College sports notebook
Long Beach State
LONG BEACH, Calif. — Dan Monson was hired as Long Beach State’s basketball coach Saturday after quitting as Minnesota’s coach in November following a 2-5 start.
Monson replaces Larry Reynolds, whose contract was not renewed despite a 24-8 record, a Big West Conference championship and a spot in the NCAA tournament. The 49ers lost to Tennessee 121-86 in the first round of the tournament.
“We’ve hired a good coach and a good guy,” Long Beach State athletic director Vic Cegles said.
The 45-year-old Monson was 118-106 overall and 44-68 in the Big Ten since the 1999-00 season. He joined the Gophers after leading Gonzaga to the Elite Eight. At Gonzaga, he was 52-17 in two seasons.
Minnesota opened the regular season with two wins, then lost five in a row, including ugly games against Marist and Montana. Clemson capped the five-game skid, Minnesota’s longest losing streak in nonconference play in more than 40 years.
Assistant coach Jim Molinari filled in as interim coach for the Gophers before Tubby Smith was hired last month.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — With two national championships on his resume, Donnie Jones returned to his home state with big hopes for Marshall basketball.
“We’ve got to get behind the team we have right now,” he said Saturday during his introduction as coach of the Thundering Herd. “We’ve got to make them dream again. We’ve got to start setting our goals high.”
Jones was an assistant at Florida, helping the Gators win two straight NCAA titles. His hiring at Marshall was announced by Florida coach Billy Donovan a day earlier during a championship celebration.
Jones replaces Ron Jirsa, who was fired after a 43-74 record in four seasons. Jones now wants to change the mind-set at Marshall, bringing a bit of Florida with him.
“Our team went to a national championship last year, and it wasn’t only because of talent,” he said.
LOS ANGELES — Kevin Durant completed a sweep of the top six national player of the year honors. It was a humbling experience in more ways than one.
The Texas star won the John R. Wooden Award in a runaway Saturday to become the first freshman to receive the trophy, but friend and rival Acie Law of Texas A&M taught him a lesson on the Los Angeles Athletic Club basketball court a day earlier.
“Me and Acie were in here playing 1-on-1 last night. He beat me three times,” Durant said. “He’s a great guy — he’s going to have a great career.”
Candace Parker, the 6-foot-4 sophomore who led Tennessee to its seventh NCAA championship, won the women’s Wooden Award.
Law, a senior who finished fourth in the male voting, figures to be playing in the NBA next season. Durant hasn’t announced a decision regarding his future.
ATHENS, Ga. — If Saturday’s G-Day is any indication, Georgia may have an offense its defense can be proud of in 2007.
Led by the passing of Matthew Stafford and the running duo of Knowshown Moreno and Kregg Lumpkin, the Red squad outscored the Blacks 33-21 in the climatic practice of the spring.
Sophomore split end Kris Durham led the Black squad, catching six passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought our offense had a really good day,” said tight end Tripp Chandler, who himself caught three passes for 74 yards, including a touchdown with less than 30 seconds to play. “With Durham catching the way he did, and Matt throwing and Knowshown and Lump running and our offensive line looking real good too, I just hope that carries over. Our defense has been known as a real powerhouse. Now the offense is catching up and pulling its weight. That is something Georgia fans have to look forward to.”
Head coach Mark Richt was not too concerned about the defense that surrendered 55 points. Georgia played four 10-minute quarters Saturday, compared with eight-minute quarters in previous years.
NEW ORLEANS — Soon there will be an Eddie G. Robinson museum at Grambling, coach Wilbert Ellis knows. Just not soon enough.
“I wanted so much to get it done before he died,” said Ellis, who coached baseball at Grambling State University and was close friend of Robinson. “It meant so much to him.”
A museum for Robinson, who died Tuesday at 88, has been talked about for years. Ellis and others have worked for it since 1999. Now, Robinson’s death may push the project into reality.
“We feel right now, with Coach’s light shining the way it is, that people that were waiting will do something,” Ellis said. “We know there’s a lot of love out there for Coach and we think that love will bring the museum to life.”
Robinson led the football program at Grambling for 57 years, retiring in 1997 as the winningest coach in college history with 408 wins. He also coached four future Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees and won 17 conference titles along the way.
The Associated Press
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