Home » The Morning Dish » Currently Reading:

The Morning Dish – Saturday, March 28, 2015

March 28, 2015 The Morning Dish No Comments

It’s been a long time coming for Gonzaga. The question now is if they have one more in them to go even further.

Since the late 1990s, Gonzaga has been the clear best team in the West Coast Conference and then some. They made a big splash by running to the Elite Eight in 1999, but weren’t just a flash in the pan. They became more than just the alma mater of John Stockton, as they started beating good teams in non-conference every year as well. They would be a lock to reach the NCAA Tournament, helping the WCC become a two-bid league in many recent years as other programs had to get better to compete with them.

One thing that has eluded the Zags during this time has been another deep NCAA Tournament run. To a degree, it’s almost been expected that they will bow out relatively early. Whereas they were first known as a team that would bust brackets, it got to where they were the cause of them by not getting as far as expected, even though they reached the Sweet 16 four times before this year since then. It’s not to the point that they are the butt of jokes when people fill out brackets, or where Mark Few has felt any heat from the school administration for not advancing further (which is a very good thing), but despite prognosticators saying “This is the year they’ll get to the Final Four” a couple of times, they haven’t made it back to the Elite Eight since 1999.

Until now, that is.

This year, Gonzaga has perhaps their best team yet. They have a lot going for them, starting with a talented and experienced backcourt, which is a big key coming tournament time. The frontcourt is likewise deep and talented, and it includes a player with an NCAA championship ring in Kyle Wiltjer, who started his college career at Kentucky. And after handling UCLA 74-62, they will play for a trip to the Final Four on Sunday.

It was one of those big men, Polish import Przemek Karnowski, who led them on Friday night with 18 points and nine rebounds. He’s been tough to handle since he got to Spokane, and he’s just gotten better all along. He plays off the guards so well, including with his passing, and is one of several from outside the United States on this team. That’s another testament to this team’s ability to recruit, even as their program has grown to where they beat Pac-12 programs for players.

Few was an assistant coach on that 1999 team under Dan Monson, taking over in the top spot once Monson left for Minnesota after that season. He’s happy where he is, and no matter what job his name seems to come up for, he isn’t budging. He took what he helped establish under Monson and turned it into a powerhouse. This year’s team has been the best yet, as they nearly knocked off Arizona in Tucson and lost to BYU at home late in the season as the only blemishes.

Gonzaga will take on Duke in what should be quite a matchup. Duke held off Utah 63-57 behind a big double-double from freshman Justise Winslow. The schools have only met two other times, both coming in the past ten years and both at Madison Square Garden. Duke won both meetings, the second one a 76-41 thrashing. But this is a new year and two new teams, though both still have the same great coaches.

In fact, the four winning coaches on Friday night are a highly distinguished bunch, as they have a combined 2,666 wins. At the bottom of that list is Few, with 438 – which just tells you more about that entire group. Few is the only one of those four without a Final Four appearance or a national championship. He can change one of those on Sunday.

Side Dishes

In Syracuse, No. 4 Louisville rode sterling performances by Montrezl Harrell (24 points on 9-12 shooting) and Terry Rozier (17 points, 14 rebounds) to pull away from No. 8 NC State 75-65. The Cardinals also got important production from guards Quentin Snider (14 points) and Anton Gill (seven points on 3-3 shooting in 11 minutes) and held NC State to 38.3 percent shooting. They will take on No. 7 Michigan State, who continued their run by knocking off No. 3 Oklahoma 62-58 behind Travis Trice’s 24 points.

There was a quarterfinal game in the CIT on Friday night, and it was a dandy as Northern Arizona edged Kent State 74-73 in overtime in Flagstaff. It didn’t come easily for the Lumberjacks, as they scored the last six points of the game in 32 seconds to advance.

In recent days, reports suggested that St. John’s and head coach Steve Lavin were working on a contract extension. That turned out to be misinformation, however, as on Friday afternoon the two mutually agreed to part ways after Lavin was at the helm for five seasons. Since he missed most of the 2011-12 season dealing with treatment for prostate cancer, his time was more like four-plus seasons, during which he went 92-72. The Red Storm made the NCAA Tournament twice, but was never a contender in the Big East under Lavin, and they expect better. (You can keep track of all of the coaching changes right here.)

East Tennessee State hired Wichita State assistant Steve Forbes (no, not the editor in chief of the business and investing magazine) as head coach, replacing Murry Bartow. The move came a matter of hours after the Shockers were eliminated in the regional semifinal by Notre Dame. Forbes has spent some time in the state before as an assistant to Bruce Pearl at Tennessee for five seasons, before he became head coach at Northwest Florida State for two seasons and then came to Wichita for the past two seasons.

Also filling a vacancy and creating another one is Bradley, as they hired Brian Wardle away from Green Bay. Wardle went 95-65 in five seasons at Green Bay, reaching the NIT the past two seasons. He will replace Geno Ford, who was fired less than a week ago. Bradley is trying to regain relevance after a Sweet 16 appearance in 2006 was the peak of what became a steady decline.

Maryland got a nice boost for next season with the commitment of big man Diamond Stone. The 6’10” center from Dominican High School in Milwaukee should help the Terrapins stay right in the mix for the top of the Big Ten next season.

Tonight’s Menu

By the end of the day, we will know half of the Final Four. And we have two dandy matchups in front of ourselves to get there.

  • First up, at 6:09 p.m. Eastern, is the West Regional Final with No. 2 Arizona taking on No. 1 Wisconsin, a rematch from last year. Both teams enter playing very well, having won a conference tournament championship before this.
  • Following that, at 8:49 p.m. Eastern, is the Midwest Regional Final with No. 3 Notre Dame taking on No. 1 Kentucky in what should be a great game. Notre Dame is capable of giving the Wildcats a hard time with their ability to move the ball and shoot, and it’s a matchup some have seen coming since the beginning.
  • There is also a CIT quarterfinal game on tap, with Canisius visiting NJIT at 7:30 p.m.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


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

Coaching Changes

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

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!

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 26, 2018

April 27, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we spend a lot of time looking at what the Commission on College Basketball came up with, as their report was just produced. We also look at the NBA Draft and transfers, which have many rosters potentially in flux for next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 1, 2018

April 1, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we break d own the national semifinals, where one game went back and forth while the other was never really a ballgame thanks to an impressive performance for the ages by the winning team.

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.