Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago
The fact that Greg Gard is, as of this writing, still the associate head basketball coach at Wisconsin is great news for the Badgers. It is bad news for the rest of college basketball, because it speaks to the nonsensical nature of the hires made in the sport.
Gard just completed his 14th season at Wisconsin, and has been with Bo Ryan since 1993. Gard gets first call on opponent scouting reports, and serves as the Badgers’ recruiting coordinator – and no school in the country has done a better job identifying unheralded players who become future stars. He is integral to a program that has won consistently all century, and has moved into the elite echelon in the last two years.
So, why is this man still waiting for his chance to be a head coach?
In a hiring-and-firing cycle that saw more than its usual share of strangeness, that question is more pertinent than ever. Trying to figure out what schools are thinking come hiring time seems to get more difficult every year, as proven assistants at big-time programs continue to not get hired.
The current trends seem to be:
Nostalgia is in.
NBA backgrounds are in.
Recent success is out.
Hiring high-major assistant coaches is out.
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS – The Krzyzewski family picture at midcourt looked rather different from the scene in this same city in 1991.
Back then, when Mike Krzyzewski was winning his first national title, there was just the Duke coach, his wife, Mickie, and his three daughters. Monday night, after the latest title was secured with a gritty comeback to beat Wisconsin 68-63, they needed a wide-angle lens to get everyone in the picture.
There was Mike and his wife and three daughters, but also three sons-in-law and nine grandchildren. Cradled in the coach's left arm was the youngest grandkid, 20-month-old Caden.
Caden had a pacifier in his mouth and no shoes on his feet. In his right hand was a piece of the confetti that rained down from the rafters of Lucas Oil Stadium minutes earlier, after the Blue Devils had won. The little guy wore a blue Duke jersey with the No. 5 on it – equaling the number of national titles "Poppy" has won, second in college basketball history to only John Wooden.
"We don't do rent-a-player," Ryan said Monday night.
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 12 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS – If anyone can laugh, skip and sing their way through a minefield, it apparently is the Wisconsin Badgers.
America’s loosest college basketball team is attempting to complete the most arduous trek for a No. 1 seed in NCAA tournament history. The Badgers’ path to immortality is brutal – Kentucky on a Saturday and Duke on a Monday to end it all – but they seem to be having too much fun to notice how hard this is.
This is a group that giggles its way through press conferences. That dispatched backup forward Vitto Brown to be part of a quartet that sang the national anthem Saturday. That has starting forward Nigel Hayes dishing out polysyllabic Words of the Day to NCAA stenographers (Sunday’s offerings were logorrhea and succedaneum). That attending the Player of the Year award presentation for Frank Kaminsky en masse Thursday, commandeered the microphone and asked him questions.
The lovable dorks of the Dance are showing no sign of stress.
If they get this done, it will be one of the greatest NCAA tournament runs ever. Period.
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS – To borrow a phrase from the Cameron Indoor Stadium announcer: Here comes Duke.
Like a freight train.
Here comes Duke, back into the national championship game, with a very real chance to win. A large segment of America may not like it, but that segment may just have to deal with it.
The Blue Devils are playing the best of any team in the NCAA tournament. Their average margin of victory is 17.4 points, with only one game decided by single digits. After ripping Michigan State 81-61 in the first national semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night, they'll get a chance to cap off this remarkable Big Dance surge with a fifth title Monday night.
This is a team peaking at the perfect time.
From late in the first half onward, this was another low-stress Duke victory. The lead was double digits for the final 22:40, and coach Mike Krzyzewski was able to empty his bench for the third time in this tournament.
"We've been trying to hang our hats on the defensive end," forward Justise Winslow said.
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS – Aaron Harrison launched The Shot. Josh Gasser leaped to contest. As the ball arced through the air, Harrison's follow-through met Gasser's lunge.
"I think our fingers actually interlocked," Gasser recalled.
Their fates interlocked as well. And Harrison had the upper hand that night.
The Wisconsin guard had given the Kentucky guard just enough space to rise up for a 3-pointer in the dying seconds in last year's Final Four, with the Wildcats down two. Despite Harrison's history of clutch shooting – he'd made shots to beat Louisville and Michigan the previous week – Gasser believes his defense was solid.
"We played him exactly how we wanted to," Gasser said. "When it left his hand I was feeling pretty good."
When he turned his head toward the rim, he was feeling pretty bad. Harrison's shot rattled and dropped with 5.7 seconds left, carrying Kentucky to a 74-73 victory and into the national championship game. The Badgers were crushed.
"Shocked," was the word Traevon Jackson used Friday, more than once.
But will the outcome be different this time?
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago
INDIANAPOLIS – Mount Everest is more than 29,000 feet above sea level, and climbing it is among the most ambitious and arduous voluntary endeavors on Earth.
