2014-2015 Season Preview: Which new coaching hires will succeed?

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

Every spring the coaching carousel takes over college basketball, with moves being made for a variety of reasons. For some programs the goal is to “win the press conference,” hiring a name sure to create a buzz amongst the fan base while also ensuring that the on-court product receives a similar boost. For others the press conference matters little, with the goal of finding the right man for the job being the only things that influences the athletic director’s decision. Below are five head coaches in new spots who are positioned to experience success, and five who will struggle.

1. Bruce Pearl, Auburn: Hiring Pearl was a major coup for Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs. Given the recent lack of success he needed a guy who could both reinvigorate an apathetic fan base and improve the on-court product. Pearl’s accomplished the former, and while the latter will be tougher to do strides have been made there as well. Grad transfer Antoine Mason will team up with senior K.T. Harrell on the perimeter, and junior college transfer Cinmeon Bowers will help int he post. And he has four talented recruits lined up for next season as well.

2. Cuonzo Martin, California: The hiring of Martin was met with some skepticism due to the lack of connections on the west coast. However that situation was rectified in part by the hiring of assistant Yanni Hufnagel, and Martin’s efforts to establish and strengthen those bonds haven’t gone unnoticed either. And while interior depth is a concern due to the season-ending injury suffered by Kameron Rooks, the Golden Bears do return senior David Kravish, junior Tyrone Wallace and sophomores Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews. He’s got some good pieces to work with in a Pac-12 that’s wide-open after prohibitive favorite Arizona.

MORE: Best non-conference games | NBCSports.com’s Preseason Top 25 Countdown

3. Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette: The longtime Duke assistant has his first head coaching gig and it’s a good one, as he arrives in Milwaukee to take over a program that prior to last season made eight consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Wojciechowski has pieces to use for the future as well, with junior Steve Taylor Jr. and sophomore Deonte Burton among those with eligibility remaining beyond the 2014-15 campaign. And he’s done well on the recruiting trail, most notably reeling in elite 2015 forward Henry Ellenson.

4. Danny Manning, Wake Forest: Manning has a tougher task in front of him now than his last job (Tulsa), but he’s already off to a good start when it comes to recruiting.

5. Kim Anderson, Missouri: Anderson was highly successful at Central Missouri, and his ability to hang onto Tim Fuller and add Rob Fulford will undoubtedly help with recruiting.

FIVE COACHES WHO WILL STRUGGLE 

1. Dan D’Antoni, Marshall: D’Antoni’s head coaching experience came at the high school level (from 1975-2005), and while the time spent in the NBA should be respected running a college program is an entirely different matter.

2. Ernie Kent, Washington State: Kent has plenty of experience coaching in the Pacific Northwest, as he spent more than a decade at Oregon. And he should be familiar with today’s Pac-12 given his recent work with the conference’s network. That being said it’s tough to win those major recruiting battles in Pullman, especially when going head-to-head with other Pac-12 programs. Add in the fact that his best player, DaVonte Lacy, is a senior and this is a far tougher job for Kent than the one he took over at Oregon.

MORE: Top 25 Potential Breakout StarsCoaches on the Hot Seat | Mid-Major All-Americans

3. Orlando Antigua, South Florida: Antigua was John Calipari’s right-hand man at Kentucky, helping to reel in some of the nation’s best recruiting classes on an annual basis. He won’t be picking from a similar pool of athletes in his new job, but the good news is that there’s a good amount of talent in Florida and there are New York connections to be tapped into as well. The concern: only three coaches who have spent multiple seasons at USF have left with a winning record, the last of which being Seth Greenberg (108-100 from 1996-2003). Maybe it’ll be easier to rebuild in the American than it would have been in the 16-team Big East, but you’re still competing against the likes of UConn, Cincinnati and Memphis.

4. Wayne Tinkle, Oregon State: Tinkle’s off to a good start in Corvallis from a recruiting standpoint, with family ties to the coaching staff netting him 2015 prospects Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson Jr. That being said, he’s fighting against history here. Since Ralph Miller retired in 1989 no coach has left the program with a winning record, and only four coaches in the history of the program have managed to win 90 games or more with a winning percentage above .500 (Miller, Paul Valenti, Slats Gill and Bob Hager).

5. Jim Christian, Boston College: Christian was successful in two separate stints in the MAC, but things didn’t go too well when he took over a struggling TCU program. And with six seniors and a junior in Olivier Hanlan on this year’s roster at BC, rebuilding in the future could be difficult.

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

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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.