Stetson

Louisiana Tech among eight teams participating in new in-season event

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There’s another in-season tournament on the college basketball landscape, as it was announced on Friday that the Gulf Coast Showcase will be played in Estero, Fla. in late November. There will be two eight-team tournaments, one for men’s teams (November 25-27) and one for women’s teams (November 29-December 1) with Louisiana Tech being the highest-profile men’s team in the event.

Michael White’s Bulldogs, who will play in Conference USA this season, are coming off of a 27-7 record (16-2 WAC) in 2012-13. With key contributors such as Raheem Appleby (14.9 ppg), Kenneth Smith (6.8 ppg, 5.0 apg) and Alex Hamilton (7.8 ppg, 2.7 apg) back in Ruston, the Bulldogs are capable of making their debut season in Conference USA a good one.

“The tournament format allows everyone a shot at a championship, which is nice,” White said in the release announcing the event. “Playing three games in three days should help prepare all of us for our conference tournaments.

“In addition, the quality of the programs in the field bode well for tremendous competition as it prepares us all for conference play. Very good conferences and programs will be represented.”

In addition to Louisiana Tech the men’s field includes Wagner, St. Bonaventure, San Diego, UNCG, UIC, Southern Illinois and Stetson. Wagner has the talent needed to be a factor in the NEC in 2013-14, and San Diego will feature one of the most underrated backcourts around in point guard Christopher Anderson and shooting guard Johnny Dee.

Howard Moore’s UIC Flames are looking to improve on their 18-16 campaign of a season ago, with forward Hayden Humes (10.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Purdue transfer Kelsey Barlow being two of their key players. UIC and San Diego will meet in the first round, and that could be an entertaining contest. The other match-ups are Louisiana Tech/UNCG, Wagner/Stetson and St. Bonaventure/Southern Illinois.

The eight teams in the women’s field are UCLA, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, N.C. State, James Madison, Wright State, Grand Canyon and Southeastern Louisiana.

And then there was one: Stetson

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When Lipscomb completed their search for a head men’s basketball coach this past Friday evening, it was supposed to represent the end of the coaching carousel for 2013. However, the Bisons poached Casey Alexander from fellow Atlantic Sun school Stetson, so now that leaves the Hatters as the final Division 1 school remaining without a head coach in place.

With practices set to begin in just about four months from now, Stetson athletic director Jeff Altier understands the sense of urgency in searching and hiring a new coach, he told The Daytona Beach News-Journal: “Obviously, it’s very late in the year for anybody to be transitioning. Most job searches have been completed. The timing is not the best. But we’re ready to move quickly and aggressively.”

The question is, where do they go and just how quickly?

Altier admitted that next season will likely be a rebuilding year whether Alexander remained in DeLand, FL or not: “We were excited to watch the team progress over the last two years, but the process of building the program has just begun. This will be no more than a bump in the road for the program moving forward.”

By all accounts, Altier has not yet mentioned any names as potential coaching candidates. Considering Stetson hasn’t finished above .500 since 2000-01, never been to the NCAA Tournament, and he has admitted next year is a rebuilding one for the program, it’s hard to see the Hatters hiring a current Division 1 head coach.

Keep an eye on former Old Dominion assistant coach Rob Wilkes as a potential candidate. In 2011, when Stetson hired Alexander, Wilkes was a candidate for the job as he is a 1993 graduate of Stetson. Rob’s father, Glenn Sr., was a longtime coach for Stetson compiling a 551-436 record over 36 seasons.

With Jeff Jones now the head coach at ODU, he has brought in his own staff leaving Wilkes on the outside looking in.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11