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Mid-Major Morning Mashups: Mega Friday Afternoon Edition

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After a brief, but needed vacation (that featured a look at Justin Harper) we're back with daily coverage and content, starting with a recap of the week that was.

The coaching carousel continues to spin with changes coming at IPFW, Butler, Kennesaw State and Princeton among others, but the biggest story involves nothing more than a conversation. George Mason has reportedly granted Miami permission to speak with Jim Larranaga about its vacant coaching position. It's always noteworthy when one of the elite mid-major coaches in the country is wooed by a power conference program, but if history tells us anything the Patriots head man isn't going anywhere. Remember, it wasn't all that long ago that Larranga passed on the opportunity to take the Providence job (his alma mater) that ultimately went to Keno Davis. 

Elsewhere, the recruiting game continues to roll along, with Central Florida capping off a stellar class by landing former Tennessee recruit Kevin Ware earlier this week. Donnie Jones has set himself up for a bright future with the Knights. Rumors are also abound that Valparaiso star Brandon Wood could be on the move for his final season of eligibility should he withdraw his name from the NBA Draft. Find out who is on his short list along with a plethora of other stories after the jump.

Andy Katz of "George Mason officially granted Miami permission to speak with coach Jim Larranaga late Thursday night, GMU athletic director Tom O'Connor confirmed to O'Connor said he spoke Thursday night with new Miami athletic director Shawn Eichorst. But O'Connor was uncertain what Larranaga would do with a potential offer, only to say that the two had talked earlier Thursday about the future of the Mason program. Eichorst interviewed Wisconsin-Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter soon after getting the job last week. Jeter knew Eichorst from their time in the state of Wisconsin but wasn't at Wisconsin at the same time. Eichorst was hired from his position as assistant AD at Wisconsin. Jeter worked for Bo Ryan. Prior to Eichorst's hire, Miami officials courted Harvard coach Tommy Amaker, but Amaker decided to stay with the Crimson. Miami is seeking a replacement for Frank Haith, who left Miami after seven years to be the head coach at Missouri. This isn't the first time Larranaga has been pursued since leading George Mason to the Final Four in 2006. Larranaga, 61, turned down his alma mater Providence three years ago before the Friars hired Drake's Keno Davis."

Steve Warden of the Journal Gazette: "The two most inevitable things regarding IPFW men's basketball happened Wednesday: Dane Fife is gone, and associate coach Tony Jasick is in. After giving IPFW six years as a head coach, Fife has moved to Michigan State, where he will be an assistant under close friend Tom Izzo. Fife is back in Michigan and back in the Big Ten - two places he longed for. Meanwhile, it was no surprise that Jasick took over as soon as Fife left. Jasick doesn't have the name of Fife, who played at IU, but he has the same drive. Fife and Jasick played the good cop/bad cop routine perfectly. I'll let you figure out who played what role. It isn't difficult. Look for a more up-tempo kind of basketball from this year's IPFW team, mostly because that will fit the personnel. Defensively, Jasick has the same theory of Fife. Both would like a shutout if they could get it."

Chris Burrows of the Chicago Tribune: "With seniors KC Robbins, Brad Birton, Robo Kreps and Paul Carter moving on, junior native Chicagoan Zavion Neely seemed the clear choice to inherit Robo Kreps' throne as the emotional leader of head coach Howard Moore's Flames. That was before a mid-season academic mis-step lead to academic ineligibility and Neely missing UIC's final 14 games of last season. Now it seems Neely -- the only third year player on the team -- won't be returning to UIC next season. No. 23 is already missing from the official UIC roster and the outspoken guard has made his troubles known on twitter. The image of the hometown hero playing for the coach he loved -- Jimmy Collins -- Neely's leadership and experience on the floor will be missed more than his assists."

BoilerTMill at Hammer & Rails: "[Purdue] may be in line for a different type of one and done. Brandon Wood, last year's Horizon League Player of the Year at Valparaiso has declared for the NBA Draft, but hasn't hired an agent. He is also in line to graduate next month, meaning that he could transfer to another school that offers a graduate program that Valpo does not and he would be immediately eligible for his final year. He began his career at Southern Illinois, then transferred to a junior college before playing the last two years at Valpo. That would make him the very rare Division-I player at three different schools. There is a precedent here, as Sam Maniscalco recently transferred to Illinois under similar circumstances. So far Wood has spoken to Michigan State (who has a spot available scholarship-wise for a one-and-done) and he is trying to talk to Purdue. The spot that we might have had available is going to Robbie Hummel, so we do not have room unless someone transfers or Jacob Lawson goes to a prep school. Lawson going to a prep school would, in turn, shove a 2012 guy to a prep school and likely end any Gary Harris discussion, so I don't see that scenario happening. Still, there appears to be some smoke here if Wood is going to talk to Purdue."

