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The Morning Dish – Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 22, 2017 The Morning Dish No Comments

It’s that time of year again, college basketball’s silly season with coaches seemingly coming and going left and right, stacking up at traffic lights while waiting for each other to proceed to their next job.

It’s not been a good couple days for the profession, not with coaches one year and two years into their current jobs moving on again, making it increasingly hard to muster arguments in their defense. It’s one thing to move up the ladder; it’s another to do so with next to no consideration for the schools and student-athletes that made an investment in them, and would just like something close to a reasonable chance to see that investment through.

Tuesday did see several coaching vacancies filled, while at least one more remains open. The most unsurprising move came at VCU, where Mike Rhoades was hired as coach less than 24 hours after Will Wade left for LSU after two seasons at the school.

Rhoades was far and away the most obvious choice for the job, having served as an assistant at Virginia Commonwealth under Shaka Smart before heading to Rice three years ago. He led the Owls to 23 wins this season, the program’s most since 1953-54 and an 11-win improvement, and with just one senior this year it’s a team potentially primed for a big year in 2017-18 in Conference USA.

Another Atlantic 10 team filled its vacancy not long after, as Massachusetts lured Winthrop’s Pat Kelsey just a few days after the Eagles’ season ended in the NCAA Tournament. It was quickly a well-received choice, a bit surprising given a few reports said Kelsey was looking for a job closer to his native Ohio, but regarded by many as an outstanding hire. Kelsey made Winthrop a top program in the Big South again, and it was just a matter of if or when he wanted to move on.

One A-10 job that still remains open is at Duquesne, which all learned is still searching after Monmouth coach King Rice announced he was not a candidate, and never was. The latter of which was surprising, given there were numerous reports he was a candidate, and one outlet was reporting the night before that Rice was all but a lock to take over the Dukes. Oops.

It’s been said that Duquesne is making investments in its program and is willing to buck up in its coaching search, but Rice has a pretty good gig already at Monmouth, with a facility that is the envy of many in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and a comfortable contract after signing an extension last year. It certainly doesn’t mean Rice won’t be going anywhere eventually, but for now it seems he has a good home at the school in New Jersey.

Side Dishes:

  • The NIT quarterfinals opened, and two of the better stories of the season are off to Madison Square Garden. TCU handled Richmond 86-68, and Jamie Dixon’s first season will conclude at the place where he had plenty of success as coach at Pittsburgh. The Horned Frogs jumped on the Spiders early and were never threatened in the second half, as Kenrich Williams recorded the first triple-double in school history (11 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists). The building job is very much on track in Fort Worth. Also, a salute to Richmond senior T.J. Cline, who in his final collegiate game was outstanding again with 33 points, seven rebounds and six assists. One of the best seniors of this season, he’ll be missed.
  • The second quarterfinal saw a similar plotline roll on, as Georgia Tech won at Mississippi 74-66 to advance to New York City. Josh Pastner has had an outstanding first year at Tech, led by the unexpected big contributions of players like Josh Okogie, who had 26 points and seven rebounds in this one. It’s been fun to watch the Yellow Jackets this season, and they’re exactly the type of team that it’s good to see their season still going. Also: much credit goes to Ole Miss fans, who made this game a sellout. Well done.

Tonight’s Menu:

  • The remaining NIT semifinalists will be decided. Illinois is the higher seed, but with its arena unavailable the Fighting Illini will go on the road to face Central Florida (7 p.m. Eastern, ESPN2). That is followed by the fight between underdogs as 8 seed Cal State Bakersfield goes to No. 6 Texas-Arlington (9 p.m., ESPNU). Three of the four teams have will be looking for their first-ever trip to New York for the NIT semifinals; only Illinois has been there before, one time in 1980 when the Illini finished third.
  • The CBI semifinals are held. Illinois-Chicago goes to Coastal Carolina, which also was a semifinalist in the CIT a year ago. Later, Utah Valley is at Wyoming, a good Rockies matchup in Laramie as the Wolverines try to keep up their run from the WAC while the Cowboys look to stay on track to make it two straight Mountain West champions in this tourney after Nevada won it last year.
  • One CIT game is on the schedule, as Idaho goes to Texas State, a pairing of two teams that have had unexpectedly very nice seasons this year.

Have an outstanding Wednesday.

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