College Basketball Nation: Wayne Tinkle

1. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Thursday on our ESPNU College Basketball podcast that underclassmen should be able to work out for NBA teams before making a decision on whether to remain in the draft. That was the rule before the change by the NCAA in 2009. Izzo saw forward Adreian Payne take his time before opting to return to East Lansing. Izzo is a proponent of one date instead of the two current ones -- the NCAA's arbitrary one, with nothing binding, a week after the Final Four and the NBA's real deadline on the last Sunday in April. "I've never seen so much confusion,'' Izzo said. Izzo was also agreed with the point that if NBA teams paid for the workouts, it would alleviate one of the concerns the NCAA has had about extra benefits for draft hopefuls.

2. Izzo also said Michigan State and Gonzaga are trying to finalize a game at Spokane (Wash.) Arena on Dec. 7 to honor the life of former Michigan State coach and current Spokane resident Jud Heathcote. Heathcote attends Gonzaga games when he is able. Izzo said the plan was to have a doubleheader involving the four schools Heathcote coached or has a strong affinity for: Michigan State, Gonzaga, Washington State and Montana. Montana coach Wayne Tinkle said he'd love to do it, but Washington State coach Ken Bone said he has a scheduling conflict.

3. The NCAA Board of Directors officially recognized and ratified the new Big East Conference and the name change of the old Big East to the American Athletic Conference. That means the NCAA tournament will officially have 32 automatic berths in 2014 and 36 at-large berths. It also means that everyone had better get used to the American conference because unless significant expansion occurs again, the American is here to stay.
1. Highlights from Tuesday's Katz Korner show on ESPNU: Kentucky coach John Calipari didn't hold back his feelings about the SEC tournament. Calipari said the tournament is for the fans and noted a number of UK fans at the SEC tournament don't normally get to Rupp. He said the conference tourney is just a prep for the next (NCAA) tournament. "I don't like this,'' he said. "Three games in three days does nothing to prepare you for anything. I wish none of us had these tournaments.'' ... Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said in reaction to this being the Irish's last Big East tournament that the Big East, "made me in my coaching career.'' He said it was odd to tell his team Tuesday morning at breakfast that this would be their last Big East tournament. ... Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said it's hard to explain his past year: from being fired at Illinois to Big 12 coach of the year. He said his daughter pointed out that "I lost my job on March 9 and then it was March 9 this year that we won an unexpected Big 12 championship and the first one here since 1977.'' ... VCU coach Shaka Smart offered this advice for bubble coaches heading to the First Four in Dayton next week after the Rams started their Final Four run their in 2011, "Be aggressive confident and loose. You want to be an attacking team, no matter what style of play.''...Michigan's Trey Burke said the Wolverines will be looking forward to playing teams in the NCAA tournament not from the Big Ten, "It's a well-scouted conference, once we get outside of the conference, conference tournament, we'll be able to play at a higher level because those teams won't be scouting us each other day.''

2. One of the best decisions the NCAA/NIT made was ensuring the regular-season champs had a postseason home. A number of teams that won their leagues in the regular season weren't able to win the conference tournament: Northeastern (CAA), Robert Morris (NEC), Mercer (Atlantic Sun), Charleston Southern (Big South), Niagara (MAAC) and Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt). Middle Tennessee State is the only school that has a chance to make the NCAA tournament out of this group as an at-large. But the NIT has to guarantee bids to all of them. The regular-season title should have meaning and guarantee a postseason berth.

3. Montana coach Wayne Tinkle had quite a championship week -- in his family. His Grizzlies won the Big Sky for the second-straight season. His son, Tres, won the Montana AA high school title and was the most valuable player. His daughter, Joslyn, a senior at Stanford won the Pac-12 title and his youngest daughter, Elle, a freshman at the Gonzaga, won the WCC title. "How blessed are we?'' Tinkle said. But he said the real MVP of the family is his wife, Lisa, a member of the Montana Hall of Fame for "all the miles she logged.'' The Grizzlies will attempt to get back to the NCAA tournament but will likely have a challenge from nemesis Weber State. Montana hosts the Big Sky tournament in Missoula and gets a bye to the semifinals, while Weber State, the No. 2 seed, has to play two games to get to the finals since there are only seven teams in the field.
1. SEC commissioner Mike Slive expects the men’s basketball schedule will eventually get rid of a divisional format when the league goes to 18 games and 14 teams next season. The SEC was already headed that way -- shedding its traditional East-West football breakdown -- before adding Missouri and Texas A&M. The additions shouldn't change the plan. A decision will be made when the coaches and athletic directors gather in Destin, Fla., at the annual SEC meetings in May. This would be a critical development for a number of the teams in the former “West” division like Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State, which have been hampered by playing schools like Kentucky and Florida only once.

2. The Wildcats should look long and hard at Illinois State coach and former Kansas State player Tim Jankovich as well as Georgia coach Mark Fox, a former Kansas State assistant, to replace Frank Martin. Jankovich has strong ties to the region and was once a junior college coach. He nearly upset Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. Fox will have Georgia relevant again here soon if he were to stay in Athens. The Wildcats won’t replace the persona of Martin so they better get someone who is natural to the region.

3. Colorado State should seriously consider Montana’s Wayne Tinkle if it wants to stay relevant in the Mountain West-Conference USA hybrid deal. Tinkle has been a winner in Missoula from the moment he took the job. Tinkle will listen to the Rams if they call.

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