Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Emptying the Notebook......

  • Virginia found its head basketball coach, and it is not Tubby Smith. Gopher Nation can breathe a collective sigh of relief, as the Cavaliers have hired Washington State's Tony Bennett. Bennett, as you know, has Big Ten ties. His father, Dick, preceded him at Wazzu and was at Wisconsin prior to that. Bennett's Badgers went to the Final Four in 2000. This is good news for those who want Tubby to return - including me. However, as Myron P. Medcalf writes in the Star Tribune, his lack of unequivocal "no" to open jobs can create some uneasiness, as the Arizona and Georgia jobs remain vacant.

  • In Arizona, interim coach Russ Pennell will not return next season, but he led the team to a Sweet 16 berth in his only season, after the tumultuous succession of longtime coach Lute Olsen. That job remains open, and is a desirable one.

  • As far as Georgia is concerned, it appears the Bulldogs are interested in Missouri's Mike Anderson, fresh off his Sweet 16 performance. However, Anderson's agent says the report that he has been offered the job is inaccurate, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ESPN cites sources saying Anderson has been offered the job. He'll take the job.

  • One job Tubby Smith certainly is not going to get is the Kentucky position. Memphis's John Calipari is in talks with KU about succeeding Billy Gillispie as head coach. John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting it is a done deal. This is great news for Kentucky basketball fans. I am a firm believer in balance in sports, and I truly believe that college basketball is better when Kentucky is good - as I believe that baseball is better when the Yankees are good, hockey is better when the Montreal Canadiens are good, and the NBA is better when the Celtics and Lakers are good. However, this is sad for a number of reasons. First, Calipari built a powerhouse at Memphis from a program mired in mediocrity. Coach Cal's winning percentage is nearly 80% since taking over in 2000, and came within seconds of achieving a national championship in 2008. He landed top recruit DeMarcus Cousins to Memphis for the upcoming season, but his letter of intent is not officially signed, seemingly freeing him up to join Calipari at Kentucky. Secondly, Memphis basketball became the toast of the town under Calipari, leaving the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies in the dust as far as fan interest is concerned. Here's hoping the Tigers continue their run under a different coach, but it would have been nice for a change to see a big-name coach at a somewhat less-than-marquee school say no to the big boys once in a while.

  • In WCHA notes, Colorado College goaltender Richard Bachman signed with Dallas over the weekend, putting them in a hole. Bachman had played virtually every minute in net during the two seasons he spent in the Springs. He was WCHA MVP and National Rookie of the Year in 2008. Coach Scotty Owens will find a replacement...that you can count upon. UMD's MacGregor Sharp signed with Anaheim on Tuesday, riding his "Mr. March" performance (6-3-9 in 7 games) into the pro ranks. Sharp was a senior for the Dogs this season.

  • The Bemidji State Beavers' appearance in the Frozen Four is simply amazing. In a tournament which defies description, the Beavers' presence seems destined. Still, it is utterly amazing that the 16 seed ends up among the final four teams in a 16-team field. It is the equivalent - albeit with fewer teams - of the winner of the NCAA basketball play-in game advancing to the Final Four. It just simply does not happen! Still, do not question the Beavers' being in Washington. They are talented, white hot right now, and have a conference berth for which to play, since BSU's CHA conference is going away after next season and the Beavers have applied to join the WHCA. Think Bruce MacLeod and the other WCHA suits will be watching this story over the next few weeks? Stay tuned.

Tomorrow's entry will be a Twins-related entry previewing the AL Central Division and the Twins' chances of winning it this year. Although this blog will largely transition into a baseball blog during the Twins' season - baseball is my first love - we'll fully cover the Frozen Four in Washington and monitor defections from WCHA teams.

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