June 11, 2009

Wisconsin's Ryan happy on international duty

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan jokes about the confusion that often results whenever he notes that he got drafted after finishing his college playing career.

"I tell everybody I was drafted and everybody thinks I was a heck of a player," Ryan said. "Then I say it was the team in green, and they think it was the Celtics."

Ryan actually is referring to a different kind of draft. The former guard at Wilkes (Pa.) University served with the U.S. Army military police in Fort Gordon, Ga., from 1969-71.

He now is about to serve his country again.

Ryan will coach the U.S. team in the World University Games next month in Belgrade, Serbia. He will be assisted by Miami's Frank Haith and Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Rob Jeter, who played for Ryan and worked on his staff at Wisconsin-Platteville.

This won't be the first time Ryan has coached a U.S. team in international competition. He worked as an assistant for the U.S. squad in the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival and in the 1995 World University Games. Both teams went on to win gold medals.

The experience never gets old.

"Doing things for your country is still, in my mind, very important," Ryan said. "You want to help in any way you can."

Tryouts for the World University Games begin Tuesday and run through June 25 at Colorado Springs, Colo. Players who accepted tryout invitations are Oklahoma State swingman James Anderson, Penn State guard Talor Battle, Clemson forward Trevor Booker, Iowa State forward Craig Brackins, West Virginia forward Da'Sean Butler, Kansas guard Sherron Collins, Villanova guard Corey Fisher, Marquette forward Lazar Hayward, Purdue forward Robbie Hummel, Purdue forward JaJuan Johnson, USF guard Dominique Jones, Washington forward Quincy Pondexter, North Carolina forward Deon Thompson, Ohio State forward Evan Turner and Mississippi State center Jarvis Varnado.

Illinois forward Mike Davis also accepted a tryout, but he withdrew after breaking his ankle Tuesday during a morning practice. The team will be trimmed to 12 members before the Games begin July 2.

"It's going to be a great experience for me," Brackins said. "There are just so many great players there, a lot of great players that I've never played against at all because they're from different conferences. It's going to be a chance for everybody, me included, to battle. And if I do make the team, there's the opportunity to travel to a country like Serbia and have an experience like that, traveling with a bunch of guys who aren't your teammates and bonding with them."

This year marks a return to the practice of USA Basketball selecting a college all-star team to play in the World University Games. Two years ago, Northern Iowa represented the United States while USA Basketball concentrated on other events going on that summer, such as the 19-and-under world championships and the Pan American Games.

Northern Iowa finished ninth that year, but the USA traditionally has dominated the biennial event whenever it sends a college all-star team. The U.S. team has won a record 13 gold medals at the World University Games.

The World University Games is unique among international competitions because it's designed specifically for college students, whereas the Pan American Games and Olympics don't have that restriction.

While history suggests the U.S. team will enter this competition as one of the favorites, Ryan cautions against overconfidence.

"Don't fool yourself," Ryan said. "Those kids from other countries are good enough to play professionally, and for some of them, that's exactly what they'll be doing. The level of play is very good. For somebody who hasn't seen it, it's very hard to explain, but they are as good as our players and as teams they're at times even at a little higher level because they've played together more and end up getting more practices together than the U.S. team."

What's next at USC?

Just when it seemed as though the coaching carousel had reached a halt, a few puzzling moves sent it spinning once again.

Last week, Tom Green was fired at Fairleigh Dickinson after posting a 407-351 record in 26 years, though the Knights had lost at least 20 games each of the past two seasons. Assistant Greg Vetrone was promoted to interim coach for the 2009-10 season.

UT-Martin coach Bret Campbell was forced to resign last week after an audit questioned how he handled funds from his summer camp. Campbell was replaced by Jason James, an assistant on his staff.

Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard left on his own accord Wednesday to accept a job as an associate coach on Rick Pitino's staff at Louisville. Willard and Pitino are longtime friends who both attended St. Dominic High School in Oyster Bay, N.Y.

But the real bombshell came Tuesday, when embattled USC coach Tim Floyd announced his resignation by sending a letter to The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., a newspaper in his home state. Floyd was under fire following a Yahoo! Sports report that he had paid an associate of former Trojans guard O.J. Mayo.

