Do not watch this in front of people. It is not safe to watch this at work, unless you want to be stuck making that ugly face you make when you’re trying to hold back tears. No one wants their boss to see that. Consider yourself warned.
Tim Miles is adding a third member to his 2018 recruiting class.
Amir Harris, a 6-foot-5 guard from Maryland, committed to Nebraska on Thursday, he announced via social media.
A one-time Rhode Island commit, Harris also had offers from Auburn, Cal and DePaul. He was on campus in Lincoln with the Huskers last week ahead of his commitment. Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech, USC and Maryland all were involved in his recruitment following his decommitment from the Rams.
Harris gives Miles a trio of three-star prospects in his ‘18 class with 6-foot-6 wing Karrington Davis and 6-foot-10 Brady Heiman already signed with the Huskers.
The Huskers had a resurgent year last season, posting a 22-11 record, but missed out on the NCAA tournament for the fourth-straight season. Much of the roster is set to return for 2018-19, though both Isaac Copeland, Jr. and James Palmer, Jr. have declared for the NBA draft without an agent.
As of today, the college basketball coaching carousel isn’t quite finished spinning — thanks at lot, Detroit and Chicago State — but for all intents and purposes, all the jobs that are nationally relevant are filled and have been filled for a couple of weeks, some for more than a month.
What that means is that it is time to look back on some of those big name coaching decisions.
Who made the best hires?
Did anyone make a head-scratching decision?
Who is guaranteed success?
Who is locked into failure?
Here are the 12 best hires of the carousel.
1. CHRIS MACK, Louisville
For my money, Mack is one of the ten best coaches in college basketball. He’s young, he’s a high-level recruiter, he understands how to run a program in that part of the country, he’s dealt with a passionate fanbase at a basketball school. This was the hire, and Louisville got it done.
1a. DAN HURLEY, UConn
Another homerun hire, and this one coming at a discount of sorts. Hurley picked UConn over Pitt, who offered a more lucrative contract, and Rhode Island, who offered him an extension with a bigger dollar figure. Dan, the son of legendary high school coach Bob Hurley and the younger brother of Bobby Hurley, picked the Huskies in part because of the fact that they were another school in the Northeast and in part because of the pedigree that comes with the UConn brand.
Whether or not the Huskies can actually return to the glory of the Calhoun years is up for debate, but Hurley is the guy to do it. He’ll recruit better than Kevin Ollie did and he should be able to coach up the players he lands better than Ollie did the last four seasons. I don’t expect UConn to once again because a top 5-10 program in college basketball, but I do think that Hurley is the guy that can get them back to being a perennial top 25 team and an annual AAC contender.
THESE ATHLETIC DIRECTORS EARNED THEIR SALARIES
3. PENNY HARDAWAY, Memphis
I do not know if Penny is going to be a good college coach. He was a good high school coach, a good AAU coach and a great college and NBA player, but that doesn’t always translate. What I do know is this: He is going to be able to recruit the city of Memphis, which is something that Tubby Smith, his predecessor, was not able to do, because he already is landing Memphis kids. Getting talent matters. I think Tubby Smith is a better basketball coach than Josh Pastner, but Pastner unquestionably had more success at Memphis than Smith did. Penny will get talent.
But more importantly, Penny has reinvigorated a fan base. Memphis fans want to root for talented, local players. They’re going to do that with Penny — who is a Memphis native and alum — recruiting the kids he coached at East HS and with Team Penny. Gary Parrish, a Memphis radio host, said on the CBT Podcast on Monday that Memphis has already brought in enough money through donations and ticket sales to pay Penny’s salary and Tubby’s buyout for a year. College sports in a business, and at Memphis, business is finally good again.
4. JEFF CAPEL, Pittsburgh
I think Capel is a good coach and a very good recruiter who doesn’t get enough credit for the job he did at VCU or at Oklahoma before everything blew up in his face post-Blake Griffin. He was overdue to get another shot at a high-major gig, and Pitt was able to land him.
But, if I’m being frank, his presence this high on this list has a lot more to do with the fact that I believe Pitt is a bad job in the midst of what is going to be a long and difficult rebuild. The Pitt basketball program has no pedigree outside of the years that Ben Howland and Jamie Dixon were on campus. They’ve been to seven Sweet 16s in program history, and five of them came in a seven-year period from 2002-09. That was when the Panthers, who have no recruiting base to speak of, were pulling kids out of New York City with the pitch of being able to play in the Big East.
