Jeff Eisenberg

  • Why recruiting is the biggest challenge for an openly gay coach

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 9 hrs ago

    The next time Division I men's basketball's first openly gay coach visits talent-rich St. Andrew's School, he can expect to be treated the same as he has always been.

    St. Andrew's coach Mike Hart intends to swap stories and crack jokes with Chris Burns just like he did before the Bryant University assistant revealed his sexuality in a first-person essay published Thursday morning.

    "Today's announcement doesn't change what I think of Chris at all," Hart said. "He's a top-level recruiter, he's funny as hell and he's a great guy. I hope one day a couple of our kids go to Bryant because it's such a great school and he's a tremendous ambassador for it."

    Whether the rest of the basketball community in the Northeast is as enlightened as Hart could go a long way toward determining the fate of Burns' coaching career.

    Thibodeau even goes a step further.

    What that highlights is the importance of having a supportive boss and administration, something Burns definitely has at Bryant.

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  • Bryant assistant becomes Division I's first openly gay basketball coach

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    The lone openly gay coach in Division I college basketball is relieved his secret is finally out. 

    In anarticle published Thursday by USA Today, Bryant University assistant coach Chris Burns described the gradual process that led to him nervously standing in front of the entire team a few weeks ago and revealing his sexuality. Many players responded by hugging him and telling him they loved him, imbuing him with the confidence to share his story with the media. 

    “I can’t say enough about believing in the good in people, the good in human beings,” Burns said. “They can surprise you, energize you, give you a reason to believe in the good in the world."

    The announcement from Burns will likely make him one of college basketball's most recognizable assistant coaches even though he works at a little-known Rhode Island school that until seven years ago wasn't even part of Division I.

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  • Report: NCAA has yet to clear Kentucky's Skal Labissiere

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Two months ago, Kentucky coach John Calipari downplayed a question regarding whether he was confident coveted freshman Skal Labissiere would be eligible by the start of the season, telling reporters in Lexington, "Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah."

    Turns out it may not be so simple.

    With Kentucky's season opener only five weeks away, Labissiere still has not been cleared to play by the NCAA, his guardian Gerald Hamilton told on Wednesday. At issue are some red flags in how Hamilton handled the 6-foot-10 forward's high school years after he immigrated from Haiti in 2010 following the massive earthquake that hit the country.

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    Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

  • Five-minute season preview: West Coast Conference

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Yahoo Sports will break down the top 10 leagues for the upcoming college basketball season working backward from No. 10 to No. 1. Here's a look at our No. 10 league, the West Coast Conference.

    If the central question facing the West Coast Conference for the past 15 years has been whether anyone can truly challenge Gonzaga, then the answer this season is the same as most previous ones.

    No, not even close.

    The gap between the Zags and the rest of the WCC is as wide as ever thanks to the return of a trio of big men who comprise one of the nation's elite frontcourts. Skilled forward Kyle Wiltjer is a national player of the year candidate because of his ability to score inside and out, massive center Przemek Karnowski clogs the lane and scores effectively around the rim and promising Domantas Sabonis has the combination of strength and mobility to rebound effectively and defend in the paint or out to the perimeter.

    The program best equipped to take advantage should Gonzaga unexpectedly falter is once again BYU, which should contend for a third straight NCAA tournament bid despite the graduation of all-time leading scorer Tyler Haws. 



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  • West Coast Bias: Why a top recruit chose Nevada over big-name schools

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    One of the programs that offered Devearl Ramsey a scholarship is an ACC school that has made the NCAA tournament 12 of the last 13 years. Another is a Big 12 power that has produced eight first-round draft picks in the past decade. A third is a Pac-12 team whose campus is less than an hour from his home.

    Pittsburgh, Texas and USC were among the dozen or so high-major programs who have shown interest in Ramsey, but the speedy point guard spurned them all in favor of a lesser-known school that last reached the NCAA tournament eight years ago.

    Ramsey,'s No. 106 prospect in the class of 2016, announced Monday that he has committed to Nevada, a massive recruiting coup for new Wolfpack coach Eric Musselman and his staff. Musselman enticed Ramsey by making him a top priority for the past six months and offering him the chance to compete for a starting job right away in a pick-and-roll-heavy system similar to what most NBA teams run.



  • Sixteen transfers who will make the biggest impact this season

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Our 2015-16 season preview continues with a look at transfers most likely to make an immediate impact next season. Check back the next five weeks for more college hoops preview content.

