UConn names Dan Hurley as new Men's Basketball Head Coach – WTNH Connecticut News (press release)


UConn officials welcomed Dan Hurley as the new Head Coach of Men’s Basketball Thursday (Image: Twitter / @UConnHuskies)

(WTNH) — The University of Connecticut has named former Rhode Island Coach Dan Hurley as the new Head Coach of the Men’s Basketball Team.

In a tweet sent out Thursday morning, officials at UConn confirmed the rumors that had been swirling for a few weeks that Hurley was going to be selected for the job.

Details of Hurley’s contract were not released by UConn, but ESPN is reporting that multiple sources confirmed Hurley received a six-year deal.

This has all come less than two weeks after UConn announced that it would fire head coach Kevin Ollie, for “just cause”. The university then cited an NCAA investigation, which came about in January. However very few details have been released.

Ollie is fighting the firing in an effort to be paid the $10 million that remains on his contract that was signed two years ago.

 



Is James Harden the best basketball player in the world? – SB Nation


Last year, no less an authority than Gregg Popovich called Kawhi Leonard the best basketball player in the world. Most everything Popovich says these days is worth mulling; the Leonard claim was no exception. Upon deep review, Leonard was indeed a contender for the moniker Best Player in the World, along with LeBron James and Kevin Durant, so long as you consider defense to be an important facet of the sport.

Leonard has obviously not had the year Popovich or anyone would have hoped: He’s barely played since that declaration last May. He didn’t get another chance to prove his mettle against Durant or James. He has, for all intents and purposes, fallen out of this competition.

Meanwhile, Durant excelled in the playoffs, won a title, and was halfway to a Defensive Player of the Year award before getting nicked up and coasting through winter. James had another strong playoff run that ended with another Finals loss to a better team. This season, James has put up unprecedented numbers for someone in his 15th year, some of the best of his top-three all-time career. His defense, however, is at this point likely the worst of any probable All-NBA picks.

Neither Durant or James will win MVP this season, nor will two-time winner Stephen Curry or reigning Russell Westbrook. MVP status would seem to be an important marker for the unofficial title of Best Basketball Player in the World. But the race can have odd swings on an annual basis — no one would have called upstart Derrick Rose the best on the planet in 2011, or Steve Nash the best basketball player alive after his back-to-back trophies. Kobe Bryant won his only MVP after the point at which many would agree he lost the Best in the World title to James. (Where the transition point between Bryant and James falls — assuming there is no Dirk Nowitzki interlude circa 2007 — is hotly debated, if only in my head.)

A single MVP race doesn’t make the Best Player in the World. But when you look over the course of multiple years, clarity arrives.

It is then another contender arrives: James Harden.


NBA: Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Harden will win the 2017-18 MVP award going away. His chief rival at this stage is Anthony Davis; Davis’ own coach, Alvin Gentry, declared the race is “not even close.” The win will be Harden’s first.

But Harden will then have finished first or second in three of the previous four seasons. He was the runner-up when Curry won his first in 2014-15 and came in behind Westbrook last season. The Rockets were mediocre in 2015-16 and Harden received only a few end-of-the-ballot votes. But otherwise, over four seasons, Harden has arguably been the NBA’s best performer.

We don’t know exactly how the final MVP voting will shake out other than a sure Harden win. James will possibly snatch his 13th consecutive top-five MVP finish. (That’s just unbelievable, except because we’ve watched James all these years, it’s kinda believable.) Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and possibly Damian Lillard could earn top-five spots. Either Curry, Westbrook, or Durant could end up in there.

Over the past five seasons, Curry has the two MVP wins and two No. 6 finishes in balloting. Durant won in 2014, but has just one top-five finish since then. (Durant’s entire case for the Best Player in the World moniker exists outside MVP balloting, which is a little weird, isn’t it?) James last won in 2013, but is in the conversation every single year. Westbrook won in 2017, but don’t forget he has two other top-five finishes before that. Leonard has a second- and a third-place finish.

In another month’s time, Harden will be first or second in MVP voting three times in four years. That’s a better MVP-based qualification than any other player in the conversation.

That’s the MVP-based case. What about the counting stats?

