Monday, February 16, 2015

Fight the Future or A Brief Soliloquy on the Search for a Coach

 "In this bright future you can't forget your past." - Bob Marley

I don't want to bog the blog down with massive amounts of coaching carousel discussions, at least not until a coaching change is actually made. However, things look dire at this moment in time. Most basketball fans, and even non-basketball fans who just don't like that Bammer is losing at something, have already written the season and Anthony Grant off. The popular opinion right now, said or unsaid, is that Grant is facing his final weeks as the head coach of the basketball program.

Maybe that's true. Call me nuts (no doubt many of you already have), but I still believe this team can salvage something from this season. Will it be an NCAA berth? Likely not. But I'm not yet sold that this team is ready to pack it in and let the wheels fall off completely. Tuesday night will be a strong indicator if this team has any guts left. Bama and Auburn fans are already expecting a beatdown in front of a raucous Auburn crowd hoping to beat Alabama at something in the course of  the past 12 months, which they've yet to do. In the meantime, for the sake of discussion, in the event that things go from bad to worse and a coaching change is made, who are five realistic options (please note: i wrote "realistic options") that the university can pursue?

The consensus opinion, based on what I've read here and elsewhere, is that if Alabama makes a coaching change they must pursue a proven head coach as a way of maintaining some semblance of stability for the immediate future, excite the fanbase, subsequently tempering some of the palpable nervousness that has been present amongst the fanbase since Auburn hired Bruce Pearl. While up-and-coming head coaches such as Michael White (Louisiana Tech) and Steve Prohm (Murray State) have been discussed, hiring either of those guys would have to considered a gamble, right? I'm not sure the program can handle another gamble at this point. There is no guarantee that coaches like White and Prohm are ready to step up a weight class, particularly at a place where basketball will likely always be fighting an uphill battle for attention and respect from a football-crazed fanbase.

Grant has lost a ton of support, there's no argument there. But who do you replace him with, under the parameters laid out above? It is my opinion, assuming a Ben Howland or a Gregg Marshall has no legitimate interest in the job, there are really no guys out there right now with the pop and sizzle necessary to win a press conference. I hear people toss out names like Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens with a straight face. If Shaka Smart didn't leave VCU for UCLA, he's not coming to Alabama. Brad Stevens will eventually return to the college game (my money is on him replacing Coach K, should he consider retiring now that he has the all-time wins record, plus 1,000 wins), but when he does, he will have his pick of the absolute best job available. I hate to break it to some of you, but Alabama won't be that job. Yeah, sure, Alabama can back up a truck full of money to any coaches house, but so can a lot of other schools with better basketball pedigrees.

Something else to keep in mind: some really good jobs could be opening this offseason. Texas, Memphis, Cincinnati (depending on Mick Cronin's health) are just a few that come to mind. If they do, those are much more enticing to the best available candidates than what Alabama can offer from a basketball perspective. The flip side of that is a recurring nightmare I've had, that Alabama would actually reach out to someone like Rick Stansbury, whose time as an assistant on the Texas A&M bench seems short-lived. I don't know all the details, but Bobby and DJC could tell enough tales regarding Stansbury to curl all of our toes. And let's not overlook the poor shape he left the Mississippi State program in, which it has yet to recover from. I can say with not a shred of hyperbole that it would be very difficult for me to continue to love and support Alabama basketball if someone like a Stansbury (or Bruce Pearl) was hired.

Which leads to me this thought, which some of you will find really unsettling. With a 4 million dollar payout left on his contract, and a potential lack of proven coaches available should the job come open, if Coach Grant can lead this bunch into the NIT, do not be surprised if you are confronted with the reality of a seventh season under Coach Grant.

23 comments:

Drifter said...

Some quick thoughts -


I scouted White in person against UAB. He lost me when he stopped coaching with 3 minutes to play (The cardinal coaching sin in my book, one which Grant has committed several times and the one which turned me against him) so he's out in my book.


