Jeff Eisenberg

  • Iowa State's golden era doesn't have to end with Fred Hoiberg leaving

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 hr ago

    If saying goodbye to the university where he has become an icon feels at all bittersweet to newly hired Chicago Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, at least he can take solace in the health of the program he is leaving behind.

    Iowa State basketball has grown strong enough under Hoiberg that its golden era doesn't have to end with the departure of its golden boy.

    Whoever Iowa State's new coach is will take over a program that has progressed remarkably quickly since 2010 when athletic director Jamie Pollard risked the future of a success-starved program on a beloved alum who had never coached at any level before. Hoiberg transformed the Cyclones into a perennial Big 12 contender, leading them to four NCAA tournament bids and back-to-back conference tournament titles the past two years.

    Enough talent returns from last season's 25-win team that Iowa State will begin next year in the top 10 in the polls regardless of who its new coach is. The Cyclones also have strong brand recognition among recruits because of their free-flowing style of play and an enthusiastic fan base that has helped Hilton Coliseum regain its reputation as a house of horrors for opposing teams.

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  • Gonzaga's history of developing forwards helps net prized transfer

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 10 hrs ago

    When Kelly Olynyk emerged from a redshirt year two years ago with a stronger upper body and a revamped post-up game, the ex-Gonzaga forward did more than just develop into a first-team All-American and a first-round draft pick the following year.  

    His success also paved the way for Gonzaga to become a destination for elite transfers hoping to make a similar transformation while sitting out a year.

    Kyle Wiltjer transferred from Kentucky in 2013, became one of the nation's most versatile scorers this past season and is considered a potential national player of the year candidate next year. Highly touted former Washington point guard Nigel Williams-Goss chose the Zags earlier this spring and will sit out this coming season. And this past weekend Gonzaga landed another prized transfer, outdueling Georgetown and SMU for former Missouri forward Johnathan Williams III. 

    The addition of Williams goes a long way toward solidifying Gonzaga's frontcourt after next season. The Zags will definitely lose Wiltjer and mammoth center Przemek Karnowski to graduation and could also lose rising sophomore Domantas Sabonis to the NBA draft. 

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  • Ex-Spartan memorably rants about Tom Izzo, weed and the NCAA

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 4 days ago

    The hatred Michigan State coach Tom Izzo already has for Twitter undoubtedly intensified Wednesday as a result of an alcohol-fueled rant by one of his former players.

    Garrick Sherman, an ex-Spartans big man who later finished his career at Notre Dame, unleashed a memorable series of tweets about his two years in East Lansing. Among the subjects the 6-foot-10 center touched on included his poor relationship with Izzo, rampant marijuana use among his Michigan State teammates and the time he urinated in a condom to help an ex-Spartans wing pass a drug test.

    (And, warning, some of Sherman's language was NSFW)

    At the final four izzo told me “not to fucking embarrass myself in front of a crowd bigger than my home town” after I air balled a shot 😂😂😂

    I pissed in a condom and gave it to Durrell summers to pass a drug test. Suck it #NCAA #stillwenttothefinalfour #suckstobeyou

    If that last tweet doesn’t make me twitter famous I give up

    Over/under 100 followers I lose on this drunken rampage

  • Four teams banned from 2015-16 postseason for low APR scores

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 5 days ago

    The NCAA's annual release of the newest Academic Progress Rate data will once again have minimal impact on the upcoming college basketball season.

    None of the teams penalized for substandard scores hail from major conferences or even quality mid-major leagues.

    Alcorn State, Florida A&M, Stetson and Central Arkansas are the only four teams that received postseason bans for the upcoming season. Alcorn State, Central Arkansas and Savannah State also face practice time restrictions, while Florida A&M faces that and other potential penalties including scholarship reductions, coach-specific punishment and contest restrictions.

    To avoid a potential postseason ban, teams must achieve a multi-year APR score of at least 930. The power-conference programs with the least margin for error are Texas Tech (935), TCU (937), Mississippi State (938) and Washington State (938).

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  • Kentucky will pay top assistant Kenny Payne lavishly to stay put

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 6 days ago

    Thanks to an annual salary that has ballooned to nearly $8 million per year, John Calipari has priced himself out of the market for many NBA gigs because all but the most lucrative ones would require him accepting a pay cut.

    Now the Kentucky coach's top assistant is in a similar position in terms of landing a head coaching job at the college level.

    Kenny Payne has signed a three-year deal worth a total of $2.1 million, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Monday. His average annual salary of $700,000 is higher than at least 22 of last season's NCAA tournament head coaches, according to USA Today's annual study, and more than twice as high as at least 14 of them.  

