College Basketball Notebook: Harper fired, Hurley hired
The college basketball notebook ...
RALEIGH — North Carolina State has fired women’s basketball coach Kellie Harper after four seasons.
The school said Tuesday that the 35-year-old coach wouldn’t return after missing the NCAA tournament for the third straight year. Harper, a former player under Tennessee’s Pat Summitt, was the successor to late Hall of Famer Kay Yow, who died in 2009 after a long fight with cancer.
Harper’s first team went 20-14, made a surprise run to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final and reached the NCAAs in 2010. But that season ended up being the high point.
The Wolfpack never reached 20 wins again, going just 50-50 with a 16-32 mark in ACC play and two trips to the WNIT in the past three seasons.
Harper also struggled to lure difference-making recruits who could help one of the league’s most traditionally successful programs re-establish itself in a conference now controlled by Duke, Maryland and North Carolina.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The University at Buffalo has hired Bobby Hurley to take over as its men’s basketball coach.
Hurley completed his first season as an associate coach at Rhode Island this month, working under his brother, Dan Hurley. He spent the previous two seasons as an assistant at Wagner, also with Dan serving as head coach.
At Buffalo, he takes over for Reggie Witherspoon, who was fired two weeks ago after 14 seasons on the job. Witherspoon went 14-20 this past season.
Hurley, a superstar high school guard while playing for his father, Bob, Sr., in New Jersey in the 1980s, is best known for his playing days at Duke, where he established himself as one of the nation’s top all-time point guards. He led the Blue Devils to three Final Four berths, including 1992, when he was named most outstanding player.
Hurley’s ties to Duke played a factor with AD Danny White. His father, Kevin White, is the AD Duke.
After college, Hurley was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the first round of the 1993 NBA draft. He went on to play six seasons in the NBA split between the Kings and the then-Vancouver Grizzlies. After retiring, he became a racehorse owner and breeder before being hired as a scout by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2003.
MIAMI’S JOHNSON OUT
CORAL GABLES, Fla.— Miami center Reggie Johnson had surgery Tuesday to repair a minor meniscus issue, said a person familiar with the situation.
Johnson did not accompany the Hurricanes to Washington on Tuesday night, though could play in the Final Four if Miami wins the East Regional this weekend, the person told The Associated Press because the school did not publicly disclose the surgery.
Miami (29-6) plays Marquette (25-8) on Thursday in the East Regional semifinals. The winner of that game will meet either Indiana or Syracuse for a trip to Atlanta and the Final Four.
In a statement, the university said Johnson was injured in last weekend’s third-round game against Illinois.
The 6-foot-10, 292-pound senior is averaging 6.7 points and 4.8 rebounds for Miami.
LA SALLE RISES
PHILADELPHIA — Former La Salle star Lionel Simmons has been a fixture around the program as the Explorers have made a run to the NCAA round of 16.
Simmons, the 1990 AP Player of the Year, has been seen at La Salle’s games and even traveled from Dayton, Ohio to Kansas City, Mo., and now Los Angeles as its biggest fan on this improbable winning streak.
Simmons’ presence is a blazing reminder that La Salle wasn’t always one of the bottom programs in Philadelphia. Led by Hall of Fame standout Tom Gola, the Explorers were NIT and NCAA champions in the 1950s. Paul Westhead coached them to tournaments in the 1970s. And Simmons rocketed them to the national rankings in The AP poll.
But mediocrity soaked in on this proud campus for years, before this scrappy bunch, which will play Wichita State in the regional semifinals, turned the tide. Now, a proud basketball city watches its every move.