Ben Johnson, who played high school basketball at DeLaSalle and college basketball at Northwestern and Minnesota, has been named to Richard Pitino’s Gophers basketball staff as an assistant coach.
Johnson was an assistant for Tim Miles at Nebraska last year after coaching at Texas-Pan American for two seasons and at Northern Iowa for four seasons. Reached at the Gophers football scrimmage on Friday night, Johnson said that it was very difficult to leave Miles but that the chance to come back to his hometown and coach was important to him.
Also, Mike Balado, who was on Pitino’s staff at Florida International and already announced as a member of his staff at Minnesota, will be the director of basketball operations.
St. Louis keeps Crews
Jim Crews replaced a legend so well that he landed the legend’s job.
St. Louis removed the interim tag from Crews’ job description after a record-setting season, naming him head men’s basketball coach.
Crews led the Billikens to a 28-7 record, the most victories in school history, as interim coach in place of Rick Majerus, who died in December. St. Louis was the Atlantic 10 regular season and conference tournament champion and was a No. 4 seed in the Midwest Regional before to Oregon in the third round.
Crews was runner-up for AP’s Coach of the Year and was named national coach of the year by The Sporting News and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. He joined Majerus’ staff as an assistant in 2011-12, helping the school end a 12-year NCAA tournament drought.
• G.G. Smith was promoted to head coach at Loyola (Md.) following a six-year run as an assistant under Jimmy Patsos, who left earlier this month to take the top job at Siena. Smith, 36, is the son of former Gophers coach Tubby Smith.
• Marv Harshman, who spent 40 years coaching college basketball in the state of Washington and was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985, died Friday at 95.
• Pittsburgh hired former Lynx coach Suzie McConnell-Serio to be its head women’s coach. McConnell-Serio starred at Penn State in the 1980s and is a two-time Olympian. She was WNBA Coach of the Year in 2004 while leading the Lynx.
• Brittney Griner of Baylor has won the women’s John R. Wooden Award as the national player of the year for the second consecutive year. She averaged 23.8 points — third-best in the country — and 4.14 blocked shots as a senior and finished her career as the No. 2 scorer in NCAA history.
• Sheryl Swoopes, one of the top players in women’s basketball history, was made the new women’s coach at Loyola of Chicago.