi Valley State and Oregon State. Of those three jobs the Oregon State position has received the most attention, which is obvious when considering the Beavers being a member of the Pac-12.

So who’s in line to replace Craig Robinson? That’s still up in the air, although it has been reported by multiple outlets that one coach being considered is current Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins. Hopkins is a native of southern California, a fertile recruiting ground that’s an important area for many of the programs in the Pac-12. However there are other names that have been discussed, with Arizona assistant Damon Stoudamire being one.

John Canzano of The Oregonian gave odds on five possibilities, with Hopkins, Stoudamire and Montana head coach Wayne Tinkle all receiving 5-to-1 odds. And here are his thoughts on Hopkins:

My thought: Feels like a longshot to leave Syracuse, but if you can get him, you get him. His connection to California is interesting. First heard his name in this race a week ago, but dismissed it as rumor. He’s real now.

Also mentioned in the article are two former Pac-12 assistants, Eric Musselman (who was a member of Herb Sendek’s staff at Arizona State this past season) and Travis DeCuire (was Mike Montgomery’s associate head coach at Cal).

According to Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune, Hopkins, DeCuire and Tinkle are the finalists for the position.

Whoever lands the job at Oregon State will have a tough task ahead of them, considering the program’s lack of success since the days when Gary Payton was running the point in Corvallis. And the timeline of this ongoing process won’t help matters from a recruiting standpoint either, as the new head coach will have missed out on the spring’s lone open evaluation period.

Will Oregon State be able to land the head coach capable of raising the program’s profile within the Pac-12? The hope amongst the fan base is that athletic director Bob De Carolis will be able to just that.

‘Cuse assistant Hopkins philosophical about missing out on USC job

Syracuse Hopkins
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Syracuse’s top assistant Mike Hopkins has long been a staple of the offseason rumor mill. When openings come up, Jim Boeheim’s right-hand man hears about them. According to a recent article by Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard, Hopkins usually gives them short shrift. He’s been in serious discussions with St. Bonaventure and Charlotte in the past, but ended up staying put.

When USC came calling at the end of last season, however, Hopkins sat up and listened. Hopkins grew up in southern California, and his parents still live there. The idea of coaching in front of the people who brought him into the world really appealed to Hopkins.

Family ties weren’t just pulling him westward, according to the Post-Standard article, however. Hopkins’ eldest son Griff was none too happy about the idea of moving.

Last winter, Griff Hopkins got off the school bus and raced inside his house to see his father.

“Dad,” said the sixth-grader, “the bus driver said that you’re going to take the USC job. That you’re leaving us. Is that true?”

Mike Hopkins, the long-time assistant basketball coach at Syracuse University, had been in discussions with officials at the University of Southern California about the school’s open head coaching position since mid-February.

And now, there was Griff Hopkins, fresh off the bus, asking his dad if he was leaving Syracuse.

“All he knows is Syracuse,” Hopkins said. Griff is the oldest of Mike and Trish Hopkins’ three children. “No question, if I would’ve left, my son might’ve stopped talking to me.”

Moving your kids from the only home they’ve ever known is a big deal, but it’s a decision parents in and out of the coaching profession make every day, with the overall good of the family in mind. Making his kid happy wasn’t the only thing weighing on Hopkins’ mind. He’s also the presumptive heir to Jim Boeheim, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Hopkins says he welcomes the challenge of following his mentor, and sustaining the success Boeheim has made commonplace in Syracuse.

In the end, USC chose Andy Enfield instead of Hopkins. Hopkins was somewhat disappointed, but realizes he’s in a great spot.

Hopkins is, so far the exception. Other top assistants have moved on recently, with Coach K sending Chris Collins off to take the helm at Northwestern, and Bill Self’s top lieutenant Joe Dooley sliding into Enfield’s vacated position at Florida Gulf Coast. Those situations are somewhat different, as Collins was surrounded by contenders for K’s eventual open chair, and Dooley was backing up a relatively young coach who likely isn’t going anywhere for a while yet. Boeheim is 68, and has mused on retirement on occasion recently.

It’s interesting to hear the stories behind the coaching carousel. We might as well get to know something about Mike Hopkins now. With Syracuse in the ACC and Boeheim possibly edging toward retirement away from his beloved friends in the media, Hopkins may just inherit one of the most coveted jobs in college hoops, sooner rather than later.