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Roundball Chatter

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Each Friday I will write about the sport I love, college basketball.

• Jamie Dixon had to be happy to add former College of Charleston head coach Tommy Herrion to the Panthers staff. Herrion comes into the slot vacated by Mike Rice, who became head coach at Robert Morris. Herrion brings a great deal of experience to the job and he should be an excellent fit at Pittsburgh.

• Familiarity is important when it comes to hiring of assistant coaches. Mike Garland is returning to Michigan State to re-join Tom Izzo's staff. It is a great situation because of comfort. One of the great keys in forming a coaching staff is having people that are loyal and dedicated. Garland, who left East Lansing to serve as Cleveland State's head coach for several years, fits perfectly for the Spartans.

• Another former head coach who resurfaced is former LaSalle sideline boss Billy Hahn. He joins the staff at West Virginia under new coach Bob Huggins. Hahn gets the opportunity to bust his gut. He worked at Maryland under Gary Williams before the stint with the Explorers. Hahn wants to prove LaSalle made a mistake.

• Rick Majerus is surrounding himself with a coaching staff that has experience. One of his first moves was to bring in Porter Moser, who did a good job at Arkansas-Little Rock before heading over to Illinois State. Majerus is getting guys who have been in the trenches, guys that understand what it takes to run a program. It is a good move to get an experienced guy to serve as a second lieutenant.

• Things are blooming out in Bruins country. First UCLA got Kevin Love out of Oregon, the best big man in America according to many scouts and writers. Now comes word the junior sensation, 6-9 Drew Gordon, has given a verbal commitment to go to Westwood. Many big-time schools were interested in Gordon. Ben Howland's program is moving in a positive direction.

• Down at Central Florida, the school doesn't get a lot of notoriety and the team finished second in the Conference USA regular-season standings. Coach Kirk Speraw has done a solid job and he has been rewarded with a multi-year extension. He busts his gut and he doesn't get enough visibility. What counts is his boss recognizes his value.

• Nice to see DePaul's Jerry Wainright named to coach the U. S. under-19 team into the World tournament this summer. Wainright brings a world of enthusiasm and energy and he will welcome the challenge. His assistants will be Drexel's Bruiser Flint and Karl Hobbs of George Washington. The tournament will be held in Serbia July 12-22.

• Oklahoma got some backcourt help by adding JUCO transfer Omar Leary. He originally made a verbal commitment to Colorado State but got out of it when Rams coach Dale Layer was let go. The timing is good for coach Jeff Capel since the Sooners lost potential starter Bobby Maze, who transferred.

• Don't tell me that players don't go to a school because of the coach. A perfect example is Georgia State, which recently hired former Mississippi coach Rod Barnes. A pair of his former Rebel players have decided to join him. Forwards Trey Hampton and Xavier Hansbro are transferring. The 6-foot-8 Hampton played in 46 games with 11 starts at Ole Miss. The 6-9 Hansbro played in 41 games. They will sit out next season as redshirts, being eligible as juniors at Georgia State the following season.

• Another example LSU recruit D. J. Wright was released from his letter of intent, allowing him to sign with another school. The 6-7 Wright reconsidered his commitment to LSU when Tigers assistant coach Nikita Johnson left LSU for the associate head coaching position at Louisiana Tech. Wright had a close relationship with Johnson, who helped recruit him.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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