"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

Friday, March 21, 2014

The candidates - the far fetched, the possible and the absurd...one man's opinion

In 2008, coach Tom Crean left for a blue blood program at Indiana.  It sucked, but if you leave for UCLA, KU, UK, Indiana, Duke, North Carolina I get it.  Leaving for Tennessee?  Uhm, no.  Leaving for Virginia Tech?  Character revealed.

When Crean left, MU went after Tony Bennett and Sean Miller who both said no thanks.  Potentially a few other tires were kicked, but MU soon settled on a guy named Brent "Buzz" Williams, an assistant coach only at MU for 9 months on Crean's staff.  He was excited to be the new MU coach.  Overwhelmed.  Humbled.  Six years can change folks.

Here we are, selecting another coach for MU basketball without a permanent AD or university President to boot.  Interesting times indeed.  Who are the candidates?  Depends who you ask.  There are the pipe dreamers out there that mention the insane like Brad Stevens.  There are those that want to play the state of Wisconsin angle and go with VCU's Shaka Smart, Brian Wardle or take another shot at Tony Bennett.  If Bennett's team continues to lay an egg tonight against 16 seed Coastal Carolina, maybe he'll come on the next train.  Then you have the old guy group of former coaches like Ben Howland or the "name" coaches who are looking to take the next step...a Danny Manning would fit that bill.

In 2008 I opined for a few guys, some turned out to be pretty good and some were dreadful.  John Groce was an assisant at Ohio State back then, he was one of my guys to take a look at.  Greg Marshall and Kevin Stallings were a few others.  On the other hand, I came up with a few clunkers that shall remain nameless.

So let's go through some of the names.

The insane...not going to happen.  Just stop.  Cut back on the mushrooms.

Brad Stevens - first year with the Celtics, dream on
Doc Rivers - Marquette alum, not happening

The Absurd

Tom Crean - under pressure at IU, he's not coming back nor would half the fans want him back

The Wisconsin Connection

Brian Wardle - MU alum, would take the job in a heartbeat.  Would stay at MU for a long long time.  Is he ready?  I don't think so.  Needs to prove it longer.

Shaka Smart - Grew up in Wisconsin, head coach at VCU.  Makes a good salary, low pressure.  Up for some big jobs each year.

Greg Gard - Wisconsin assistant coach.  Hate on the Vadgers all we want, they go to the NCAA tournament every year. 

Saul Phillips - North Dakota State coach, went to UW-Platteville.   No thanks.

The Intriguing

Tim Miles - Nebraska head coach.  Big Ten coach of the year.  Basketball coach at a football school in a conference that will eat you alive. 

Chris Collins - Decent job at Northwestern in first year, but its Northwestern and that means an uphill battle each year.  Would MU even look at him?

Steve Masiello - Manhattan head coach that comes from the Rick Pitino coaching tree.  Has big plans, unlikely to be at MU forever. 

Tommy Amaker - Has he matured enough after difficult seasons with Seton Hall and Michigan to jump back to high level hoops?  Boston College may be his next stop.

The Older Dudes

Ben Howland - Former UCLA and Pitt coach.  Fired by UCLA last year after winning the Pac 12 title.  Took UCLA to three Final Fours.  Reputation as a defensive coach.  Labeled as boring offensive system even though some of his teams have been at the top of scoring in the conference.  At age 57, would he be playing out the string?

Kevin Stallings - Age 53, head coach at Vanderbilt.  Has to recruit academic successful kids and compete in a conference where academics is not at the top of the list.  From Illinois, but hard to see him coming back to the midwest.

Gregg Marshall - Age 51, not an older dude but older than me so that's what counts.  Has been a winner everywhere he has been.  Makes about $1.8M per year by some reports.  Word on the street has been no desire to coach at a high stress job with media scrutiny.  If true, not a MU candidate but take a run at him anyway. 

In House

Isaac Chew - Currently an assistant coach with Marquette and top recruiter.  Does MU do a Buzz and give Chew a shot to keep continuity?  

The Assistants

Mike Hopkins - Syracuse assistant.  Has been mentioned as coach in waiting when Jim Boeheim retires, but how quickly is that?

Martin Inglesbury - Notre Dame assistant.....oh wait, Notre Dame....won't happen

LaVall Jordan - Michigan assistant and finalist for Butler job. 

Jeff Boals - Ohio State assistant

Dwyane Stephens - Michigan State assistant and former Marquette assistant coach.  Classy dude, enjoyed working with him.  

Many other names will be thrown around.  Likely the actual choice isn't on this list.  A critical hire for MU.  Do you go after another assistant coach that is hungry to prove they can do it, but knowing they aren't here for the long run?  Do you go for a more mature coach, who may not do the heavy lifting that needs to be done and is cashing in a check but will be here until the end?  Tough decisions ahead. 


Bryan Hannley PT ATP said...

What no mention of Archie Miller?

Bryan Hannley PT ATP said...

What no mention of Archie Miller?

JesuitWarrior said...

You nailed it on the last name. Dwayne Stephens. Not just Mich St Assitant, but associate head. Former MU assitant with 2003 Crean Final Four.