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Saturday, June 24, 2017

College Basketball

De’Aaron Fox went off against UCLA to ‘shut LaVar Ball up’

De'Aaron Fox

The outstanding Sweet 16 contest between UCLA and Kentucky in March was highlighted by De’Aaron Fox’s memorable 39-point game in the Wildcats’ 86-75 win over the Bruins. Fox thoroughly outplayed his Bruins counterpart Lonzo Ball in the game on both ends of the floor. Now the former Kentucky guard says part of his motivation that game was to shut LaVar Ball up.

In a profile on Fox published by SI’s Andrew Sharp Thursday, Fox explained his mindset ahead of the UCLA tournament game.

“Kill mode all the time,” Fox said of his mindset for that game. “Shut Lavar Ball up.”

LaVar Ball, of course, is Lonzo’s outspoken father, who made noise all throughout UCLA’s season about how good his son is and how great of a pro he’ll become. That certainly helped lead Fox to put together a monster game against the Bruins.

Ball and Fox are competing to go higher in the draft, and the Lakers are said to have interest in both players at No. 2 overall.

But what this story shows us is there is yet another reason to have some caution about drafting Lonzo. Not only can his father be a pain in the rear to deal with, but LaVar’s big talking ways also puts a bulls eye on his son’s back and has the unintended consequence of bringing out the best in opponents.

John Calipari opposed to 20-game league schedule, blames TV networks

John Calipari

The ACC has decided to increase the number of in-conference games a team has to play each season, and other conferences are considering doing the same. According to John Calipari, that is going to hurt the sport of college basketball.

With ACC teams set to play 20 in-conference games as opposed to 18 starting in 2019, Calipari believes fans are going to be robbed of some marquee matchups. He blames the television networks for that.

“They need more inventory for their own network so you just play more league games and then you have more inventory for your network to put on,” Calipari said Tuesday, via the Currier-Journal. “Hopefully in our case in this league (the Southeastern Conference) we stay where we are and if we don’t, we’ll make it work.”

Like they did with the SEC Network a few years back, ESPN has announced it will launch the ACC Network by August 2019. The Big Ten, which also has its own network owned by FOX Sports, is also leaning toward increasing its number of in-league games to 20 per season.

“What you do is, you take away some of those kind of games that have been good to us,” Calipari said. “North Carolina, for example: If they go to 20 games we won’t have any more series with North Carolina, so I’m not for it.”

Calipari added that increasing the number of in-conference games would prevent teams from improving their schedule the way they see fit.

“I think teams can use those last two games to put their own schedule together,” he said. “If you need a tougher game, if you have a rivalry game, if you need an easier game, if your team needs a team they can beat or a team they’re challenged by, if they need a road game, you can do it with those two games.”

Having matchups like Kentucky-North Carolina taken off the regular season college basketball slate would be a disappointment. Some of the most exciting games of the year happen when teams from different conferences square off, so we’re with Calipari on this one. Unfortunately, money talks.

Chris Holtmann reportedly favorite for Ohio State job

Chris Holtmann

The news on Ohio State’s coaching search has been moving rapidly.

First it was reported the team was interested in the Chicago Bulls’ Fred Hoiberg, then Creighton’s Greg McDermott was the next target, and now it’s being reported that Chris Holtmann is the favorite to land the Buckeyes job:

Holtmann, 45, has been the head coach at Butler since 2014. He has gone 70-31 in three seasons with the Bulldogs, reaching the NCAA Tournament all three years, and the Sweet Sixteen last season.

Prior to Butler, Holtmann was the head coach at Gardner-Webb.

Ohio State is looking for a new coach after Thad Matta stepped down on Monday.

Ohio State reportedly offers job to Greg McDermott

Greg McDermott

Ohio State may be on the verge of hiring a new coach.

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reports that the Buckeyes offered their head coaching job to Greg McDermott:

The news comes the same night that Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg was also linked to the job. But Hoiberg made it seem like he wasn’t leaving Chicago. That may have led the team to turn to McDermott.

McDermott, 52, played college ball at Northern Iowa and then began his head coaching career in 1994 at Wayne State. He had stints at North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, Iowa State and then Creighton. He has a .617 career winning percentage, including a .671 mark since taking over the Creighton job from Dana Altman.

Photo: Cubiclecrei

Arizona president: Ohio State will hire Sean Miller ‘over my dead body’

Sean Miller

If Ohio State wants to hire Sean Miller, it sounds like they’re going to have a heck of a time making it happen.

New University of Arizona president Dr. Robert Robbins had a firm message for the Buckeyes if they were eyeing the coach: hands off.

“The Ohio State University is great university, but they are not going to get Coach Miller,” Robbins told Anne Ryman of the Arizona Republic. “They will have to come over me to get him, as the saying goes, over my dead body.”

Robbins made clear that, if the Buckeyes did make a run at Miller, he would step in to try to keep him on board.

“I just think he is a quality guy,” Robbins said. “I will do everything in my power to try to convince him to stay.”

The Buckeyes are looking for a coach after Thad Matta’s abrupt departure. Miller has been linked as a potential target, but there is not yet any indication that Ohio State will try to pursue him yet.

Thad Matta abruptly leaves Ohio State, does not rule out coaching again

Thad Matta beard

Hours after it was reported that Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta would coach one more season and retire, the school announced that Matta was out as coach, effective immediately.

The school announced in a release that Matta was leaving effective immediately. At a press conference, athletic director Gene Smith called the decision “mutual,” saying Matta would be heavily involved in the search for his successor.

When asked if he was done coaching, Matta did not sound like a man who was retiring. He notably refused to say he wouldn’t coach again, instead responding “never say never” and affirming that his focus was on his health. A source indicated to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that Matta did not want to stop coaching.

When asked about the timing of the change, Smith cited Matta’s struggles to land top recruits due to speculation about his future, with the decision being reached within the last week. Matta said he agreed with Smith’s assessment that a coaching change would be beneficial when the subject came up.

The timing is extremely strange, and indications are that this was not necessarily Matta’s idea. The original report on Matta’s future made a lot of sense, but it’s quite late for a major college coaching search at this juncture.

Report: Thad Matta to retire after 2017-18 season

Thad Matta beard

Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta is reportedly set to coach one final season.

According to Steve Helwagen of 247Sports, Matta will announce Monday that the 2017-18 basketball season will be his last on the sideline, and he will retire due to ongoing health issues.

Ohio State has called a 2 p.m. news conference with Matta and athletic director Gene Smith, but have not indicated the reason for it.

Matta has a career 439-154 record, with two Final Four appearances and five Big Ten regular season titles with the Buckeyes. His most recent team was the first Ohio State team to miss the NCAA Tournament since 2008. A botched back surgery in 2007 led to foot issues for Matta, and the back problems have lingered as well. It has actually been used against him in recruiting. The pain has long been an issue for him, and it looks to be sending the 49-year-old to an early retirement.

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