NCAA Tournament has mostly gone according to chalk. Not been a good one for the ACC, as a whole. Down went Louisville, Virginia and Notre Dame. This is what it has felt like in the ACC for the last couple decades. Everyone flaming out and stuck hate-rooting for UNC and/or Duke to carry the banner for the rest of the conference. Sucks.
On the plus side, Villanova reverts back to form by exiting in the first weekend for the second time as a #1 seed in the last three years.
The first four days of the NCAA Tournament has been more interesting for the coaching moves, then any Cinderella stories.
Cuonzo Martin becomes the recent coaching rarity of a head coach moving between Power 5 jobs. He jumped from Tennessee a couple years ago to Cal. Now, jumps to Mizzou. Taking advantage of the somewhat surprising move by Washington to fire (at last) Lorenzo Romar, he hired Michael Porter, Sr. from UW as an assistant. Presumably meaning the number one recruit, Michael Porter, Jr. will now head to the Tigers.
NC State made a quick and — especially for them — probably excellent hire in Kevin Keatts from UNC-Wilmington following UNCW’s 5-point loss to Virginia in the opening round. A great job there, and a Rick Pitino disciple.
Keatts would have been a hot name last year (perhaps even by Pitt), but everyone was waiting to see if his name would come up in the Louisville-stripper/hooker scandal. Keatts was an assistant at the time. No one could/would touch Keatts until an
whitewash and scapegoat investigation was complete. Is he a “winner?” Remains to be seen at a higher level, but NC State may have gotten smart and lucky this time.
In another aggressive move following the elimination of the team, Brad Underwood left Oklahoma State for Illinois. Underwood had been at OSU for only one year after a brief, but successful run at Stephen F. Austin. OSU, after overpaying and having to eat a big buyout on Travis Ford, lowballed Underwood.
When it lured Underwood away from Stephen F. Austin, Oklahoma State more or less offered a hardline, take-it-or-leave-it pauper’s salary of $1 million a year to coach in the Big 12. Of course a coach from the Southland Conference ought not sneeze at that or turn it down. But the sensation of being held over a barrel never sat right with Underwood and his people. Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder seemed surprised at the end result of this, uh, thrift–“We are trying to digest this news,” he said in a statement–but he shouldn’t have been.
There were implied promises of revisiting it after the season, but OSU was reportedly dragging its feet a bit. Illinois came hard for Underwood with a better than $3 million/year for six-year offer. And that was that. Less then a week after letting John Groce go, Illinois eschewed the search firm and went after the guy they wanted — and were reasonably certain they could get.
Back to ACC impact — no Clemson didn’t make a move, Brad Brownell remains. Washington surprised everyone today by hiring longtime Syracuse assistant, and head coach-in-waiting, Mike Hopkins.
Hopkins, 47, has worked under Jim Boeheim at Syracuse since 1996, and he also played college ball for the Orange. He was expected to be the successor to Boeheim when the veteran head coach retires, having been named the coach-in-waiting in 2015.
“He wants to build a legacy, felt like the opportunity was special at Washington, and also wanted to make sure he did right by his mentor and father figure, Jim Boeheim,” a source close to the situation told Goodman.
Hopkins, a California native, went 4-5 as interim head coach in 2015-16 while Boeheim was suspended. He has been mentioned in searches for other head-coaching jobs previously, including as a finalist for Oregon State’s top job in 2014.
Hopkins also interviewed for the USC job in 2013. This was something of a stealth move by Washington, as last night reports were out that Steve Lavin was a lead candidate. Mike Hopkins’ name was nowhere to be seen in the rumor mill.
Jim Boeheim has been making a lot of noise this year that his retirement plans after 2017-18 are hardly as set in stone as they once seemed. Syracuse fans are decidedly mixed. Having Hopkins leave, is not something that particularly bothers them long-term, because (and rather reasonably, I’d say) they believe if he does do well at Washington, he can still be brought back to Syracuse. Plus, given his loyalty to the school over the years, reasonable fans can hardly begrudge him for finally getting and taking his shot.
On the other hand, Hopkins has been their lead and key recruiter for years. Losing him is a bit on the scary side.
At this point, the open P5 jobs are Cal — who seems to be looking at the leftovers that Washington had been rumored to be considering (yes, including Steve Lavin for reasons that escape me), [EDIT, ADDITION: Because I completely forgot about them, given their general irrelevance.] LSU — and Indiana.
Indiana is the big one. Archie Miller could be hired any time if they wanted. Or do they wait until Xavier is out to get Chris Mack? Or Butler’s Chris Holtmann?
Then there is Gregg Marshall at Wichita State. If he is going to leave WSU, a gig like Indiana seems like the one. Of course, Marshall is reportedly a difficult guy to deal with for the administration and not a fan of media attention. After the Tom Crean era — to say nothing of the ghost of bitter, old, Bob Knight. That may be something Indiana’s administration wants to skip.