Posted on: April 5, 2011 2:51 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 2:53 pm

N.C. State hires Gottfried

Former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried has reached a deal in principle to become North Carolina State's next head coach, school officials confirmed Tuesday.

Gottfried coached Alabama for 11 seasons before he was fired in 2009.

He made five NCAA tournaments.

N.C. State spent weeks searching for Sidney Lowe's replacement before settling on Gottfried. Sources told CBSSports.com that the school pursued many candidates -- among them Texas' Rick Barnes, Arizona's Sean Miller, UCLA's Ben Howland, Xavier's Chris Mack, Memphis' Josh Pastner, Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon, Cincinnati's Mick Cronin and Wichita State's Gregg Marshall. All decided to pass on the opportunity to work under athletic director Debbie Yow, whose reputation within the coaching community hindered her ability to make the type of home run hire she and her fan base desired.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 12:16 am

Friday Wrap-up

NEW YORK -- Kemba Walker dominated at Madison Square Garden again.

Tom Izzo suddenly has a dangerous basketball team again.

And Jimmer went Jimmer in a bigtime way.

Here's Friday's Wrap-up to recap a busy day of college basketball.

Best game: Big East semifinals. Connecticut vs. Syracuse. Did you really think it would end in regulation? "I didn't want it to go six overtimes again," said UConn's Kemba Walker, whose brilliance ensured it would not. The Huskies instead closed this one out in the first OT and advanced to Saturday's title game with a 76-71 victory over the Orange two years after the two schools played that six-overtime classic in this same building. Walker finished with 33 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and six steals, then spent some time chatting outside the media room with President Bill Clinton. Meantime, UConn coach Jim Calhoun used part of his postgame press conference to praise his star and highlight, for the 87th time this week, that one Big East coach didn't vote Walker First Team All-Conference. "He's the Most Valuable Player on any team in the country," Calhoun said. "I'm going to keep saying it."
Other best game: North Carolina was down double-digits to Miami at the half, at which point I openly wondered whether Larry Drew was back to playing point guard for the Tar Heels. Turns out, he was not. And that was never more obvious than when Kendall Marshall, Drew's more-talented mid-season replacement, drove into the lane in the final seconds of a tie game and found Tyler Zeller all alone under the basket for an easy layup at the buzzer that gave North Carolina a 61-59 win in the ACC quarterfinals. It was a play that capped an incredible run that allowed the Tar Heels to overcome a 19-point deficit in the final 10 minutes. It also reminded me of what Zeller told me about Marshall last week. "He does a lot of things that make our jobs easy," Zeller said. "He can pass you the ball and you just have to lay it up." As Miami now knows, that's exactly right.

Yet another best game: Virginia Tech probably secured an NCAA tournament bid with a 52-51 win over Florida State in the ACC quarterfinals, but the Hokies couldn't celebrate until Derwin Kitchen's shot at the buzzer that initially seemed to give FSU the win was waved off. The officials huddled around a monitor and correctly concluded that the ball was still in Kitchen's hands when time expired, but just barely. It was a wild scene in Greensboro. Seth Greenberg cried and everything.

Team whose dream remained alive: Whether Alabama can get an at-large bid remains debatable because the Crimson Tide have seven losses outside of the top 50, but their 65-59 overtime win against Georgia in the SEC quarters definitely enhanced their case. The Crimson Tide now have four top-50 wins to help offset those troubling losses, and they're at no risk of taking another "bad" loss before Selection Sunday (provided they meet Kentucky in the semifinals). As for Georgia, man, who knows? The Bulldogs have a better body of work than Alabama despite two losses to Alabama. But a bubble team blowing a double-digit second-half lead to a fellow bubble team is never a good final impression to leave with the Selection Committee.

Team whose dream was crushed: Jerry Palm projected Tulsa as the winner of C-USA's automatic bid after UAB lost Thursday, which means Tulsa entered Friday in the Field of 68 here at CBSSports.com. I'll be honest, it just looked weird. But that projection will change as soon as my colleague updates his projections because UTEP beat Tulsa 66-54 in the C-USA quarterfinals and eliminated the Golden Hurricane from NCAA tournament contention. Hey, it was fun while it lasted.

