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Andersen changes directions, heads to Wisconsin

Andersen changes directions, heads to Wisconsin

Gary Andersen publicly pledged his allegiance to Utah State not long ago. Now he's on the verge of becoming Wisconsin's coach.

Wisconsin reportedly will hire Andersen to replace Bret Bielema, who left the Badgers earlier this month to take the Arkansas job.

The news about Andersen broke Tuesday night and neither Utah State nor Wisconsin had anything official to announce about Andersen on Wednesday. The delay is at least in part tied to laws in Wisconsin that require a state job to be posted for at least two weeks before it can be filled. The two-week posting was up at the end of business on Wednesday.

The school was expected to introduce Andersen at a news conference Thursday, but a snowstorm might change those plans.

The 48-year-old Andersen just completed his fourth and best season at Utah State. The 18th-ranked Aggies finished 11-2 with a bowl victory against Toledo and won the Western Athletic Conference.

It's been a remarkable rise for a program that had been near the bottom of major college football for years, and stuck in distant third in its own state behind BYU and Utah. The Aggies won nine games in the previous four seasons before Andersen took over. The last football coach to finish his tenure in Logan, Utah, with a winning record was Phil Krueger who went 21-12 from 1973-75.

Andersen drew interest from California, Colorado and Kentucky last month, but decided to pass on those opportunities and received a contract extension from Utah State.

``The interest I have received is a compliment to the quality young men in this program,'' Andersen said in the statement released Nov. 30. ``I love Cache Valley, this university and these young men, and I am humbled and excited to continue to be the coach here. The leadership of President (Stan) Albrecht and Mr. Barnes, as well as the support from the fans and community, are big reasons why this is the right place for myself and my family at this time.''

That was before Wisconsin had an opening. Bielema announced he was leaving on Dec. 4, three days after the Badgers won their third straight Big Ten title and trip to the Rose Bowl.

As late as last week, before Utah State played in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Andersen was saying he was committed to the Aggies.

``I love the kids I get to coach here. ... The kids I have in the program, it just was not time. I look them in the eye and I need to be where I'm at,'' he told the Idaho Statesman newspaper.

When Wisconsin called, Andersen changed his mind.

It's a tough spot in which many coaches find themselves. It's imperative for recruiting purposes to show unwavering commitment to your current school. But when a coach does jump to another job, he looks like a liar.

``If you can, it's good to not say anything,'' former Arkansas and Mississippi coach Houston Nutt said. ``It's almost now impossible because there's so much information out there.''

Washington State coach Mike Leach said he felt his only obligation was to his employer and his team.

``I think you handle it honestly with the people you work for, but by the same token you don't let the media or public into your personal business,'' he said.

Apparently, many in Utah were caught off guard by the Andersen-to-Wisconsin news.

``I can't believe this...'' Utah State receiver Alex Wheat posted on his Twitter account when word started to spread.

``I hate rumors..'' tight end DJ Tialavea tweeted.

A few hours later, that changed.

``Coach A just called me. Explained the situation. No hard feelings. I have nothing but respect for the man. We must fight on. (hash)AggieNation,'' Wheat posted.

``Just got that phone call always have and always will love ya coach!'' Tialavea tweeted.

The Wisconsin State Journal, which first reported that the Andersen would be the next Badgers' coach, reported Wednesday that Andersen spent Tuesday night calling his Utah State players.

The should buy plenty of good will for Andersen as he heads from his old job to his new one.

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WATCH: Rui Hachimura punishing Spurs interior defense with dunk and two layups

WATCH: Rui Hachimura punishing Spurs interior defense with dunk and two layups

As Rui Hachimura continues to grow and take his lumps at the NBA level, one important point of development for the Wizards' rookie will be finishing through contact at the rim. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

On Wednesday night against the Spurs, Hachimura hit a nice hook shot over LaMarcus Aldridge and then finished through traffic after attacking a closeout a few plays later. He entered the game shooting nearly 70 percent at the rim, a major reason why he's one of the top-scoring rookies this season. 

Then at the end of the first half, Isaiah Thomas found Hachimura on a back-door cut for the easy slam. Well-timed cuts are a great source of points for young players. 

After the break, the ninth-overall pick flashed a little finesse at the rim for another pretty finish. 

His three-point shooting will have to improve at some point down the line and learning better positioning as a defender is something every rookie has to go through. 

Both of those skills can be improved in the practice gym or in the film room. Finishing at the basket through contact is learned by repetition in-game, so it's a promising sign to see Hachimura take the ball to the rim. 

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When Gregg Popovich thinks the NBA will be ready for a female head coach

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When Gregg Popovich thinks the NBA will be ready for a female head coach

WASHINGTON -- The Wizards hosting the Spurs on Wednesday night brought together two of the 11 NBA teams that currently employ a female assistant coach. The Wizards have Kristi Toliver on their bench and the Spurs have Becky Hammon.

That confluence prompted a question to San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich on the future of women in the NBA coaching ranks and whether a head coaching hire could happen sometime soon. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

Though it has been five years since he hired Hammon as the first full-time female assistant coach in league history, Popovich is uncertain on exactly when a team will make the leap to hiring a woman to run their operation.

"That depends on people and organizations," he said. 

"It's a process and it doesn't happen quickly. But I think the more women there are [in the game] and as it becomes more commonplace and more the rule, it will then depend on an organization realizing there are women that can do this. Every woman can't, every man can't. But the point is there gotta be enough to choose from and it's gotta be pretty commonplace before I think somebody's gonna pull the trigger."

Popovich believes it will happen, he's just not sure when. The Wizards hiring Toliver last summer was another step in that direction and he believes she and others are showing the basketball world what they are capable of.

"There's no difference between a woman who knows the game and a man who knows the game. It's just another prejudice that probably has to be overcome just like a lot of other prejudices in the world have become less and less as people paid attention to them," Popovich said.

Hammon made the news over the weekend when Popovich was ejected from the Spurs' loss to the Kings and a committee of assistants coached the rest of the game. Popovich was asked why he didn't appoint Hammon to serve in the role for the rest of the game and he told reporters he was "not here to make history." 

Still, though there has never been a female head coach in any of the four major U.S. sports, it seems like the NBA is by far the closest with people like Hammon and Tolliver already knocking on the door.

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