Nevada fans collectively breathed a sigh of relief on Friday when Stanford hired Jerod Haase to fill its men’s basketball head coaching vacancy.
As I mentioned last week, Stanford would’ve been a realistic landing spot for Eric Musselman had the Cardinal decided to give him a call.
Musselman no longer having the option to go to Palo Alto wasn’t the only local tie in the deal. Haase, who had led the University of Alabama at Birmingham the last four seasons, is a South Tahoe High School graduate.
Under Haase, the Blazers went 26-7 and won the Conference USA regular-season title this winter before getting upset in the postseason tournament.
Haase’s hire leaves one power five conference opening, at least as of 8 p.m. on Sunday night: Vanderbilt.
Now former Vandy coach Kevin Stallings took the Pitt job on Sunday afternoon.
It’s hard to picture Musselman leaving Nevada for Vanderbilt, but he does have history in the SEC, very recent history. Before taking the Nevada job last offseason, he was an assistant at LSU.
With Musselman’s wild success in his first year at Nevada, the possibility is obviously going to exist that he can leave. But as a Nevada fan, it’s a good problem to have. It’s better to worry about a coach leaving due to success rather than counting down the years left on a middling coach’s contract.
UNLV finally finds a hoops coach
After the Rebels started this season on a three-game losing streak in Mountain West play, Athletic Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy decided she saw enough. She fired coach Dave Rice. Oops.
UNLV, which started 9-7 under Rice, went on to finish 18-15, 8-10, good for sixth place, under interim coach Todd Simon.
Last Tuesday, Simon was hired as the new men’s basketball coach at Southern Utah, once again leaving the job vacant.
The response from potential candidates around the country has reflected the state of the UNLV program.
On Friday, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin turned the Rebels down. On Sunday, On Sunday, St. Mary’s coach Randy Bennett became the second known coach to spurn UNLV.
The latter is the most telling. Bennett turned down a $1.5 million offer to stay with St. Mary’s in the West Coast Conference, the same conference Gonzaga calls home.
Gonzaga has reached the NCAA Tournament 18 straight years. And Bennett said he would still rather deal with Mark Few twice every regular season than take over the UNLV program.
That’s not a good look.
Finally, Arkansas Little Rock coach Chris Beard took the bait late Sunday night.
Reed softball doing Reed softball things
The Raiders entered this season with almost unrealistic expectations.
Reed lost just one starter from last year’s team that went 37-2 and won the program’s first state title since 1998. So when Jon Wunder’s bunch started the year No. 3/4 in the nation, it wasn’t entirely shocking.
It will be near impossible for the Raiders to match last year’s success.
And yet, here they come.
Reed is off to an 8-0 start and won its annual Easter weekend tournament on Saturday, outscoring its opponents 58-8.
Several teams in the DI North have been bitten by the injury bug this year. Reed has avoided it.
If the Raiders can remain healthy, they’ll become even larger favorites to win the DI North title—if that’s possible for a team ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation.
Spanish Springs softball’s slow start an anomaly
After eight games this season, the Cougars are just 5-3.
Two of those losses came in this weekend’s tournament at Shadow Mountain and the Cougs didn’t even play Reed. One loss was to DI North foe, Douglas. The Tigers are 6-6-1 this year.
The slow start for a program that has won two straight regular season DI North titles can be explained. Bailey Ivory, one of the better hitters in the region, suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. Numerous other starters have missed time this year for a number of reasons.
Like all the other teams in the DI North not named Reed, the Cougars will have a tough time getting to the DI North’s top spot. But the climb will certainly get easier when the lineup becomes recognizable.
Williams on verge of another national title
Reed alum Gabby Williams is closing in on her second national title while playing hoops at UConn.
The Huskies (35-0) won the national title her freshman year and play Texas (31-4) tonight for the right to advance to the Final Four. That Elite Eight contest tips at 4 p.m. on ESPN.
Williams is averaging nine points and 5.7 rebounds per game this season.
Nathan Shoup can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.