Steve Alford on Indiana talk: 'I love UCLA'

Associated Press,

UCLA coach Steve Alford says he’s focused on the NCAA Tournament, not the job opening at his alma mater Indiana.

Alford played four seasons in Bloomington and led the Hoosiers to the 1987 NCAA title under coach Bobby Knight. His name was among the first to come up when Indiana coach Tom Crean was fired on Thursday.

“That was 30 years ago,” Alford said at a news conference before his third-seeded Bruins faced No. 14 seed Kent State on Friday night. “I was part of that. I stood on stage with a great group of guys and won a national championship. It’s my home state. I played there. So obviously, all that comes up.”

He’s coached at Southwest Missouri State, Iowa and New Mexico before joining UCLA in 2013.

“I love UCLA. I love Los Angeles,” he said. “You’re talking about arguably the greatest ‘brand’ anywhere on the planet, and we got things going at a very high level now and we’re very excited about it.”

N.C. State hires coach

Kevin Keatts will be North Carolina State’s next basketball coach, the Raleigh News and Observer reported..

N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow lined up an interview with Keatts on Friday and worked out the details to replace Mark Gottfried.

Keatts, 44, led UNC-Wilmington to a 72-28 record in three seasons and the NCAA Tournament the past two years. The Seahawks had suffered through six straight losing seasons before Keatts was hired in 2014.

UNCW has won the Colonial Athletic Association title the past two years and has at least tied for the regular-season crown in each of Keatts’ three seasons.

Keatts, who is from Lynchburg, Va., was the primary recruiter for Louisville’s 2013 national championship team and worked for coach Rick Pitino for three seasons.

A former point guard for Ferrum College in the early 1990s, Keatts made his name as the head coach at Hargrave Military Academy, a prep school in Chatham, Va., where he won 263 games in 10 seasons.

UNCW lost to Virginia in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon in Orlando, Fla. Keatts made about $600,000 with UNCW this season.

Martin perseveres

Cuonzo Martin has a certain way he does things. No staying late after games to rehash film into the wee hours as is customary for so many college basketball coaches, only to return first thing in the morning to do so again. He avoids finger-pointing at one player in the heat of the moment, instead choosing to critique a specific area in which his team struggled while speaking individually with a young man when necessary.

A cancer scare for Missouri’s new coach 20 years ago largely affects how he coaches and lives today.

“It’s a fight. You learn to value what’s important. Life’s too short,” he said.

At 26 and playing professionally in Italy, Martin collapsed one day. His team immediately sent him home to the U.S. for further tests, which would reveal a baseball-sized tumor.

His eventual diagnosis: advanced Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, with an aggressive treatment regimen of chemotherapy to follow.

“The only time, if scared was the word, I had fear, it was fear that I would be gone from this world. Here I am, you have a 4-month-old son and you’ll be gone from this world completely,” Martin said in an interview with The Associated Press. “So that part was hard. The thing that was the toughest thing for me to hear in that process was when the doctors said, ‘I don’t know if you’re going to die, but this is life-threatening.’