Jeff Goodman of "Kevin Ware is headed to play for Donnie Jones at Central Florida. According to sources, the athletic shooting guard - who was let out of his letter-of-intent at Tennessee after Bruce Pearl was fired - committed on Monday. Louisville, Georgia and UCLA were all in pursuit. In fact, Cardinals coach Rick Pitino met with Ware on Sunday. Ware, who visited Central Florida this past weekend, joins a talented recruiting class that also includes big man Michael Chandler and in-state forwards Rod Days and Wayne Martin. Jones and his staff also got Kasey Wilson."

Eric Angevine of "With both Morris twins declaring for the NBA draft, Kansas is suddenly hurting on the interior. If the current roster stands, Bill Self will have only juniors Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey alongside 6-foot-8 freshman Braeden Anderson in the post for next season. The Jayhawks will no doubt pursue other post options, including some freshmen and possibly JuCo transfers. One name that has come up in recent days is that of LaSalle big man Aaric Murray. The 6-10 sophomore from Philadelphia has decided to leave his hometown, where he averaged 15.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game for the Explorers. According to's John Rothstein, Kansas must battle West Virginia for Murray's services. Murray came close to committing to West Virginia before he chose La Salle. He would be the heir apparent to Kevin Jones after sitting out a transfer year, but the sudden absence of size on the Kansas roster could make the Jayhawks a very attractive option as well. Murray would follow in the footsteps of other Philly giants like the Morris twins and Wilt Chamberlain should he take his game to Lawrence."

Brian Neubert of Gold & Black Illustrated: "Purdue coach Matt Painter will hire Butler assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry this week to fill one of the two openings on his Boilermaker staff, has learned. Shrewsberry, 34, spent the past four seasons on Butler's staff, first serving a one-year stint as coordinator of basketball operations, then three seasons as an assistant coach. The Bulldogs, as you may have heard, reached the national championship game the past two years. During Shrewsberry's three seasons on the Butler coaching staff, the Bulldogs were 87-21, winning a pair of Horizon League regular season titles and a pair of conference tournament crowns in that span. Prior to coming to Butler, Shrewsberry was the head coach at IU-South Bend for two seasons, serving as the program's first-ever full-time coach. Prior to that, he was director of basketball operations at Marshall from 2003-05; an assistant coach at DePauw from 2001-03; and an assistant at Wabash from 2000-01. His first college coaching post came as a G.A. at the University of Indianapolis. The Indianapolis native and Cathedral High School graduate played at Hanover College."

Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune: "Northwestern assistant coach Mitch Henderson is returning to his alma mater, taking the top job at Princeton. He replaces former teammate Sydney Johnson, who left for Fairfield. A 1998 graduate of Princeton, Henderson has served his entire term at NU under Bill Carmody, a former head coach at Princeton himself. "I'm extremely grateful to Coach Carmody," Henderson said. "I appreciate that he gave me the opportunity at a young age to work at one of the best universities in the world. Northwestern has been like a family to me and I will definitely miss it. I spent 11 great years there and I got to work with a great group of young guys. I will always be pulling for the Wildcats."

Doug Roberson of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Kennesaw State has hired Lewis Preston as its men's basketball coach. Preston has been an assistant at Penn State since 2008. While there, he helped Jeff Brooks develop into an All-Big Ten Conference player. Preston is described as a "very positive guy, works hard, good game coach, works well with the kids," by a former co-worker. Before joining Penn State, he assisted Billy Donovan for two seasons at Florida, where he helped turn Al Horford into a first-round draft pick by the Hawks. The Gators won the second of their back-to-back national championships while Preston was in Gainesville. Before assisting Donovan, he worked with Mike Brey at Notre Dame for six seasons. He helped develop first-round draft picks Troy Murphy and Ryan Humphrey while in South Bend, Ind. Horford told the website that Preston "is a hard worker and has a lot to offer. He is a great teacher of the game and there is no doubt that his players will learn to play basketball the right way."

