Tuesday, April 30, 2013
3-point shot: Baylor's focus on point guard
By Andy Katz
1. Baylor coach Scott Drew could have had a myriad problems had he lost Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin to the NBA draft. Instead, Drew's primary offseason focus is what to do at the point. He has plenty of time to discuss, dissect and analyze over the summer, but his first inkling is to go with a combination of Gary Franklin and Brady Heslip to offset the departure of Pierre Jackson. Other options for Drew are Kenny Chery, a newcomer, or L.J. Rose, who was on the team last season. This is a critical upcoming year for the Bears. The disappointment last season of not making the NCAA tournament was softened by the NIT championship. Now that Jefferson and Austin have returned, there is no excuse if the Bears don't make the 2014 field. The Big 12 will be down a bit with Oklahoma State and Kansas as the top two teams. Baylor has the personnel to beat out Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma. But the onus will be on consistent play upfront and a stable point guard.
2. The UMass-Lowell job is open after Greg Herenda took the head coaching position at Fairleigh Dickinson. The Riverhawks are joining the America East next season but have a four-year waiting period to become eligible for postseason. North Dakota State is one of the best models for how to make this transition when Tim Miles and Saul Phillips set up the Bison to make the NCAAs in their first eligible year in 2009. Bryant University handled a similar transition, and while the Bulldogs didn't make the NCAAs in their first eligible year, Bryant spent a good portion of the 2012-13 season atop the NEC and ended up earning a berth in the CBI. The Riverhawks now have to follow a similar path and to do so have a shot to look at area schools for coaching talent. Former Boston College coach Al Skinner, his former assistant and current Northeastern assistant Pat Duquette and current Emerson head coach Jim O'Brien, who was the head coach at BC prior to Skinner, all could be in the mix for this position, according to sources. This is hardly a headline position, but everyone jumping up from Division II to I wants to make a splash. The America East grabbed UMass-Lowell to replace Boston University in the hope it can penetrate the Boston market, making it even more imperative to win the new conference with a coach that has local ties.
3. Ray McCallum Jr. announced his decision to declare for the NBA draft last week but it got lost amid other headline names making the tough call to stay or go. But don't dismiss the Detroit guard as an afterthought. McCallum Jr. could have easily gone to UCLA but chose to play for his father Ray at Detroit. McCallum will be an intriguing prospect to monitor throughout the team workouts and in Chicago over the next two months. Each decision is personal and that's why to guess what direction a player would go in this process is extremely difficult. McCallum chose to leave his dad's team and head to the NBA. Doug McDermott decided to stay and play for his dad at Creighton for one more year. McCallum, though, could very well end up being a higher pick in a draft that needs quality ball handlers.