Jeff Eisenberg

  • UConn coaches prohibited from attending the Final Four

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 9 hrs ago

    Indiana's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act has disrupted the travel plans of UConn coach Kevin Ollie and his staff.

    They're boycotting the Final Four in Indianapolis and the annual National Association of Basketball Coaches convention that coincides with it in compliance with Monday's order from Gov. Dannel Malloy's prohibiting all state of Connecticut employees from traveling to Indiana.

    "In support of Governor Malloy's travel ban to the state of Indiana, Kevin Ollie and other members of the UConn men's basketball staff will not travel to Indianapolis for the NCAA Final Four and events surrounding it," UConn president Susan Herbst said in a statement Tuesday night. "UConn is a community that values all of our members and treats each person with the same degree of respect, regardless of their background and beliefs and we will not tolerate any other behavior."

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • Wisconsin stopped selling a T-shirt that may have been an NCAA violation

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 11 hrs ago

    One of the Wisconsin campus bookstore's best-selling Final Four-themed shirts no longer is available for purchase.

    School officials had to yank it off the website and social media earlier this week because its compliance department feared the shirt violated NCAA rules.

    The inspiration behind the shirt in question was the way Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes has tested NCAA tournament stenographers by intentionally mixing in hard-to-spell words during news conferences. The bookstore printed a shirt featuring seven of Hayes' words in block letters: "Cattywampus, Onomatopoeia, Antidisestablishmentarianism, Soliloquy, Quandary, Zephyr, Xylophone."

    Patrick Herb, Wisconsin's assistant director of athletic communications, told Yahoo Sports that director of compliance Katie Smith learned about the shirts after the campus bookstore had already begun selling them. Smith feared the use of Hayes' words on the T-shirt was a potential minor violation since NCAA amateurism rules prevent schools from selling merchandise with a player's name or likeness on them.  

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • LSU's bright future dims a bit with Jordan Mickey's departure

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 16 hrs ago

    LSU won't have nearly as much returning talent to pair with No. 1 overall recruit Ben Simmons as it might have hoped. 

    Sophomore forwards Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey both are forgoing their final two seasons of eligibility and entering the NBA draft.

    [DraftKings: Play Fantasy College Basketball – Draft your team today!]

    Martin, who averaged 16.9 points and 9.2 rebounds this past season, announced his decision last week. Mickey, who averaged 15.4 points and 9.9 rebounds, revealed his decision on Tuesday in a text message statement to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. 

    "After discussing my options with my family, I believe this is the time to move on and accept new challenges at the next level," Mickey wrote.

    Whereas Martin has a chance to be a late first-round pick, Mickey is more likely to be taken in the second round if at all. DraftExpress.com currently ranks him No. 80 in its top 100 prospects list.

    Instead the Tigers will lose both and will enter the new season with plenty of question marks.

    - - - - - - -

  • Rick Barnes to Tennessee further bolsters the SEC's coaching ranks

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 20 hrs ago

    When reporters asked Rick Barnes if he would coach again after Texas fired him on Sunday, he tellingly responded, "Yeah, probably quicker than you think."

    Turns out Barnes wasn't kidding.

    [DraftKings: Play Fantasy College Basketball – Draft your team today!]

    Tennessee will introduce Rick Barnes as its next coach at a news conference Tuesday afternoon, according to multiple reports. Barnes will replace Donnie Tyndall, who was fired Friday after just one season in Knoxville amid an NCAA investigation into his previous two-year tenure at Southern Mississippi. 

    The hiring of Barnes is further proof that SEC schools are adhering to conference commissioner Mike Slive's pleas to place a greater emphasis on basketball. The league is unlikely to be Kentucky, Florida and everyone else for very much longer given some of the coaches recently brought in to compete with John Calipari and Billy Donovan.

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • Chris Mullin is a high-risk, high-reward hire for St. John's

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    At a time when many other schools have pursued obvious choices for their coaching vacancies, St. John's is swinging for the fences.

    The New York Daily News reported Monday the school has reached an agreement with former NBA all-star and Johnnies alum Chris Mullin, a boom-or-bust hire if ever there was one. 

    [DraftKings: Play Fantasy College Basketball – Draft your team today!]

    Mullin is a huge risk for St. John's simply because he has never coached at any level, nor does he have any experience recruiting. He has worked as an ESPN analyst and in the front offices of the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors since his playing career ended in 2001.

    The lack of coaching and recruiting experience makes it imperative that Mullin hires a staff that can bolster him in those two areas.

    The upside to hiring Mullin is his NBA ties and storied history at St. John's provide a built-in sales pitch both to alumni, donors and recruits.

