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The Morning Dish – Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March 13, 2018 The Morning Dish No Comments

The day after Selection Sunday reminded us once again that sometimes the sting of notable NCAA Tournament snubs can have effects that go far beyond just that year.

Middle Tennessee State was one of the two most notable teams along with USC to be left out of this year’s tournament (and wrongly so, in our opinion as written Sunday night). Coming on the heels of also being grossly underseeded last year, the results of their continued lack of respect from the selection committee could go well past a couple days, weeks or months. It could cost the Blue Raiders their coach.

Reports surfaced on Monday that MTSU coach Kermit Davis is the current leading candidate to become the new head coach at Mississippi. Some reported that it was close to a done deal, others said the interview process is still going on, and it should be pointed out that his Blue Raiders are playing in the postseason, and could potentially be doing so for a while if they go on a run in the NIT. So this may not be done for a while yet, or could certainly change.

Davis has pulled himself out of contention for higher-paying, bigger-name jobs in the recent past, including last year after his team finished 31-5 and advanced to the second round of the NCAAs for the second straight year. The 58-year old Mississippi native and Mississippi State grad has been at MTSU for the past 16 years, kept his job there as the school was patient through a number of good-but-not-great years, and has rewarded that patience with three NCAA and two NIT berths in the last six years.

Kevin Sweeney of CBBCentral.com summed up as well as can be said in a Twitter thread here the situation faced by Middle and other schools like it. In general, Davis has every right to move, but the bigger point right now is: why wouldn’t he?

The selection committee has sent a clear message the past two years, and really the past five years: it has no use for teams like Middle Tennessee State as at-large picks. When teams like VCU and Wichita State made the Final Four in the earlier part of this decade, and teams like La Salle advanced to the Sweet 16 out of play-in games, the committee should’ve taken the cue that it needs to show such teams more respect. Instead, it has gone out of its way to show less, while throwing the (much) higher-resource programs yet more bones that they hardly need.

If a 31-5 Middle Tennessee team gets a 12 seed last year (while a 15-loss team it blew out by 23 points gets a 9 seed), and if this year’s team with the 11th-best non-conference strength of schedule, a 12-1 road record and more than credible quadrant numbers can’t even get in the field, then what’s the point of a coach like Davis continuing to bang his head against the wall when there are higher-paying opportunities available with much easier access to the NCAAs?

It’s possible Davis may have moved on anyway; in fact, if he’s already interviewed at Ole Miss, it happened before the tourney selections. But it also can be said assuredly that a coach might be less likely to move on from an established program they built from the ground up if they feel it will be reasonably evaluated at the end of the season.

Davis has built a terrific program at MTSU, but it’s entirely possible he sees a glass ceiling on what he can accomplish there. Or, maybe more appropriately, will be allowed to accomplish there.

Side Dishes:

  • The CollegeInsider.com Tournament wasted no time after Selection Sunday getting going on its event. The first game was early in the day with Central Michigan winning at IPFW 94-89. Also winning was Drake (80-73 in overtime over Abilene Christian in the Wildcats’ first NCAA Division I postseason trip), Liberty-a 65-52 winner over North Carolina A&T-and San Diego, which capped the night with a freewheeling 88-72 win over Hartford, which traveled all the way across the country to play in just its second-ever Division I postseason game.
  • Several schools filled coaching vacancies on Monday, and all are intriguing, potentially great hires. Pepperdine has brought back Lorenzo Romar, who returns to the place where his head coaching career started in 1996. A noted outstanding recruiter, he should inject life into the once-proud Waves program, which used to be regularly among the WCC’s best.
  • Cal State Northridge is expected to announce Tuesday that it has hired Mark Gottfried, most recently the coach at North Carolina State. Gottfried was hired by the school’s president, as it does not have an athletic director right now. He does have a connection to the West Coast, having been an assistant at UCLA from 1987-95, most of those years under Jim Harrick, including on the 1995 national championship team. Reports also are that the 79-year old Harrick could join Gottfried as an assistant coach. Neat story, and should give a shot in the arm for the Matadors in the increasingly competitive Big West.
  • Texas-El Paso has hired Rodney Terry as its new coach. Terry comes from Fresno State, where he turned around the Bulldogs program, making it one of the better ones in the Mountain West and even getting to the NCAA Tournament in 2016. The move is interesting given that Fresno would be considered by many outsiders to be the better job, but reports were that it’s possible Terry may have felt he couldn’t accomplish much more in Raisin Country. For UTEP, it’s a very solid hire, and could potentially be a great one.
  • Tracy Dildy has been fired as head coach at Chicago State. Dildy had what is almost certainly the toughest coaching job in all of Division I, at a school far removed from the rest of its conference (the WAC) that has financial issues and a program that has struggled consistently in its over 30-year D-I run. He also took over as the school’s athletic director amidst those hardships, and almost certainly deserved a better fate for all he’s worked through.
  • From yesterday on Hoopville, Phil Kasiecki wrote about Radford’s journey to its third-ever NCAA Tournament.
  • Also, Phil joined Ted Kasiecki for College Basketball Tonight, the podcast where they will discuss the NCAA Tournament over the next couple weeks. They were joined by Mount St. Mary’s coach Jamion Christian for the show which you can listen to here.

Tonight’s Menu:

  • The NCAA Tournament tips off with a pair of opening round/First Four/play-in games in Dayton, always a happy host for these games. First up is LIU and Radford trying to get to a date with Villanova (6:40 p.m. Eastern, truTV). That’s followed up by a pair of teams who shouldn’t be playing each other with underseeded St. Bonaventure taking on dangerous UCLA (9:10 p.m., truTV). The winner moves on to face Florida.
  • The good ol’ National Invitation Tournament gets rolling with nine games. The best ones include Boston College against Western Kentucky, Vermont meeting Middle Tennessee State (8 p.m., ESPNU) and Florida Gulf Coast at Oklahoma State (9 p.m., ESPN2). Also, keep an eye on Southeastern Louisiana at Saint Mary’s (10 p.m., ESPNU), and a Louisville team that apparently voted not to play in the NIT hosts Northern Kentucky (7 p.m., ESPN).
  • The 16-team College Basketball Invitational gets underway with one game, a regional encounter as Eastern Washington goes to Utah Valley. EWU star Bogdan Bliznyuk gets at least one more game, against a good Wolverines team that way, way back at the start of the season impressed many with their play at Kentucky and Duke.

Have a super Tuesday.

 

Twitter: @HoopvilleAdam

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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

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"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!

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