March 27, 2015

SLU’s Jim Crews to coach at the NCAA Final Four. He’ll lead the west squad for the senior all-star game

Jim Crews laughs with reporters after it was announced he has been named the new head coach of the Saint Louis University Billikens mens basketball team in St. Louis on April 12, 2013. Crews led the 2012-13 team as interim head coach at the beginning of the season after it was announced that head coach Rick Majerus would not coach. Majerus died on December 1, 2012. After winning a school record 28 games this season, Crews was named A-10 coach of the year and Sporting News  and the National Asociation of Basketball Coaches Coach of the Year as well. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Jim Crews. File photo April 12, 2013. UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Saint Louis head men’s basketball coach Jim Crews will serve as the head coach of the West team at the College All-Star Game, which will be played during the NCAA Final Four weekend in Indianapolis.  The game, which features top senior NCAA basketball student-athletes, takes place on Friday, April 3, at 3:30 p.m. (CT) at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Tim Miles of Nebraska will serve as head coach of the East team.

The National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) will announce additional game information, including team rosters, during game week.

Steen’s tough play along the boards creates a scoring opportunity and win for the Blues in overtime (VIDEO)

St. Louis Blues Alexander Steen (middle) file photo, UPI/Bill Greenblatt

St. Louis Blues Alexander Steen (middle) file photo, UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Two days ago Alex Steen scored the Blues only goal, his 400th career point, as St. Louis lost to Detroit just 24 seconds into overtime.  On Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, Steen scored his 24th of the year and it came just 35 second into overtime as the Blues were on the winning end of an OT game, in a 3-2 final over the Penguins.

Steen not only netted the game winner on a deflected shot from the point, but he did the dirty work along the boards to come away with the puck and feed it over to Zbynek Michalek, whose slap shot was redirected by Steen past Pittsburgh goalie Marc Andre-Fluery.

Through 74 games played, the Blues maintain a one-point lead over Nashville in the Central Division standings.

Watch Steen’s winner.  Video NHL.com

Mizzou’s top recruiting coach, Tim Fuller, leaving the program after one season with Anderson. The highs and lows of his recruiting record

Tim Fuller leaving the Mizzou program (photo/Mizzou Athletics)

Tim Fuller leaving the Mizzou program (photo/Mizzou Athletics)

As first reported by PowerMizzou.com, Missouri basketball assistant coach Tim Fuller is leaving the program after one season with Kim Anderson.  Fuller turned down a head coaching job offer at Florida A & M and instead took a $55,000 raise to stay on as the lone holdover from Frank Haith’s staff.

Back in 2013, when Haith was suspended five games for his involvement tied to the Miami booster debacle, Fuller went 5-0 as the Tigers’ interim head coach.  Prior to joining Haith’s staff at Mizzou, he was an assistant on Rick Pitino’s stafff at Louisville and also worked a short time with Haith at Miami.  Fuller was named one of college basketball’s Top 10 assistant coaches under the age of 40 by ESPN.com, but his recruiting efforts at Missouri gave mixed results.

Here’s a look at the success and the not so good results of Fuller’s recruiting at Missouri.

He brought in transfers Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown.  (Sidenote, Clarkson scored a career high 30 points for the Lakers in their loss to Oklahoma City.  Brown, also on the Lakers, scored seven)  He also added Alex Oriakhi and Keith Shamburger, the latter, who gave Anderson some senior leadership this season for a team that went 9-23.  Fuller was also responsible for bringing in Jakeenan Gant and D’Angelo Allen who showed a potential to be good players for Anderson and sophomore Jonathan Williams III, the team’s leader in scoring and rebounding.

As far as the duds that Fuller pulled in.  He brought along Louisville transfer Zach Price who played exactly 0 games for Mizzou.  He was dismissed last spring after he was arrested not once, but twice for assaulting Earnest Ross.  He also brought along recruits Dominique Bull, Negus Webster-Chan and Stefan Jankovic, who all bolted after one season of playing at Mizzou.  He helped sign Torren Jones, who got kicked off the team last summer by Anderson for violating team rules.

Obviously, Clarkson and Brown are in the NBA, but neither he or Haith were able to get them to play to their full potential at Mizzou.  Oriakhi was servicable, but not a consistent, strong force inside that the Tigers were looking for.  Gant and Allen have incomplete grades to know just how good they’ll be.  J3 showed growth from his freshman year.  However, the misses are glaring.  For a coach with a reputation from bringing along good players, he found trouble in Price and Jones and had the three others I mentioned leave without much contribution.  Those were three potential scholarship players who would have been juniors this season.  That set back this year’s roster.

