As we draw close to August believe it or not it is time to turn our eyes toward the 2014-15 college basketball season. The off-season has been eventful to say the least with a handful of big stories taking place, from coaches switching places almost as often as teams have switched conferences, to the ever-growing list of transfers and scandals involving players, coaches and institutions. Here is a quick overview of some of the happenings since Connecticut cut the nets down in Texas.
Let’s start with teams playing in new places.
-Long-time Southern Conference stalwart Davidson moves to the Atlantic 10.
-The ACC welcomes Louisville from the American Athletic Conference.
-Joining the American will be Tulane, Tulsa and East Carolina.
-Idaho leaves the Western Athletic Conference for the Big Sky.
-The Big Ten welcomes Maryland from the ACC and Rutgers from the AAC.
-Elon leaves the SoCon for the Colonial.
-Western Kentucky joins Conference USA from the Sun Belt.
-The SoCon welcomes the trio of VMI, East Tennessee State and Mercer.
-Appalachian State and Georgia Southern join the Sun Belt.
-Oral Roberts returns to the Summit League after a 2-year hiatus.
Notable Coaching Changes
The coaching carousel was in high gear this summer as 45 coaching changes have been made so far. The list is littered with high-profile names moving, leaving and returning. The likes of Mike Montgomery(Cal), Ben Braun(Rice), Craig Robinson(Oregon State) and Buzz Peterson(UNC-Wilmington) are gone from the college landscape while Ernie Kent(Washington State), Kelvin Sampson(Houston) and Bruce Pearl(Auburn) will all be gracing out television screens again. Frank Haith(Tulsa), Cuonzo Martin(Cal), Danny Manning(Wake Forest) and Buzz Peterson(Virginia Tech) are just a few of the names with new addresses for the 2014-15 season.
I was going to do a section on the ever-growing list of transfers that Jeff Goodman of ESPN does such a great job of keeping track of but my preliminary list grew to 35 names. I decided to cut it down and came up with four guys to highlight.
Angelo Chol-The 6-9 225-pound perimeter oriented forward leaves Arizona and will now lend his talent to Steve Fisher and San Diego State as they try to remain one of the Mountain West’s elite.
Kyle Wiltjer-Another stretch forward, Wiltjer was a freshman on Kentucky’s national championship team as a freshman in 20112 and won SEC 6th Man of the Year the following season. He will now be launching from beyond the arc for Mark Few at Gonzaga.
Kevin Ware- Two seasons ago the Louisville Cardinals won the National Championship but the lasting memory of that season may be the horrific leg injury suffered by guard Kevin Ware during that run. Ware has since left Louisville and will add to one of the better guard rotations in the country with RJ Hunter and Ryan Harrow at Georgia State as they try and take over the top spot in the Sun Belt.
Antoine Mason-Bruce Pearl is back in the coaching game and the former Tennessee head man wasted little time, bringing in the nation’s top returning scorer to Auburn. Mason averaged 25.6 points per game last season at Niagara and Pearl hopes he can lead the resurgence at Auburn.
One of the highlights of the early part of the college basketball season is the early-season tournaments. Here is a quick look at three of the more prominent ones.
Maui Ivitational-This long-standing tournament will feature Pac-12 favorite Arizona, reigning Big 12 co-champions Kansas State and Mountain West stalwart San Diego State. BYU, Missouri, Purdue and Pittsburgh will also be making the trip to Hawaii to join host Chaminade for the event.
Paradise Jam-The Jam takes place in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The eight team field will consist of Clemson, Illinois State, Garner-Webb, Nevada, Weber State, Old Dominion, Seton Hall and LSU.
Battle 4 Atlantis-This tournament in the Bahamas has quickly become one of the must watch early-season events. This year’s field includes basketball blue bloods UCLA and North Carolina. Joining them will be elite programs like Georgetown, Florida and Wisconsin along with Oklahoma, Butler and UAB.
Every summer there seems to be some major stories that grab the headlines to keep college basketball in the stream of consciousness, this year was no different. Here are four of the major happenings that have taken place since April.
After South Florida relieved Stan Heath of his duties they pegged Manhattan College’s Steve Masiello as his replacement. On March 25th the two parties came to an agreement to have Masiello become the next coach of South Florida. Soon after however the offer was rescinded by the school after it was discovered that Masiello hadn’t received his degree from Kentucky like his resume had stated. Masiello returned to Manhattan but was placed on permanent leave until he finished his undergraduate degree. In May it was announced by Kentucky that Masiello had completed his coursework and will receive his degree in August.
In June three Oregon basketball players were dismissed from the university after Dominic Artis, Damyean Dotson and Brandon Austin were involved in an alleged rape in March. No charges were filed due to a lack of evidence, but after a letter written by the alleged victim admonishing the school for its handling of the situation and a judicial board meeting at the university the Artis, Dotson and Austin were banned from the university for a period of no less than three years and no more than 10.
An academic scandal that has hung a dark cloud over the University of North Carolina percolated even more over the summer. In June former Tar Hell Rashad McCants went on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” to show his grade disparity between his African-American Studies (a department that had been under the NCAA’s microscope in the past) classes and his other classes. Coach Roy Williams denied McCants allegations but the Raleigh News & Observer reported that McCants was one of five members of the 2005 basketball team that accounted for 39 enrollments in classes that are suspected to have never met.
One of the feel-good stories of last season was the job that Larry Brown did at SMU going 27-10 and a trip to the NIT finals where they fell to Minnesota. Things were looking even brighter for the Mustangs when they signed the top incoming freshman point guard in Emmanuel Muiday. On July 14th Muiday announced he was going to forgo his commitment to SMU and play overseas. Muiday has since denied thoughts he was going to have difficulty becoming eligible to play this season. Muiday has since signed to play for the Guangdong Southern Tigers, if he is successful, playing overseas may become more of an option for student-athletes who may have difficulty gaining eligibility.
There is a quick look at some of the major events in the world of college basketball since Connecticut cut down the nets. We get to do it all over again soon, the season gets underway soon. Practice begins in two months.