Home » Conference Notes » Currently Reading:

SEC Recap

October 29, 2002 Conference Notes No Comments



SEC Offseason Recap

by Rainer Sabin

Scandal, controversy, and an overall poor performance in the Big Dance and NIT made the 2001-2002 campaign one to forget for the Southeastern Conference. While nine of the 12 teams in the SEC made the postseason, their lack of success in the season-ending tournaments was a true disappointment. This poor showing coupled with the acrimonious departure of former Arkansas Coach Nolan Richardson, the birth of “Team Turmoil” in Kentucky, and a rape investigation involving two Georgia players, overshadowed most of the good stories that came out of last season.

‘Dogs March through Atlanta
In a season of surprises that saw Arkansas miss the postseason for the first time since 1986 and Georgia rise to the top of the SEC East standings, it seemed appropriate that winner of the conference tournament was not among those picked to win it. Rick Stansbury’s Mississippi State Bulldogs took the crown at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta by beating Alabama in the final, 61-58. The Crimson Tide, which was seeded first in the tournament, transformed into a juggernaut by season’s end and was ranked as high as fifth in the nation. Nevertheless, both teams fizzled in the NCAA Tournament, like the rest of the SEC schools that broke into the field of 64.

Big Dance is Big Disappointment

The NCAA selection committee invited Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Florida, and Georgia to the Big Dance. Yet, even with six teams in attendance, not one SEC school managed to make it past the Sweet Sixteen. Even worse, five teams – Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama, Mississippi State, and Georgia – were gone before the second weekend. Three mid-majors waved goodbye to the Bulldogs, Crimson Tide, and Gators. Overall, it proved to be a terrible performance by a conference that traditionally has succeeded in college basketball’s biggest event.

Meanwhile, in the National Invitational Tournament, one team from the conference experienced a taste of success, and it wasn’t Vanderbilt, which was eliminated by Louisiana Tech in the second round. South Carolina, which struggled all year under first-year head coach Dave Odom, earned a trip to Madison Square Garden, where the Gamecocks lost to Memphis in the championship game.

2001-2002 Superstars

The lack of success in the NCAA Tournament was reflected in the fact that Tennessee forward Marcus Haislip and Kentucky guard/forward Tayshaun Prince were the only SEC players taken in the first round of the NBA Draft. Yet, it bodes well for the SEC that only three of the five players selected to the All-SEC First Team have left the collegiate ranks. Tennessee forward Vincent Yarbrough, Florida center Udonis Haslem, and Prince all moved on to different places. Alabama center Erwin Dudley and Georgia guard/forward Jarvis Hayes will be returning to their respective squads this year.

Moving Out, Moving In

It was one of the messiest departures in the history of sports and became nothing short of a public relations fiasco for the University of Arkansas. The firing of Coach Nolan Richardson and the events preceding his dismissal made national news and served as fodder for sports talk show hosts around the country. In late February, the combustible Richardson exploded in front of a contingent of Arkansas media in a Monday press conference. Chastising the reporters that were in attendance, Richardson made a series of negative remarks about the university that were aired on ESPN. Richardson, who two days prior to the public outburst had indicated that a buyout of his contract was something he would consider, got just that when he was handed a pink slip on March 1st. Twenty-seven days later, former Kent State coach Stan Heath was hired as Richardson’s replacement.

Down Time? Not Exactly

The off-season proved to be a little more active than SEC teams would have liked, and it had nothing to do with the conference tournament moving to New Orleans this year. Arkansas lost both of its freshmen in the aftermath of the Richardson ordeal. Guard/Forward J.J. Sullinger transferred to Ohio State, while Berry Jordan left the Razorbacks, despite having not yet selected a new school to attend. Heath was able to replace Sullinger and Jordan with two recruits he lured to Fayetteville in the late signing period – New York point guard Eric Ferguson and Texas shooting guard Kendrick Davis.

“Team Turmoil” continued to have problems after last season ended with a loss in the Sweet Sixteen. Kentucky coach Tubby Smith dismissed sophomore center Jason Parker in August after he violated university athletic department policy. In other bad news for the Wildcats, center Jules Camara is nursing a broken hand that will force him to sit out until late October or early November.
Meanwhile, unlike Kentucky, Georgia had a productive summer, as it was able to clear up its off-the-court problems. Forwards Tony Cole and Stephen Thomas were cleared of rape charges that stemmed from an investigation that began during the season. While this happened, guard/forward Ezra Williams and guard/forward Damien Wilkins had their one-game suspensions rescinded by the NCAA after the collegiate governing body originally punished them for playing in an unsanctioned summer league.

Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes was enjoying his off-season until Justin Reed, the Rebels’ leading scorer, and teammate Emmanuel Wade were arrested on assault charges September 21st after they threatened security guards at a college party. Barnes, who has led the Rebels to four consecutive postseason tournaments and compiled an 86-46 record, was rewarded with a six-year contract extension in August.

Adios Amigos

SEC East
Kentucky lost only two players to graduation. All-SEC forward Tayshaun Prince and J.C. Blevins each earned their degrees after productive stints with the Wildcats…A young Florida Gators team lost its main low post threat – center Udonis Haslem. However, forward Matt Bonner, Guard Brett Nelson, and forward Justin Hamilton all return this year.

Everybody will be back for Georgia this year, while South Carolina will be looking to replace its starting backcourt. Aaron Lucas and Jamel Bradley graduated last year leaving the Gamecocks vulnerable at the two guard positions.

Tennessee will be missing two of its impact players from last season after Vincent Yarbrough graduated and Marcus Haislip fled to the NBA…Meanwhile, Vanderbilt will be looking to fill the holes left by three of its top four scorers – Brendan Plavich, Chuck Moore, and Sam Howard.

SEC West
Alabama returns everybody with the exception of guard Rod Grizzard, who was selected in the second round of the NBA Draft…Mississippi State will be looking to replace guard Marckell Patterson and forward Michael Gholar.

Meanwhile, Ole Miss will be losing only one player – diminutive point guard Jason Harrison, who graduated in May…LSU said goodbye to Jermaine Williams, who maximized his eligibility at the conclusion of last season.

Auburn lost nobody, while Arkansas is undergoing a complete overhaul. Guards Brandon Dean, Jannero Pargo, Teddy Gipson, and T.J. Cleveland all graduated in the spring. Meanwhile, freshmen forwards J.J. Sullinger and Berry Jordan skipped town after new coach Stan Heath arrived.

     

Comment on this Article:







Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville

Advertisement


Hoopville Archives

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – August 17, 2017

August 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we check in with some good news from a few teams overseas after a big scare, plus a big addition for a championship contender, a conference on the rise, and a great coach thinking about a return to the bench.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – June 21, 2017

June 21, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about the NBA Draft, of course, but spend much more time on the happenings at Ohio State and Louisville and the implications starting next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – May 17, 2017

May 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we start with the NBA Draft Lottery, then talk about a big pickup for Duke, important transfers, the coaching carousel winding down and much more.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, the business of college sports, as well as that of sports media, takes center stage. We talk about the layoffs at ESPN, college basketball’s opening night, and Wichita State’s departure from the Missouri Valley Conference. We close with thoughts on a departed friend of the media business as well.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 11, 2017

April 11, 2017 by

In our first off-season edition, we look back on the season that just ended, including redemption for one team and a big development for a conference that has had more questions than success on the hardwood. We also look at players coming and going, as well as big coaching news on a day where there was a lot of it.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.