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Beyond the arc: Scott Cross out at UTA, Ryan Odom, Lady Raider coach soap opera

News and notes from around the hardwood

Scott Cross out at UT-Arlington

College basketball this time of year is full of coaching changes and contract extensions. The leadership at UT-Arlington supplied the head scratcher of the early off-season when they fired head coach Scott Cross. The headline of a dallasnews.com article screamed,

NCAA Basketball: Coastal Carolina at Texas-Arlington Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports

How could it not be? Scott Cross was the winningest coach in UTA history with a record of 225-161 in 12 seasons. He is the only coach in program history to leave the school with a win-loss record north of .500. In 2017-18, the Mavericks fell one win short of the NCAA tournament by dropping the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship game to Georgia State.

Athletic Director Jim Baker said he “agonized” over the decision but ultimately he wants a UTA team which is always in the NCAA Tournament. Their only appearance was in 2008. “I am extremely proud of what we have accomplished in my time as head coach of my alma mater,” Cross said in the statement. “We were able to build a program based on hard work, integrity, and doing things the right way.”

The impact of the termination could be felt close to home as Texas Tech associate head coach Chris Ogden appears to be squarely in the crosshairs as the replacement. More to come as this story develops.

Speaking of change...

Ryan Odom is staying

UMBC head coach Ryan Odom has agreed to new contract terms which will keep him at the school. The terms of the contract were not disclosed, but he originally signed a seven year deal which paid him a $230,000 base salary in 2016.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Kansas State vs UMBC Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

In only his second season as a Division 1 coach, Odom guided the Retrievers to a 25-11 record and their second appearance in the NCAA tournament. They then became the first ever No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 when they upset Virginia.

As a reminder, UMBC is University of Maryland Baltimore County. Their mascot of the Retrievers is actually short for the Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. Don’t act like you already knew.

Keenan Evans

Tech fans thought the stretch run for Keenan Evans was remarkable, especially given he was doing it with turf toe. What we thought was turf toe. It turns out Evans’ clutch performances came while playing on a broken toe.

Keenan will be remembered as one of the better players of the 2018 NCAA tournament. After this, he may be remembered as one of the toughest as well.

Red Raider superlatives

Freshmen Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver ended the season having the highest scoring freshman seasons in Tech history. Smith ended with 417 points while Culver had 415.

Keenan Evans was named third team AP All-American which makes him only the third consensus All-American in program history. The other two were Andre Emmett and Jason Sasser. Keenan finished his career with 1,571 points (13th in program history) and 346 assists (8th in program history).

Lady Raiders coaching search

The Lady Raiders season has been over for about a month. The search for a new head coach has been going on since January. Apparently athletic director Kirby Hocutt isn’t any closer to a hire now than in January.

I would guess Hocutt felt pretty good about his top two choices, UALR head coach Joe Foley and South Dakota State head coach Aaron Johnston, up until a few days ago. It’s then, kind of like the Lady Raiders season in late December, everything went to hell in a handbasket.

Ryan Hyatt of Raiderland once again had an excellent update on the search. According to Hyatt, Johnston has basically told Tech he’s not interested and Foley has agreed to a new contract although the deal is not final and details have not been disclosed.

This leaves the search down to UCLA head coach Cori Close and possibly Kami Ethridge. Close had her best year at UCLA this past season at 27-8. They also reached the Elite Eight this year by beating Texas in the Sweet 16. Red Raiders love coaches who beat Texas. Close has been a head coach for seven seasons, all with UCLA. She is 147-85 and has four NCAA tournament appearances and one WNIT championship with the Bruins. She seems to be a longshot to me. If Tech could get her, it would certainly be a big hire.

Ethridge is from Lubbock and played for Monterey High School. She also played at Texas and won USA Olympic gold. Ethridge has been the head coach at Northern Colorado since 2014 and served as associate head coach at Kansas State from 1996 - 2014. Her record at Northern Colorado is decent at 57-37 while the Wildcats were 350-226 during her tenure. Ethridge does nothing for me other than being a Lubbock girl.

I certainly do not believe Ethridge is a better candidate than Krista Gerlich for example. Gerlich seems to be out because of past ties to Tech and not enough flash in the resume. Ethridge is the same to me.

One comment of Hyatt’s bothers me a great deal. He wrote in his column, “Add in he fact there are many voices clamoring for a woman to get the job and you’ve got a lot of moving parts.” If gender is any consideration for the next head coach I will be extremely disappointed. This search should be focused on the best person for the job. Not dependent on male or female.