Home » The Morning Dish » Currently Reading:

The Morning Dish – Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015 The Morning Dish No Comments

Two more teams advanced to the Final Four on Sunday. Their stories are a contrast, even as similar as the programs may be in recent times.

Most expected that Duke would be a Final Four team this season. Take a team that was good last year, though flawed, subtract good but not irreplaceable players, and add the likes of Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow, and that was a natural expectation. Many years, that’s what they expect in Durham. When the Blue Devils ran out to a big start, the idea that they would be a Final Four team only grew, as did the talk that Okafor could be National Player of the Year.

Duke came down to earth a few times this season, but by the end of January, you had a pretty good idea that this team was indeed capable of making such a run. The Blue Devils won at Wisconsin, Louisville and Virginia – three road wins that no one was going to be able to touch this season. They didn’t cruise through the season undefeated, but were very dangerous. They had the first player that Mike Krzyzewski has dismissed in his storied tenure in the program, and have since gotten better – especially defensively.

On Sunday, Duke got off to a good start against Gonzaga, but the Bulldogs naturally made it a ballgame and even took the biggest lead an opponent has had against Duke in the entire tournament – 38-34. The Blue Devils closed the game on a 13-1 run for a 66-52 win in a game where they turned the ball over just three times to win despite shooting 37.5 percent from the field. It is the 12th Final Four for Krzyzewski, matching the legendary John Wooden.

On the other hand, no one expected Michigan State to be in the Final Four. As noted in this space a week ago, most figured the Spartans would be a run-of-the-mill NCAA Tournament team and little more. This was not one of Tom Izzo’s best teams in terms of talent and experience, and a rebuilding season (by Izzo standards) appeared to be in order. An early 81-71 loss to Duke in the Champions Classic – noteworthy now since the teams will have a rematch on Saturday and three of the Final Four teams were in that event – helped further shape that idea, as did the fact that the Spartans came up short in each of their toughest non-conference games: Duke, Kansas (in Orlando) and at Notre Dame (overtime), before losing in overtime to Texas Southern at home.

The Spartans went 12-6 in the Big Ten – which was down, but off a terrific year so that didn’t mean much – and got to the championship of the conference tournament. They figured to at least be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament.

Now, after knocking off Georgia, Virginia, Oklahoma, and then Louisville 76-70 in overtime on Sunday, they have completed the most unlikely Final Four run in Izzo’s storied tenure. Besides all of what’s been mentioned, the Spartans were 2-5 in overtime games before Sunday, while Louisville won their only overtime game this season. In other words, the Spartans had some tough losses along the way, including in the championship game in the conference tournament.

The Spartans didn’t do this with All-Americans. They did it on the backs of talented players without nearly as much buzz who were just tough and had a will to get here. Their big three of Travis Trice, Branden Dawson (who had a big stickback in overtime that sealed it) and Denzel Valentine won’t have many All-America votes. They have had to overcome plenty of adversity, including injuries, but they have won plenty of games, and this time around won when they counted.

Last year, the Spartan seniors were the first ones under Izzo not to go to a Final Four. It is a remarkable note of consistency, indeed. Now he can start doing that once again, thanks to an unlikely bunch that’s heading to Indianapolis.


Side Dishes

Coaching news will probably dominate the landscape this week, as often happens, and Sunday was a pretty good precursor of that. Leading the way is DePaul hiring back Dave Leitao, who guided the program before it moved to the Big East. Leitao coached in Chicago from 2002-05 before leaving to become head coach at Virginia, making the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and the NIT in 2003 and 2005. He has most recently been an assistant coach under Frank Haith at Missouri and then Tulsa.

It looks like St. John’s may have their next leader, as reports have surfaced suggesting that NBA Hall of Famer Chris Mullin has been offered the job and may well take it. It’s an interesting move considering he has never coached, but his credentials don’t need to be established, especially since he has spent time in the front offices of the Golden State Warriors, where he played in the NBA, and the Sacramento Kings. He won Big East Player of the Year three times in his college career.

One name that surfaced for St. John’s is Danny Hurley, but Rhode Island has signed him to a new six-year deal that will keep him in South Kingston for now, at least. In his three seasons at the helm, the Rams are 45-49, including a 23-10 mark this season. The Rams figure to be among the preseason favorites in the Atlantic 10 next season, a long way from where the program was when he took over.

Rick Barnes formally said goodbye to Texas yesterday, and along the way noted that athletic director Steve Patterson wanted him to change up his staff in order to stay on. Barnes opted not to do that, even though his staff offered to quit, a story of tremendous loyalty on the part of the 17-year head coach.

Utah State has its successor to the retiring Stew Morrill, as they are hiring longtime assistant Tim Duryea. From 1999 to 2001, he was the head coach at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, before he became an assistant to Morrill. He is the longest-tenured assistant in program history, so he is well-equipped to pick up where Morrill is leaving off.

One story that slipped under our radar on Saturday is at The Citadel, where Duggar Baucom will take over as the new head coach. Baucom leaves VMI, a long-time rival school, and one where has had some success that has included postseason play.

Last, but not least, there’s an unfortunate story that may seem a bit outside the realm of college basketball, but matters nonetheless. TNT’s Craig Sager has had a recurrence of leukemia, which he has battled for about a year. Sager’s son said his dad was also battling a flu bug. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Craig Sager as he continues this battle.


Tonight’s Menu

The CBI takes center stage tonight, as the finals begin with the first in the best-of-three series. UL Monroe travels to Loyola (Ill.) for a 8 p.m. Eastern tip.

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.