Stanford vs. Washington in NIT title game?

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Stanford vs. Washington in NIT title game?

Well, your Stanford Cardinal are still in it and have now guaranteed themselves of a spot in basketballs top 72. Mind you, Im not diminishing the accomplishments of the Cardinal who are probably playing their best ball of the season, its just that the NIT has lost just a tad of its luster in fact you might say its just plain rusted out.

In fact its even possible that Stanford could play fellow Pac-12 competitor Washington in the final at Madison Square Garden. That should bring em in from Jersey in hordes dont you think?

There was a time when the NIT had more prestige than the NCAA tournament for instance when USF won it back in 1949. In recent years however what it represents is an opportunity for coaches to have as many as fifteen or so more practices than they otherwise would have. And with a young team like the Cardinal, that could mean a whole lot when it comes to a hoped for improvement in 2012-13.

For the Cardinal this has been a bookend season. It began with a trip to the pre-season NIT final at Madison Square Garden in which they lost a winnable game against Syracuse. And it will end in the final four of the post season NIT final four at least. Nice. Except theyd cash it all in for a better conference season and a trip to the real tournament which is currently composed of a grand total of zero teams from the left side of the country.

Which begs the question; will it be any better next year? Certainly its a tad early to start making predictions, but the simple answer is not so much.

Stanford should be better and be in the top half of the Pac 12 next year. They need consistency, but that comes with experience and thats what playing in the Brand X tournament this year will give them.

Cal loses toughness with Harper Kamp and Jorge Gutierrez graduating. Theyve got talent coming back and could be more athletic but its going to take another yeomans coaching job by Mike Montgomery for the Bears to be in the Pac 12 pack.

Washington will lose two players to the pros in Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross and I think will actually be better. Not enough basketballs for that team this year.

Arizona has the nations No. 1 recruiting class coming in and almost everyone back. They will be in the national championship hunt next season.

UCLA kept its coach and kept its recruiting commitments. Theyll be lots better especially if Joshua Smith loses about an entire Joshua Smith.

Kevin ONeil promised me USC would be good next year. OK K.O. Better lots better I believe. Not sure Im going as far as good.

Dana Altman has proven that he can win with a bunch of guys who have never even met each other. Oregon loses some good seniors but I still think will be in the hunt.

Oregon State gets everybody back. They should have been better this year with what they have. I dont get it.

Herb Sendek at ASU will at least have a point guard next year. When hes got his kind of guys he can really coach. I may be a minority of one but I think they could be OK.

And lets not forget that Washington State is still playing and in the finals of the Whatchamacallit Tournament that makes the NIT look like the NBA Finals. Ken Bone does more with less than any coach in the conference. You try recruiting to Pullman, Washington.

I say that with sincere apologies to our own Jayme Sire who knows every great restaurant in Pullman. Which is like knowing the best Jewish deli in Beijing.

Seton Hall slips past Cal basketball at Pearl Harbor Invitational

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AP

Seton Hall slips past Cal basketball at Pearl Harbor Invitational

HONOLULU Jabari Bird nearly notched his first collegiate double-double with 22 points and a career-high nine rebounds, but just as his effort fell short, so did California men's basketball's efforts against Seton Hall. The Pirates slipped past the Golden Bears, 60-57, at the Pearl Harbor Invitational to hand Cal its second loss of the season. The Bears are now 7-2.

Seton Hall's Angel Delgado scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Delgado, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward, made 6 of 9 shots from the field in a game-high 36 minutes played.

Desi Rodriguez scored 15 points and Khadeen Carrington had 14 points with four assists for the Pirates (7-2).

Carrington tied it at 45 with just under 12 minutes to play on a 3-pointer from the right wing, which ignited a 7-0 Seton Hall run. California never regained the lead.

Ivan Rabb's putback pulled the Golden Bears (7-2) within 58-57 with 31.1 seconds remaining, but Carrington and Delgado each hit a free throw to extend the Pirates' lead to 60-57 with 2.7 seconds left.

Bird had a chance to sent it into overtime, but his 3-pointer from about 25 feet as time expired was no good.