Performance I hope you witnessed: Walker's 33 at MSG was the biggest story of the night ... right up until Jimmer Fredette dropped 33 on New Mexico in the first half and finished with a career-high 52 in BYU's 87-76 win in the Mountain West semifinals. The CBSSports.com National Player of the Year was -- ready for this? -- 22-of-37 from the field, and only one of his points came on a free throw. If the members of the Selection Committee want to do the nation a favor, they'll put BYU and UConn in the same region and give us a possible Jimmer vs. Kemba matchup two weekends from now.

Performance I hope you missed: Wisconsin and Penn State did nothing to help the Big Ten's reputation as a slow and boring basketball league. In fact, they might've cemented the reputation by playing a game in which the winning team scored 36 points and the losing team scored 33. Penn State was the winning team, if you care.

 Five things worth noting

1. Nolan Smith suffered a toe injury in the second half of Duke's 87-71 win over Maryland in the ACC quarterfinals and did not return. Mike Krzyzewski said afterward that he wasn't sure if Smith would be back before the end of the ACC tournament but stressed the most important thing is making sure the ACC Player of the Year is available for the NCAA tournament, which will begin for Duke, presumably, next Friday in Charlotte.

2. Memphis finally looked like a team with a roster built to overwhelm C-USA opponents during a 76-56 win over East Carolina in part because Joe Jackson finally looked like somebody worthy of the nickname "King of Memphis." The McDonald's All-American has gone from a local high school legend to a freshman starter for the Tigers to a part-time reserve in less than a year, and it's been tough on him. But Jackson was tremendous against ECU while scoring a career-high 24 points. He made 8-of-12 field goal attempts, 3-of-3 3-point attempts and 5-of-5 free throw attempts, and now the Tigers are just a win over UTEP away from earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Southern California played its Pac-10 semifinal against Arizona without head coach Kevin O'Neill, who was suspended by his athletic director after a Thursday night incident with an Arizona booster. Assistant Bob Cantu coached the Trojans in O'Neill's absence. They lost 67-62 and are almost certainly headed to the NIT.

4. Ohio State entered this week in position to get a No. 1 seed regardless, but that doesn't mean the Buckeyes wanted or needed to lose their Big Ten tournament opener to Northwestern (if only because there's nothing cool about losing a Big Ten tournament opener to Northwestern). Thanks to Jared Sullinger they avoided the upset. The CBSSports.com National Freshman of the Year finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds in OSU's 67-61 overtime win. Worth noting is that Sullinger shot 18 free throws, i.e., just as many as Northwestern's entire team.

5. If you're surprised Tom Izzo has Michigan State operating at a high level then you haven't been paying attention for the past decade. Somehow, someway, this is what Izzo does. Regardless of whether the Spartans are great, good, average or terrible from November to March, by St. Patrick's Day each year Izzo gets them straight. So of course Michigan State will play in the Big Ten semifinals thanks to a 74-56 win over Purdue that took the Spartans off the bubble. They're now guaranteed to make the NCAA tournament. They'll probably make the Sweet 16, just because.

Final thought: Providence fired Keno Davis Friday and folks immediately started trying to explain why this didn't work. Among the common theories was because the Big East school hired him "with just one year of head coaching experience," which is both wrong and silly. Understand this: Davis didn't fail at Providence because he lacked significant prior experience. He failed at Providence because the school decided to hire the country's hottest young coach in April 2008 with little regard to how he fit with the Friars program. Davis was a bad fit -- and I hope Providence realizes that before it lures its next coach. Hire somebody with experience if you want; I'm not saying that's the wrong route. All I'm saying is that projected greatness and fit are way more important than past experience, and you can look elsewhere in the Big East to see it. Pittsburgh hired Jamie Dixon with zero years of head coaching experience while Marquette hired Buzz Williams with one. Things seems to be going well for those two programs, don't they?

Bottom line, what somebody has done at another school is important, sure.

But it's not nearly as important as what you think somebody can do at your school going forward.
Posted on: February 28, 2011 2:44 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 7:53 pm

The Poll Attacks

Alabama got zero votes in last week's Coaches poll. Then the Crimson Tide barely beat Auburn, lost to Ole Miss and ... got six points in the Coaches poll. Not sure how that happens. But it sure does make the Poll Attacks simple.

