I don’t go grocery shopping much, because I never cook, but while getting some junk food Friday, guess what was there? The Athlon college basketball magazine for 2019-20, already on newsstands on August 30. Here is what I learned from scanning this fine magazine:
13) Top 4 coaching hires:
— Fred Hoiberg, Nebraska— His grandfather was once Nebraska’s head coach. He might be the only person in America who would turn down the UCLA basketball job for this.
— Eric Musselman, Arkansas— My first instinct was that this is a bad fit, but he was great at Nevada and he coached two NBA teams.
— Buzz Williams, Texas A&M— He got Virginia Tech to the NCAA’s the last three years; they had been there twice in the previous 30 years. Va Tech is a football school, too.
— Nate Oats, Alabama— Went 31-5 in MAC last two years; his job is to entertain the locals until spring football starts.
12) UCLA butchered its coaching search; they wound up with Mick Cronin, who is a solid coach but Bruin fans are going to hate his defense-first style (or lack of style).
Last six years, Cronin’s Cincinnati teams’ national rank in tempo (out of 351 or 353 teams):
From 2006-08, Ben Howland made the Final Four three years in a row; from that point on, AFTER he made the Final Four three years in a row, UCLA went 58-32 in Pac-12 games, but only 2-3 in NCAA tourney games- they told Howland to take a hike. Why?!?!?!?!?
Cincinnati made the NCAA’s the last nine years, but since 2013, they’re 3-4 in 1st round, 0-3 in the 2nd round, and never made an Elite 8 under Cronin. Uh-oh.
11) There are 354 Division I teams this year; Merrimack joins the NEC this year, after Cal Baptist joined the WAC and North Alabama joined the Atlantic Sun.
10) Keep in mind that the 3-point line has been moved back 16.75 inches, to the international distance of 22 feet, 1.75 inches. The NBA arc is 23 feet, 9 inches.
They used the longer international arc in the NIT last spring; teams shot 2.2% lower behind the arc than they did in the regular season.
9) Five coaches on the hot seat:
— Dave Leitao, DePaul— LY’s 19-17 mark was their best in 12 years, but then the NCAA came calling. Last 4 years, Blue Demons are 16-56 in Big East games, and they’re cheating. Oy.
— Danny Manning, Wake Forest- Deacons are 24-66 in ACC games under his watch.
— Matt McCall, UMass— When you finish 13th two years in a row in a league called the Atlantic 10 (they have 14 teams), your job is going to be in jeopardy.
— Shaka Smart, Texas— His Longhorn teams are 31-41 in Big X games, and they don’t play the same fast-paced style his great VCU teams played. Why?
— Patrick Chambers, Penn State— 8 years, 0 NCAA bids; last year, 8 of 14 Big 14 teams made the NCAA’s. PSU is a football school, but Chambers still needs to show progress.
8) Gonzaga is the only team in the country that has made the Sweet 16 the last five years.
7) Athlon Sports top 6 teams for this season:
6— Memphis Tigers
5— Florida Gators
4— Louisville Cardinals
3— Kentucky Wildcats
2— Duke Blue Devils
1— Michigan State Spartans
6) Brad Brownell has been Clemson’s coach for nine years; in four of those years, Clemson finished .500+ in ACC games but didn’t make the NCAA’s. They need to win more games in December, but they were in the Sweet 16 two years ago. Brownell is a good coach whose job is a tough one- they lost five of their top six scorers from last year’s 20-14 team.
5) Five most impactful freshmen this year:
5— Nico Mannion, Arizona- Scoring PG whose dad played in the NBA.
4— Anthony Edwards, Georgia- 5-star recruit from talent-rich Atlanta.
3— James Wiseman, Memphis- 7-1 center who needs work on offense.
2— Isaiah Stewart, Washington- Young man from Rochester, NY is long way from home.
1— Cole Anthony, North Carolina- His dad Greg was UNLV’s PG in the Tark glory days.
4) Some programs win no matter who the coach is.. Check out VCU’s record:
1999-2002— Mack McCarthy, 65-55, 35-32 in CAA
2002-06— Jeff Capel, 79-41, 50-22 in CAA
2006-09— Anthony Grant, 76-25, 45-9 in CAA
2009-15— Shaka Smart, 163-56, 38-16 in CAA, 36-14 in A-14
2015-17— Will Wade, 51-20, 28-8 in A-14
2017-19— Mike Rhoades, 43-23, 25-11 in A-14
3) Five of this year’s better transfers:
— Omer Yurtseven, NC State to Georgetown- Scored 13.5 ppg for the Wolfpack.
— Quade Green, Kentucky to Washington- Will be Huskies’ PG after the 1st semester.
— Malachi Flynn, Washington St to San Diego St— Scored 15.8 ppg for the Coogs.
— Koby McEwen, Utah State to Marquette— Bolted Logan after they fired the coach.
— Jalen Harris, Louisiana Tech to Nevada— Wolf Pack literally wouldn’t have been able to field a team the day they hired Steve Alford. Harris scored 15.3 ppg his last year at Tech.
2) Under Chris Beard, Texas Tech is 8-2 in NCAA tourney games; before Beard became Tech’s coach, Tech was 8-16 all-time in NCAA tourney games.
1) Georgetown played the fastest tempo games of any Big East team last year, playing the 25th-fastest tempo in the whole country. I wonder what John Thompson thinks of that?
Patrick Ewing has changed the Hoyas’ program into one that plays fast, which helps recruiting— Hoyas are 34-29 under Ewing, 14-22 in Big East games, but they were 19-14, 9-9 LY. They’ll be an interesting team to watch this winter.