I would love Hoiberg, but I believe it would take more money than we'd be willing to pay because he's waiting for an NBA gig.


A candidate that has personality, enthusiasm, recruiting ability, a clean image etc, but doesn't have the signature season yet is Josh Pastner. My source says he is overwhelmed by the basketball freaks in Memphis who expected another Calipari. My personal opinion is that a change of scenery to a football school would provide Pastner the perfect setting to work some magic. And someone who knows Josh said he would be interested in us. But, he's a dark horse candidate because of his lackluster, although winning, record at Memphis.


Which brings me to Marshall.
Someone who knows Marshall's dad said he's ready to listen.
So, let's do some talking.

bobbyjack said...

If Grant is brought back next year... and I think that's a 50/50 thing, you and DJC can handle this board next year because I'm going to take the year off. I'm dead serious. If UA doesn't want to take hoops seriously I will find other ways to entertain myself between November and March (re-devote myself to the NHL maybe).


Also, if Grant comes back we should consider moving games to Fosters as that will showcase the attendance more. I've heard the number of season ticket renewals will go down even more than it did last year... and UA had been begging those that didn't renew all year to renew.


It is my belief that instead of hiring another mid-major coach we go the top assistant route. We can pay them less (as we'll be on the hook for $4 million) and probably get the same ROI in the first 2 years as we'll probably be mediocre the next 2 years. And while we ponder that, ponder that once those 2 years are up we will have 1 NCAAT appearance in 10 years. Sickening.


I'll wait til after the SECT to throw up a list of coaches... although I suspect that exercise will be futile.

CTider said...

We just have start over at this point. Last year was the time to make a change with guys like Bruce Pearl and Buzz Williams available and this year has been a disaster, even more frustrating than last year IMO, because of the talent level and the potential they have shown at time. Last season was hopeless from the start, at least this year's team showed some flashes to get your hopes up. Next year looks even worse with Levi, Coop, and likely Retin all leaving and a recruiting class that looks very underwhelming on paper, so keeping Grant for a 7th year would basically be a self-induced death penalty. This program will never recover if Grant comes back next year, may as well shut it down if that's the course of action.


The next seven games should not mean anything one way or another for Grant's future. We have 6 years of data, the decision should already be already made. To put any stock in the final few games of a lost season, or an NIT bid is a joke. There are pick up basketball games that would be played with more intensity than a Not Invited Tournament game in Coleman this year (and even if we manage to sneak into that meaningless consolation tournament, we probably won't get a home game and will get blown out on the road in the first round). The NIT Is absolutely meaningless to a program with a coach in his sixth year that hasn't been to the real tournament in three years. Nothing can be salvaged from this season, because the only acceptable result from this season was an NCAAT berth. This season is over. Time to get the wheels in motion on the coaching search.


We need to go after someone with a personality that will sell the program to a fan base that has been beaten down by Grant's pathetic brand of basketball for the past six years. Someone energetic. He needs to be a recruiter. He needs to be an offensive minded coach and he needs to know how to draw up an out of bounds play (something that hasn't been seen in Tuscaloosa for over 20 years). Look for those traits, find someone who has them and get your guy.

CTider said...

"IF Grant is back next year, you and DJC can handle this board next year because I'm going to take the year off."
Count me out as well if that happens. As much as I love Alabama basketball and would be sad to not get to watch it any more, it's simply not a healthy exercise to get emotionally invested in a program whose leaders are so determined that it be a perennial second rate program. I'm just gonna have to find something else to do if a change isn't made.

CTider said...

A Big NO to Josh Pastner.

Drifter said...

Anthony Grant redux? :)

CTider said...

Pastner does seem a lot like Grant. Doubt his great would recruiting would be able to carry over from talent-rich Memphis to what we have on the Alabama and Tuscaloosa area.

disqus_lLg81JC3CF said...

