Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Larry Brown has been on the job at SMU less than a week and he’s already cutting players.
According to the Associated Press, SMU athletic director Steve Orsini said Friday night that Brown conducted an evaluation of the roster and held individual meetings with players.
While not saying how many or which players wouldn’t stay on the team, Orsini referred to “these young men” in his statement released by the school.
“During each meeting, there was honest, straight-forward discussion about the future of the program,” Orsini said. “No player was told his scholarship would not be renewed.”
Brown later Friday announced the hiring of assistant coach Jerrance Howard, who spent the past five seasons as an assistant at Illinois.
Howard was a point guard for four seasons at Illinois (2000-04). Before returning to the Illini as an assistant coach, he worked for more than three years under Billy Gillispie at Texas A&M (administrative assistant) and Kentucky (basketball operations).
Brown is also considering hiring former Syracuse star Derrick Coleman as an assistant, the Post-Standard reported.
“I’ve talked to him,’’ Coleman, who played for Brown with the Philadelphia 76ers in the late 1990s, told the paper. “I’m honored. It’s something I will entertain.’’
He added: ““Me and coach Brown have been friends since I played in Philadelphia. I have the utmost respect for him. It’s not just the game of basketball with coach Brown. It’s the game of life. Of all the coaches in my 16 years in the NBA, coach Brown and Chuck Daly were the best. It wasn’t about basketball. It was about you as a person and your family.’’
Orsini said each of the former players could remain at SMU as a student on scholarship.
If they decide to transfer to play somewhere else, Orsini said Brown and his staff would help them find another school.
“These are decisions that will be made by the individual student-athletes, though, and not the athletic department,” the AD said.
Starting point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas told the school’s student newspaper that Brown basically told him that he “wasn’t good enough to play for him.'”
Samarrippas, a 5-foot-10 guard who would have been a junior next season, averaged 6.9 points and 4.2 assists a game last season. He started all 31 games last season, and was a starter most of his freshman season.
The Dallas Morning News, citing a source, reported that three non-starting forwards were also being removed from the team. Leslee Smith, Ricmonds Vilde and Eric Norman all would have been sophomores next season.
Meantime, Xaverian shooting guard Brian Bernardi told the New York Post he had spoken with Brown and remains committed to the school.
“All the things he’s done, winning an NBA championship and NCAA championship, I’ll be able to learn a lot from him,” Bernardi told the Post. “I’m definitely excited to meet him and learn all the new things I know I can learn from him. He’s going to help me in my overall game.”
(The AP contributed)
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.