They’re in the ACC. That sale isn’t going to work, which means that Capel has to find a way to convince players to join a program that went 0-18 in the ACC last season. I’m not sure Pitt is a top ten job in the ACC. And they landed Capel. Good for them.
5. ASHLEY HOWARD, La Salle
Ashley Howard is a Philly native and a former La Salle assistant that has spent all but one year of his post-high school life playing or coaching at one of Philly’s college basketball programs. He knows that city as well as anyone, and has spent the last five years as an assistant on the staff of the most successful program in college basketball during that time, Villanova. This was the guy that La Salle needed to get, and they got him despite the fact that the athletic department is not in great shape financially.
6. JAMION CHRISTIAN, Siena
Christian went to two NCAA tournaments in six seasons at Mount St. Mary’s, finding a way to stay relevant despite losing transfers to bigger programs. He just turned 36 years old and has a bright future in front of him in this business. He’s had other offers and turned down other jobs, and eventually a better program than Siena was going to smarten up and pull the trigger. What makes the hire even more impressive is that Siena made it happen in the wake of an ugly breakup with Jimmy Patsos. This is the kind of hire that is going to lead to Siena getting back to NCAA tournaments … and having to find another head coach in five or six years.
7. NIKO MEDVED, Colorado State
The Rams landed themselves one of the better young coaches in the country who is a former assistant with the program and they did it without having to break the bank. In four years, Medved built Furman from a program that was left for dead to a conference champ for the first time in 26 seasons. In one season at Drake, he turned the Bulldogs from a team that was expected to be a joke to one that went 10-8 in the league. He’ll have a similar rebuilding task on his hands in Fort Collins, but he should be up for it.
8. JOE DOOLEY, East Carolina
East Carolina is a terrible job. It’s that simple. Terrible. They’ve been to the NCAA tournament twice in program history, the last time coming in 1993. Dooley knows all about this. He was an assistant on staff when they made the 1993 NCAA tournament despite finishing below .500 and just 4-10 in the CAA. He was also the head coach at the program from 1995-99. The best he did was a 17-10 mark, finishing tied for third in the conference. Now, the Pirates are in the AAC, a league that isn’t great but is well above the level of the program. And they were able to land Dooley, a former Kansas assistant that had a ton of success as FGCU the last five years, despite the fact that he knew he was taking a terrible job. Good for them.
FINE, IF UNINSPIRING
9. TRAVIS STEELE, Xavier
Let me be clear on this: I do not think Travis Steele was a bad hire. I think he’s going to win at Xavier. I think he’s going to keep that program in and around the top 25, if not competing for Big East titles. This was the right hire. But he was always going to be the guy. This is what Xavier does. They promoted Sean Miller after Thad Matta left for Ohio State. He turned into a top ten coach in the country. After Miller left for Arizona, they promoted Mack, and ditto. Steele might end up on that same path. I wouldn’t be shocked. I just think that it’s more impressive to make a good hire at a bad job than it is to make the smart decision to hire from within when it’s the obvious move and what your program does.
10. TOM CREAN, Georgia
It’s not that I don’t think that Crean, the former Marquette and Indiana head man, is a good coach — I do — it’s that this hire is kind of a weird fit. Crean has spent the majority of his coaching career in the midwest, even if he did end up recruiting nationally more than he did within state borders by the end of his time at Indiana. Recruiting Georgia, and specifically Atlanta, is complicated, but it can be quite fertile if done correctly. Figuring out how to navigate the state will be the key to whether or not Crean outperforms his predecessor, Mark Fox.
11. KERMIT DAVIS, Ole Miss
Kermit Davis is a good coach that had a tremendous amount of success at Middle Tennessee State and is familiar with the recruiting waters he’ll have to wade in at Ole Miss. I’m just not sure that I see the logic in Ole Miss firing the most successful coach that the program has ever had only to go out and hire a guy that basically does the same thing, just at 58 years old instead of 50.
12. DAVID COX, Rhode Island
This was probably the right decision for URI to make, given that Cox should keep some of the talent on the roster from departing. But he’s also going to be a first-year head coach taking over for a guy that made a program without much history nationally relevant. Those are big shoes to fill. We’ll see how it plays out.
With Day 1 in the books, Saturday’s times and TV assignments have been announced for teams looking to book a trip to the Sweet 16. All times Eastern.