Fuller may have a strong recruiting reputation, and I realize no coach is ever going to bat 1.000 when it comes to recruiting, but to grade his job at Mizzou, I give a C+.

Now, to Fuller’s defense, when you consider what he had to recruit through his grade should be higher, much higher.  Consider this, he was out recruiting for a head coach in Haith who many thought was going to be fired over the Miami scandal.  It’s tough to get kids to come to a school where the future of the head coach is unknown.  Fuller helped keep the roster together. His first recruiting class featured Keion Bell who averaged nearly 11 points, Earnest Ross, who average ten and five, and Brown, 13.7 ppg.

In J3’s first season, when you look at the numbers he put up in the five games that Fuller coached while Haith served his suspension, he had a game with a career high of 17 rebounds and had a career high 31 points.  Jabari was averaging close to 20 and Clarkson 17.5.

So, perhaps the way those players were utilized with Haith coaching them draws more of my criticism for not getting the full potential out of there talent.  Am I being too unfair to Fuller on Price?  Perhaps.  Look at the play of the Tigers’ big men this season.  Ryan Rosburg and Keanau Post were  sub-par.  Fuller may have been scrambling and getting Price was a band-aid, but Fuller had no idea Price would do what he did.

I decided to open up the comments at the bottom of this story.  What do you think?  Was my grade too severe?  To Fuller’s credit, he stuck with a program that has seen better days when other assistants and other coaches have bailed.

 

 

Basketball over, but MSHSAA turns their attention to non-athletic competitions in the month of April (VIDEO)

The Class 4 and 5 basketball championships concluded over the weekend and before the spring sports championships take place from mid-May to mid-June, MSHSAA will be planning for the Speech, Debate and Theatre, end of year competitions in a new venue in Springfield.  At the end of April, the University of Missouri will host the music competition, which draws the more student participates than any other activity, and the Scholar Bowl in early May.

Jason West, Communications Director for MSHSAA talks about those activities, plus outlines upcoming meetings later this month.

We also recap a weekend of basketball that included new champions and dynasties in the making.

Mizzou gymnastics back in regionals, while Lindenwood and SEMO send individuals to same region

Mizzou gymnastics back at NCAA regionals (photo/Mizzou Athletics)

Mizzou gymnastics back at NCAA regionals (photo/Mizzou Athletics)

The Mizzou gymnastics team will compete at the 2015 NCAA Norman Regional on Saturday, April 4 at the University of Oklahoma. The bid marks the Tigers’ return to NCAA Regionals since 2012.  Missouri will compete against No. 1 seed and host Oklahoma, No. 2 seed Oregon State, No. 3 seed Penn State, No. 4 seed Southern Utah and No. 6 seed North Carolina State.

Southeast Missouri sophomore Ashley Thomas advanced to the NCAA Regional in Norman in the all-around. Thomas, a former walk-on, was a first-team All-Midwest Conference selection in the vault after setting a career-high and tying the sixth-best score in Southeast history with a 9.900 at the MIC Championships. She was a second-team All-MIC honoree in the all-around after posting a career-best 39.225 total score.

Three Lindenwood gymnasts were selected as individuals to compete in Norman as well. Valeri Ingui and Kierstin Sokolowski were selected as all-around competitors, while Courtney Heise advanced in the bars competition. They are the first Lady Lions to advance to the NCAA Division I regional competition, and they accomplished the feat in just the program’s third year of existence.

Norman Regional (April 4 in Norman, Oklahoma, 4 p.m. CT)

Teams
1. Oklahoma
2. Oregon State
3. Penn State
4. Southern Utah
5. Missouri
6. North Carolina State

All-Around Competitors:
1. Gabrielle May, Illinois-Chicago
2. Taylor Allex, Arizona State
3. Valeri Ingui, Lindenwood
4. Ashley Thomas, SEMO
5. Kierstin Sokolowski, Lindenwood
Alt. Allie Salas, Arizona State

Individual Event Specialists:
Vault
Amanda Stepp, Northern Illinois
Alternate: Natasha Sundby, Arizona State

Uneven Bars

Courtney Heise, Lindenwood
Alternate: Courtney Cochefski, Texas Woman’s

Balance Beam

Sami King, Illinois State
Alternate: Amanda Mohler, Illinois State

Floor Exercise

Natasha Sundby, Arizona State
Alternate: Spencer Jones, Texas Woman’s