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Off-Season News Update

April 20, 2006 Columns No Comments

Off-Season News Update

by Phil Kasiecki

As the off-season continues, there’s plenty going on. Here’s a look at some of the stories that continue to develop.

Who is the Next NC State Head Coach?

The North Carolina State head coaching opening wasn’t talked about much this past weekend as the school was noticeably absent from the Charlie Weber Easter Hoop Fest. The school has struck out trying to lure a big name thus far. Iona head coach Jeff Ruland has expressed interest in the job, according to ESPN.com, but don’t count on that happening given the school’s role in the recent D1 Scheduling story reported by CBS Sportsline last month.

Bobby Lutz would seem a good candidate from just down the road at Charlotte, and the job would be a step up for him. Another name that has surfaced is Notre Dame’s Mike Brey, a former Duke assistant. But one name has surfaced that would be intriguing, and surprising.

West Virginia head coach John Beilein may be a player in this.

Beilein has been said to be immovable for some time now, especially as his name has surfaced for various job openings. He has a great job and his family is very comfortable in West Virginia. But this is one that might work, and it’s exactly because he has several of Herb Sendek’s good qualities: he runs a clean program (a major part of the attraction to Sendek when he was hired and also a reason Ruland is very unlikely to get the job), he runs a variant of the Princeton offense, and he wins wherever he goes no matter how tough it is to win there. He’s also no stranger to a coaching search like this one, as he got the West Virginia job after another coach had accepted the job offer and then returned to his old school just days later.

Against that backdrop, Beilein would seem like the perfect fit. But fans and media would have to be warned: he wins and does it cleanly, but he isn’t a quote machine and he’s not big on being in the spotlight.

At this point, it seems like a mystery as to who the school will go after next. Names continue to surface, with the substance an open question based on reports. But Beilein may be a player in it, and he might be just what the doctor ordered if he is.

Eagles To Replace Key Assistants

Within a week, Boston College saw top assistant coaches Bill Coen and Ed Cooley leave to take on head coaching jobs. Al Skinner promoted Pat Duquette to the top assistant spot and moved Bonzie Colson into an assistant role from Director of Basketball Operations. Colson was in Washington, D.C. this past weekend checking out the talent on hand.

According to a source, the Eagles will hire former Dayton assistant and Worcester Academy head coach Mo Cassara for the open assistant spot, and the director of basketball operations could be former Rhode Island guard Preston Murphy. Cassara coached former Eagles Craig Smith and Steve Hailey during his time at Worcester Academy. Murphy was one of the keys to the run Skinner’s Rams made to the Elite Eight in 1997.

Hawks Losing Young Players?

It’s not unusual for new head coaches to have to deal with holdovers transferring, and more of that has come up. New Hartford head coach Dan Leibovitz could lose two promising freshmen guards in Paris Carter and Chris Cole, as a source said both could transfer. Carter played very well in the latter half of the season as he got more regular minutes, while Cole settled the point guard spot after they didn’t get much production out of it last season.

Both guards played high school ball in Maryland, where departed head coach Larry Harrison recruited well. This past season, the Hawks’ roster featured five players from there, plus Cole, who is from Alexandria but played at National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, MD.

Neither player has been released from their scholarship as of yet. America East teams have already seen several players transfer this off-season, as Vermont released two shortly after their season ended, Boston University has had three transfer and New Hampshire has seen Chris Vetrano leave to join his younger brother at St. Anselm’s.

Other Notes

  • Holy Cross is looking for non-conference games for next season. Several teams in New England have dropped the Crusaders, making it more difficult to put a non-conference schedule together and especially since their league schedule dictates more non-conference games (only 14 Patriot League games). A highlight of their schedule thus far is a return date with George Mason that will be played across town from campus at the DCU Center – that might be a rarity as they are having trouble getting home games this time around. The Crusaders should also have a new assistant to replace the recently departed Darryl Hilliard (Hampton) by the end of this week.
  • UMass‘ non-conference schedule will have a slight ACC feel next season. Their non-conference schedule features a home game with Boston College, as well as a nationally televised date with Duke. The Minutemen could be among the contenders in the Atlantic 10 next season, as they return three starters and gain three transfers who sat out this past season. They should also gain point guard Tiki Mayben after sitting out this season due to academics, which will upgrade the point guard position regardless of who starts between him and Chris Lowe.
  • Yale‘s non-conference schedule for next season is almost complete. Highlighting it are trips to Boston College, Massachusetts, Dayton and Ohio. The Bulldogs will bring back most of this year’s team that showed a steady improvement and should be among the contenders in the Ivy League.


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