California closed out the first half with an 11-4 run to turn a four-point deficit into a 34-31 lead.

It was just the second meeting between the teams with California winning 81-76 on Dec. 8, 1973.

BIG PICTURE

California: Rabb, a 6-11 sophomore, struggled for the second consecutive game. He made just 3 of his 8 shots from the field and finished with eight points after being held to a season-low six points against Princeton Tuesday. Rabb, who has been playing with a left wrist injury, entered Wednesday's game averaging 17.5 points per game.

Seton Hall: The Pirates reeled off their third straight win despite making just 9 of their 20 attempts (45 percent) from the free-throw line. They shot just 46.6 percent (21 of 45) on free throws for the two-day tournament.

UP NEXT

California will host UC Davis Saturday, its seventh home game in 10 contests this season.

Oregon hires former Harbaugh assistant as new head coach

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AP

Oregon hires former Harbaugh assistant as new head coach

Oregon has hired Willie Taggart, who spent the last four seasons as head coach at South Florida, to take over the Ducks following the dismissal of Mark Helfrich.

Oregon formally announced Taggart's appointment Wednesday.

Taggart has led USF to an 18-7 record over the last two seasons, including a 10-2 mark this year. He also spent three seasons as coach of Western Kentucky, his alma mater, and was an assistant coach at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh.

Oregon fired Helfrich last week after the Ducks went 4-8. A news conference to formally introduce Taggart was set for Thursday.

"Oregon has a strong national presence and a proud recent history of playing among the nation's elite, and I look forward to the challenge of upholding the excellence," Taggart said in a statement. "I can't wait to get started."

Taggart, 40, is the first coach Oregon has hired from outside the program since 1976. The Ducks' previous three coaches, Mike Bellotti, Chip Kelly and Helfrich, were all assistants who were promoted.

Taggart will be the first black head football coach at Oregon. The length and terms of his contract with the Ducks were not immediately released.

Taggart was 16-20 at Western Kentucky, taking over when it was first transitioning to FBS. He went 7-5 in his last two seasons with the Hilltoppers and then moved to USF, not far from where he grew up in Bradenton, Florida.

It took two seasons and a change in offensive philosophy from more pro-style, West Coast schemes to a spread, but he now has the 25th-ranked Bulls rolling. They finished second in the American Athletic Conference East Division to Temple and will play South Carolina on Dec. 29 in the Birmingham Bowl.

Wednesday was the second straight day the AAC has lost one of its best coaches, and the third the conference has lost since Thanksgiving weekend. Temple's Matt Rhule was hired by Baylor on Monday and Tom Herman left Houston for Texas on Nov. 26.

Taggart had support from former NFL player and broadcaster Tony Dungy, whose son Eric played at USF in 2014 after transferring from Oregon.

Taggart served as running backs coach for Harbaugh at Stanford from 2007-09 and is credited with helping to recruit Andrew Luck. Harbaugh had recruited Taggart, a quarterback, to play at Western Kentucky under father Jack Harbaugh from 1995-98.

After taking over when Kelly left in 2013, Helfrich went 37-16 in his four seasons as head coach of the Ducks. He signed a contract extension in early 2015, and had an $11.6 million buyout.

Just two seasons ago, Oregon went to the first College Football Playoff championship game, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota.

But the Ducks struggled this season with a five-game losing streak - the program's longest since 1996 - and finished at the bottom of the Pac-12 North with just two conference wins.

In a statement after his dismissal, Helfrich thanked his own family, the campus community, the fans, and his coaches and their families.

"Finally, to the players - thank you, and I love you," he said. "The future is bright for this young, talented team, and we will be supporting them and their new leadership."

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens also reportedly interviewed Boise State's Bryan Harsin and Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano before settling on Taggart. Kelly, now with the San Francisco 49ers, had said he was not interested in the job, as did former offensive coordinator Scott Frost, now at Central Florida.

For the immediate future, Taggart will need to reach out to Oregon's recruits. Defensive back Deommodore Lenoir and defensive end Langi Tuifua both previously withdrew verbal commitments. Offensive lineman John Vaka said he was no longer committed via Twitter on Tuesday.