Monday, December 15, 2008

Getting a head start on the coaching search.

Let's face it, the writing is on the wall. Coach Gottfried has taken us as far as he is capable of, and we will soon be in need of a new head coach. We don't have the passionate following, tradition, or resources of the football program, so we likely won't get the "Nick Saban" of basketball. Roy Williams, Coach K, or Billy Donovan aren't going to leave their current programs to come here. We will have to gamble on an up and coming coach who will have a resume similar to Gottfried's when we hired him. At this point, it's a risk we will have to take. Here is a breakdown of who I would call to guage interest, in the order that I would do so.

1. Mark Few, Gonzaga: One of the elite coaches in the nation. Turned a tiny, unknown college into a national powerhouse. It's extremely unlikely that he will leave. If he wanted to leave Gonzaga, he's had ample opportunities to do so, and for much better positions than what we have to offer. I think you make the call anyway and hope he's wanting a new challenge.

2. Tony Bennett, Washington State. Pullman, WA is the Starkville, MS of the PAC 10. If you can recruit and win there, you can do so anywhere. He's had back to back 26 win seasons there and is the first coach in school history to take the Cougs to the NCAA tournament 2 years in a row. He has no ties to the south, as he played at Wisconsin-Green Bay, and was an assistant in Wisconsin before working as an assistant under his father at WASU. He's a good recruiter and his teams are known for good defense. The only negatives I can see is that we don't know if he could recruit the south, but like I said, if you can convince good players to come to Pullman, WA, you should be able to get them to Ttown. I would like to think we are a step up from Washington State and the PAC 10, but he may want to stay there to continue his father's legacy. Also, we may have some competition for him if there are better opennings at the end of the season.

3. Sean Miller, Xavier. He's 93-39 in 4 seasons with Xavier, and they have the 2nd best record in the nation in March since he took over. He is signed through 2018, so I imagine his buyout from Xavier could present a problem, although I don't know all the terms of his contract. Xavier has very nice, albeit smaller facilities, and they are certainly more committed to basketball there. He may not want to leave that to come to a football school. He would certainly get more exposure at an SEC school than he has from winning the Atlantic 10 two years in a row. I rated him 3rd simply because he's been in the Atlantic 10 whereas Tony Bennett has been in the slightly better PAC 10, but really I consider both of these tied as my top realistic choice.

I would hope we would do everything in our power to hire one of the above. I consider the 3 names above to be "homerun" type hires. Anyone from the list below, I consider to be a big gamble.

4. John Beilein, Michigan. He has a lot of experience as a head coach, and has been successful everywhere he has been. Taking Canisius and Richmond to the tournament, and West Virginia to a final four. His half-court motion offense is fun to watch. It's very guard oriented and his teams run a lot of back door cuts and shoot a lot of 3's. He went 10-22 in his first year at Michigan, but has them off to a very good start this year. It will be interesting to see if the new 3 point line effects them over the course of this season. This would not be a gamble as I stated above, but I don't think it is a very realistic option either. Coming from Michigan to Alabama would be a lateral move, at best. If anything, we are probably a step down.

5. Anthony Grant, VCU. He's 52-14 in 2 seasons at VCU including an upset of Duke in the NCAA tournament, he is from Florida, and was an assistant under Billy Donovan. Foley was going to hire him for the Florida job when it appeared Donovan would leave for the Orlando Magic. Hiring an African American coach would be a historic moment and create good press for the University. His familiarity with the SEC from his days as a Gator would also help in recruiting. Still, there is a big difference in coaching at VCU and coaching in the SEC.

6. Mike Anderson, Missouri. He's a Nolan Richardson prodigy, 40 minutes of hell, a lot of pressing defense and running on offense. Very entertaining basketball if not always fundamentally sound. He turned UAB around, taking them to the tournament 3 straight years, but he hasn't exactly set the world on fire at Mizzou, going 16-16 last year, and failing to take them to the tournament in his first two seasons there. Perhaps he just needs some time to get the right players for his unique system, or perhaps he isn't quite ready to compete in a big time conference. I'm not sure he would leave Mizzou to come to Alabama anyway, but if we can't land any of the names above, I would give him a shot. Even if our record doesn't improve, at least we would be entertained.

