Basketball tradition is lacking at Florida Atlantic.
The Owls have been to just one NCAA Tournament, falling to Alabama in the first round in 2002. Last season, they were a pedestrian 15-18 in the Sun Belt Conference.
However, Mike Jarvis looked out his backyard in Boca Raton, Fla. and saw plenty of potential in the school located in the town he moved to after being fired as St. John’s coach six games into the 2003-04 season. That is why Jarvis pursued the Florida Atlantic coaching job hard after Rex Walters left to go to San Francisco last month, and why he was thrilled when the school’s administration decided to hire him earlier this week.
“I sold the fact this is my home,” Jarvis said during his introductory news conference. “I sold the fact that I have been, basically, to all those places most young guys are trying to get to, and what they’ll find out someday is the top isn’t always better.
“This is our town. This is going to be our story.”
Jarvis becomes Florida Atlantic’s third coach in four years. Matt Doherty left after one season for Southern Methodist and Walters stayed just two seasons before heading to the Bay Area.
At 63, Jarvis isn’t going anywhere, though. In fact, he brings quite a resume to a program like Florida Atlantic.
Jarvis has a 326-202 record in 18 seasons, winning more than 100 games at Boston University, George Washington and St. John’s. He has been to nine NCAA Tournaments, including leading St. John’s to the Elite Eight in 1999.
Now Jarvis wants to become just the second coach to win 100 games at four schools, joining Lefty Driesell, who pulled off the feat at Davidson, Maryland, James Madison and Georgia State.
Jarvis has spent the past four seasons working part-time as an analyst for ESPN and Yahoo! Sports. He is quite excited to be running a program again.
“My desire has never been stronger,” Jarvis said. “I miss the young men you teach, discipline and mentor. I miss the bus rides, I miss being away on a weekend trip. I miss what it feels like going into a locker room after a win. I also miss what it feels like going into a locker room after a loss. Sometimes, you learn more in defeat.”
Jarvis was fired at St. John’s after one player was charged with assault on a female student and another was arrested for marijuana possession. However, Florida Atlantic athletic director Craig Angelos is convinced Jarvis deserves another chance.
“I felt comfortable at the end of the day we could move on with Mike as coach,” Angelos told the Miami Herald.
Florida Atlantic will have its top three scorers back next season and all will be seniors: forward Carlos Monroe (15.4 points and 9.5 rebounds a game), guard Paul Graham III (14.0 points a game) and guard Carderro Nwoji (10.8 points and 3.7 assists a game).
Monroe was among the nation’s leaders in a number of Pomeroy statistics, including ranking second in defensive rebounding percentage (31.4), 71st in free throw rate (64.4), 83rd in percentage of shots (30.3) and 89th in percentage of possessions (28.6).
Rivers Transfers to Indiana
Jeremiah Rivers, coming out of high school, had no desire to follow in his father Doc’s footsteps and play at Marquette. However, that didn’t mean that Tom Crean didn’t make an impression on Rivers while recruiting him for the Golden Eagles.
In fact, Crean is a big reason why Rivers, a guard with two years of eligibility remaining, has decided to transfer to Indiana from Georgetown. Crean replaced the embattled Kelvin Sampson as the Hoosiers’ coach last month.
“My dad had built this great legacy at Marquette and I just wanted to go somewhere and create my own legacy,” Rivers said, referring to his father, now the coach of the Boston Celtics who had his number retired at Marquette.
Rivers must sit out next season after averaging 2.5 points and 18.6 minutes a game as a reserve last season at Georgetown while building the reputation of being an outstanding defender. Rivers believes he will be given the opportunity to show off more of his all-around game at Indiana.
“I’m the kind of player who can get the ball in the paint, distribute it to my teammates and finish around the basket,” Rivers told the Indianapolis Star. “I have a good mid-range jump shot, too.”
Meanwhile, Long Beach State has landed a transfer in guard Dwain Williams from Providence who will have to sit out a year but should help in 2009-10 after the 49ers struggled through a 6-25 season this past winter. Williams has two years of eligibility remaining and averaged 11.0 points for the Friars last season.
Williams wanted to be closer to his mother’s home in Temecula, Calif., after Providence fired coach Tim Welsh at the end of last season.
“Dwain Williams is a great addition to our program,” Long Beach State coach Dan Monson said in a statement. “His success in the Big East Conference demonstrates that he is a proven high-level point guard that will help solidify our backcourt.”
WCC Changes Afoot
The West Coast Conference has found a niche over the past three seasons as the nightcap of ESPN’s “Big Monday” tripleheaders, following Big East and Big 12 games. However, the conference and network are in discussions that would move the WCC’s weekly appearance to Thursday night, where it would go head-to-head with Pacific-10 Conference games on Fox Sports Net.
Gonzaga is the premier program in the WCC and is the school pushing for a change to Thursdays. The Bulldogs would prefer the WCC have a Thursday/Saturday playing format rather than Saturday/Monday.
“I think our fans, coaches and staff will definitely embrace it,” Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth told the Seattle Times.
Anaheim Classic Field Set
Three teams who made it to the NCAA Tournament last season--Baylor, Cal State-Fullerton and St. Mary’s--are among the eight teams who will compete in the Anaheim Classic, which will be held Nov. 27, 28 and 30 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Rounding out the field will be Arizona State, Charlotte, Providence, UTEP and Wake Forest.
John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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