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Coaching Profiles: Mid-Majors
Reggie Theus, New Mexico State
|2007||25-9, WAC Playoff Champ, lost as 13 seed to Texas in NCAA|
|2006||16-14, no tourney|
|Inherited||A 6-24 team that hadn't been to the tourney since 1999.|
|Quick turnaround has people buzzing. College and NBA stardom a benefit to recruiting, and appearing as Coach Bill Fuller on "Hang Time" would provide a steady stream of material for this here blogger -- no dobut high on Bill Martin's priority list. Sure to be popular with mom on in-home recruiting visits. Apparently he's dreamy.|
|Only two years as a head coach gives him a flimsier resume than Amaker. Sure, he made a tournament but he didn't win the WAC and didn't stay close with a Texas team that was unceremoniously booted in the next round. Association with Jerry Tarkanian, the dean of dirty basketball coaches, can't sit well with Michigan administration. Apparently took a major shortcut to success:
The former NBA star has used his star power to attract a great deal of mercenary talent to the Las Cruces campus. By my count, 10 current players transferred from other universities, including players from Utah, St. John's, UNC-Charlotte, and Kansas State. Add in a Juco player, coach's second cousin Londale, and a couple of other Freshman, and you've got yourself a decent team.
Hasn't proven he can recruit high school kids -- though I bet he'd be pretty good -- or sustain success.
|No. Two years as a head coach and a sketchy turnaround is not enough of a resume.|
Todd Lickliter, Butler
|2007||currently 29-6, Horizon League champs, awaiting Sweet 16 matchup with Florida|
|2006||20-13, second round NIT|
|2005||13-15, no tourney|
|2004||16-14, no tourney|
|2003||27-6, Horizon League champs, Sweet 16 loss to Oklahoma|
|2002||26-6, Horizon League champs, secound round NIT|
|Inherited||Three-time Horizon League champs coming off back-to-back NCAA bids.|
|Two Sweet 16s at a mid-major like Butler is no mean feat. But more impressive is the way Butler earned this year's berth by rolling up a series of quality nonconference wins and earning a #5 seed, unheard of for a Horizon team. Some mid-major coaches get a bunch of hype because their teams get hot from three for a couple games; Lickliter's club would have probably finished third in the Big Ten this year. And... uh... the last Butler head coach to move on up in the world, Thad Matta, is working out all right.|
|Kind of old (51). A Butler alum who makes a decent chunk of change already and may be a little tough to pry away. What's with those middle two years there? Some of his success seems to piggyback off Matta.|
|Maybe not the first choice but certainly a very strong candidate.|
Chris Lowery, Southern Illinois
|2007||29-6, 15-3 MVC, awaiting Sweet 16 matchup vs. Kansas|
|2006||22-11, 12-6 MVC, NCAA 1st round|
|2005||27-8, 15-3 MVC, NCAA 2nd round|
|Inherited||A mid-major juggernaut.|
|Southern Illinois is rapidly turning into a basketball Miami of Ohio. Illinois' Bruce Weber and Purdue's terrifying Matt Painter are the last two coaches of a program with six straight MVC titles -- and the MVC is no joke -- and six straight NCAA bids. The Salukis are a four seed in this year's tourney: like Butler, they are a straight-up team and not a product of hot shooting at the right time.
Kyle Whelliston describes the Salukis like so:
The regular-season champions of the Missouri Valley play at one of the nation's slowest, nastiest paces and own the nation's third-stingiest team points-allowed average at 56.3. After dispatching OF Virginia Tech 63-48 in a second-round sludgefest, SIU is the sour part of this Sweet 16, the chocolate filled with rusty thumbtacks in the heart-shaped box.
There's nothing fundamentally incompatible with kickass defense and kickass offense and if anything the D is more a function of coaching than the O, which requires a far greater proportion of raw skill. Even in a down year it's likely a Lowery team would be a pain to play against and capable of scraping itself to something half decent.
|The aforementioned brutality would be fine if we win but agony if it doesn't work out. Recruits might be turned off by the prospect of joining the Riley Knicks. Also, Lowery doesn't have the track record of a few other prospects. He's got just one more year of experience than Theus and is only 34.|
|IMO, the top mid-major candidate available. Has enough on-the-job experience that his success is not a fluke, and the Salukis have earned a Sweet 16 seed this year because Lowery has them playing evil defense.|
Greg Marshall, Winthrop
|2007||29-5 (undefeated in conference), lost in second round to Oregon.|
|2006||23-8, first round loss to Tenn but scared the hell out of them as a #15.|
|2005||27-6, first round loss to Gonzaga|
|2004||16-12, no tourney|
|2003||20-10, no tourney|
|2002||19-12, first round waxing at hands of Duke|
|2001||18-13, lost in play-in game|
|2000||21-9, waxed by Oklahoma|
|1999||21-8, waxed by Auburn|
|Inherited||A 7-20 team that hadn't had a winning record since hammerpants were cool: 1990.|
|Has been to seven(!) tournaments since Michigan made its last appearance and did it at a program that had gone a decade without the barest hint of success. Hmmmm. Sounds familiar.|
|When I say "waxed" above I mean it. Seriously, we're talking 80-37 type scores more suited for the women's tournament. Winthrop is evidently not a mid-major; the Big South conference is the home of stellar clubs like Maryland-Baltimore county, who you may remember lost to Michigan in their tour of awful nonconference opponents this year. Winthrop's first four bids were as one of the lowliest members of the field and the results reflected that. This is a ton of success at a low major.|
|Maybe? I think Marshall's more of a risk than either Lowery or L
ickliter because up until the past few years Winthrop has been the big fish in an ugly little pond. After their two misses, however, Winthrop finally found some traction. They gave Gonzaga a decent game, were ousted on an improbable Chris Lofton buzzer-beater last year, and finally broke through against Notre Dame (ha-HA! [/nelson]) this year.
Karl Hobbs, George Washington
|2007||23-9 NCAA first round (hammered by Vandy)|
|2006||27-3, A-10 champs, NCAA second round|
|2005||22-8, NCAA first round|
|2003||12-17, no tourney|
|2002||12-16, no tourney|
|Inherited||A mediocre 14-18 team.|
|Built George Washington back up to its Yinka Dare glory days, though that appears to be limited to first-round appearances most years. Still: three straight bids and a second round appearance a year ago with a 27-3 team. Unlike Lowery, didn't inherit a program. His previous job was as a UConn assistant, where he was credited with recruiting Khalid El-Amin and Richard Hamilton.|
|His previous job was as a UConn assistant, where he was credited with recruiting Khalid El-Amin and Richard Hamilton. This, if you listen to certain axe-grinding segments of the media, is the equivalent of eating babies. And not in a good Jason Maxiell kind of way. Might run a gimmicky offense based on tons of backcuts.|
|Maybe? Certainly has built GW into an A-10 power. That 27-3 year netted them an amazingly low seed, though -- like an 8 or 9 or 10 or something -- which raises questions about the level of competition. What's your personal preference: a guy with better teams (Lowery) or a guy who built a program up (Hobbs, Winthrop, etc?).|
- Anthony Grant, VCU. Everybody's hero after VCU booted Duke out of the tourney, but has been a head coach for one year. Longtime association with Billy Donovan does not help... unless he's the guy who got them Roberson and Horford. But did he do it on the up and up?
- Sean Miller, Xavier. Doesn't have the resume the above do, IMO, and has the dreaded Product Hair.