College Basketball Nation: Trent Lockett

WASHINGTON -- A few thoughts from Marquette's 71-61 victory over Miami in an East Regional semifinal Thursday:

Overview: Marquette had played on the edge for two rounds of the NCAA tournament, fortunate to win against Davidson and Butler.

The Golden Eagles were due to bust out with a comfortable victory. But who knew it would come against the ACC regular-season and tournament champs?

Miami had been in a few grinder games earlier this season, against Michigan State and Virginia. But the Hurricanes were not prepared for Marquette's toughness, aggressive behavior on the backboards and overall punishing ability to make shots, grab rebounds and convert.

This was over early, as No. 2-seeded Miami scored just 16 points in the first half and never seriously threatened in the second.

Third-seeded Marquette moves on to the Elite Eight for the first time since Dwyane Wade led the Tom Crean-coached Golden Eagles to the Final Four in 2003.

Miami finishes its best season ever at 29-7 -- but two games short of the ultimate goal. The Hurricanes tried to dismiss the importance of losing Reggie Johnson to a knee injury after Sunday's win over Illinois. Yet they could have used Johnson to help keep Marquette off the backboard, or at least contribute his five fouls.

Nevertheless, the Golden Eagles (26-8) were clearly no fluke in tying Georgetown and Louisville for the Big East regular-season crown. This team might not have had the early-season hype or star power, but once again it has shined with developed headliners like Vander Blue and Jamil Wilson and plenty of tremendous role play from Trent Lockett, Chris Otule and Junior Cadougan.

Turning point: I'm going early here. Davante Gardner spun and converted to put the Eagles up 10-4; Blue then pushed the lead to 12-4 nearly eight minutes into the first half. Miami was having a hard time getting more than one shot per possession. Blue then buried a step-back 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer for a 29-16 lead. The Canes were thoroughly clueless offensively, going 1-of-11 on 3s and 6-of-29 from the field before intermission.

Star of the game: It's a bit of a draw between Blue and Wilson. Blue made big shots and finished with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting, but Wilson was also a difference-maker for Marquette as he led all scorers with 16, along with eight boards. Wilson converted timely 3s and found the seams in the defense to convert around the basket. He also had three blocks late into the second half -- one of them an emphatic, message-sending delivery. Miami had the style and the flash with the neon sneakers. But substance won over any kind of fashion statement on this night. This was a good evening to be a member of the new Big East.

What's next: Marquette can stay in D.C. for the Easter weekend, can go watch the school's men's lacrosse team take on Georgetown on Friday, and enjoy what has been a wonderful ride for the unheralded but well-respected Golden Eagles. Fourth-seeded Syracuse will await Saturday.
College basketball is a multibillion-dollar sport. With so much money at stake -- along with the prestige and exposure that comes with consistent success -- there’s always pressure on coaches to win.

The following list doesn’t necessarily include coaches who are on the “hot seat.” Only the athletic directors and insiders privy to the true statuses of these coaches know what’s necessary for each to maintain his current position. From the outside, however, they all appear to be coaches who need to win. Now.

Another lukewarm season might not cost them their jobs. But it certainly won’t help their respective causes.

Here’s my list of 10 coaches who need to win now:

