Season Preview: Winners and Losers of 2013’s Coaching Carousel

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Northwestern Athletics

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here..

Every season, the Madness of March isn’t just the happenings at the NCAA tournament. With seasons coming to a close, that’s the time of year when coaching changes are made and schools made the decision on who will be the future of their program. This year, there were coaching changes at 45 Division I programs. How will some of those new faces fare?

SIX HIRES DESTINED FOR SUCCESS

Chris Collins, Northwestern: Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament. Ever. And while that may seem like it’ll make it tough to find success at the program, remember that Collins is a Chicago guy with Chicago ties that had a front row seat to see how another high academic program — Duke, where he played and was an assistant — is run. And this may just be me, but the fact that Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament is a positive in my mind. There are no expectations! This isn’t Kentucky. This isn’t even Illinois. All Collins has to do is get good enough to make the Big Dance, and he’ll be a success. Recruiting has already picked up, as the Wildcats currently hold a commitment from top 75 recruit Vic Law.

Andy Enfield, USC: Enfield has never failed at anything in his life. He was a D-III player that managed to become a shooting coach for NBA guys. He helped build a tech company from the ground up that is now valued at more than $100 million. He was a successful assistant with Florida State, he turned Florida-Gulf Coast into Dunk City in just two years, and he married a maxim model. Why would I doubt he can find a way to turn USC into a winning program? He plays a style that kids enjoy and, perhaps most importantly, went out and made a pair of great hires by landing assistants Jason Hart and Tony Bland, which mean he’ll get players. Case in point: USC is in the mix for top five recruit Stanley Johnson, along with Kentucky and Arizona.

Bobby Hurley, Buffalo: The Hurleys win everywhere they go. Their M.O., at least at the college level, is to take a struggling program and almost instantly turn it around. See Danny at Wagner and Rhode Island. Bobby is already recruiting well in Buffalo, as he landed a commitment from a high-major recruit already.

Joe Dooley, Florida-Gulf Coast: Enfield left the roster anything but bare for former Kansas assistant Joe Dooley. Brett Comer and Bernard Thompson are both back, as is a front line with more than enough high major-caliber athletes. Enfield did the dirty work getting Dunk City all the publicity the school could handle, and Dooley has the recruiting chops to build on that success.

Casey Alexander, Lipscomb: In recent years, Belmont has dominated the Battle of the Boulevard. So what did Lipscomb do? They went and hired a Belmont alum that spent nearly two decades as Rick Byrd’s right hand man. The Bisons will bounce back.

Danny Kaspar, Texas State: As far as I know, Kaspar has spent his entire life within the state of Texas. He most recently built Stephen F. Austin into a powerhouse in the Southland. Why can’t he do the same at Texas State?

SIX HIRES THAT MAY NOT TURN OUT SO WELL

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Steve Alford, UCLA: I’m not sure that I see a major difference between Steve Alford and Ben Howland. Both are coaches with midwestern roots that are defensive-minded coaches and like to grind out wins. Granted, Howland had quite a bit of success doing that in Westwood, going to three Final Fours and winning the Pac-12 the year he got fired. I also think that Howland is a better coach that Alford, which means that the Bruins locked in a downgrade for seven years with an absurdly high buyout. Perhaps the biggest negative on Alford? He’s not Andy Enfield.

Brandon Miller, Butler: I want to see Brandon Miller succeed. I want to see Butler relevant in the Big East. The hardest thing to do in coaching is to succeed as the guy after The Guy, and unfortunately for Miller, he’s replacing Brad Stevens. The Bulldogs are a young team with some potential, but they aren’t in the Horizon anymore. This will be the first year the Bulldogs are a member of the Big East, and that’s not an easy transition to make with a future hall of famer at the helm, let alone that future hall of famer’s replacement.

Tubby Smith, Texas Tech: Smith was fired at Minnesota after putting together too many promising starts that were derailed in February. How is he going to recruit to Texas Tech? Where will he pull players from? Perhaps the best news for him is that everyone in the program is simply relieved to be a year removed from the soap opera that was Billy Gillispie.

Eddie Jordan, Rutgers: Jordan did a marvelous job finding a way to make Rutgers capable of competing in the AAC this season, but that doesn’t bode well for Rutgers in the long term. They’re headed to the Big Ten, where programs with much stronger hoops tradition and fan bases than Rutgers have found themselves buried behind the big dogs.

Richard Pitino, Minnesota: Pitino’s got the pedigree, he’s learned from some of the best in the business, and he seems destined to be successful in this business. But Minnesota, like Rutgers, seems to have a cap on how good they can be in the Big Ten. At best, they will probably be the ninth-best program in the Big Ten when Maryland arrives. That’s a tough place to build, especially if Pitino misses out on the Big Three of Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis.

Dave Wojcik, San Jose State: The Mountain West has been one of the deepest conferences in the country the last few years, and they’ve only gotten better with the additions of Fresno State, Nevada and Utah State. Wojcik will be starting at the bottom, which is never easy. At least he has a cool court.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

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LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.