Let’s start with a guy who was 38-47 in his first three years. Some athletic directors might have fired him, at least in this day and age, but he hung on and just won his 1,000th game on Sunday. Congrats to Mike Krzyzewski. Think about this: a first-year coach will have to win big every year to have a chance to catch Coach K by 2050.
Weber Cooking at K-State
It’s always good to see a coach who left a past school under not-so-great conditions (despite leading them to great heights) do great things with his next job. Kansas State is 5-2 in the Big 12, and although it has an uphill climb to get to the NCAA Tournament because of not playing well early, they are on solid ground with Bruce Weber. After falling to West Virginia, the Wildcats are 42-6 at home under Weber, including 20-3 in Big 12 play. Senior Nino Williams is a 6’5″ forward who has attempted four three-pointers all year, but gets it done the old-fashioned way with a good mid-range game. Five of the next seven are on the road for Kansas State, and the games at home are Texas and Oklahoma, so it won’t be easy. After not going to the NCAA Tournament for 11 straight seasons (1997-2007), the Wildcats have been in the big dance in six of the past seven. Remember this when talking about Coach Weber: he went to six NCAA Tournaments in nine seasons at Illinois, including a 37-2 mark in 2004-05 that ended in the national title game. Great hire by Kansas State a few years back to go with a proven winner.
Speaking of Wild and Wonderful West Virginia…
Time to give a lot of credit to Bob Huggins, who is still going strong. As we talk about Coach K getting to 1,000 wins, let’s not forget that Coach Huggins has more than 750. He took WVU to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first five seasons, and that included a Final Four run in 2009-10. He took a step back the past two years, everyone got worried, but not Coach Hugs. The Mountaineers are 17-3, led by senior Juwan Staten out of Dayton and sophomore Devin Williams of Cincinnati. Coach Huggins took Cincinnati to 14 straight NCAA Tournaments, which is nearly impossible. The man has coached in 20 NCAA Tournaments. It will be 21 this year, and he has a good chance to make his third Final Four appearance.
A Burgeoning Buccaneer
Best player that maybe none of us have heard of? Probably Saah Nimley of Charleston Southern right now. He hit seven three-pointers and scored a career-high 37 points – his fourth straight 30-plus point game – as Charleston Southern beat Gardner-Webb Saturday. He was 11-of-21 from the field, including 7-of-12 from three, and has now scored 146 points (18, 30, 30, 31, and 37) during Charleston Southern’s five-game winning streak. He is a 5’8″ senior, and is one of those guys you want to see make the NCAA Tournament because he can make a 2-seed sweat like crazy in the opening game. He also averages 4.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
I am looking forward to Duke at Notre Dame tonight, and then on Saturday, Wichita State travels to Northern Iowa while Louisville goes to North Carolina. Those are the games I’ll be watching from my hotel in Spokane while I get ready for a good one Saturday night between Gonzaga and Memphis. You can listen to Jason Benetti and me on that one on Westwood One and right here on WestwoodOneSports.com.
– Bill Frieder
Former Michigan and Arizona State head coach Bill Frieder is an analyst for Westwood One’s coverage of NCAA Basketball. In his weekly blog Boxed Out, Bill scours the box scores to bring you interesting stories from the world of college basketball.