The only head coaching experience Jesse Agel had on his resume was two years at Harwood Union High School in Duxbury, Vt., a state not exactly known as a basketball hotbed.
However, that did not deter Brown athletic director Michael Goldberger when it came time to pick a successor to Craig Robinson, who led the Bruins to their winningest season in school history last winter.
Agel was an assistant under Robinson the last two seasons after spending 19 years in the same capacity at Vermont under Tom Brennan.
"There is no doubt in my mind that he possesses basketball expertise among the top coaches in the country," Goldberger told the Providence Journal. "Jesse did an awful lot at Vermont. He had experience running the games, running the recruiting. Over the last two years we got to know his personality. He is charming. He is sneaky sharp. He is always a step ahead."
Agel will have to use all his smarts to keep Brown competitive next season after it finished second to Cornell in the Ivy League last winter. The Bruins lost their two double-digit scorers, Mark McAndrew and Damon Huffman, to graduation after a 19-10 season that included a trip to the inaugural College Basketball Invitational.
Brown has never been an Ivy League power and has made just two trips to the NCAA Tournament, the first in 1938 and the second in 1986. Yet, Agel is confident he can keep the Bruins near the top of the Ivy standings.
"The goal remains the same as the last two seasons: Relentless pursuit of the Ivy League title," Agel said.
Agel is following in the large footsteps created by Robinson, the brother-in-law of presidential candidate Barack Obama, who took the head coaching job at Oregon State. However, Agel feels he is ready to take the step up and head a Division I program.
"I feel very lucky," Agel said. "There are a handful of schools like Brown out there. I feel very lucky Craig hired me and gave me this experience. It's not easy coming from the outside and understanding what the Ivy League is all about. Vermont is a great institution, but Brown is on a higher level."
While Agel will have a rebuilding project, he will enjoy the advantage of getting a head start by taking his team to Belgium and France for a series of exhibition games from Aug. 18-28.
Shipp Doesn't Sail
UCLA got some good news this week when guard Josh Shipp decided to forego the NBA draft to return for his senior season with the Bruins.
Shipp averaged 12.2 points last season in helping UCLA to its third consecutive Final Four appearance. He will give the Bruins two senior starters in the backcourt next season, returning along with Darren Collison, who decided not to declare for the draft after giving it considerable thought. Collison averaged 14.5 points and 1.8 steals last winter.
UCLA will find out by Monday if forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who also declared for the draft but did not hire an agent, will come back to Westwood for his junior season. UCLA also had two other underclassmen starters on its 35-4 team, but freshman center Kevin Love and sophomore Russell Westbrook have hired agents after declaring for the draft and are expected to be early picks.
"I am glad I went through this process," Shipp said in a statement. "It gave me the opportunity to get input and prepare my body and my game for the next level."
Another Hoosier Leaves
The exodus of players from Indiana continued this week with the announcement that guard Jordan Crawford will not return next season. Crawford averaged 9.9 points a game as a freshman.
Just two players return, only one on scholarship, from last season's team that went 25-7, endured the resignation of coach Kelvin Sampson after he was found to have violated NCAA rules regarding phone calls to recruits, and lost to Arkansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Kyle Taber is the lone returning scholarship player. The former walk-on averaged 1.3 points a game last season as a junior. The other returnee is walk-on guard Brent Finkelmeier.
The Hoosiers will have four freshmen scholarship players and two junior college transfers next season. New coach Tom Crean also plans to keep four roster spots open for walk-ons.
Crean also said during a recent speaking engagement in Indiana that he will continue to look at recruits who could help next season.
"I don't think there's any way we can look at this class as being done," Crean said. "Anytime we can add a high-quality player at value to the future or even the present, we're going to try to do that."
MSG Chases A Regional
Madison Square Garden has long been known as the "Mecca of college basketball." Yet, an NCAA Tournament game hasn't been play in the New York since 1961.
However, the Garden is hoping to land the East Regional in 2012 or 2013 following the renovation of the building, which opened in 1968 and is the home of the NBA's Knicks and NHL's Rangers in addition to the Big East tournament, the NIT, a number of St. John's games and some early-season tournaments.
MSG is undergoing a $500-million renovation that will begin next year and should be completed in 2011.
"When we announced the renovation, it was with the thought we would be able to draw a lot of these type big events we've never had," Joel Fisher, the executive vice president of Madison Square Garden for Sports and Arena Renovation, told The Associated Press. "And it's important for us to complete the 2011-12 season, the first after the renovation, with an event of that stature."
Fisher would eventually like to land a Final Four at the Garden sometime between 2013-16 and said the arena would still be able to host the NIT in the same year.
Hansen To Leave Pac-10
Tom Hansen became the latest commissioner of a power conference to announce plans to step down as he will retire from heading the Pacific-10 on June 1, 2009.
The Pac-10 has thrived as a basketball conference since Hansen took over in 1983. It had six teams make the NCAA Tournament each of the past of two seasons and national champions in 1995 (UCLA) and 1997 (Arizona).
"Being able to observe the accomplishments of the Pac-10's student-athletes has been a special benefit of the position and has supplied many moments of joy inspired by the athletic feats of these immensely talented young people," Hansen said in a statement.
John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus.
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