Virginia hires Washington State’s Bennett

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) âÄî Washington State coach Tony Bennett has been hired as Virginia’s men’s basketball coach. Washington State athletic director Jim Sterk announced the move Monday evening. He said Virginia asked for permission to speak with Bennett on Friday. Bennett replaces Dave Leitao, who resigned after four seasons. The 39-year-old Bennett posted a 68-30 record in three seasons with the Cougars. His first two teams made the NCAA tournament. This year’s squad was eliminated in the first round of the NIT. Bennett was the AP college basketball coach of the year in 2007. Sterk said Washington State will begin a national search for Bennett’s successor immediately. Kentucky Job LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) âÄî The University of Memphis has given Kentucky permission to speak to coach John Calipari about the Wildcats’ head coaching position. Athletic director R.C. Johnson said in a statement Monday that Calipari could meet with Kentucky representatives, but stressed Memphis will do whatever it can to retain the coach. Calipari did not immediately return a text message from The Associated Press, and several Memphis players did not respond to e-mail messages left by the AP. Kentucky spokesman DeWayne Peevy would not confirm or deny an ESPN report that Wildcats officials had already met with Calipari and were prepared to offer him the job. The school fired Billy Gillispie after two seasons on Friday. All-America team Blake Griffin and Tyler Hansbrough spent a lot of time together on the court last weekend and were back together Monday as the top vote-getters on The Associated Press’ All-America team. Griffin, the sophomore forward from Oklahoma who led the nation in rebounding, was the only unanimous selection for the team. Hansbrough, the consensus player of the year last season as a junior, repeated as a first-teamer the day after his Tar Heels beat the Sooners 72-60 to advance to the Final Four. Joining them on the team were players from schools with little All-America history, sophomores DeJuan Blair of Pittsburgh, James Harden of Arizona State and junior Stephen Curry of Davidson. Griffin, who averaged 21 points and 14.3 rebounds while shooting 63.5 percent from the field, became college basketball’s image for toughness when he returned from a concussion only to drive headlong onto the scorer’s table. He received 71 first-team votes and 335 points from the same national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25. Balloting was done before the NCAA tournament. Hansbrough, a unanimous pick last season along with Kansas State’s Michael Beasley, got 50 first-team votes and 304 points. This is the fourth straight season the 6-foot-9 forward received All-America recognition. He was a third-team pick as a freshman and was on the second team after his sophomore season. Blair is Pittsburgh’s second first-teamer, joining Don Hennon in 1958. Curry, who led the nation in scoring, is Davidson’s second as well. Fred Hetzel was Davidson’s first first-teamer in 1965. Harden is Arizona State’s first AP All-America. Griffin, the Big 12 player of the year, is the third Oklahoma player to be selected and the first since Stacey King in 1989. Wayman Tisdale of the Sooners was a three-time All-America from 1983-85. “When Coach (Jeff) Capel started recruiting me, he talked to me a lot about changing the culture of this program and getting it back to a place where guys like Wayman Tisdale and Stacey King and those guys came to play,” said Griffin, a native of Oklahoma City. “It’s definitely an honor.”