    What that means is Payne probably won't leave Kentucky until a power-conference program offers him a head coaching job — or at least not until a deep-pocketed mid-major comes along. Payne would have to take a significant pay cut to coach at even the most successful small-conference programs.

  • Billy Donovan thanks Florida fans with full-page newspaper ad

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 8 days ago

    Three weeks after he left to become the new coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, former Florida coach Billy Donovan found a unique way to express how much his two decades in Gainesville meant to him.

    He and his wife took out a full-page ad in Sunday's Gainesville Sun to say goodbye to Gators fans and thank them for their understanding and support.

    BillyD & wife Christine say goodbye to #Gators via full-page ad in Gainesville Sun. Class act. Hardly a surprise. pic.twitter.com/mx1O80gwZD

    One reason saying goodbye was tough for Donovan is because he has so many good memories from his Florida tenure. He built a program that had previously only been to five NCAA tournaments into a national power, winning two national titles, reaching four Final Fours and advancing to the Elite Eight seven times.

    Credit Donovan for a great gesture that will surely further solidify the affection Florida fans have for him. Here's the full text of the message from Donovan and his wife:

    We are excited for all that Mike White brings as he puts his own unique mark on Florida basketball…Fannnnntastic!

  • North Carolina has received Notice of Allegations from NCAA

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 10 days ago

    In a wide-ranging interview with the Asheville Citizen-Times earlier this week, North Carolina coach Roy Williams explained his greatest frustration with the NCAA's investigation into the academic fraud that took place at the school.

    "It would help if the NCAA would just tell us what the allegations are," Williams said.

    Williams apparently got his wish soon afterward. North Carolina announced Friday it has received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, but chancellor Carol L. Folt and athletic director Bubba Cunningham said the school will not release the details of the report until a later date.

    “We take these allegations very seriously, and we will carefully evaluate them to respond within the NCAA’s 90-day deadline,” Folt and Cunningham said in a joint statement. “The University will publicly release the NCAA’s notice as soon as possible.

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  • Formidable non-league schedule will test revamped Kentucky

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 10 days ago

    The departure of seven key players from last year's 38-win juggernaut didn't cause John Calipari to scale back his non-conference schedule for next season.

    The Kentucky coach has assembled a non-league slate loaded with marquee games against name-brand opponents.

    A Champions Classic matchup against reigning national champion Duke will provide the first test of how good next year's Wildcats will be. The Blue Devils lost four starters from their title team, but they'll reload behind returning standouts Matt Jones and Grayson Allen and the nation's most decorated recruiting class. 

    Among the challenging games Kentucky will play in December include a visit to UCLA, a neutral-court matchup with Ohio State in Brooklyn and a home game against rival Louisville. The Bruins should be highly motivated after the Wildcats embarrassed them in an 83-44 rout last December and the Cardinals should again have a Top 25 caliber team despite the loss of stars Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier. 

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  • LSU's new ad campaign shamelessly promotes top recruit Ben Simmons

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 11 days ago

    At a time when the NCAA is fighting the perception it profits from the images and likenesses of its unpaid athletes, one of its member schools has launched an advertising campaign that will only further weaken that already shaky argument.

    LSU is using highly touted incoming freshman basketball player Ben Simmons as the centerpiece of a 2015-16 season ticket promotional blitz that will include billboards and print and social media advertising. The "25 is Coming" campaign is such a blatant reference to Simmons' jersey number that the school didn't even bother to pretend otherwise in the release it sent out Wednesday.

    A New Era: LSU official tells me it had permission from Ben Simmons to market him like this, compliance approved it pic.twitter.com/xdaZ6BzSD4

    A tweet Simmons sent Wednesday evening corroborates the notion that he was aware of the campaign and he is on board with it.

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  • John Calipari: Top goal was getting eight drafted, not winning a title

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 12 days ago

    John Calipari's "Players First" recruiting philosophy and the Kentucky fan base's thirst for championships clashed again Wednesday when the Wildcats coach addressed a crowd of 3,000 business executives after receiving a humanitarian award at Rupp Arena.

    Most of the 15-minute speech consisted of Calipari describing the qualities a good leader should have and explaining how he gets his players to come together in pursuit of a common goal. The only potential surprise was what Calipari insisted Kentucky's primary objective last season was.

    "Last year we started the season with a goal," Calipari said. "You may think it was to win a national title or win all the games, [but] it was to get eight players drafted. Well, how can you be about your team if you're worried about getting players drafted? We kind of work it the other way. What are your dreams? What are you looking for? What are you trying to get out of life? How can we help you with that?

    Wednesday's speech certainly isn't the first time Calipari has made headlines by seemingly prioritizing draft picks over championship rings.

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