Harden is the No. 1 scorer in the NBA over the past five seasons (including the current campaign), edging Durant and thoroughly beating the other contenders. He’s No. 5 over that span in assists per game, trailing Westbrook but leading Curry. He’s No. 4 in total minutes, behind only DeMarre Carroll, Wesley Matthews, and Jordan Clarkson. (The other Best in the World candidates rank no higher than No. 17.) He’s played more games than the others, trails only Curry and Klay Thompson in threes made, and has a gargantuan lead for free throws. (As of Tuesday night, Harden has made 3,300 free throws since 2013-14. DeMar DeRozan is second on that list … with 2,397, or 27 percent fewer.)

Defensively, Harden is not nearly as good as Durant. Until this season, he’d likely be below all the other candidates for this title, with the exception of Westbrook last season. But this year Harden has filled his role for a very good defensive team, using his size to his advantage. That combined with James’ stark slide in that (important!) aspect of the game shrinks the gap enough to make Harden’s offensive excellence a strong enough case.

Winning a title has never been a prerequisite for being considered the world’s best player. But given that Durant, Curry, and James all have rings, and considering how damn good they are, it seems like Harden might need to reach that level of success to gain the momentum behind his argument for the unofficial title of best player alive. That’s a tall ask, even for a player of Harden’s extraordinary caliber.



Cal leading scorer Don Coleman plans to leave basketball program – SFGate




In a widely expected move, leading scorer Don Coleman announced Tuesday that he won’t return for his senior season.

Coleman averaged 14.2 points per game for the Bears, which went 8-24 – marking the most losses in program history – and dropped 17 of their final 18 games.

“This was one of the toughest decisions of my life, but everything happens for a reason,” Coleman said in a social media post. “These two years have been great, and I’ve learned and grown as a man with this opportunity to play at a high level.”

Shortly after being moved into a reserve role, Coleman was suspended for the team’s trip to UCLA and USC from Jan. 25-28 for an unspecified violation of team rules. He returned to the team the next week and was back in the starting lineup for the Bears’ final three games.

Rusty Simmons is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: rsimmons@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @Rusty_SFChron




Memphis basketball expected to announce Penny Hardaway's hiring on Tuesday – The Commercial Appeal


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Memphis East beat Whitehaven 72-50 in the TSSAA’s Class AAA boys basketball state championship game.
Tom Kreager

The University of Memphis announced a news conference for Tuesday to introduce its new men’s basketball coach, who is expected to be former Tigers star Penny Hardaway.

While the school release did not mention Hardaway, an athletic department official confirmed earlier on Monday that the event is intended to announce Hardaway’s hiring.

The news conference will be held at 11 a.m. in the Laurie-Walton Family Basketball Center on the university’s Park Avenue campus. The public is invited to attend, although the school said seating will be limited.

Hardaway, 46, will replace former coach Tubby Smith, who was fired Wednesday after two seasons. This will be his first college coaching job. He would be the third Memphis alum to lead the Tigers’ men’s basketball team, joining Wayne Yates (1974-79) and Larry Finch (1986-1997).

USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee reported Hardaway’s expected hiring Thursday. Over the weekend, he led East High School to its third-straight TSSAA Class AAA state championship. 

One person with direct knowledge of the situation said last week that Hardaway’s representatives had been in negotiations with university officials about a contract since the Tigers’ season ended in the American Athletic Conference tournament semifinals last Saturday. 

One source close to Hardaway said he is fielding phone calls and inquiries from potential assistant coaches and staff members, although he has yet to decide what his staff at Memphis will look like.

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A look at the Memphis men’s basketball coaches since 1970 and their records. Source: Memphis media guide
Wochit

Hardaway’s return to campus should provide an instant jolt in fan excitement and on the recruiting trail. Hardaway has ties to several top-100 2019 recruits because he also runs the high profile Memphis-based AAU program, Team Penny. 

Memphis finished with a 21-13 record this season and missed the postseason for the fourth straight year. After both of Smith’s 2018 recruits decommitted last week, Hardaway will have at least three scholarships available to use next year. 

More: Connor Vanover receives release from Memphis basketball after Tubby Smith’s firing

More: Memphis recruit Myreon Jones decommits after Tubby Smith’s firing

Attendance at Tigers’ home games hit a 48-year-low this season and the athletic department could miss out entirely on an $800,000 payment from the Memphis Grizzlies as part of the school’s lease with FedExForum.