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com.)

Associated Press poll:
Florida is 22-6 overall, 11-3 in the SEC, ranked 14th in the AP poll, 14th in the Coaches poll and 16th in the Top 25 (and one). The Gators are 4-2 against top-25 RPI schools, 9-2 against top-50 RPI schools, 13-3 against top-100 RPI schools and in possession of a two-game lead in the SEC East.

And yet Izzy Gould from The Birmingham News left them off his AP ballot.

But he's got Kentucky 15th and Vanderbilt 21st.

Which means he ranked two SEC East schools -- and neither of them are SEC East-leading Florida.

Beyond that, he ranked Virginia Tech 24th.

Which means he ranked a Virginia Tech team that's 1-3 against top-25 RPI schools, 2-5 against top-50 RPI schools and 7-5 against top-100 RPI schools, but didn't rank a Florida team that's 4-2 against top-25 RPI schools, 9-2 against top-50 RPI schools and 13-3 against top-100 RPI schools. Needless to say, Izzy was blown away by the Hokies' win over Duke. I mean, really, really, really blown away. Most impressive thing he's ever seen, apparently.

Coaches poll: If the NCAA tournament started today -- and it doesn't, so relax -- Alabama might sneak in as an at-large. Or it might not. The point is that it would be close, and if you're that close to missing the NCAA tournament in late February then you probably shouldn't be getting votes for a Top 25 poll ... especially when you're coming off a loss to Ole Miss.

Still, Alabama got six points in Monday's coaches poll.

And that's not even the strangest part.

The strangest part is that the Crimson Tide got zero points in last week's poll when they were 18-8 overall, 10-2 in the SEC. Then they barely beat Auburn and lost to Ole Miss, and somehow that convinced coaches to vote for them. Strange. Bottom line, Alabama shouldn't have been on anybody's ballot last week or this week, but it's impossible to omit the Crimson Tide last week and add them this week. And by impossible, I mean idiotic and inexplicable.

Posted on: February 14, 2011 4:39 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2011 8:07 am

The Poll Attacks

How could somebody still have Louisville unranked?

No idea.

But somebody does.

And that somebody just got Poll Attacked.

(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com.)

Associated Press poll: I could tell you why the top of the poll is wrong, why the middle of the poll is wrong and why all sorts of other things are wrong, too. But the reality is that college basketball is a mess this season. Only a handful of teams are reliable, and it's reasonable to disagree on much of this stuff. So I decided to do something slightly different this week. I'm not going to debate anybody's order. I'm only going to highlight an insane omission from one ballot that is totally indefensible.

It's Louisville.

The Cards were left off Gary Laney's ballot despite A) a 19-6 record featuring wins over the teams he has ranked 14th (Connecticut) and 20th (Syracuse), B) the fact that Louisville is all alone in fourth in the Big East standings, and C) a 4-4 record against Top 25 RPI teams. Now that might not sound like much, I know. But it's worth noting that there are just 11 teams in the country with a Top 25 RPI and at least a .500 record against Top 25 RPI schools, and Louisville is one of those 11. That's partly why I ranked the Cards 14th in the Top 25 (and one), and it's among the many reasons why no logical voter should have Louisville unranked.

And yet Gary Laney from The Advocate has Louisville unranked.

He went with Alabama and Coastal Carolina instead.

Alabama is 8-8 against the Top 200 of the RPI. But Gary Laney has the Crimson Tide ranked 23rd and thus ahead of Louisville, which is 12-6 against the Top 200. Coastal Carolina? Well, the Chanticleers have only played two Top 100 RPI teams -- Georgetown and College of Charleston. They lost 81-60 to Georgetown and 83-67 to College of Charleston, meaning they're 0-2 against the Top 100 with a pair of losses by an average of 18.5 points. But Gary Laney has Coastal Carolina ranked 24th and thus ahead of Louisville, which is 9-5 against the Top 100.

I dare you to try to make sense of any of that.

Coaches poll: I started the Poll Attacks by explaining how and why I'm not going to debate order. So I'll stay true to my word and just make two points about schools that got votes that shouldn't be getting votes.

Utah State is 24th in the coaches poll.