Pittsburgh: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner and Dana Jacobson
- 12:10 p.m.: No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 9 Alabama, CBS
- 2:40 p.m.: No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 Rhode Island, CBS
Boise: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber and Lisa Byington
- 5:15 p.m.: No. 5 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Buffalo, CBS
- 7:45 p.m.: No. 4 Gonzaga vs. No. 5 Ohio State, CBS
Dallas: Spero Dedes, Steve Smith, Len Elmore and Ros Gold-Onwude
- 6:10 p.m.: No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 11 Loyola (Chicago), TNT
- 8:40: No. 3 Texas Tech vs. No. 6 Florida, TNT
Wichita: Brad Nessler, Steve Lavin and Evan Washburn
- 7:10 p.m.: No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 Seton Hall, TBS
- 9:40 p.m.: No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 6 Houston, TBS
By virtue of the new format of the selection show and the alphabet, Arizona State didn’t have to wait long to learn its fate – and go for a dip in the pool.
The Sun Devils found themselves on the right side of the cut line on Selection Sunday as they earned a bid despite a late-season swoon.
Bobby Hurley’s team celebrated by all jumping into a pool.
The Sun Devils weren’t the only ones celebrating their inclusion in the field of 68, however. Over in Rhode Island, Rams coach and Bobby’s brother, Dan Hurley, gave a few wild fists pumps before being overcome by emotion.
It had to be as big of moment for Dan as it was Bobby as Rhode Island’s loss to Davidson in the Atlantic 10 title game made the Wildcats bid thieves – with the thought being Arizona State could be the victim.
Instead, there are two Hurleys in the Big Dance. And two great celebrations.
1. NO. 18 RHODE ISLAND SURVIVES A HERCULEAN EFFORT FROM LA SALLE’S B.J. JOHNSON
The 18th-ranked Rams clinched at least a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season title, but it wasn’t easy as they needed overtime to beat La Salle 95-93 in Philadelphia. The “foul or defend” question came up on multiple occasions late in regulation and overtime, with Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley opting to foul each time. Late in regulation the strategy didn’t work out, as Tony Washington rebounded an intentional miss and scored the basket that forced overtime.
B.J. Johnson was outstanding in a losing effort for La Salle, finishing with 29 points and 23 rebounds. The rebound total was one off of the Atlantic 10’s single-game record, which is held by the late Yinka Dare. As for URI, Jeff Dowtin and Stanford Robinson led the way with 25 and 20 points, apiece, with the former also dishing out seven assists and grabbing five rebounds. With the win Rhode Island can clinch the outright A-10 title by beating Dayton Friday night, and the result also keeps the Rams in the conversation to earn a 4-seed (or possibly better) in the NCAA tournament.
2. KENTUCKY REBOUNDS FROM SLOW START TO WIN AT ARKANSAS
On multiple occasions John Calipari’s young team has produced efforts that led to many wondering if they had turned the corner. But after ending a four-game losing streak on Saturday, the Wildcats trailed Arkansas 11-0 with Darryl Macon and Jalen Barford serving as the sparks for the Razorbacks. But instead of wilting and getting blown out Kentucky fought, pulling even by halftime. And in the second half the Wildcats were even better, controlling the action and picking up an 87-72 victory.
Five Kentucky players scored in double figures, with Kevin Knox accounting for 23 points and seven rebounds and fellow freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander adding 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Three of the five double-figure scorers came off the bench, with Jarred Vanderbilt and Quade Green providing much-needed sparks in the first half. Kentucky’s now won back-to-back games for the first time since late January, and while that may not seem like a big deal it’s certainly a positive development for this group.
3. NO. 2 MICHIGAN STATE AND NO. 16 OHIO STATE HOLD SERVE
Both the Spartans and Buckeyes took care of overmatched foes on their respective senior nights, with Michigan State beating Illinois by 20 and Ohio State whipping Rutgers by 27. With its win Michigan State wrapped up at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title, and the Spartans can wrap up the top seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament with a win over Wisconsin on Sunday. Miles Bridges led the way with 19 points and Joshua Langford added 16 for Michigan State, which shot 47.1 percent from the field and 11-for-27 from three.
What Michigan State will need to do against Wisconsin will be known by tip-off, as Ohio State completes its regular season schedule Friday night at Indiana. Tuesday night, Chris Holtmann’s team rolled past an overmatched Rutgers squad, with C.J. Jackson scoring a game-high 18 points off the bench. Keita Bates-Diop shot just 3-for-11 from the field and scored six points, but Ohio State received quality efforts from multiple players as it ended a two-game losing streak.