  1. [+] EnlargeSmith
    Bruce Thorson/US PresswireTubby Smith has yet to lead Minnesota to an NCAA tournament victory in five seasons on the job.
    Tubby Smith (Minnesota) -- Smith has reached the NCAA tournament twice in five seasons since he left Kentucky to take the Minnesota gig in 2007. But he hasn’t won a game in the Big Dance during his time with the Gophers. The extension he signed in the offseason will mean little if the Gophers miss the NCAA tournament again. New athletic director Norwood Teague came from Virginia Commonwealth, where Shaka Smart helped that program attain national relevancy. Teague expects the same in Minneapolis. So the pressure continues to rise for Smith, who’s endured multiple off-court incidents during his term. Proof that he’s seeking public support: Smith now allows media in the locker room after games, a first in his tenure.
  2. Ben Howland (UCLA) -- Accomplishments in college basketball are quickly forgotten. That’s why Howland’s back-to-back-to-back run to the Final Four from 2006 to 2008 seems like an ancient feat. Howland’s recent years have been plagued by personnel issues and underachievement. But there’s a strong buzz surrounding his 2012 recruiting class. Howland, once again, has a roster than can make a run in March, assuming Shabazz Muhammad is cleared by the NCAA. The flip side of the hoopla is that UCLA’s fan base will likely bemoan anything less. So the Bruins must reach their potential, it seems, to keep Howland’s seat cool.
  3. Bill Carmody (Northwestern) -- Northwestern is not a football school or a basketball school. It’s a school school, one that places a great emphasis on its broad academic imprint. But there is discontent with the men’s basketball team’s inability to reach the NCAA tournament. It has never happened. The Wildcats have come close in the past three years -- the most fruitful stretch in the program’s history -- but those seasons all ended without a bid. The swell of disappointment has grown with each close call. Athletic director Jim Phillips reportedly considered a change but ultimately gave Carmody, who is entering his 13th season, a vote of confidence after another possible berth slipped away last season. He might not receive the same support in a similar scenario this season.
  4. Travis Ford (Oklahoma State) -- In his first two seasons, Ford led the Cowboys to the NCAA tournament. But the program hasn’t met that bar since 2010. Last year, Ford had an NBA prospect (Le'Bryan Nash) and multiple high-level athletes but still struggled in the Big 12 due to a subpar defense (the Cowboys' 70.8 points per game allowed was the second-highest tally in the league). Oklahoma State continues to invest in basketball. Its latest project, a multimillion-dollar upgrade of the program’s locker room, illustrated its commitment to the sport. But it’s equally interested in winning. And Ford has missed the mark in recent years. He had a young team a year ago, but this season’s group is so talented -- enter Marcus Smart -- that youth won’t be a valid excuse again.
  5. Herb Sendek (Arizona State) -- Few programs endured Arizona State’s offseason shift. Sendek added assistants Eric Musselman and Larry Greer, two men who’ve coached in the NBA, to his staff after finishing with a 10-21 record in 2011-12. Sendek also lost top scorer Trent Lockett (13.0 ppg), who transferred to Marquette to be closer to an ailing mother in Minnesota. The good news: Talented point guard Jahii Carson is eligible. But Carson's presence and the additions to his staff won’t guarantee additional years for Sendek, who was the Pac-12’s coach of the year in 2010. He has to find a way to climb out of the league’s basement in 2012-13.
  6. Craig Robinson (Oregon State) -- President Barack Obama’s brother-in-law has gradually upgraded the talent in Corvallis in his first four years. His best player last year, Jared Cunningham, was a first-round pick in the 2012 NBA draft. But Robinson is still trying to prove that the Beavers are on the rise after finishing seven games under .500 in his first four years (64-71). Last year’s 21-win season was both promising and disappointing. Oregon State had its chances but ultimately finished with a 7-11 mark in Pac-12 play. The loss of Cunningham was a tough one for the program. But its greatest problem last season -- a defense that was ranked 154th in defensive efficiency -- was a collective issue. It’s something Robinson must address in 2012-13.
  7. Kevin Ollie (Connecticut)/Chris Walker (Texas Tech) -- Both Ollie and Walker were placed in similarly uninspiring situations during the offseason. After Jim Calhoun retired, Ollie signed a one-year contract to coach a Huskies team that lost top talents Jeremy Lamb, Andre Drummond, Roscoe Smith and Alex Oriakhi and will not compete in the postseason due to a subpar Academic Progress Rate score. After former head coach Billy Gillispie’s messy offseason exit, Walker inherited a Texas Tech squad that earned one Big 12 victory last season (1-17). Neither Ollie nor Walker is promised anything beyond this season. And their circumstances will limit their abilities to turn their “temporary” tags into permanent ones.
  8. [+] EnlargeJeff Bzdelik
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesJeff Bzdelik enters his third year at Wake Forest with just five total ACC victories to his credit.
    Jeff Bzdelik (Wake Forest) -- From 2001 to 2005, the Demon Deacons reached the NCAA tournament. They also secured back-to-back trips in 2009 and 2010. But Bzdelik’s first two seasons were rocky. Under his watch, Wake Forest achieved one ACC victory in 2010-11 and four last year. That’s progress. But is it enough to satisfy a fan base that will watch the neighbors on Tobacco Road (North Carolina State, North Carolina and Duke) enter the season as potential national championship contenders? Bzdelik is on the right track, and Travis McKie and C.J. Harris should help the program move forward in his third season, too. Any movement in the other direction, however, will encourage more scrutiny of Bzdelik’s job status.
  9. Andy Kennedy (Ole Miss) -- Kennedy averaged more than 20 wins in his first six seasons, but his program’s name was never called on Selection Sunday. And close never suffices in college basketball. Kennedy’s legacy won’t be defined by his consistency as much it will be marked by the program’s ongoing NCAA tournament drought and his efforts to end it in 2012-13. That’s crucial for Kennedy, who might have a tough time convincing his superiors to keep him with another respectable finish that doesn’t involve a trip to the Big Dance.
  10. Ken Bone (Washington State) -- Bone’s program returns the Pac-12’s leading scorer, Brock Motum (18.0 ppg last season). But Motum’s presence only intensifies the expectations for the Cougars. Bone hasn’t led the team to the NCAA tournament since replacing Tony Bennett in 2009. The Cougars have been inconsistent. A suspect defense (141st in defensive efficiency last year) hasn’t helped. But this season’s Pac-12 is filled with unknowns. Washington State can rise in the standings if it’s tough on both ends of the floor. Another mediocre year sans an NCAA tournament berth, however, will not help Bone extend his time in Pullman.
The Afternoon Links are back, and they are exactly what they say they are. Some days will bring more links than others. This is the offseason, after all. If you have a link you'd like included, your best bet is to hit me on Twitter. You can also e-mail your link to collegebasketballnation at, or use the submission form here.
  • James Johnson's first item of business was winning the news conference, and that seemed to go pretty well, at least according to Hampton Roads Daily Press' David Teel: "James Johnson didn't act like the ACC's youngest, least-experienced and probably lowest-paid head basketball coach Tuesday. Conversely, Virginia Tech's new boss appeared comfortable during his introductory news conference. Comfortable in the spotlight, confident in himself. Don't misunderstand. There wasn't a whisper of brashness. He wasn't glib, emotional or long-winded. Some may interpret that as anxiety. But I saw comfort mixed with humility." Even better? As planned, Johnson's hiring prompted recruit Marshall Wood, who had asked for his release after former coach Seth Greenberg's departure, to remain in the fold.
  • Western Kentucky freshman Derrick Gordon announced his transfer to UMass, where he will sit out a year before becoming eligible in 2013-14, via Twitter. Judging by the COPIOUS USE OF CAPS LOCK, Gordon is excited about the news.
  • Over the weekend, Team USA added Oklahoma City's James Harden and (more relevant to our interests) likely No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis to the pool of players eligible for selection to this summer's Olympic team. Davis would still have to make a final cut, but given the dearth of true big men available to Mike Krzyzewski this summer -- Dwight Howard is out, and without him the only true center in the player pool is NBA defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler -- Davis might have an outside shot at making the squad. I'll be honest: I would love to see Davis play in the international system. (And also: I can not wait until the 2012 Summer Olympics. You're going down, Spain! Who's with me?)
  • We missed this late last week, but Connecticut got a commitment from Phil Nolan, a 6-foot-10 forward ranked No. 23 at his position in the class of 2012. Nolan might not make an immediate impact, but in the wake of Andre Drummond's draft departure, Alex Oriakhi's transfer to Missouri, and Roscoe Smith's defection, Nolan's sheer size makes him an important get.
  • The Washington Post recognized the 10th anniversary of Maryland's 2002 national championship with a photo slideshow. When done poorly, photo slideshows are one of the worst things about the Internet. When done well, they're totally awesome. This is an example of the latter, complete with "Where are they now?" updates on each of the beloved title-winning Terrapins. For example: Did you know Juan Dixon is in Turkey? True! And that Steve Blake plays for the ... ha, just kidding.
  • Obligatory in-house links: Today, Myron Medcalf breaks down how Kentucky's 2012 freshmen raised the expectations bar forever. In case you missed it, be sure to see Myron's story on Trent Lockett, who transferred from Arizona State to Marquette be closer to his mother, who is fighting her second diagnosis of a "crazy" and "rare" brand of lymphoma cancer. And don't miss last week's feature on a renewed Bruce Weber, who looked refreshed and ready for a new challenge at Kansas State when he spoke with our Jason King.
  • Daily basketball break: "Any faceted solid, he showed, no matter how complex or irregular, could be folded from a single uncut sheet of paper. Start with a piece of paper big enough, and you could model Notre Dame down to the last gargoyle." You may want to read this story.