    1. Damion Lee, Louisville (from Drexel): The most prized graduate transfer on the market this offseason joined a program that desperately needed a wing scorer of his caliber. Lee, the nation's fifth-leading scorer at 21.4 points per game a year ago, will provide a jolt of offense for a Cardinals team that must overcome the loss of Terry Rozier, Chris Jones, Montrezl Harrell and Wayne Blackshear.

    2. Sterling Gibbs, UConn (from Seton Hall): UConn's ceiling next season rose considerably in May when Gibbs chose the Huskies over Ohio State, Pittsburgh and a handful of other suitors. The 6-foot-2 graduate transfer averaged 16.3 points and 3.8 assists and shot 43.6 percent from behind the arc last season at Seton Hall. He'll likely replace graduated star Ryan Boatright as UConn's primary playmaker.

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  • Miles Bridges' commitment gives Tom Izzo his highest rated class ever

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 5 days ago

    In Tom Izzo's illustrious 20-year career as Michigan State's head coach, he has never landed more than two consensus top 50 prospects in the same class before.

    At minimum, he'll double that next year.

    Small forward Miles Bridges became the fourth top 50 Class of 2016 prospect to select Michigan State when he committed to the Spartans during a news conference on Saturday in his hometown of Flint. Bridges,'s No. 11 prospect, chose Michigan State over fellow finalists Kentucky and Indiana.

    The addition of Bridges solidifies the 2016 class as the most highly touted that Izzo has ever landed. Joining Bridges in East Lansing next fall will be high-scoring 6-foot-6 wing Joshua Langford (No. 18), dynamic 6-foot point guard Cassius Winston (No. 28) and broad-shouldered 6-foot-9 forward Nick Ward (No. 45).

    "Cassius is my boy, and I actually thought he was going to Michigan," Bridges told reporters in Flint on Saturday. "When he committed, I basically switched over to Michigan State from Kentucky."

  • Ten key questions facing top programs as practice opens

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 6 days ago

    Friday is the first day of practice for most Division I college basketball teams. Yahoo Sports begins its season preview coverage with a look at some of the key questions facing the nation's top programs and the answers that could emerge between now and the new season tipping off Nov. 13.  

    1. Can Gonzaga's three frontcourt stars play together?

    When Kyle Wiltjer, Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis all announced this past spring that they would be returning to Gonzaga, it created a compelling dilemma for Zags coach Mark Few. Could he figure out a way to get his three best players on the floor at the same time next season when each member of the trio stands at least 6-foot-10?

    Ultimately, the three-big look may not be the lineup with which Gonzaga starts or finishes most games, but it makes sense for the Zags to have it in their arsenal. Their backcourt is unproven with Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell and Byron Wesley all graduating and they have a fourth big man, redshirt sophomore Ryan Edwards, capable of contributing off the bench too.

    2. Has Indiana gotten any better defensively?

    3. How does Virginia replace Justin Anderson in its starting lineup?

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  • Geno Auriemma is as entertaining as ever in his latest rant

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 7 days ago

    Maybe some people get offended easily when coaches use salty language. Perhaps some people want their coaches to be as vanilla as possible.

    Me, I love it when coaches speak openly and from the heart, which is why my reaction to Geno Auriemma's latest rant against his critics was laughter not outrage. 

    Midway through an entertaining hour-long interview on a Grantland podcast earlier this week, host Zach Lowe asked Auriemma if he ever gets bored leading a program so dominant that it has made eight straight Final Fours and captured 10 of the last 20 national titles. While responding, Auriemma tore into a segment of the UConn fan base that has been critical in spite of the program's overwhelming success.

    Auriemma also railed against those who dislike UConn later in the podcast.

    While Auriemma comes across a bit thin-skinned and oversensitive here, his comments are also an excellent window into what makes him so successful. 

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  • Why the appeals court's split decision was really a victory for the NCAA

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 8 days ago

    Officially, round two of O'Bannon vs. the NCAA will go down as a split decision.

    In reality, it's a ruling that should have members of college sports' old guard puffing on victory cigars.

    A federal appeals court dealt proponents of athletes' rights a significant blow Wednesday morning when it upheld the concept of amateurism in college athletics and ruled schools must only compensate scholarship athletes for the cost of attendance.

    The three-judge panel backed federal judge Claudia Wilken's 2014 ruling that the NCAA "is not above antitrust laws" and has been "more restrictive than necessary to maintain its tradition of amateurism." However, the appeals court struck down Wilken's proposal that universities pay their athletes up to $5,000 apiece for the use of their names and likenesses.

    Limiting the amount college athletes can be paid to the arbitrary figure of $5,000 was always a silly idea, but it's significant that the appeals court did not offer an alternative proposal for compensating athletes beyond their educational expenses.

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