Basketball beat writer Marcus Jackson takes a look at what is happening outside of Champaign-Urbana.
If you thought Tim Beckman had some work to do replacing five members of his coaching staff after the 2012 football season, imagine the position Porter Moser is in right now. The Loyola coach this offseason has seen all three of the coaches on his staff leave the Ramblers’ program. Rick Malnati, the former New Trier coach, left to take over the program at Fenwick. Armon Gates joined Chris Collins’ first staff at Northwestern, and Jason Gardner took a job on Josh Pastner’s staff at Memphis. Recruiting is a challenge with no one on staff, and that — coupled with a 6-28 mark in the Horizon League in Moser’s first two seasons — makes it nearly impossible.
Quietly, Penn State was expected to take a step back toward respectability in the Big Ten this season with its top two scorers returning and All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier back from his Achilles’ injury. Then Jermaine Marshall made the strange decision in May to forgo his senior season to start a pro career. Now Marshall has decided not to turn pro but to transfer to another program. The 6-foot-4 guard, who was sixth in the Big Ten in scoring (15.3), immediately becomes an attractive prospect on the transfer market. He will graduate from Penn State on Aug. 10, making him immediately eligible for next season. Like Illinois, the Nittany Lions are undergoing a massive roster makeover. Four underclassmen have left the program this offseason, and Pat Chambers will welcome four freshmen and two transfers. Pitt transfer John Johnson will be eligible in December, and SMU 7-foot transfer Jordan Dickerson will be eligible in 2014-15.
It’s been one month since top-rated recruit Andrew Wiggins chose Kansas, and already the folks in Lawrence are dreaming big. The 6-7 swingman drew a crowd of about 1,300 — for a scrimmage. And his highlight-reel dunk a few minutes into the contest generated even more buzz. His soaring popularity could be a problem, though. Fans have posted his flight information on message boards and bombarded him at the airport. Others have shown up outside his apartment seeking autographs. That’s a lot of attention and potentially a boatload of pressure for a kid who hasn’t played a game yet. If it gets to him, we might not be able to witness the full potential Wiggins brings to the college game. For the sake of the sport, let’s hope the KU faithful back off and allow him to focus on the task at hand, so we can appreciate his talent for the one year he’ll be in college.