ASU buzzer-beater is one to smile about

December, 12, 2011
It hasn't been the easiest year for Arizona State. Coming off a last-place finish in the Pac-10, the Sun Devils began this season 3-5. They learned that top recruit Jahii Carson, who was expected to take over point guard duties and provide the program with a game-changing talent, was ruled academically ineligible for the season.

A win at home against North Dakota State might not change the fortunes for ASU this season, but for a brief moment, the Sun Devils had much to celebrate. On a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win the game, Carrick Felix, Trent Lockett and Chanse Creekmur combined to pull off an inbound play reminiscent of Valparaiso's to win an NCAA tournament game.

"It was great to see our team celebrate with that kind of joy," coach Herb Sendek told reporters. "That is something that we have talked about a great deal together. Second, a little birdie told me that immediately, Carrick and Trent found themselves together and spontaneously, they each credited the other. Not surprisingly, two of our highest character guys. So, it was a great play to finish the game."

Sendek's joy after the game came in stark contrast to the frustration he felt following the team's previous game when it lost at home to Nevada after which these comments were made by the coach to the Arizona Republic.
"This isn't nuclear physics. It's really simple. You have to play with great energy and effort all the time unless your talent quotient is just so overwhelming that you can take pockets off. We obviously don't have an overwhelming talent quotient, so we've got to be tenacious and simultaneously smart. We were neither."


"Careless, uncalled for sloppy passes. Not sharp and crisp. Not smart decisions. Not treasuring the basketball. Treating the basketball as if we were at a gym class. I've seen dodge ball games in gym classes where they've taken better care of the ball."

Yes, Arizona State still has much to improve upon if it's going to establish itself as a contender in the Pac-12. But with one magical play, the Sun Devils showed what perfection in 1.8 seconds could mean for them.