7. Mike Davis, UAB. He took over for Bobby Knight at Indiana and got a raw deal, in my opinion. It's difficult to follow a legend, and everything he did was compared to Bobby Knight. His race did not help him up there either. Indiana is the Mississippi of the midwest, and one of the most racist states in the Union. He did a decent job there despite that environment, taking the Hoosiers to the National Championship game in his second year. (Something the general had not accomplished in quite some time). He's 43-30 at UAB, and won 23 games there last year. He's an Alabama graduate, and is from Fayette. I attended his basketball camp as a kid, and I really like him as a coach and a person. He's not the charismatic salesman Gottfried is, and his brand of basketball is not particularly exciting to watch, so he wouldn't be the best choice from a marketing standpoint. He will emphasize defense and his teams will play hard every night. As much as I like him, I would rather we go outside the family and get some fresh blood in here for this hire.

8. Tubby Smith, Minnesota. Kentucky fans will say I am crazy, but he did win a National Championship his first year there. He made the NCAA tournament every year from 1993-2007 with Tulsa, Georgia, and Kentucky. He has a 416-159 career record. He isn't the up and coming coach as some of the others on the list, but more a proven veteran. Some may question if his best days are now behind him. He is familiar with the SEC, having coached at Georgia and Kentucky, but his recruiting was inexcusably bad his last few years at Kentucky. His teams play great defense and never get blown out, which would be a refreshing change, but his offense can be as painful to watch as what we are currently seeing.

9. T.R. Dunn, Houston Rockets. He's was a good defensive assistant coach here, and he's spent a lot of time in the NBA as an assistant coach. He's another former UA player, but as I mentioned regarding Mike Davis, I would rather look outside the "family." His NBA connections would likely be attractive to recruits, and you would assume we would have a great defense, but his lack of head coaching experience concerns me. Also, he's been in the NBA a long time, and the NBA game is hardly even the same sport as the college game.

10. Ricky Byrd, Belmont. If you can't beat them, join them. He runs a motion offense and shoots a lot of 3's. They beat us with a pretty good team and should have upset Duke in the NCAA tournament last year. Again, coaching at Belmont is a long way from the SEC. He may be a great coach, but I think he needs to take another step up before being considered a serious candidate for an SEC type job.

11. Bob McKillop, Davidson. Yes, he took tiny Davidson to the Elite 8, but that had as much to do with Stephen Curry as anything. He's been there since 1989 with a 340-225 record. I think he's a lifer at Davidson.

12. Gregg Marshall, Wichita State. He was somewhat of a hot commodity after having a decent run at Winthrop a few years back. His teams regularly compete for the conference championship, and could pull off a few upsets, especially when they had good shooters. He made the tournament 7 out of 9 seasons at Winthrop, but was only 11-20 last year in his first season at Wichita. In watching some of his teams play, they make some questionable decisions late in games, so I'm not sure how much of an improvement this would really be. He may have a few screws loose, he once accepted a job at College of Charleston then changed his mind and returned to Winthrop after the press conference announcing him as coach.

I'm sure as the season goes along, there will be some mid-major coaches who make a name for themselves and could be added to the list. It seems like I am forgetting about a couple of people, so feel free to throw your own ideas out there in the comments section.


Anonymous said...

McKillop is my pick out of this bunch.

Anonymous said...

Y'all have no chance at getting any of your top 10. Face it, Auburn is about to pass you by. We are going to be the number one basketball team in the state.

Anonymous said...

lebo, come end of season, u will be unemployed.

count on it.

MSmilie said...

Sean Miller would be my number one pick. Unfortunately, I think the majority of your selections are in much better positions at their current schools and attracting them to Tuscaloosa where they will perpetually play second fiddle would be a long shot.

I think these coaches are legitimate candidates when/if the university makes a move.