    - - - - - - -

  • Arizona coach Sean Miller to dissatisfied fans: 'Go cheer for ASU'

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Like the Buffalo Bills teams that made four straight Super Bowls without winning one or the Atlanta Braves teams that perennially reached the playoffs but captured only one championship, Arizona coach Sean Miller wishes all his fans could see the bigger picture.

    Miller has resurrected a program in transition post-Lute Olson by amassing a 283-99 record in Tucson and leading the Wildcats to three Elite Eights in the past five years, yet he still occasionally endures criticism for not ending Arizona's 14-year Final Four drought.

    The notion that Arizona's 2014-15 season wasn't a success is one Miller addressed on Twitter late Sunday night. The Wildcats won 34 games, swept the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles and tallied three NCAA tournament wins, but again their season ended in Elite Eight heartbreak, this time at the hands of top-seeded Wisconsin on Saturday night.

    A picture that captures a lot for me. My wife and point guard saying good bye to a wonderful season #BearDown pic.twitter.com/KjaEFomvND

    Yup, "go cheer for ASU" apparently.

    - - - - - - -

  • Michigan State police to revelers: 'Guys, what's with the bagels?'

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    The centerpiece of the campus celebration after Michigan State secured an improbable Final Four bid was something you probably wouldn't expect.

    Bagels. Yes, bagels.

    Hundreds of Michigan State students gathered at East Lansing's Cedar Village and began throwing bagels into the air after the seventh-seeded Spartans defeated fourth-seeded Louisville in overtime on Sunday afternoon. Video of the airborne bagels spread quickly via social media, prompting a handful of bemused tweets from authority figures.

    Guys, what's with the bagels?

    What did the Bagels ever do to you? #CedarVillage #FinalFour

    The flying bagels were the most memorable part of a campus celebration that also included sweatshirts and couches set ablaze. Police eventually dispersed the crowds and reportedly arrested at least a handful of revelers, some of who were handcuffed and led away.

    - - - - - - -

  • Highly touted Myles Turner will enter the NBA draft

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Texas won't only have to replace its coach this offseason.

    The Longhorns also are losing their most talented freshman.

    [DraftKings: Play Fantasy College Basketball – Draft your team today!]

    Myles Turner, Rivals.com's No. 9 recruit in the class of 2014, announced Monday via a self-made YouTube video that he is leaving Texas and entering the NBA draft. The freshman forward averaged 10.1 points, 6.5 boards and 2.6 blocks in his lone season with the Longhorns.

    “My name is Myles Turner, UT alum, and I’ve decided to forgo my education and submit my name to the 2015 NBA draft,” Turner said in the video. “I love the university, I love the atmosphere here, great education, great people, great basketball program, facilities and it’s given me everything I need to succeed.”

    Texas fans probably will have mixed feelings looking back at Turner's lone season in Austin.

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @JeffEisenberg

  • Wisconsin stars strike back at those who doubted the Big Ten

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    Even though Michigan State pushed Wisconsin to overtime in the Big Ten title game two weeks ago, the Badgers were excited the Spartans will be joining them in the Final Four.

    [DraftKings: Play Fantasy College Basketball – Draft your team today!]

    They believe the presence of two Big Ten teams in Indianapolis only bolsters the reputation of a conference many have said wasn't as strong as usual this year.

    The Big Ten had a down year right?

    Remember when everyone said the Big Ten wasn't that good this year? Yea, me too.

    #BigTenRepresent

    Credit Wisconsin for its season-long brilliance and Michigan State for peaking in March, but the idea that the NCAA tournament proves the Big Ten was underrated doesn't hold up under scrutiny.

    What having two Final Four teams does do for the Big Ten is give it better odds of ending its national title drought. The Big Ten has been one of the nation's strongest leagues more often than not over the past 15 years, but the last Big Ten team to win a championship was Michigan State in 2000.

    - - - - - - -

  • Kentucky will be tested by heavyweight Final Four field

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    If Kentucky is going to become college basketball's first unbeaten national champion in nearly four decades, the Wildcats will have to emerge from a heavyweight Final Four field.

    They'll be joined in Indianapolis by fellow No. 1 seeds Wisconsin and Duke and an underdog Michigan State team that has a few too many Final Four appearances in recent years to be labeled a Cinderella. 

    [DraftKings: Play Fantasy College Basketball – Draft your team today!]

    Duke's victory over Gonzaga ensured that the Final Four will have three No. 1 seeds for only the second time this century and the fifth time since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1986. The 2008 Final Four remains the only one that featured all four No. 1 seeds.

    The winner of the Kentucky-Wisconsin game will face either Duke or Michigan State, two programs that have combined for 12 Final Four appearances since 1999. The Blue Devils defeated the Spartans 81-71 in Indianapolis back in November behind 19 points from Quinn Cook and 17 from Jahlil Okafor, but Michigan State is a stronger team today than it was then.

    - - - - - - -