Thursday, April 2, 2009
Interesting Qs in potential Floyd move
DETROIT -- Quick hitters from Day 1 in the Motor City on issues outside the Final Four:
• Arizona's interest in hiring Tim Floyd to replace Russ Pennell/Lute Olson isn't strange on the surface. Floyd has proved to be an excellent game coach over the years and knows athletic director Jim Livengood from decades ago when Floyd was at Idaho and Livengood was next door at Washington State. But there are a few interesting aspects to this:
Does Livengood have information on the ongoing NCAA investigation into USC that centers around former Trojan O.J. Mayo? The investigation isn't closed, as the enforcement staff continues to attempt to interview Mayo. According to multiple sources, Livengood wouldn't be privy to information on this case since it doesn't involve him.
So how concerned is Livengood with hiring a coach whose current program is under investigation while Arizona has a letter of inquiry dealing with a potential rules violation in connection to an on-campus high school hoop event in the spring?
Indiana got burned when it hired Kelvin Sampson from Oklahoma despite an NCAA investigation into the Sooners. Would the same thing happen to Arizona?
On Floyd's side, if there is more money at Arizona -- and because Arizona is more of a basketball school than USC -- the move might make sense. But Arizona is expected to be gutted and face an Indiana-like rebuilding situation. USC, even if DeMar DeRozan and/or Taj Gibson were to declare for the NBA draft, has more talent and continues to win at a high level.
So if you're Floyd, why go and start over?
Going to a rival school within the conference isn't against any rules, but how often does that happen? Mike Montgomery went from Stanford to Cal but had a stint in the NBA in between the two schools. A move like this might not go over well in the Pac-10.
• If Floyd does go to Arizona, it could cause dominoes to fall across the country. The one job that might pique Jamie Dixon's interest in moving west is USC, even if it means going against good friend Ben Howland of UCLA. Dixon is very comfortable at Pitt, has a more passionate fan base and loves his athletic director and president, and his family enjoys the city. But USC would put him in the L.A. area near his parents and sister, and his wife would be going back to her alma mater. The money would have to be a major upgrade for him to move, but an offer at least would make him pause. I'm not sure he would do it, since he's in quite a groove at Pitt. He's comfortable on the East Coast, and as he said, he "summered" in the Bronx with his grandparents. But if he did make a move like this, Xavier's Sean Miller (a Pitt alum) would be the logical choice if the Panthers went outside the current staff.
• The Boston Globe reported that Tony Jones, Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl's assistant, is going to be the next coach at Boston University. Jones is an energetic coach and hard worker, but the question is: Can he work in the Northeast in a lower-profile conference? The America East is a bus league and much more sedate than the SEC.
• Tony Bennett said Wednesday that he was taken aback by how aggressively Virginia went after him. The Cavs contacted him, and within a day, a plane was in Pullman to pick him up and take him to Charlottesville. Bennett said he was wowed by the Virginia campus, the academic integrity of the program and the opportunity to make a go of it in the ACC. Bennett also said he didn't say much about the Virginia situation to anyone over the weekend. His father, Dick, was aware he had gone to Virginia, but he didn't tell his dad he had accepted the job. His father found out by watching the ESPN crawl Monday afternoon.
Bennett said he will adjust his style (to some degree) to the personnel at Virginia, and so far, he thinks everyone on the team is on board, including ACC rookie of the year Sylven Landesberg. Bennett feels good about how he's leaving the Washington State program, notably with stud freshman Klay Thompson expected to return. Bennett has hired Liberty coach Ritchie McKay (a good friend from their playing days in New Zealand) to be his top assistant. Ron Sanchez, who was an assistant at WSU, will come with him as well. But Ben Johnson, his top assistant in Pullman, is expected to go coach in Australia, Bennett said.
• The favorite to replace Bennett is likely Portland State's Ken Bone, who has taken the Vikings to two straight NCAA tournaments. Washington State athletic director Jim Sterk always has been a fan of Bone. He was a secondary choice at Oregon State before the Beavers hired Craig Robinson a year ago.
• The College Basketball Invitational is turning out to be quite a hit at home games. Oregon State had a packed house at Gill Coliseum for Game 1 on Monday. UTEP then had a sellout of 12,000 Wednesday night, the first sellout in El Paso since 2006. As soon as the Miners beat the Beavers to force Game 3 on Friday, 6,600 tickets were sold. Through two games, the CBI championship series already has outdrawn the three-game inaugural series last year between Bradley and Tulsa (26,629 fans in two games compared to 24,806 over three games).