In light of a decreasing news stream due to the off-season in college basketball, coupled with the time consuming nature of our 2011-2012 preview series which is underway, things have obviously slowed with our Mid-Major Morning Mashups section. In light of this we're going to make a slight change here at MMM, changing our morning news section to a weekly segment on Mondays. This will serve the purpose of providing a little more time to work on our team scouting reports while also allowing for the accumulation of more interesting news.
On days that are particularly busy we'll have supplementary editions of Morning Mashups, while also still commenting on bigger news issues, such as this weekend's Paul Hewitt hire at George Mason, but until the season begins anew in the fall, Mashups will run on Mondays.
So for now, read on for the big stories and best reads from the week and keep your eyes open as we continue to progress through our first series of previews.
In case you missed it, Pete Thamel of the New York Times drops an absolute bomb on Central Florida and their recruiting efforts. The Knights brought in arguably their greatest class of talent ever, including a pair of top-100 prospects. Now that one has decommitted, the school is starting to take some heat for their recruiting methods.
Michael McKnight of SI.com: "The first snippet of evidence came forth Friday in the prosecution of two former University of San Diego basketball players and a former USD coach accused of trying to fix college basketball games. At a detention hearing for Steve Goria, the alleged ring leader among the 10 defendants in the case and the only one who has not been granted bond, the prosecution played swatches of recorded phone calls intended to portray Goria as a flight risk and a danger to the community. Assistant U.S. Attorney Harold Chun played excerpts from two calls -- the first featuring Goria and an unnamed man, the second featuring Goria and defendant David Gates, 34, a gang member and former high school defensive lineman who stands charged with helping Goria and others collect gambling debts. In the first call, Goria is heard telling someone angrily: "We'll see, [expletive]. You owe me 850... Keep the money... I'm going to beat your [expletive] you little [expletive], you'll see... You're a [expletive], homey." When asked after the hearing whether Goria had been speaking to an athlete during the call, Chun declined to comment. (At an earlier hearing on April 14, Chun said that Goria had threatened a college basketball player "in the past year." On Friday, Chun could not confirm precisely when the call he played in court had been recorded.)"
Patrick Magee of the Hattiesburg American: "Southern Miss men's basketball player Darnell Dodson was dismissed from the team on Thursday after his arrest for allegedly stealing items from a USM fraternity house. USM police chief Bob Hopkins said Friday that Dodson was arrested along with Cory Markell Smith, a former member of the Southern Miss and William Carey basketball teams. The two men both face charges of auto burglary and residential burglary, which are felony charges. USM coach Larry Eustachy announced in a brief statement Thursday night that Dodson was dismissed from the team with no mention of the reason. Members of the Sigma Nu fraternity, which has a house on Ross Blvd., called police early Thursday morning to report the crime. "Members returned to the residence and saw two black males in the residence before they fled out the back door," Hopkins said. "They gave us basic descriptions."
Andy Katz of ESPN.com: "Butler coach Brad Stevens doesn't have to move to a higher-paying gig in a power-six conference. But one of his assistants felt he did. The reason is simple: Landing a head-coaching job as an assistant from a smaller league is extremely difficult. Butler should be exempted from this category, considering the Bulldogs just played in their second consecutive national championship game. Gonzaga has been able to get assistant coaches head-coaching jobs (Bill Grier at San Diego, Leon Rice at Boise State). But that's not the norm -- which is why Micah Shrewsberry left Butler to join Purdue's staff shortly after the Bulldogs played in the national title game. "If you look at the jobs that were open this year, I think the guy at Stetson, who was an assistant at Belmont, was the only one who got a head-coaching job from being at a mid-major school," Shrewsberry said. "For me personally, that's my ultimate goal and the options are limited. I didn't think I should stay and wait for Brad to go somewhere and then fight it out with [Butler assistant] Matt Graves. I thought I would try to reach out and go to a bigger, larger conference and get one that way." Shrewsberry's point is correct. Of all the moves so far this spring, only two head coaches were hired from assistant jobs outside of the top nine conferences (power six plus A-10, C-USA and MWC): Casey Alexander went from Belmont to Stetson and Roman Banks went from Southeastern Louisiana to Southern. Stetson and Southern are also incredibly difficult jobs."
Xavier landed the biggest recruit in school history, literally. This won't be the last size pun that is made about 2012 prospect Sim Bhullar who stands 7-foot-5 and weighs 350 pounds. He's already impressed scouts with his soft hands and surprising passing ability and as you can see below, has the potential to be an absolute force in the middle for the Musketeers.
Eric Angevine of CBSSports.com: "What's in a name? The immortal bard would have us believe that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But what if you call a rose the Eddie Sutton Tustenugee award? How does that smell? Butler Bulldogs senior forward Matt Howard was selected by a national media panel to receive a postseason honor by that name, and will be honored at the Tulsa Sports Charities Legends in Sports Dinner on April 31. The purpose of the newly-created award - to honor a DI player who exhibits tenacity, dedication, discipline and unselfishness - is unmockable. The John and Judy Marshall Foundation has chosen the right player for the honor, without a doubt. The name of the award, on the other hand, might be a tad more risible."
John Feinstein of the Washington Post: "After George Mason Athletic Director Tom O'Connor made the decision Friday to hire Paul Hewitt as his new basketball coach, he told his wife Barbara that the response he wanted when he told people was one word: "Wow." He got it. That said, once you get past the initial "wow," there are some concerns. But many of them would come attached to anyone following Jim Larranaga at the school where he had become an icon. On the one hand, Hewitt has a remarkable resume. He will be 48 on Wednesday (one year older than Larranaga when he arrived in 1997) and has won 255 games as a Division I head coach. He was only 40 when he took Georgia Tech to the national championship game seven years ago. What may have caught O'Connor's eye at least as much, though, was his three-year record at Siena: 66-27. Siena is not all that different from George Mason as a basketball school. It plays in a mid-major conference (the Metro Atlantic) that isn't nearly as deep as the Colonial Athletic Association. Like the CAA, however, it has produced teams - Siena among them - that have gone to the NCAA tournament and produced early upsets."
Williams Bowman of the Daily Item: "The only thing Dave Paulsen ever wanted to be was a Division I basketball coach, and Friday he was rewarded for a tremendous start to that career. Paulsen, who led Bucknell to the Patriot League title and an NCAA berth in his third season, agreed to a multi-year extension with the Bison, Bucknell athletic director John Hardt announced. Terms of the deal were not released. "I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to continue my coaching career at such a special institution," said Paulsen. "I believe that Bucknell is unique among Division I institutions in its commitment to excellence both academically and athletically." Paulsen led Bucknell to a 25-9 mark this winter. The Bison won 21 of their final 23 games — going 16-1 against Patriot League foes — before their season ended in the opening round of the NCAA tournament with a loss to eventual champion Connecticut. "I have never had more fun coaching a group of young men than I did this season because of their relentless work ethic, tremendous focus and inspiring unselfishness," said Paulsen. "We are proud of the accomplishments of this year's team, but also hungry to constantly improve and carry on the tradition of great basketball teams that have characterized Bucknell."