The Final Four is more than a week away, but college basketball's annual offseason intrigue already is at full boil, especially here in our little corner of paradise. We've got it all, from conference realignment to the coaching carousel and all the related dominoes.
Start with the Newport News-based
The official announcement came Monday, but the Patriots and A-10 had been courting for at least a year, and the moment Butler and Xavier bailed, George Mason became Plan A.
Among established, basketball-centric leagues, the A-10 had no superior this season, qualifying five teams for the
The benefits for the Patriots are multi-layered. First, they join a conference not beholden to football, the sport that drives most decisions in most leagues, including the CAA. Second, the move reunites them with former CAA colleagues Richmond and
No rube he, George Mason athletic director Tom O'Connor, a former chair of the NCAA tournament selection committee, understands that realignment is likely to continue and affect the Patriots' new home.
To wit: The new Big East stands at 10, with Xavier, Butler and the
But even if the new Big East poaches the A-10 again, it's still the preferable home for a basketball school such as George Mason. More so, if the A-10 is able to land another strong program such as Southern Conference bigfoot Davidson.
VCU left the CAA for the A-10 less than a year ago and prospered immediately. The Rams finished second to Saint Louis this season, earned an at-large
The well-worth-it price of that success — VCU is among eight programs to advance in each of the last three NCAA tournaments — is more suitors for Rams coach Shaka Smart.
After guiding the Rams to the 2011 Final Four, Smart resisted overtures from
Coincidentally, the Gophers and
The Minnesota-Smart connection is obvious: Gophers athletic director Norwood Teague and associate Mike Ellis worked in the same capacities at VCU and hired him. But Friday was Minnesota's first NCAA tournament victory since its 1997 Final Four, and given the jobs Smart has declined, I don't imagine him heading to Minneapolis.
Nor do I see him in Los Angeles,11 national championships, albeit just one in the last 35 years, and Southern California lifestyle aside. The expectations of UCLA faithful are too absurd, and neither resources, facilities nor fan support measure up to those expectations.
Sure enough, Richmond area media reported Tuesday that Smart and VCU are close to agreeing on a contract extension, presumably with a pay bump. Good on both of them.
While VCU fans anticipate Smart's new deal,
Enfield now may view Florida Gulf Coast as more a destination job. Moreover, he will have many more schools inquiring of his availability.
With Selig hoping to appoint
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP