Spanning the globe on a Tuesday morning …
Past production is often an accurate predictor of of future results. It’s not fool-proof, but based on that theory you can expect that that the very least basketball in what used to be the SEC West is more competitive next year. Mississippi State has closed the deal with Ben Howland, and Alabama appears poisted to try and purchase Gregg Marshall from Wichita State.
Howland — who made Pitt and UCLA March Madness regulars and led the Bruins to three consecutive Final Fours — is expected to be introduced at a press conference today.
The process with Marshall will be slower because Witchita State is still in the NCAA tournament having just defeated in-state rival Kansas for a spot in the Sweet 16. Marshall’s Shockers have replaced Bradley as the preeminent mid-major.
The shifting landscape and Ole Miss’ place in it is all quite interesting.
Auburn started this run of big-name hires by hiring Bruce Pearl. It was only a matter of time for Alabama proved its intent to keep pace — no doubt in its eyes to surpass — with Auburn.
MSU is obviously tired of losing. The vibe coming from the school earlier was that Rick Ray would get another year. That obviously changed.
Ole Miss had a nice season in 2015, and at the end of the day was right where the coaches had the Rebels pegged.
Andy Kennedy says the Rebels overachieved this season because no one picked the Rebels to reach the NCAA tournament.
There’s mixed truth in there. Ole Miss finished in a glut of teams at 11-7 in the SEC regular season. Tie-breakers left the Rebels as the No. 6 seed for the conference tournament, which is right where coaches said Ole Miss would finish.
I thought Ole Miss would make a run toward the bubble, possibly on the good side, if ….
– Jarvis Summers played like his did as a junior. (He did not).
– M.J. Rhett made an impact. (He did).
– Terence Smith made an impact. (He did).
– Stefan Moody made a big impact. (He did).
– The bigs shot better at the rim. (They did a little bit).
Those are a whole lot of things that needed to work out. Enough of them did to get the Rebels in the tournament but barely, and critics will blow off the March Madness run as nothing more than a win in a play-in game which they will deem unacceptable.
Dayton, however, is part of the tournament, and based on some of the other seeding the Rebels could have been placed in the traditional field of 64. There will always be that argument.
Dayton is the new normal. It’s better to avoid it when you can, but playing there doesn’t mean you can’t win as La Salle, Dayton and others have proven.
I do think the NCAA put Ole Miss in a terribly difficult travel situation. (See Sunday post). That never should have occurred, and if the NCAA is really about student-athletes it will tell the networks that Dayton games will not be played in prime time.
Kennedy says he will now go about fielding a competitive team for 2015-2016. The immediate reaction is OMG! You’re losing five seniors, and you had no impact freshmen this year.
If there was ever a poster child for making the NCAA tournament amid mass attrition and roster change it was this year’s team, so who’s to say Kennedy can’t transfer his way back into the tournament again. The Rebels have reached the NCAAs in two of the last three seasons, and transfers — at least one very big one in 2013 — have played a significant role each time.