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Beyond the arc: To Nova goes the Natty, Chris Ogden, Zhaire Smith

News and notes from around the hardwood

Nova’s the Natty

In stellar fashion, Villanova cruised to the NCAA National Championship. From the 17 point victory over Michigan in the championship game to the 31 point, MOP performance by a sixth man with the name of a mobster, Donte DiVincenzo. The Wildcats made the championship game look ridiculously easy.

When I say cruised to the championship, I mean cruised. The closest margin of victory for the Wildcats in the whole tournament was 12 points. One of the 12 point wins came against Tech, the other against West Virginia. Nova wrapped up the Big 12 trifecta with a 16 point victory over Kansas in the semifinal. They also beat a No. 1, two No. 3 seeds, and a No. 5 seed from the Sweet 16 round to the finish.

NCAA Basketball: Final Four Championship Game-Michigan vs Villanova Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats have appeared in the NCAA Men’s Tournament 37 times, the 8th highest total in NCAA history and have reached the Elite Eight 13 times. They have been to the Final Four of the on five occasions. They have won three national championships overall including two of the last three.

Chris Ogden

As feared, Texas Tech assistant coach Chris Ogden was officially named head coach at UTA yesterday as reported by Viva’s Jacob Harris. Ogden was a longtime assistant who had spent the last two seasons with Tech.

UTA introduced its new men’s basketball coach, Chris Ogden (at podium, his family at left), at a press conference in Arlington, Friday, April 6, 2018.
Paul Moseley

“I’ve worked for this my whole life dating back to playing basketball,” said Ogden, who played at Seminole High School. “I’ve dreamed of having a job in Texas my whole life. I feel I’m ready.” He replaces Scott Cross who was unexpectedly let go after 12 seasons with the Mavs.

Tariq Owens

St. John’s has granted a release for redshirt junior Tariq Owens. He will look to transfer to another school for his final year of eligibility, according to report by The Baltimore Sun’s Jonas Shaffer.

According to NCAA rules, the 6’11, 205-pound forward will be eligible to play right away in the 2018-19 college basketball season because he will be a graduate transfer. Owens averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 points and started 26 of 39 games this past year for the Red Storm. He also shot 50.4 percent from the field and 69 percent from the foul line.

He has listed several schools as potential locations for his new home. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, of course, are among the schools drawing interest.

It’s very intriguing to have a player with Owens size showing interest in Tech. Everyone knows the team could use some length. How would he fit in with Tech? Our own Jacob Harris talked about it yesterday. Read his article here.

Zhaire Smith

Tech freshman sensation Zhaire Smith has declared for the NBA draft without signing an agent according to SportsDay and other sources. By not signing with an agent, it leaves open the possibility for Smith to return to the team should he feel it’s best to play his sophomore season.

The 6’5 Smith averaged 11.3 points and five rebounds on the season. He also shot 45 percent from the three point line and astounded fans with his athletic dunks. He has been projected by many as a mid to late first round pick.

Smith is part of a mass early exit of players from college to the NBA draft. As of last Thursday, 24 players have declared to sign with an agent and enter the draft while another 46 will enter without signing with an agent. If you’re doing the math with us at home, there are only 60 picks in the entire draft. Yeah, that doesn’t add up.

The deadline for college players to enter the draft is April 22. Players have until June 11 to remove themselves from the draft process.

Lady Raiders

They say consistency is the secret to good humor. If that’s the case, then this Lady Raiders coaching search is hysterical. In a very bad way.

It was reported last week that the top two candidates for the job withdrew their names from consideration. Another highly rated candidate apparently decided that she liked living in Los Angeles.

Ryan Hyatt of Raiderland reported last Tuesday that two more candidates had emerged as favorites. Those two candidates were current UTEP head coach Kevin Baker and UNM head coach Mike Bradbury. Bradbury was part of Hyatt’s original top three back in January. Hyatt hit Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.

And then followed up 24-36 hours afterward with this tweet.

Apparently, the dramatic change came when Minnesota head coach Marlene Stollings interviewed for the job sometime on Thursday. The Gophers finished 24-9 and lost to Oregon in the second round of the NCAA tournament this season. Stollings has an 82-47 record in four seasons at Minnesota.


According to Hyatt, Stollings still needs to see the facilities and make sure they are acceptable. But the job appears to be hers if she will take it. Hopefully, hopefully, we will know the name of the new Lady Raiders coach by early next week.