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Midnight Madness

Five questions for the '98-99 season

Click here for more on this story

Posted: Monday October 19, 1998 07:11 PM

  The newest Johnnie: Mike Jarvis' move from George Washington to St. John's was one of a number of off-season coaching moves Doug Pensinger/Allsport

By Dan Shanoff, CNN/SI

So you haven't been paying attention to college hoops since Kentucky cut down the nets at the Final Four? We have the answers to your questions:

1. What happened to my coach?

Grab an eraser: Rookie head coach Steve McClain takes over at Wyoming, which lost Larry "Short-Timer" Shyatt after just one year (and a breach-of-contract lawsuit) to Clemson, which lost program-maker Rick Barnes to Texas, which fired Tom Penders , who soon found employment at George Washington, which surrendered Mike Jarvis to St. John's, which had an opening after a breakup with Fran Fraschilla , who has yet to find a coaching job but, as a Rick Pitino protege and architect of the Red Storm's revival, shouldn't be out of work past this season. Meanwhile, Virginia fired Jeff Jones and hired Pete Gillen from Providence (former employer of Shyatt, Barnes, Fraschilla and Pitino), which hired Tim Welsh from Iona, which hired the Gaels' favorite son and Welsh's assistant, Jeff Ruland .

Click here for a complete list of off-season coaching moves.

2. Where's Vince Carter?

The annual migration of underclassmen to the pros included plenty of current and future All-Americas, including the high-flying Carter (to Toronto), who lamentably leaves college hoops with one less subject for the highlight reel.

Among the other losses:
All-Americas Mike Bibby of Arizona (to Vancouver), Antawn Jamison of North Carolina (to Golden State) and Paul Pierce of Kansas (to Boston); Oregon State guard Corey Benjamin , an all-Pac-10 selection (to Chicago); St. Louis guard Larry Hughes , the national freshman of the year (to Philadelphia) ; Kentucky center Nazr Mohammed , an anchor of the Wildcats' '98 title team (to Utah); Michigan center Robert Traylor , the Big Ten tournament MVP (to Milwaukee); and preps Al Harrington (to Indiana), Rashard Lewis (to Seattle) and Korleone Young (to Detroit).

The joke's on them, however, because the college hoops season tips off in three weeks and the NBA may not tip off at all. Don't hold your breath for those rookie paychecks, fellas.

Click here for a complete '98 Draft list

3. Which eligible transfers should I look out for in their new programs?

Ahem, a poem:

Lamar Odom 's the Man,
And now that he can
He'll finally play for Rhode Island;
UNLV? To the pros?
Not like anyone knows
His path, who cares? Harrick 's smilin'.

After flight,
From General Knight
Neil Reed starts for Southern Miss;
If they meet up some day,
At the NCAAs
Don't expect him to blow Bobby a kiss.

Hoosier refugee
Center Jason Collier at Georgia Tech;
Cremins is coaching,
After some poaching,
A great squad after two years of dreck.

There's no boo-hoo
For Damion Walker , he of promise;
The Frogs were already stacked,
And in fact
He'll crowd New Mexico's lane with Ken Thomas .

At Ohio State,
It must be fate,
In '97 they snagged Coach O'Brien ;
His pickin's were slim,
Called his old B.C. gym
And Scoonie Penn (all-Big East) came a-flyin'.

At Second-Chance U.,
Tark takes the view
First impressions aren't what they seem.
Courtney Alexander ,
Nicknamed "Unhand her!"
Is the latest prep has-been to join the team.

Many others we know,
Decided to go
But we think that the system's unfair
Why does the NCAA
Make it this way?
Coaches jump easy, not players.

4. How soon can I get my hoops jones?

The Preseason NIT in mid-November used to signal the beginning of the season. Now, teams are vying to see who can start the earliest. It's similar to the recent jockeying among states to move up the dates for Presidential primaries.

In Indianapolis on November 7, South Carolina plays reigning feel-good-story Valparaiso, and Seton Hall hooks up with Indiana in the NABC Classic.

In Providence on November 9, unexpected Elite Eight member Rhode Island hosts run-'n-gun TCU, and Providence takes on Vanderbilt in the CoSIDA Classic.

From there, the action moves to New York City on November 10-11 for the two-day Coaches vs. Cancer Ikon Classic, which features Georgetown vs. Temple and Illinois vs. Wake Forest.

Most teams have a game scheduled by November 14.

As for the venerable NIT? It tips off around the country on November 16, runs through November 27 and features North Carolina, Purdue and Stanford.

5. Who are the early favorites for player of the year?

Duke sophomore power forward Elton Brand (13.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg) had fans salivating during his freshman year, although he missed two months with a broken foot. He looked dominant at the Goodwill Games this summer and leads a loaded Blue Devils team that will be in the top five all season long.

Michigan State junior point guard Mateen Cleaves (16.1 ppg, 7.2 apg), the '98 Big Ten player of the year, also plays on an experienced and deep team, but he is recovering from summer back problems.

Connecticut junior shooting guard Richard Hamilton (21.5 ppg) is the reigning Big East player of the year. He has a formidable supporting cast, including last season's conference freshman of the year, point guard Khalid El-Amin . But Hamilton is recovering from a broken foot he suffered in July at the tryouts for the World Championships.

Utah senior point guard Andre Miller (14.2 ppg, 5.2 apg) quarterbacked the Utes to the national championship game last April, then decided to spurn the NBA. He'll be asked to do more than last season -- with fewer talented teammates -- which will likely result in a worse record for Utah, but better stats for Miller.

Others to watch: UCLA PG Baron Davis , Northwestern C Evan Eschmeyer , Stanford PG Arthur Lee , Texas Christian PF Lee Nailon , Miami (Ohio) SF Wally Szczerbiak .

The comprehensive 1998-99 College Basketball Preview begins Monday, November 2.  

Related information
Midnight Madness has emerged as college hoops' traditional tip-off
Kansas ushers in new season in poor taste -- on purpose
Inside College Basketball with Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis: Midnight Madness is upon us
Virginia's Gillen curiously optimistic about upcoming season
In With the New: Check out the coaching changes for the upcoming season!
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