Dec 3, 2012, 4:55 PM EDT
Vin Parise is a former assistant college coach and the college basketball insider for NBC Sports. He’ll post every week in CBT.
When Frank Martin took over Kansas State in 2007, the response from friends in the coaching world was almost always the same. “People didn’t understand it,” Martin said. “Everyone was like, ‘Why would you want to work there? It’s a graveyard for coaches.”
Soon after, he was coaching the Wildcats in the Elite Eight and honored as the Big 12 Coach of the Year.
Five years later, Martin heard the same type of questions as he began the challenge of rebuilding the brand of South Carolina basketball.
The Gamecocks are 5-3 overall but the signs of a tough road ahead in SEC play are evident. The season started by sneaking past UW-Milwaukee in overtime. Then there was the loss to Elon. And most recently, South Carolina lost their last two to St. John’s and Clemson by a combined 33 points. The Gamecocks are allowing opponents to shoot 46 percent from the floor. That is not Frank Martin basketball. Yet if history repeats itself, it shouldn’t stay this way for long. As Martin stated on his Twitter account last week: “Sorry we didn’t get it done today for you. We will build a program u deserve.”
WATCH THE RACERS PLAY — AND SOON
I don’t know how many 6-foot-1 guards will be drafted in June, but I know one that should. Isaiah Canaan is as efficient as any point guard in the country. Canaan and Murray State critics obsess too much about his size and way too much about how legit the Racers are as a ball club. The ridiculous success Murray State attained last year and their weak schedule sometimes overshadowed their point guard’s stature nationally. Like a leopard, an elite player does not change its spots. Remember, Jewuan Long and Donte Pool are gone from last year’s dynamic squad — so expecting Murray State to be the last unbeaten in the nation again is of course unrealistic.
But this team is still very good and their leader is noticeably stronger than last season. Canaan is 8th in the country in scoring at 22.5 points per game, shoots an astounding 49 percent from the floor, shoots 42 percent from deep and 77 percent from the foul line. And the Racers as a team? They are 5-1 with wins against St. John’s, Auburn and Old Dominion.
WELCOME MR. MUNFORD
A little over a week ago the world of college basketball was introduced to Rhode Island’s Xavier Munford. Who was this transfer who led his team to a double overtime victory at Auburn with 33 points? Dan Hurley was grateful because it was his first win as head coach of the Rhody Rams. He’s equally grateful for how long he’s known his junior transfer. Before his time at Iowa Western College and Miami-Dade College, Munford played for Hurley at St. Benedict’s Prep in New Jersey. St. Benedict’s went 26-1 Munford’s senior season and were ranked No. 2 in the nation. Also on that team, was current URI teammate and Rutgers transfer Gilvydas Biruta.
There’s only eight games under his belt, but Munford plays like a seasoned veteran and defends the only way he knows how — the way Hurley taught him years ago. Munford is averaging 18.9 points per game — tops in the Atlantic 10 — and is shooting 33 percent from 3-point land. But his impact goes beyond leading the Rams in scoring. One day soon it looks like we’ll be talking about Dan Hurley’s revival of Rhode Island basketball — and so far the script reads Xavier Munford as the first name fans from the Ocean State will credit.
Vin Parise is the College Basketball Insider for NBC Sports. You can catch him on NBC Sports Network’s SportsTalk – Mon-Fri. 6 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter @VinParise.
Jun 19, 2013, 10:45 PM EDT
With Rutgers guard Jerome Seagears having a change of heart and deciding to return to New Brunswick after initially announcing his decision to transfer to Auburn, head coach Tony Barbee found himself in need of a guard. On Wednesday the school announced that 6-3 guard Malcolm Canada, who played at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa…
Jun 19, 2013, 9:35 PM EDT
Much has been made about the reaction to Kansas freshman wing Andrew Wiggins’ first workouts for his new coaching staff, with an unnamed source stating to Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com that watching Wiggins was “like watching a video game.” On Wednesday some lucky campers at the Kansas Basketball Camp got to watch Wiggins play some…
Jun 19, 2013, 8:06 PM EDT
Villanova landed its first verbal commitment in the 2015 class, as 6-9 forward Tim Delaney committed to the school according to multiple outlets. Delaney, who attends Pitman (N.J.) High School, held offers from schools such as Oregon State, Penn State and Rutgers and also visited both Indiana and Butler according to Jeff Borzello of CBSSports.com.…
Jun 19, 2013, 6:40 PM EDT
With talented players such as forward Ryan Anderson and guard Olivier Hanlan returning, there’s a feeling among many that Boston College can be one of the ACC’s most improved teams in 2013-14. A group that has taken its share of lumps in Steve Donahue’s first two seasons on the Heights, the Eagles took both eventual…
Jun 19, 2013, 5:20 PM EDT
Kentucky Speedway announced on Wednesday that Kentucky head coach John Calipari has been named the honorary pace car driver for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400, which takes place on June 29. In the release, Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger proclaimed the opening lap to be “one of the quickest fast breaks in…
