Welcome To San Antonio

By David Scott - April 03, 2008

SAN ANTONIO -- Welcome to the site of the 2008 Final Four and, more specifically, La Quinta By The Denny's where the CSTV.com crew is headquartered for the fortnight. Or FourNight.

Things are already buzzing a bit in the city with coaches starting to roll in last night, participating teams beginning to arrive and our first minor news story of the weekend as Memphis back-up guard Andre Allen has been suspended for at least the first game of the Final Four.

Allen did not travel with the team and reports have surfaced that his suspension may be drug-related, leading some to speculate that the Memphis-native may have failed an NCAA-mandated drug testing following a game in Houston last weekend. Memphis officials and John Calipari would not say anything beyond the fact that Allen is not with the team. Contacted at his hotel last night, Calipari would only say that the matter has been dealt with and that the team is moving on without Allen.

The unfortunate part of the revelation is that it will surely become a side storyline on the "rogue" nature of the Tigers, which has been prevalent throughout the season and especially these past few weeks. Our take, for what it's worth is that these type of things happen at every school virtually every week. The spotlight of this weekend will make this incident seem larger than it really is and the "swagger" of Memphis will also magnify the situation. If the player had been a Tar Heel or a Jayhawk, it would be swept under the rug and muted. Instead, it will be used against John Calipari's program to further embellish what has been an unfair stereotype against the Tigers. (DISCLAIMER: Yes, we are at work on a book with Calipari. But the bottom line remains that Memphis has been portrayed unfairly in a lot of circles.)

. . . Our plan for the day is to work on a special, secret project with the Mad Road Trippers - Jacob and Cyrus - and then hunker down in the Hyatt lobby this afternoon for another edition of the Hang Time Live Blog from the Coaches' Lobby. You'll recall last year's extravaganza that was co-authored by Drexel Assistant Tony Chiles and was widely commended for its depth, breadth and hilarity. When we say "widely," we mean within our circle.

TC has re-upped for another season of analysis and is, at this very moment, working the phones and back channels for the latest in coaching rumors, one of which can be found after the jump.

. . .The UMass job is expected to open in the next 24-72 hours after current head coach Travis Ford completes his run in the NIT title game tonight. Ford is the leading candidate to take the job left vacated by John Brady at LSU.

As some of you know, we have ties to UMass as an alum and former Athletic Department worker and of course we have already compiled our own short list. Not so sure AD John McCutcheon is of the same belief system we are, but we think it's vital to have an alum at the helm. If anything has been learned from the mediocre Ford years, it's that the fan base is looking for a name and personality to cling to. While Ford did a solid job, he was never fully embraced by the Minutemen loyalists who saw him as an oustider or, as one Amherst denizen put it recently, "a ladder climber always looking for the next rung."

Part of that is the nature of a mid-major job but it's more than that too. What John Calipari did at UMass was to enthuse and engage the fans like no other. He did that by kissing babies and shaking hands - almost door-to-door.

The next coach needs to adopt that strategy from jump street which is why the first and most important call McCutcheon should make is to current Memphis lead assistant Derek Kellogg. Kellogg is a former Minutemen from the Cal Glory Days, he's a relentless recruiter and a legit game strategist. He's also from the Western Mass. area and maintains recruiting ties in the Northeast that would ensure a pipeline of high-major quality players.

So Kellogg should be Choice 1, 2 and 3.

However, there's a sentiment that UMass will want a coach with prior head-coaching experience. If that's the case, Kellogg's former teammate Tony Barbee (now at UTEP) whould get the call. Barbee has done wonders already in El Paso, is a proven recruiter and a wonderful game coach.

Both choices would accomplish the goal of arousing the dormant fan base and putting UMass back on the map in the Northeast and, eventually, in the nation.

Posted by David Scott at 11:58 AM on April 03, 2008

Post A Comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

The Sloggers... CSTV.com Links CSTV Basketball Blogs Posts By Site Archives...