"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Who will be the next coach: A top 10 list of potential candidates

While the MU fanbase moves from shock to despair to anger and soon to hope, let's take a look at some potential candidates for the head coaching job.

Unlike when MU hired Crean roughly a decade ago, this is no longer a mid-major program so the pool of available talent will be much more impressive. Marquette should no longer be forced to look for the next 'hot young assistant' or re-tread -- but rather, for a proven, young successful coach with a track record of recruiting and winning.

With a strong returning core of talent, a solid 2009 recruiting class, big money, fine facilities, the nation's best conference and unparalleled support from the administration -- Marquette is now in a strong position to land a terrific coach. Here are few names that might surface, in order of personal preference:

1) Sean Miller (Xavier): An ideal fit......he's a Big East guy stuck in the mediocre A-10 who has proven himself for the Jesuits at Xavier.
2) Tony Bennett (Washington State): Popular opinion would make him the logical first call for Cottingham. A Wisconsin native and part of that state's basketball royalty, he'd be an instant hit in Milwaukee. But after looking past IU, would MU have what it takes to entice him to bail on Wazzu?
3) Scott Drew (Baylor): Drew made lemonade out of lemons in Baylor of all places, somehow finding a way to rebuild a program rocked to its core just a few years ago. With a strong midwestern heritage and two different head coaching stops, Drew has the experience and is a proven winner.
4) Anthony Grant (VCU): Perhaps this rising star is the wildcard for MU. Grant, one of the top assistant coaches in the nation under Billy Donovan at Florida, has done nothing to disappoint since arriving at VCU. In two seasons there, he's won 52 games and a pair of conference titles.
5) Travis Ford (UMass): Part of the professionally promiscuous Rick Pitino coaching tree, Ford is a proven winner at each of his stops along the way. UMass is coming off of a 21 win season, and Ford might look to bail for a real league and a program that is committed to playing with the big boys.

There are several second-tier options which might surface:
5) Brad Brownell (Wright State): He's won big with two mid-major programs, UNCW and now Wright State. The Indiana native is a proven winner -- but can he recruit? We know he can coach -- he rebuilt Wright State on the fly and put together back to back 20-win seasons.
6) Chris Lowery (SIU): Until this year, his teams always exceeded expectations and won big in March.
7) Buzz Williams: Williams was good enough to be named the head coach at New Orleans, though he left that program in a lurch last year. A recruiter par excellance, Williams could give MU the best shot at retaining the present roster.
8) Phil Martelli (St. Josephs): Martelli is a proven winner at a fellow Jesuit institution, and has successfully recruited the East Coast in recent years. Moving from the A-10 to the Big East is a natural progression.
9) Lon Kruger (UNLV): The guy can flat-out coach and won in the Midwest before. It would feel like a re-tread hire, but Kruger is a proven coach and program builder.
10) Brian Gregory (Dayton): Part of the Tom Izzo coaching tree, Gregory re-established Dayton as a respectable program. Its fair to wonder though, why he can't win big in a mediocre A-10. A reach.

Thanks but no thanks: Rick Majerus, Kevin O'Neill, Tommy Amaker, Tim Buckley, Johnny Dawkins, Steve Robinson, Matt Doherty, Bruce Weber, and Dana Altman.


David Berger said...

Actually, Lon Kruger would be an inspired choice here... a terrific x's and o's coach, who has the credibility to walk into any recruit's home. The only rap is that despite his one Final Four, he hasn't exactly lit it up in the tourney.

rugbydrummer said...

you mean like someone else we knew??

Anonymous said...

I'd say put a call into Tony Bennett, but I'm 99 percent confident he's holding out for Bo Ryan to retire. Tony was Bo's recruiting coordinator (I think), he's Dick Bennett's son, and a Wisconsin native. If he comes home, I bet it's for UW not MU. And even with that scenario as a possibility, we certainly don't want him to come to MU then go to UW.

Otherwise, that's a strong list of candidates who not only are quality, but seem like they'd deem MU as the next step.

Unknown said...

Marquette will be very lucky to get someone as good as Crean again. I can't see Miller taking the job. Seems like too much of a parallel move.

Nathan said...

Bennett? really? didnt we see enough 48-43 games when Deane was here?


John Cocktoastan said...

I am not a big throwback guy, but I would love to see Majerus. I agree on all the other "thanks but no thanks" folks.

BF4ever said...

Marquette should reach out to Larry Brown and determine if his statement about wanting to return to college coaching could apply to their opening.

Larry is a world class basketball mind, who would immediatly elevate the play of our talent laiden roster.

Somehow retain Buzz Williams to stay on and handle most recruiting as the eventual heir apparent.

If Larry was up for the challenge, and wanting to work with a group of players that actually listen to his coaching, he could win a National Championship at Marquette.

But of course...it's NOT Indiana, it's NOT Indiana.