Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Coaching Changes Abound
Before we delve into yesterday's coaching changes, let me clarify a point that Clement made about not mentioning coaches in posts. When the games are taking place, we usually talk less about coaches unless they do something remarkable. Too often, pundits in positions where they must exhibit some sense of accountability (but often fail) heap excessive praise upon coaches in a liberal fashion (see Coach K nearly every year which happens to be "his best coaching job to-date"). In plain terms, here's how I see it: coaches build programs, players win games, and coaches lose them on occasion. The continued, unconditional support of administration, boosters and fans is also important. It's not intended to diminish the work of fabulous tacticians like Rick Majerus.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let's talk about yesterday's hirings and the accompanying indications.

Iowa Hires Lickliter
This was a surprise. I would've thought that the recently-crowned NABC Coach of the Year would have more pull, but there may be more to the Iowa rebuilding program than I immediately see. Also, Lickliter has experience recruiting in the Midwest, which is a major plus. Lickliter should receive a year to mold his team to his liking, but will be judged on results starting in January 2009 when the Big Ten conference schedule commences.

Beilein to Michigan?
ESPN and CBS Sportsline are reporting that West Virginia head coach John Beilein has accepted the same position at Michigan. When I think of Michigan basketball under Tommy Amaker, the first thought is that of wasted possessions. While Beilein is not going to catch anyone off-guard with his coaching style (predicated on the 1-3-1 defense, outside shooting, and offensive discipline), he's not going to surprise anyone. With Beilein, the ceiling may be somewhat lower in comparison with younger prospects like Chris Lowery, but you know what you're getting and it's a pretty solid product.

Altman joins Arkansas
Goodbye 10-seed curse. Hello, blue chip recruits. In Dana Altman, Arkansas gets a proven bench coach with a penchant for maximizing talent. In Arkansas, Altman gets access to recruiting pipelines, facilities, and money that just isn't there in the Valley. A symbiotic relationship, no doubt. Can Altman make the immediate splash reminiscent to Bruce Pearl in the SEC and be able to lure recruits in the long term? I maintain that despite the inexperience, VCU's Anthony Grant would've been worth an interview following the snub by Billy Gillispie (whose last name I now spell correctly) and ultimately the better fit for the talented Razorbacks than Altman.

Heath: From SEC to Big East
That sounds a lot better than what it is in reality. South Florida has taken a nose dive since Seth Greenberg left for Virginia Tech. Heath's energy and ability to recruit is exactly what the Bulls need in the short-term. The question is whether Heath will bolt once a better job is offered to him.

This most recent fallout leaves vacancies at mid-major hubs Creighton and Butler, as well as at West Virginia. The Creighton job will undoubtedly create some buzz because they play in an awesome arena with a dedicated fan base. Moreover, they're the only game in town, unless you count college baseball. Butler is a coaching factory, but I'm not certain how long they can keep plucking assistants to be their head coach and succeed with flying colors as they did with Thad Matta and the aforementioned Lickliter. In Morgantown, the search for their next coach has begun. Winthrop head coach Gregg Marshall might be the perfect fit.

And of course ...

There's Billy Donovan. So that's 3 Final Fours, 2 NCAA Championships, and the guy is barely over 40. His only loss as a coach in the Final Four was against a dominant Michigan State team in 2000 that 5-seed Florida had no chance beating. Donovan says he's going to enjoy the championship victory [before he entertains any offers to coach elsewhere]. While I see no problem with the leveraging that will take place in order to get a deserved hike in pay and possibly the court named after him, his legacy is at Florida (winning 2 championships with players that he recruited) and not at Kentucky.

As for Kentucky, they will still have a vacancy to address. When the smoke clears, Tom Crean (AKA "
The Stockbroker") of Marquette will take the reins in Lexington although Billy Gillispie remains the top realistic candidate after Billy Donovan.


Anonymous said...

Arkansas is so screwed. Who are the top candidates now that Altman bailed?

Anonymous said...

Wake up people.Stay in denial all you want.Donovan is the next coach of the most storied winningest program in college basketball history.It's a done deal.

Anonymous said...

Kentucky is only the most storied program if the story is about racism.
UCLA has won more titles and UNC has a better program. I think Donovan is heading to Kentucky nevertheless.

Paymon said...

On the Arkansas question, Kevin Stallings is the name that immediately comes to mind. Frank Broyles is still cleaning the egg off of his face, so it might be quite some time before we hear of a replacement.

I still like VCU's Anthony Grant as the type of coach who can resurrect that program. He knows how to recruit in the SEC and was a high school coach in Florida.

Chris Clement said...

Stop name-dropping Grant. We barely can afford him as it is. PLEASE!