LSU fired coach John Brady on Friday, leaving assistant Butch Pierre to coach for the remainder of the year. Brady will coach today's game against Tennessee and then leave the program.
Just two years after a run to the Final Four, Brady fell into disfavor with the Tigers' brass. A 27-9 season dissolved into 17-15 last year (5-11 SEC) and the Tigers are 8-13 (1-6) thus far this year.
Brady enters today's game with a 192-139 record at LSU and will leave with two SEC regular-season championships and the Final Four appearance to his credit. He is the Tigers' third-winningest coach.
Southern Cal coach Tim Floyd was already being mentioned as a potential successor, as well as Virginia Commonwealth coach Anthony Grant. Grant has also been mentioned as a possible successor to Dave Odom at South Carolina.
• RED, BLACK AND BLUE: Georgia's rollercoaster season just took another dip.
Guard Billy Humphrey, the Bulldogs' second-leading scorer, was arrested two days ago for underage possession of alcohol and failure to obey a traffic control device. It was the second arrest in four months for the 20-year-old, which caused coach Dennis Felton to suspend Humphrey for the next three games.
"I'm extremely disappointed whenever one of our players fails to kind of live up to be a reliable part of our team and our family," Felton said.
Thought to be a promising season for the Bulldogs, after Felton arrived five years ago and began cleaning up the mess of the Jim Harrick era, it's been disastrous. Felton began the season by suspending the team's two leading scorers, Takais Brown and Mike Mercer, plus substitute Albert Jackson, for a total of 30 games. That was for not complying with the university's academic policy.
Brown and Mercer were later booted from the team for unspecified team violations, although Felton said Mercer was "being a disruption." Mercer shared a room with Humphrey, which led to Humphrey's first brush with the law.
According to The (Atlanta) Journal-Constitution, police searched the room for marijuana and found a knife belonging to Humphrey. Because the blade was longer than 2 1/2 inches, it was considered a weapon, and Humphrey was arrested for having a weapon on school grounds, a felony in Georgia.
Humphrey was suspended from the team for a week but was reinstated after being accepted in a pretrial diversion program. He was given 18 months of probation from the state and a year of probation by the UGa Student Judiciary, part of the criteria for staying on probation being Humphrey must avoid future trouble with the law.
Georgia also lost junior center Rashaad Singleton on Jan. 3, when Singleton quit after he was upset with playing time.
"I know that this season has been terribly difficult for us, starting with the two leading scorers and two most talented players couldn't do what they needed to do to be part of the program," Felton said. "We got a whole lot younger in a hurry."
• INTERNATIONAL ORANGE: Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl was named coach for the United States' entry in the World Maccabiah Games. An international Jewish athletic event, the games are scheduled for July 12-23, 2009.
"It's something I've wanted to do ever since I got into coaching," Pearl said. "I wasn't good enough to make the Maccabi team in college. Wearing the red, white and blue in international competition is awesome, and to be able to coach in Israel, the Jewish homeland, to combine those two things is just an amazing opportunity."
Pearl, chosen as someone "who wears his Judaism on his sleeve," according to organizing committee chair Ron Carner, will start putting his team together this summer at UT. He'll take some time off from his summer camps in 2009 to compete in Israel.
• ABOUT TIME: Tennessee will honor former All-American Ernie Grunfeld on March 2 by retiring the No. 22 he wore from 1975-77.
Grunfeld teamed with fellow All-American Bernard King as the SEC's top two scorers from 1975-77, labeled "The Ernie and Bernie Show." King's No. 53 was the only retired jersey in UT history, honored last year when the Volunteers played Kentucky.
UT again hosts Kentucky the night Grunfeld will be honored.
n A MESSAGE: For all of those who said the SEC isn't as strong as it used to be, from Odom:
"The SEC has had the last two men's basketball champions, Florida and Florida, the last two football champions, LSU and Florida, and the last women's basketball champion (Tennessee). That's five in a row."
• HE SAID IT: "I got a magic wand in my back pocket. I'm going to spray some dust on them at practice today."
-- Alabama coach Mark Gottfried on curing the Crimson Tide's free throw shooting, last in the SEC at 59.4 percent.
SOUTH CAROLINA GAMEDAY
NO. 23 VANDERBILT (19-4, 4-4 SEC) AT SOUTH CAROLINA (11-10, 3-4)
• When: 5 p.m.
• Where: Colonial Center, Columbia
• TV: FSN (cable channel 29 in Rock Hill)
• On the Web: Live Gametracker stats at uscsports.com
• Tickets: Available at the box office
• Vanderbilt's probable starters: G Jermaine Beal 6-3 So. (8.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg); G Alex Gordon 6-0 Sr. (10.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg); C A.J. Ogilvy 6-11 Fr. (17.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg); F Darshawn McClellan 6-7 Fr. (3.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg); F Shan Foster 6-6 Sr. (19.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
• South Carolina's probable starters: G Devan Downey 5-9 So. (19.8 ppg, 5.1 apg); G Zam Fredrick 6-0 Jr. (16.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg); G Dwayne Day 6-6 Sr. (5.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg); F Dominique Archie 6-7 So. (10.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg); F Evka Baniulis 6-7 So. (3.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
• Notes: The game features a matchup of two of the top four scorers in the conference, Downey and Foster. ... Vanderbilt won the previous matchup 80-73 on Jan. 9. ... USC has won two straight, the last a win at Ole Miss that gave the Rebels just their second home loss under coach Andy Kennedy. ... The Gamecocks have a chance to put together a lengthy winning streak, with SEC East cellar-dweller Georgia next on the slate and Alabama after that. ... Vandy is finishing up a stretch of six of eight road games. ... USC seems to be set on a starting lineup, running the same five out for the past five games.
• Up next: The Gamecocks play at Georgia at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.