Especially the final 3,000 feet. That's in the so-called "death zone," where lack of oxygen and freezing temperatures are threats to survival.
Consider No. 1 Kentucky's quest for 40-0 the basketball equivalent of an Everest ascent. The Wildcats have climbed long enough and high enough to see the summit – tantalizingly close – but in the process have reached the death zone. To plant their flag atop the sport, they have to survive the hardest part here in Indy.
Confronting Kentucky is at least one game against a No. 1 seed – West Region champion Wisconsin, 35-3, winner of the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles, is the opponent Saturday. The Badgers are the No. 3 team in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy's rankings, possess America's most efficient offense and have hungered for another shot at the Wildcats for a year now.
But for now, the team being measured with the yardstick of history is Kentucky. Which really doesn't fit the profile of previous undefeated champions.
After flirting for several days, Gregg Marshall notified Alabama on Wednesday night that he was going to remain the basketball coach at Wichita State.
Crimson Tide athletic director Bill Battle issued a statement acknowledging that the school's search is reopened.
“I received word tonight that Coach Gregg Marshall has chosen to remain the head basketball coach at Wichita State," Battle said in the statement. "I fully respect his decision and wish him and his family all the best. My objective in this search is focused on one goal: to get the best person available to lead the Alabama men's basketball program. I remain determined to bring to our program a proven head coach with impressive credentials, one who understands and values our program, wants to lead our program, and is excited about what can be accomplished at the University of Alabama."
Marshall's contract has been enhanced for the third straight year, this time from $1.75 million to in excess of $3 million per year. Sources told Yahoo Sports that Alabama's expected offer was nearly $4 million per year.
Other candidates could be considered at Alabama as well.
Wichita State basketball coach Gregg Marshall has a tentatively planned family trip to Tuscaloosa on Friday to check out Alabama, sources told Yahoo Sports.
But Wichita State administrators and boosters are actively fundraising in an attempt to forestall Marshall's trip and keep him as the coach of the Shockers, sources said.
Alabama is prepared to offer Marshall nearly $4 million annually to become the next coach of the Crimson Tide, according to sources. Wichita State is striving to raise Marshall's compensation to more than $3 million annually in hopes that that would be enough to end the coach's interest in Alabama. Marshall currently is making $1.75 million per year, after receiving raises each of the past two years.
Crimson Tide athletic director Bill Battle flew to Wichita, Kan., on Monday and met with Marshall. Since then the situation has gotten quiet, but could heat up again if Marshall brings his family to see the Alabama campus and city of Tuscaloosa.
If Pitino were to go to Alabama, he might not be able to take his full staff with him. Assistant coach Dan McHale is a candidate for the vacant Eastern Kentucky head-coaching job, sources told Yahoo Sports.
The great competitive and commercial climax of the college sports season occurs this week in Indianapolis with the Final Four. Millions of dollars will be spent watching millionaire coaches and (a few) future millionaire players battle for the national basketball championship in a football stadium.
Final Fours, like the college football postseason, have done nothing but expand in scope and profitability in recent years. The amount to be spent on (and made off) those events seems to be limitless. Especially on the gridiron, where the College Football Playoff has broken the bank.
But more and more, the revenue geyser is meant to sustain only the two glamour athletic programs – football and men's basketball. The more money those sports make, the more gets plowed back into them in the way of opulent facilities and lavish coaching salaries.
Which is why some smaller cogs in the College Sports Inc., machine – the non-revenue athletes and coaches – will be watching this Final Four both wistfully and worriedly.
"We are, candidly, very concerned," U.S. Olympic committee CEO Scott Blackmun told Yahoo Sports.
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 17 days ago
First thought upon surveying the Final Four field: This is about as big-time as it gets.
Second thought: The Big Ten has never been and will never be more popular than Saturday night.
Michigan State takes on a Duke program people love to hate. Wisconsin takes on a Kentucky program people love to hate. While lovers of theater and storylines would revel in a Duke-Kentucky national title game next Monday, more people are likely to be rooting against the Evil Empires of college basketball.
Last Saturday in Syracuse, when Jerian Grant’s desperation shot missed everything and Kentucky hung on to beat Notre Dame, Faegan’s Cafe & Pub instantly deflated. Not a single celebratory voice was heard amid a crowd of a couple hundred. When Notre Dame is the more lovable entity, that tells you where a lot of people stand on Kentucky.
Given the presence of both Duke and Kentucky in the same Final Four for the first time since 1978, and given the suddenly embraceable Badgers and Spartans arrayed against them, this seemed like a great time to dust off an old favorite, the Final Four Likability Index. Keeping score on who to cheer for:
If your team’s head coach plays the accordion, add five points.