The timing of Floyd's decision creates an unusual situation in which a major-college program is searching for a coach in mid-June. And we're about to find out how the rest of the nation's coaches regard USC.

Is this an attractive opening because of USC's proximity to all that southern California talent? Or is it a job people want to avoid because of the recruiting allegations that eventually could lead to NCAA sanctions?

USC lost one potential candidate when the NBA's Sacramento Kings hired former Trojans star Paul Westphal on Tuesday. USC is facing this scenario at a time when two proven college coaches Billy Gillispie and Reggie Theus are out of work. The Los Angeles Times has mentioned current Lakers assistants Jim Cleamons and Brian Shaw as potential candidates, while The Los Angeles Daily News mentioned Jeff Van Gundy.

The dream catch would be Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon, who went to high school in the Los Angeles suburb of Sherman Oaks. If the Trojans somehow landed Dixon, it would spice up the USC-UCLA rivalry since Dixon and Bruins coach Ben Howland used to work together at Pittsburgh.

But why would Dixon want to return home now when he already is at a better program that doesn't have to worry about the possibility of probation?

Charge/block rule clarified

The NCAA has approved a rules change that will require defenders to establish position outside the area between the backboard and the front of the rim in order to draw charge calls.

In another change, when a fouled player gets injured, his coach no longer will get the chance to select any player on his team to take the ensuing free throws. Instead, the opposing coach will select the free-throw shooter from among the other four players on the floor.

The NCAA also will allow officials to use instant replay to determine flagrant fouls.


Do you think Arizona officials are breathing a sigh of relief that Floyd decided to stay at USC after flying to Tucson to discuss the Wildcats' coaching vacancy? The job eventually went to Sean Miller, who was a better choice even if Floyd never had been accused of any wrongdoing. Miller reached a regional final with Xavier. Floyd never advanced beyond the Sweet 16 at Iowa State or USC.

Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds, Arizona guard Nic Wise, Miami forward Dwayne Collins and LSU forward Tasmin Mitchell withdrew from the NBA draft in the past week, while Memphis forward Shawn Taggart hired an agent. As the Monday deadline approaches for underclassmen who entered the draft to withdraw their names from consideration, the most interesting case involves Notre Dame forward Luke Harangody, a former Big East player of the year. He has helped his stock over the past month, but he's still a likely second-round pick. If Harangody stays, Notre Dame is a potential NCAA tournament team. Without Harangody, the Irish might have a tough time reaching the NIT.

BYU coach Dave Rose had his spleen removed over the weekend after experiencing internal bleeding while attending a family reunion in Las Vegas. School officials said recuperation would take several weeks.

At least one college basketball coach will be watching the College World Series with special interest. North Carolina freshman reserve catcher Jacob Stallings is the son of Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings.

Nevada forward Luke Babbitt had one of the most productive seasons of any freshman in the nation. He's headed for a big sophomore season, if Nevada's recent tour of Europe offers any indication. Babbitt averaged 25.6 points as Nevada went undefeated on its five-game trip despite taking just seven players overseas.

Ohio State swingman David Lighty said he is 100 percent healed after fracturing his left foot last December and missing the rest of the season. The Buckeyes open the season Nov. 9 against Isiah Thomas and Florida International.

Former Oklahoma players Jozsef Szendrei and Michael Neal have returned to the Sooners as part of Jeff Capel's coaching staff. Szendrei, an Oklahoma center from 2000-03, is the new strength and conditioning coach. Neal, a guard and 3-point specialist from 2005-07, will be a graduate assistant.

Tulsa continues to have a productive offseason. Jerome Jordan's decision not to enter the NBA draft made the Golden Hurricane the potential 2009-10 Conference USA favorites. Tulsa now is upgrading its roster for the 2010-11 season, as well, with the arrival of two quality transfers. Forward D.J. Magley from Western Kentucky and guard Scottie Haralson from Connecticut should help Tulsa cope with the impending losses of Jordan and Ben Uzoh, who will be seniors this season.

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.


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