April 20, 2007
Each Friday during the off-season I will do a column on the game I love, college basketball.
• The pairings for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge came out recently and there should be some marquee matchups when the leagues hook up. This is now bargain basement goodies or cupcake city when you see some of these match-ups. Think about the rematch between North Carolina and Ohio State. Whether Greg Oden is there or not, there will be a lot of talent on that court. Wow, Coach K vs. Bo Ryan as the Dukies take on the Badgers; lots of X's and O's in that baby! Duke has an 8-0 mark in the Challenge. Maryland and Illinois square off in an exciting showdown. Think about Georgia Tech facing Indiana with the likes of Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton scheduled to meet diaper dandy Eric Gordon. NC State meets Michigan State, Boston College faces Michigan … this should be a special series.
• Speaking of Indiana, DJ White made a great decision to return to school next season. He finally got a chance to play last year after being plagued by injuries earlier in his career. That was a year to set the foundation and now he will have the chance to explode. White will have more help as Kelvin Sampson has brought in a super recruiting class, led by Gordon.
• More of the wackiness in college basketball – Saint Louis had its first 20-win season since 1998, yet coach Brad Soderberg was given the ziggy. He had four winning seasons in five years there, but it is all about winning, winning, winning and I guess that the Billikens did not do that enough … are you kidding me? Being a quality person isn't enough these days. I was really surprised by this move. We are around 50 changes in Division I basketball coaching as the carousel spins out of control, baby!
• Mark Turgeon got the best news possible. Not only did he get the job at Texas A&M, and following Billy Gillispie's footsteps won't be easy. Turgeon did learn that the Aggies will have the youngsters committed to Gillispie. The group, led by seven-foot center D'Andre Jordan, will be heading to College Station. Jordan is one of the premier big men coming onto the college scene next season. Turgeon will bring that winner's mentality to the Aggies. He should build off of what Gillispie has initiated.
• Down at Texas, Rick Barnes' flirtation with Kentucky might have scared some people. Barnes is now locked in big-time in Austin after receiving a raise, taking his salary to $2 million. Hey baby, they do things in big style down at Texas! They showed a love for what he has achieved in basketball in Longhorn country. Barnes is the school's winningest coach.
• Who says you can't go back again? Ronnie Arrow decided to return to South Alabama after doing a super job leading Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to the NCAA tournament. Arrow had spent seven seasons at South Alabama and led the Jaguars to an NCAA tourney upset over Alabama. I remember the job he did at San Jacinto JC as well. He did a solid job at Corpus Christi. Bobby Lutz turned down South Alabama, instead staying at Charlotte.
• So many times players want instant gratification. They want to make their mark right away and if they don't, it is time to move on. Could that be the case for the Delks down at Mississippi State? They apparently wanted more minutes and bigger roles. One of two State players to have started all 35 games for the 21-14 SEC West Champion Bulldogs this past season, Reginald Delk averaged 9.5 ppg. The older of the Delk twins, Richard averaged 5.7 points as a 33-game starter last season. They said bye-bye and we will see if they will have a major impact elsewhere.
• Mike Davis will have a very different team at UAB next season. The former Indiana coach will have three prominent transfers playing -- Robert Vaden (Indiana), Channing Toney (Georgia) and Walter Sharpe (Mississippi State). He also added 6-7 JUCO forward Reggie Huffman. Keep an eye on Vaden, who showed a lot of potential at Indiana.
• Even though he is losing Glen "Big Baby" Davis, LSU's John Brady has to be smiling thanks to a solid recruiting class. Forward Anthony Randolph, JUCO guard Marcus Thornton and DJ Wright will make a difference early on in Baton Rouge.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.