That's silly for all of the same reasons I told you it was silly two weeks ago. The only thing of note that's happened since then is that the Aggies lost to an Idaho team that has a 14-11 record against a terrible schedule. In other words, Utah State shouldn't have been ranked two weeks ago, and its body of work has only gotten worse. Meantime, the coaches are still giving Minnesota four points in their poll, which is silly for all of the same reasons I told you it was silly last week. The only thing of note that's happened since then is that the Gophers have taken a home loss to a collapsing Illinois team. In other words, Minnesota shouldn't have been getting votes last week, and its body of work has, like Utah State's, only gotten worse.
Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 2:42 pm

Huge game for Alabama on tap at Vandy

Can the team that lost to St. Peter's be the SEC champion?

Can a team that lost to Iowa be the SEC's best?

The Alabama Crimson Tide have won 10 of their past 11 games and jumped to 7-1 in the league to make a strong case. They own wins over Kentucky and Tennessee, and two wins over the Mississippi State team that beat Florida. But they remain unranked because of some questionable non-league losses, which is proof that nobody really knows what to make of Anthony Grant's second season in Tuscaloosa.

That's why tonight's game is huge.

You can continue to doubt Alabama if you want.

For the record, I still do.

But if the Crimson Tide somehow beat Vanderbilt at Memorial Gym then we'll have no choice but to take them seriously. Vanderbilt is ranked 23rd and good, and winning at Memorial is typically a chore. So while I don't usually get too excited about a game between two schools ranked outside of the top 20, I'm most certainly looking forward to tonight's game that tips at 9 ET. If Vanderbilt wins, I'll continue to think what I think about Alabama. But if the Crimson Tide move to 8-1 in the SEC, well, I think that'll be my cue to start coming around.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: May 24, 2010 11:46 pm
Edited on: May 24, 2010 11:54 pm

Alabama's Knox to play at UNC next season

Alabama's Justin Knox will transfer to North Carolina and be eligible to play next season if he finishes his undergraduate degree this summer. Upon graduation, the 6-foot-9 forward will need only to select a graduate program at North Carolina not offered at Alabama to gain immediate eligibility in the ACC.

Knox averaged 6.3 points and 3.7 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game last season.

His presence will be a boost for North Carolina given that the Tar Heels only have two other post players (Tyler Zeller and John Henson) scheduled to be on next season's roster thanks to one player (Ed Davis) leaving school early and two others (David Wear and Travis Wear) choosing to transfer. Knox initially wanted to transfer to UAB, but Alabama would not release the in-state product to the in-state school.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 14, 2009 2:49 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2009 2:50 pm

Dear Gary (on Purdue-Alabama)

Here's Monday's Dear Gary ...

Dear Gary: After reading your Monday Look back , I am left wondering why Purdue seems to avoid all national press despite being a top five team? They have a top-10 win, and two other quality wins against Wake Forest and Alabama. The Bama win might be the best top 10 road victory out there. Why is Purdue not given the love?

-- Justin

Let me tell you what happened, Justin.

I started working on the Monday Look Back early Sunday, and I had Purdue's win over Alabama as the "best game of the weekend." In fact, here's what I wrote ...

Best game of the weekend: Just hours after Mark Ingram won the school's first Heisman Trophy, Alabama had an opportunity to notch the biggest upset of the weekend, and the Crimson Tide seemed set to do it. They were up 16 and cruising in the second half against No. 5 Purdue. But then the Boilermakers committed to playing a physical/in-your-face defense and secured a 73-68 win at Coleman Coliseum. "It was amazing," said Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose team held Alabama without a field goal for the final 8:45. It really was a stunning display of defense, the kind Nick Saban could probably appreciate.

So I was done.

And then guess what happened?

Xavier and Cincinnati went to double-overtime Sunday night, and I made that the "best game of the weekend." So I cut the Purdue-Alabama stuff, added the Xavier-Cincinnati stuff that you read, and forget to write something about Purdue in another spot, meaning Purdue went from filling the top category in the Monday Look Back to not appearing in the Monday Look Back because Xavier beat Cincinnati in overtime, and because I forget to make Purdue-Alabama a different category.

In other words, there is no conspiracy.

Just an honest mistake.

If you must blame somebody, blame Xavier's Terrell Holloway.
Posted on: December 14, 2009 2:48 pm
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