Just heard on PF show in reference to CAG: "losing to AU is untenable"...what a word for today!

Msmilie said...

You need to get caught up, goofball. I ate my crow after the Florida game. As usual, your inability to recognize objectivity is amazing.

Msmilie said...

Something you need to keep in mind, you trolling freak. I'm not going to fuck around with you as I've done in the past. You're going to have to find someone else to help you get your rocks off. And if the power is vested in me (pretty please, Bobby), I'll wipe away your existence from this corner of the internet.

Msmilie said...

Okay, I was asking who the program should go after. You mention the type of guy they should go after. But who is that?

Msmilie said...

If - IF - Gregg Marshall is willing to listen, UA has to contact him. Ben Howland too. I have my doubts those guys have any real interest though. Marshall has his pick of jobs when they come open. And the worst case scenario he faces right now is sticking with a program with a rabid fanbase, and his two best players (Van Vleet and Baker) only juniors.

citadeltidefan said...

His record against top teams is abysmal per wikipedia "After starting his career 0-13 against ranked teams, Pastner coached the Tigers to a 73-68 victory over #5 Oklahoma State on December 1, 2013". We don't want any part of that...again

CTider said...

That's a good question. To be completely honest, i'm not sure which realistic candidate all of those criteria fit. I haven't studied up on enough of them yet, but plan to do so in order to give my opinion on the best candidate. Prohm and White both seem like energetic guys with decent accomplishment. Finding a guy who excells in all of that criteria may not be realistic, but our current guy excels in zero of those. Like I said I don't have a guy that I have a particularly strong feeling for right now. I was just saying that the foundation of the coaching search should start with that.

citadeltidefan said...

I don't know if Howland would turn us down he seems pretty desperate. The only job that I know of which he has been offered (and turned down) was Oregon State.


http://lat.ms/17jjwyU

CTider said...

I think Howland would accept if offered. The SI article from a few years ago will probably keep us from offering though.

finebammer said...

yeah, you're probably right. last i checked, you were giving up writing on this blog.


not much for keeping your word i see.

Msmilie said...

A writer writes, always.

Msmilie said...

Marquette showed interest, but something fell through there.

RichTide said...

1. Gregg Marshall, Wichita St - Not sure why he would leave that gig other than it's in Wichita, KS.
2. Archie Miller, Dayton
3. Chris Mack, Xavier
4. Billy Donlon, Wright St
5. Randy Bennett, St Mary's, CA

I spend a lot of time in Dayton and have seen the last 3 coach in person. Good, solid coaches. Not sure about recruiting or if they promote their programs, but saw more in-game coaching by all of them in 5 min than 6 yrs of Grant.

RichTide said...

It's not that bad. It's actually liberating. My kids actually do activities in the winter and I enjoy going to them. I have two nights a week back and don't go to bed mad anymore. I know who Bama is playing but wait until the next day to read this blog for the recap. Last year's Battle Plan was the big F U and showed me the current Admin doesn't take hoops seriously. I only went to the Xavier game because I was in town and got free tix.

Our luck we will gamble on another asst that doesn't pan out. If we can pay Grant $2M we can go after a top head coach.

RichTide said...

No way Hoiberg leaves under any scenario (except NBA). Not sold on Pastner. A buddy that lives in Memphis (USCe grad) says Pastner another Grant. Clean, likeable guy, suspect coaching fundamentals. Don't tease with Marshall. That would be a home run.

citadeltidefan said...

I've heard some people throw around Eric Musselman's name around if we go the assistant coach route and I know hes been mentioned for other openings in the past. He's currently an assistant at LSU and a former NBA coach known for developing players. He also seems he would be media savvy and a program promoter considering the fact that he was a color analyst for Fox Sports plus his wife is a reporter for the NFL network. I haven't been too impressed with LSU's coaching this year though that may fall squarely on Johnnie Jones.

http://bit.ly/1AzXDsK