3-point shot: Strange turn in search at USC

March, 6, 2013
3/06/13
5:00
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1. The USC coaching search story has to be one of the more bizarre this season. I can't see how the Trojans could hire Tim Floyd back after an NCAA probationary period, regardless if Floyd wasn't named in the violations. He was still the head coach at the time. Also, Floyd did return to UTEP to carry on the legacy of his mentor, the late Don Haskins. USC is a plumb job and Floyd had the Trojans in the upper echelon. But this would be one of the more stunning decisions. Interviewing Mike Hopkins, the coach-in-waiting at Syracuse, makes sense. He's probably the one national assistant (not Pac-12) that could land the gig. If Hopkins leaves for USC or any other job before Jim Boeheim retires it wouldn't be the first time an official or unofficial coach-in-waiting left. There was no deal for Johnny Dawkins to replace Mike Krzyzewski at Duke but he left for Stanford because he wanted to forge his own path. I could see the same thing happening with Duke associate head coaches Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski if the right opening occurred. Billy Grier and Leon Rice were both coach-in-waiting to Mark Few at Gonzaga before taking head coaching jobs at San Diego and Boise State, respectively, once it was clear Few wasn't going to leave Spokane.

2. I loved the honesty from UCLA coach Ben Howland and Kansas coach Bill Self on Katz Korner about the possibility of Shabazz Muhammad and Ben McLemore leaving after this season. Muhammad could be playing his final home game on Saturday with McLemore following on Monday. Both players are lottery picks and McLemore is in contention for the top spot. Let's not pretend this isn't going to happen. There will be no need to ask either player about this -- or any other that is clearly leaving -- during the NCAA tournament. Players rarely give a straight answer in the locker room during a post-game loss (see North Carolina's Sean May after the Tar Heels won the title in 2005). There's nothing wrong with playing just one year since that is the current system. Remember this is an NBA rule and not an NCAA one. The NBA and players association are the only people who can change the one-and-done situation.

3. How big is Arizona State's game against Arizona Saturday? The Sun Devils are still in play for an NCAA tournament berth. If Arizona State wins in Tucson and Colorado splits with the Oregon schools (all plausible) then both the Sun Devils and Buffaloes and would be tied with a 10-8 record. ASU would hold the tiebreaker because of its sweep over Colorado. ASU would have a 5-2 record against the top four teams while Colorado could be 4-2, or 3-3, depending on what happens in the Oregon game. The Sun Devils have a bad loss at home to DePaul, something Colorado does not. Of course, the selection committee doesn't compare two teams from the same league, but ASU would have some potential separation. The selection committee also has taken plenty of teams that got swept by a team in the same conference. It happened to ASU when Arizona was once chosen over the Sun Devils despite losing twice to their in-state rivals. But if ASU wins and CU splits then the Sun Devils would enter the Pac-12 tournament as a No. 5 seed and a winnable game against Washington State. Another game with Arizona likely looms in the quarterfinals. If ASU reached the semifinals in the Pac-12 tournament, then what? Either way, it all starts with a win for Arizona State.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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