Scott Drew - Baylor

Anthony Grant - VCU

Tony Barbee - UTEP

Doug Wojcik - Tulsa

Mike Davis - UAB [I'm not crazy about him myself, but he'll be strongly considered for the job I bet]

Brad Stevens - Butler

Gregg Marshall - Wichita State

Steve Alford - New Mexico [Again, I'm not a big fan but I wouldn't be surprised to hear his name mentioned]

Lon Kruger - UNLV [Kruger would be another one of my top choices. He took Florida to a Final Four when Florida wasn't anything and he's really done a great job in Vegas]

Tony Bennett - Washington State [Bennett better bolt while he can]

Scott Sutton - Oral Roberts [I think Sutton would be a good fit]

Mark Fox - Nevada

My top five choices, if Sean Miller didn't want the job (and he wouldn't):

1. Lon Kruger

2. Scott Sutton

3. Tony Bennett

4. Anthony Grant

5. Scott Drew

Anonymous said...

i don't think we should be focusing on a particular name as much as we should be watching.

i thinking we need a young up-and-comer. someone who can come in and breathe some life into this program.

at the same time the athletic dept needs to make a legitimate commitment to basketball. IF WE'RE NOT GOING TO DO THIS, WE MIGHT AS WELL KEEP GOTTFRIED!

where to start? how about expectations? the new guy needs to know we EXPECT to win the sec west. we EXPECT to win the tournament. we EXPECT action in march. (final four)

we have to be ready with a plan for upgrading the program to show potential candidates.

WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF F'KING COLEMAN!!!! the blueprint is uconn. they hired calhoun. they built new facilities. they set into motion a plan for championships.

we have to get nick saban on board. this helps him too. a championship caliber basketball program helps make a more attractive scenario to recruit for football. florida has figured this out. texas has figured this out. ditto oklahoma.

in the end if we don't make the commitment, there's NO sense in firing gottfried. nothing will change.

as my high school football coach used to scream at us as we were running wind sprints in the august heat, "you gotta WANT IT!"

Alias said...

I don't really know enough to have an informed opinion but for some reason I like that guy at VCU.

On a side note, I've frequently wondered what happened to Mike Davis, Steve Alford and Mark Gottfried. Those are three young men whose college careers led me to believe they all could become great coaches one day. They still might become great coaches some day, but none of them is showing the signs at this time. Mark Gottfried has been an even more tremendous disappointment to me personally than Mike Shula was. Given my hopes for both of those young men, I apparently am the next to last person (after Mal Moore) who should be asked to participate in any coaching search. :-(

bobbyjack said...

I like Scott Sutton as well if we're picking from the mid-majors. He's probably the most realistic candidate.

I still believe it would be best to find an assistant at a name school and give him a shot as long as they're not from Duke as Coach K's disciples have sucked as HCs.

Like finebammer, I'd like to take a bulldozer to Coleman. The renovations were nice, but IMO weren't worth the $$.

I know hoops said...

What has happened to our first-year point guard, Brock? I haven't seen him lately. Does anyone know?

DJC said...

We aren't getting a new gym anytime soon, not after the money we just put into renovating Coleman. I don't like it anymore than anybody else here, but that's the fact.

I'm not as high on Sutton as everyone else. He didn't overly impress me at OK State.

Bobbyjack, I disagree with hiring an assistant. For every one out there that works out, there are 10 David Hobbs. Head coaching experience should be a requirement.

I know hoops, Brock has been riding the bench as a victim of Coach Gottfried's arbitrary substitution patterns.

bobbyjack said...

For every Bruce Pearl there's 10 Stan Heath's :P

I think you're thinking of Sean Sutton and not Scott. Sean was oustered at OSU... Scott is doing a fine job at Oral Roberts.

bobbyjack said...

Let me add... CMG's substitution "patterns" have pissed me off for almost a decade.

DJC said...

You're right, I was confusing the Sutton's. I was never a big fan of Pappa Sutton and all his baggage, and would be hesitant to hire one of his kids, but you are right, he is doing a good job at Oral Roberts.

Anonymous said...

We're not going to get an established head coach till we build a new gym.

Anonymous said...

A much bigger basketball program than BAMA is looking for a coach. Here's an ARIZONA look at Few, Drew and Grant...

"I spotted Jim Livengood about 10 yards from the court Sunday at U.S. Airways Center. He was so close that he could feel it as Russ Pennell out-coached Gonzaga’s Mark Few.