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Donations to the athletic department also decreased by $1.1 million during the 2016-17 fiscal year largely because of a drop in men’s basketball season ticket sales. 

In the school’s statement announcing Smith’s firing, it cited “the best financial interest of the University of Memphis.”

The hope is Hardaway’s status as a local legend will immediately reverse those trends.

Hardaway starred at Treadwell High and chose to stay home and play at Memphis despite suitors from around the country.

He went on to earn All-America honors two years in a row for the Tigers (1991-92 and 1992-93) before being selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1993 NBA draft. He was a four-time all-star and played 15 years in the NBA.

Hardaway returned to Memphis after his retirement and got involved in the city both philanthropically and through the grassroots basketball scene. He earned a bachelor’s degree in professional studies from the university in 2003.

On Tuesday, he will officially begin a new era at the university.

 

 



Purdue basketball says its road only begins with a return trip to the Sweet 16 – Journal & Courier


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The redshirt freshman collected seven points, six rebounds, two blocks and one assist with no turnovers in a career-high 29 minutes.
Nathan Baird/Journal & Courier

DETROIT — This, according to the Purdue basketball team, is where it all begins.

After nine months of competitive basketball dating back to last summer’s preparation for the World University Games. After a 34-game regular season and Big Ten Tournament in which Purdue fell one win shy of both league championships. After Sunday’s 40-minute pressure cooker against Butler in which victory wasn’t assured until Kamar Baldwin’s half-court prayer glanced off the rim.

The Boilermakers say they’re ready to get started.

“This is basically the beginning for us, because this is where our real road begins,” redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms said following a 76-73 victory over the Bulldogs in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

Purdue, the East Region’s 2 seed, now plays 3 seed Texas Tech on Friday at Boston’s TD Garden.

Which isn’t to say Purdue’s players take a Sweet 16 trip for granted. They saw what happened to overall No. 1 seed Virginia on Friday night. They watched Michigan snatch a victory away from Houston at the buzzer on Saturday night. Their own recent NCAA Tournament disappointments still gnaw despite the successes that followed.

However, while outside expectations dipped after Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb “Biggie” Swanigan’s to the NBA, Purdue always expected to make another run in March.

PURDUE 76, BUTLER 73: Boilermakers follow plan to edge Butler and return to Sweet 16

ISAAC HAAS: With right arm out of commission, center helped Purdue with his mind and voice

The Boilermakers reached the Sweet 16 a year ago and were sent home unceremoniously by a Kansas thunderstorm over the final 16 minutes. They covet a new experience.

“Our goal wasn’t to get to the Sweet 16,” P.J. Thompson said. “Obviously beating Butler and doing it in the fashion we did without Isaac (Haas) was huge. But when we wrote our goals down, at the end, it wasn’t to get there.”

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The Boilermakers coach on Dakota Mathias’ shot, the frontcourt’s performance without Isaac Haas and returning to the Sweet 16.
Nathan Baird/Journal & Courier

Purdue ruled Haas out for the tournament after he fractured his right elbow in Friday’s win over Cal State Fullerton. His classmates stepped up in his absence.

Thompson continued his recent scoring surge with 14 points, sprinkling in a few floaters and close-range baskets for color. Vincent Edwards scored 20 points despite playing the entire second half with three fouls.

Dakota Mathias came through with the biggest moment of the night — a clutch 3-pointer at the top of the key which gave Purdue a 76-71 lead with 13 seconds to play.

“There’s nobody in the country that I believe has a better work ethic and a better demeanor about themselves, and there’s no one who deserves it more than him,” junior guard Ryan Cline said of Mathias’ dagger. “The game could have panned out in so many different ways if he didn’t hit that shot.”

But he did, and this Purdue team became the first in program history to win 30 games in a season. Add that to the growing pile of accomplishments the Boilermakers are keeping on ice until they can enjoy them at the end of their run.

“Our goal wasn’t to get back there,” Vincent Edwards said. “Our goal was to keep pushing.”

 



Vols basketball: Admiral Schofield, Grant Williams address NBA, next season – Knoxville News Sentinel



Knoxville News Sentinel

Vols basketball: Admiral Schofield, Grant Williams address NBA, next season
Knoxville News Sentinel
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