Thursday, January 04, 2007

LSU, Big East, light reading

Spoke with LSU coach John Brady on Wednesday.

He discussed the Tigers in the Sugar Bowl, Baton Rouge, Glen Davis (check out a feature on “Big Baby” in Friday’s Register) and a city which emptied out because the other half of the population made the hour or so hike to New Orleans to watch LSU beat Notre Dame.

“I guess football has a pretty good following in this town,” Brady said. “For most of the week, it’s been quiet around here. Just me, the team and a janitor or two whistling by.”

He also spoke about last year’s run, when as a fourth seed out of the Atlanta Region, LSU made its first Final Four appearance in 20 years.

The way the Tigers did it, though, was interesting in terms of personnel. He then segued into his thoughts on Saturday’s game with UConn.

Nice transition.

“You know, I don’t buy what Calhoun is saying about playing with all those freshmen,” Brady said. “We did it last year with three freshmen, a sophomore and a senior starting. I don’t buy it from any coach.”

Of course, Brady said this in jest.

MOVING ON ...

A few highlights from today’s media conference call with half of the Big East coaches.

Interesting perspective from West Virginia coach John Beilein, whose team defeated Villanova on Wednesday night.

He was asked about the 20th anniversary of the 3-pointer's inception.

Here’s his take.

“When it first came in, we really didn’t know how to guard it and I had been coaching for about 10 years then. Then we looked at percentages the first couple of years and saw that teams shot well into the 40s all year long. I’ll tell you one thing, though, it’s been good for us,” Beilein said.

“Whenever we take votes at the coaches’ meetings, with the general consensus, traditionally, I’m a believer in 'if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.' When we played last year in Kansas City, the line was back nine inches, but I don’t know if there was any difference.”

Next, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey spoke about the Irish’s 13-1 start.

He said the turning point of the season so far was the win over Maryland at the BB&T Classic.

He also commented on Kyle McAlarney's situation, after the sophomore guard from Staten Island was arrested on marijuana possession Friday morning. He is suspended indefinitely.

“As far as Kyle goes, he’ll travel with us,” Brey said. “We’re his best support group right now.”

SOME BIG EAST NOTES FROM THE CONFERENCE

Non-conference success continues at a high rate

With the non-league competition almost complete for 2006-07, Big East teams have had some success. As a conference, the Big East is 160-49 (.766). That is the best winning percentage since 1993-94 when the league was 80-19 (.808).

New coach vs. new coach

On Wednesday, two coaches made their Big East head coaching debuts and they did it against each other.

Seton Hall’s Bobby Gonzalez and Rutgers’ Fred Hill directed their first conference regular-season games as head coaches in the battle of local rivals at Continental Airlines Arena. The Pirates won 77-72.

Gonzalez was an assistant at Providence (1994-98), while Hill has spent time as a Big East assistant coach at Rutgers (2005-06), Villanova (2003-05) and Seton Hall (1998-01). Hill will coach his second league game against the league’s other new coach, Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin, who will be making his own Big East debut at home on Sunday against the Scarlet Knights.

SOME LIGHT READING

Here's hoping Jeff Ruland catches a break at Iona.

Next, nice to see the coaching bug passed down from father to son. Here's a story on Tony and Dick Bennett.

Has it been more than 15 years since Wisconsin-Green Bay made a run?

Finally, Pat Forde’s piece from ESPN.com on Bob Knight from a few days ago.

Oh, the what-ifs.

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