Perry A. Farrell of the Detroit Free Press: "After the second e-mail to Eastern Michigan about its vacant head coaching job, Rob Murphy finally got a response. He was informed that his interview with school president Susan Martin was at 7:30 a.m., on a Saturday. "I looked at the time and I didn't know if they were just trying to squeeze me in or what," Murphy said. "I told them I was the man for the job -- that it was my dream job. "You never know how the interview process goes because everyone has a poker face. I just know I was prepared." It went well. On Thursday, Murphy was introduced to the EMU faithful at the Convocation Center as its new head coach. It's the next step for the 38-year-old former Detroit Mumford player, Detroit Central assistant coach, Detroit Crockett head coach, and Kent State and Syracuse assistant. He signed a five-year contract that will pay him $210,000 annually with a $15,000 radio stipend with incentives for victories, postseason play, performance in the Mid-American Conference and attendance figures. "I won't sleep until we make the postseason tournament," said Murphy, who is so respected that former Central standout and San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates showed up at the news conference, along with Derrick Coleman and Benny White, former Detroit Public School coach and scout for the Pistons."

Mike Organ of the Tennessean: "Longtime Belmont assistant basketball coach Casey Alexander will be named the coach at Stetson today, sources close to the situation said Tuesday. A news conference [was] scheduled for 12:45 p.m. CDT [Tuesday] at the school in DeLand, Fla. Stetson, like Belmont, is in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Alexander, named the top assistant coach in the A-Sun last fall, will replace Derek Waugh, who agreed in February to resign at the end of this past season. The Hatters were 8-23 overall and 6-14 in the A-Sun. Alexander has been at Belmont since 1991, when he signed to play for the Bruins, then known as the Rebels, after an outstanding high school career at Brentwood Academy."

Dana O'Neil of "Which is why, when Kent State presented Rob Senderoff with a contract to become the university's next head basketball coach, Senderoff employed the easiest of negotiating ploys. "I said, 'Where's the pen?''' Senderoff said. There once was a time when this man wondered if he'd so much as get an olive branch, let alone a head-coaching job. Four years ago, he was swept into the tornado that was Kelvin Sampson's tenure at Indiana. An assistant at IU for three years, Senderoff was implicated in the NCAA investigation and found to have made many of the 111 impermissible phone calls to recruits, as well as the three-way calls to Sampson himself. He resigned in 2007, his name muddied and his reputation sullied."

Scott Olson of the Indianapolis Business Journal: "Historic Hinkle Fieldhouse on the campus of Butler University is about to undergo its most extensive renovation since the building began hosting basketball games shortly before the Great Depression. Built in 1928, the aging facility will be the beneficiary of a $25 million capital campaign to fund major building upgrades set to begin in the summer of 2012. The fundraiser, launched in April 2010, has netted $4.8 million in commitments during the "silent phase" targeting the university's traditionally larger donors. The campaign will be unveiled to the general public within the next six to nine months. That the campaign started a year ago, during the men's basketball team's march to the NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis, was mere coincidence, said Mark Helmus, Butler's vice president for university advancement. And now, with the Bulldogs making an unlikely repeat trip to the Final Four, the university's efforts to raise the money are getting an additional boost. "The idea of a capital campaign wasn't aligned with the success of the team," he said, "but we were certainly pleased with that."

Sean Ceglinsky of "His goal was simple: Play well and earn a scholarship. Sure enough, C.J. Blackwell stuck to the plan over the course of his recent senior season as a member of the Woodland Hills Taft High boys' basketball team. Accordingly, interest in the 6-foot-5 wing never wavered as Division I programs kept a watchful eye on him throughout. The recruiting process, however, came to an end Thursday afternoon. Blackwell ended up committing to nearby Loyola Marymount (LMU), choosing the Lions despite having been in contact with several schools, among them being Florida State, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. "I felt that Loyola Marymount was the best fit for me, it's close to home and my family can see me play in college, that was most important,'' Blackwell said. Blackwell was instrumental in guiding Taft to a Los Angeles City Section title and a No.4 finish in the top 20 rankings. He shot 50 percent from the field, 42 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and averaged 13.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game."

Daniel Lyght of the Fresno Bee: "Inglewood High senior guard Julius Bilbrew called new Fresno State men's basketball coach Rodney Terry and made a little bit of history this week. Bilbrew said he wanted to be a Bulldog and accepted a scholarship offer, becoming the first oral commitment of the Terry era. Bilbrew said Thursday that it felt special to be Terry's first commitment and was excited about helping rebuild a program that went 14-17 last season. "He's real, real genuine," Bilbrew said of Terry. "The way he talked, I felt I could trust him. He sat with my family also. My parents loved him. It was great." Terry has been busy since he was hired April 7. Not only has he spent the last week on the road recruiting, but he's also been hunting for assistant coaches."