I would guess — no proof here — that Livengood arranged to chat with Few in a clandestine hotel room setup somewhere in Phoenix on Sunday. It wouldn’t be good for him to bypass the chance to get to know what Few might be thinking and for the two men to trade ideas.

I also suspect that Few isn’t one of the two or three leading choices on Livengood’s list (Sunday’s game has nothing to do with it) and here’s why:

1. Few is a tough guy to get to know and a hard-boiled, autonomy-seeking head coach. He has a lot of Lute Olson in him. There seems to be a disconnect between Few and his team. He’s at one level; they are on a lower floor.

I don’t think Livengood wants to hire another coach with whom he might lose touch.

2. Few’s on-court presence is, shall we say, minimal. He just doesn’t have The Look. Yes, his record speaks louder than his presence, but he doesn’t have a commanding presence. He comes off as a Mystery Guest more than a Court General.

In a face-off, he is a distant third behind Pitt’s Jamie Dixon and anyone else you choose to name.

3. There are better coaches available, including some not-so-famous men such as Baylor’s Scott Drew and, surprise, VCU’s Anthony Grant.

Yes. Livengood has said “I need to win the press conference’‘ with his hire. Grant isn’t a “name’‘ in Tucson. But his Virginia Commonwealth team eliminated Duke in the 2007 NCAA tournament. A year later he won 24 games. He would’ve been the coach at Florida had not Billy Donovan backed out of an NBA deal.

Grant is a Miami native, a Florida guy. He is 42 years old and has no link to the Pac-10. But he’s clearly The Coach on the Rise.

VCU is 6-3 this season; it beat New Mexico a few days ago, and has an ESPN2 game Saturday at 8 p.m. (Tucson time) against unbeaten Oklahoma. If you get a chance to watch, keep your eyes on Grant. I strongly suspect this will be his last year at VCU.

Arizona would be amiss not to give him full consideration."

I know hoops said...

What is the group's opinion on USC's coach, Tim Floyd? He's done good things, is originally from Hattisburg and I hear he'd love to get back in the South, and the Bama job appeals to him. Thoughts?

Alias said...

DJC, has Torrance also been a victim of CMG's random substitution patterns? You know how much I love Hollinger, but he simply is not the answer at the point, not even in the short term. Why is Brock or Torrance not playing there? Do you know?

P.S. I hope to drive up for the Ga. Tech game.

DJC said...

Tim Floyd is one of the most overrated coach in basketball, imo. He did a pretty good job at Iowa State, especially when he had Marcus Fizer. From what I understand, he didn't even recruit O.J. Mayo to USC. Apparently, Mayo called him and asked if he could come. He was beyond bad in the NBA.

Disclaimer: I'm also a Chicago Bulls fan, so it's hard for me to get past how awful he was in the NBA. Not to mention he's friends with Jerry Krause.

DJC said...

Alias, Hollinger has been playing at the 2, where he belongs, when he has seen the court. As I said, Torrence should have seen the court before 14 seconds left in the aTm game. I've given up trying to make any sense of CMG's substitution patterns.

Alias said...

DJC, so who replaces Ron, Andrew? I could have sworn I saw Brandon playing the point some the other night. Wimp even said something like "A&M has realised that Alabama does not have a true point guard on the floor right now so they've started to press 'em."

You know I'll always defer to your knowledge and observations of the games as they are played.

DJC said...

Hollinger has played the point some, which is head scratching, but mostly it's been Torrance/Andrew/Brock or whoever CMG decides will actually get to play in a particular game.

Anonymous said...

You don't give Greg Marshall much credit. Look at Winthrop now. They are 0-9. In Marshall's last year at WU, They beat Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament. The year before, they lost to the SEC East champs thanks to a ridiculous clutch shot by Chris Lofton. The year before that, they lost to an Adam Morrison led Gonzaga team by 3. Marshall is a great recruiter and he knows how to run a program. He's also a southern boy. He should be towards the top of realistic candidates.

Anonymous said...

You call bobby knight first, he probably has a nice 3-5 year run in him and grab the attention that would bring + the guy can coach and being at a state flagship school like bama, he should be able to land some talent.

Anonymous said...

I have to comment on jeff lebo rules comment. Yall definatley need some kind of pull in the state cause yalls football progarm is going to s@##!!!