Jun 19, 2013, 3:56 PM EDT
With the addition of Pacific, the West Coast Conference will have ten members beginning with the 2013-14 campaign. The arrival of the Tigers not only helps from a scheduling standpoint, but it also necessitated a change in the format the WCC uses for its conference tournament. The WCC announced the changes on Wednesday, with seeds…
Jun 19, 2013, 3:35 PM EDT
It’s no secret that Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor want to play their college ball together. They’ve been talking about it for a while, and given the fact that they are both ranked in the top three for Rivals Class of 2014 — Okafor is currently No. 1 while Jones is No. 3 — I’m…
Jun 19, 2013, 2:49 PM EDT
Earlier this month, Alabama forward Devonta Pollard was arrested and charged in conjunction with the kidnapping of a six-year old girl over a family land dispute. Given that he was facing a serious felony charge, one could only imagine that Pollard would only be a member of the Crimson Tide for so long, and on…
Jun 19, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
Spike Albrecht spent the majority of the college basketball season as the answer to a trivia question: Who is the little white kid that backs up Trey Burke, the best player in the country? The way the 2012-2013 campaign ended, however, was much, much different. If you’ve forgotten, the kid who was signed late by…
Jun 19, 2013, 1:06 PM EDT
Northwestern head coach Chris Collins has filled out his coaching staff, as he added Armon Gates as his third assistant coach on Tuesday. Gates is a Chicago native that spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Loyola (IL). “We’re very excited to add Armon to our staff,” Collins said in a statement…
Jun 19, 2013, 12:25 PM EDT
Darius Cobb, Ben McLemore’s former AAU coach, will be meeting with the NCAA’s Enforcement staff today to discuss the involvement that Rodney Blackstock had with the former Kansas all-american and those close to him, according to a report from Eric Prisbell of USA Today. That could end up being a thorn in the side of…
Jun 19, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT
A recent growing buzzword in college basketball is the importance of the “culture” of a program. Culture within a college basketball program dictates how things work and it’s use as a word and as a concept is meant to influence players — and in some cases fans — into believing that certain activities or teachings…
Jun 19, 2013, 10:52 AM EDT
Mark Few picked up his first commitment in the Class of 2014 as Portland native and Rivals top 150 shooting guard Silas Melson pledged to the Zags on Tuesday night, according to a report from ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman. Here’s how ESPN breaks down his game: He has a smooth shooting stroke out to 20-feet and…
Jun 19, 2013, 10:17 AM EDT
Michigan State needed Adreian Payne to return to school if they were going to make a run at a national title. With Derrick Nix graduating and with their only incoming front court player being Gavin Schilling — who isn’t exactly the second coming of Greg Oden — Tom Izzo’s team was going to have a…
Jun 18, 2013, 11:25 PM EDT
If you aren’t familiar with Vine, it’s an app that allows users to record up to six seconds worth of video. That was plenty of time for Tennessee rising junior forward Jarnell Stokes to film Oklahoma State star sophomore guard Marcus Smart taking a sideline bounce pass and throwing down a 360 slam while the…
Jun 18, 2013, 10:12 PM EDT
Gorgui Dieng is gearing up for next Thursday for the 2013 NBA Draft. On Tuesday, following a workout with the New York Knicks, the former Louisville center had time to talk about his old team. “I think they’re going to have a better team this year,” Dieng told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and SNY.tv on…
Jun 18, 2013, 8:42 PM EDT
A week after being cut loose by Iowa State, Indian Hills Community College forward Richard Amardi made a commitment to the Oregon Ducks. He has one year of eligibility left. Jeff Goodman first reported the news via Twitter on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-9 Amardi was on the wrong-end of a scholarship issue. He had originally committed…
Jun 18, 2013, 7:52 PM EDT
After three years with the Penn State program, rising junior forward Jon Graham was granted a release and will be allowed to transfer for his final two seasons of eligibility, the school announced on Tuesday afternoon. “Jon and I have had several meetings to discuss his future and he has decided to seek opportunities to…
Jun 18, 2013, 6:42 PM EDT
The return of Greg Whittington was going to be a crucial for the Georgetown Hoyas, entering next season without Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter. However, on Tuesday it was confirmed that Whittington has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. “Greg will return when he is 100 percent healthy,”Georgetown head coach John…
Jun 18, 2013, 5:46 PM EDT
Harry Giles (Wesleyan Christian Academy/Winston-Salem, N.C.) was one of 12 players selected to the USA Basketball Under-16 team, playing in the FIBA World Championship in Uruguay. The 6-foot-9 2016 recruit injured his left knee on Wednesday in a win over Argentina. On Tuesday, Giles told Jason Jordan of USA Today that he torn his ACL and MCL.…
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