HOLMES BACK TO THE HILL
* Former Tar Heel Jonathan Holmes, now an assistant coach and JV coach at Montreat College, will be back on the North Carolina campus on Wednesday (December 7) when his JV squad takes on the North Carolina JV at 4 p.m.
"Coaching is a whole new ball game, but I am enjoying it," Holmes told Inside Carolina last week. "There are obviously those days when I miss playing, but it has been a pretty smooth transition. Montreat has been the perfect place for me to start because I have been able to get experience with so many things -- recruiting, head coaching experience with the JV program and film exchange."
Montreat College, an NAIA - Div. II school located in Montreat, N.C., near Asheville, is off to an excellent start at 6-2 overall, that includes a win over UNC Asheville and a close loss to Western Carolina, and a mark of 4-1 in the Appalachian Athletic Conference.
Holmes considers his first-year JV program to be improved since September and is looking forward to the visit to Chapel Hill and the game against JV coach and varsity assistant Jerod Haase.
The Montreat varsity team is also on the trip and will practice prior to the JV game at around 1:30. Holmes and the Montreat College contingent will be on hand for North Carolina's game against Saint Louis on Wednesday night (9 p.m., ESPN2). "I have not been to a Carolina game since we lost to Georgetown in 2003, so I am really excited about seeing the Heels play, especially after how they have started off the season," Holmes informed IC.
Another exciting road trip coming up for Holmes will be a tournament in Kona, Hawaii on December 18. "I cannot wait. I am undefeated in Hawaii, so hopefully that trend will continue," Holmes added.
McCANTS STILL WAITING
* Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune had some advice last week for Minnesota coach Dwane Casey.
"Casey spent November playing carrot-and-stick with Rashad McCants, his pouty-faced, leotard-wearing rookie, and bringing [Eddie] Griffin and [Troy] Hudson off the bench. But for all of Casey's talk of defense, you've got to score in the NBA," the Star Tribune scribe noted.
Souhan suggests that Casey go with a starting lineup of Hudson (PG), Marko Jaric (SG), Wally Szczerbiak (SF), Kevin Garnett (PF) and Eddie Griffin (C) and "make McCants your sixth man, your Vinnie Johnson-style microwave. Although it's apparent Casey is waiting for McCants to establish himself in practice before rewarding him with minutes in games, McCants does seem to give an effort on defense in games."
"When you've got that group, you've got McCants, who can hit that outside shot, and at the same time he can drive to the basket," Kevin Garnett responded when asked about a recent good run by the Timberwolves. "You've also got Eddie and myself who are primary defenders, trying to clog the hole up. We're not so stagnant. For some reason, that group just works."
Souhan concluded that, "If McCants plays well with Garnett, you put him on the floor and give him every chance to succeed. Which is what I expect our patient new coach to do ... eventually."
Maybe, but not yet though. McCants was a "Did Not Play - Coach's Decision" in Minnesota's (9-6) 85-77 triumph at Sacramento last night. His first DNP of the season keeps his stat sheet at 14 games played with 14 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 27-67 from the field (.403), 2-14 from the 3-point line (.143), 11-15 (.733) on free-throws, 10 boards, seven assists, eight steals, four blocks, 12 turnovers and 21 personal fouls.
Tonight the T'wolves visit the Utah Jazz.
DAVE LEBO HONORED
* Carlisle (Pa.) High School named its basketball court "Coach Lebo Court" in a ceremony held Friday at the Carlisle Classic Tip-Off Tournament to honor Jeff Lebo's father and current Auburn assistant coach Dave Lebo.
At Carlisle High Dave Lebo compiled a remarkable record of 365-149 and is considered one of the most successful basketball coaches in the state of Pennsylvania.
"It is really special that Jeff is taking the time during his busy season to be there because he was also a big part of it. He played for me for four years in high school from his freshman to senior year," Dave Lebo said. "To have him and his family there along with our other family and friends, it will be a special event."
Dave Lebo guided Carlisle to four consecutive state championships (118-11 record), coached All-American Billy Owens, who went on to star at Syracuse and have a 10-year NBA career, and his son, Jeff, a member of the first championship team in 1985, before going on to stardom at North Carolina.
"It is a special night for my Dad," Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo said. "Being a former player there and playing for him there, it is certainly a tribute to all the time and effort and all of the good years that he put into Carlisle High School. I am awfully proud as a son right now."
Jeff and Dave Lebo and their families were present for the ceremony at Gene Evans Gymnasium, and then went to Pittsburgh where the Auburn Tigers (3-2) were blasted, 78-41, by the Pittsburgh Panthers (5-0) Sunday.
SMITH 1, SINATRA 0
* The Charlotte Observer recently ran a review of "Runnin' Rebel: Shark Tales of 'Extra Benefits,' Frank Sinatra, and Winning It All" by Jerry Tarkanian with Dan Wetzel (Sports Publishing LLC) that included an anecdote about Tark the Shark getting megastar Frank Sinatra (born in Hoboken, N.J.) to pay a home visit to fellow Jersey guy Mike O'Koren (from Jersey City) back in 1976 and recruit him for UNLV.
With O'Koren still opting to attend North Carolina even after the meeting with the man known as 'The Chairman of the Board,' Tarkanian noted, "Dean Smith might be the greatest recruiter in the history of college basketball. Forget about signing Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and the rest. Dean Smith beat Frank Sinatra on a kid from New Jersey. Impossible."
In his autobiography Tarkanian also offers, "We couldn't have cheated like UCLA even if we wanted to." That during UCLA's great run of championships it was "way over the salary cap" and "the worst program in college sports."
And ... "If [a potential recruit] is driving a Cadillac, he's going to Kentucky."