26 April 2011

2011 College Basketball Coaching Carousel: Grading the Hires

A variety of coaching vacancies in the major college basketball conferences were filled this offseason. How did these schools do in their hirings? Here is my take on the higher profile coaching hires, after the jump.

Arkansas - Mike Anderson
Arkansas did a pretty solid job by hiring Anderson. He is a pretty good coach that had success at Missouri and UAB, although he did not set the world on fire by any means at either institution. Anderson is also a long-time disciple of legendary Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson and is a strong proponent of Richardson's "40 Minutes of Hell" philosophy. He is not a big name but he has the potential to build a very good program at Arkansas thanks to a weak SEC West and proximity to recruiting hotbeds.
Grade: B+

Georgia Tech - Brian Gregory
Gregory had his fair amount of success at Dayton and is a member of the Tom Izzo coaching tree, but he preaches a defensive system that can be hard to sell recruits on. Plus he has no connections to the South. With the expectations high thanks to the construction of a new arena plus a whole lot of underacheivement before Paul Hewitt was finally fired, Gregory looks to be under the gun early.
Grade: C

Maryland - Mark Turgeon
Gary Williams' retirement was surprising but regardless this is one of those jobs that can be elite in the country. And while I like Turgeon a lot, this is not a great hire. Turgeon is not a great recruiter and does not have a great amount of East Coast experience. He is a very good technician and an underrated coach and he will win plenty of games in College Park, but I do not think he can win big. Then again Williams' retirement late in the carousel season did not help but still.
Grade: C+

Miami (FL) - Jim Larranaga
This surely was a stunning hire. Nobody thought that the U would go after Larranaga, the 61 year old coach who built George Mason into a very solid mid-major program, but he's their new coach. Larranaga also does not have great ties to the talent rich Florida region. The U is a pretty tough program with so much invested in the football program, particularly as they try to get back on top, and hiring a coach with Florida roots would have made more sense. And why the hell did Miami not go after Frank Martin? I think he would've taken the job too.
Grade: C-

Missouri - Frank Haith
The head folks at Mizzou had a major blunder when they traveled to woo Purdue coach Matt Painter yet failed to bring him on board. They were left scrambling until they settled on Haith. Haith is a solid coach who was in a tough situation at Miami where not many resources were devoted to the basketball program and it's highly likely he would be on the hot seat starting next season. Haith has a fair amount of experience in Big XII basketball after serving on the coaching staffs at Texas A&M and Texas but this does feel like a rushed hire.
Grade: C+

N.C. State - Mark Gottfried
When the best guy you can hire to what should be a big time player in college basketball is an ESPN analyst and coaching retread, that's when you know you have a crappy AD. Debbie Yow can blame Gary Williams all she wants but she needs to realize that she is a moron and has no idea what she's doing. Now Gottfried did some good work at Alabama but I do not think he is the kind of guy to lead the Wolfpack to anything significant.
Grade: D+

Oklahoma - Lon Kruger
This is what may be the most underrated hire of the coaching carousel season. Oklahoma has the resources to be a very good program and they have reached the Elite Eight as recently as 2009. Kruger does not have the biggest name but he has a long history of success, most recently at UNLV, and he will make the Sooner a serious player in the Big XII.
Grade: A-

Providence - Ed Cooley
Providence is a very tough job in the rugged Big East, particularly when the administration has much higher than realistic expectations. But Cooley is a very good hire. He is a New Englander through and through, including working at Boston College when they were good before Al Skinner got lazy, and did a very solid job at Fairfield and is coming off a tournament berth. He's in for a tough challenge with the Friars but Cooley is more than capable of making the Friars a tournament club down the road.
Grade: B+

Tennessee - Cuonzo Martin
Unlike the sleaze that vacated this job, Martin is a man with very high character. However, he does not have a ton of experience as a head man at a program, with only three years as a head coach, all at Missouri State. Now he did a sound job at Missouri State as he got that team to improve every season but he has little to none experience coaching in the Southeast. I like Martin, but he's not a great hire, just a solid one.
Grade: B

Texas Tech - Billy Gillipsie
This was a home run hire. Yes Gillipsie has some character concerns and he was not great at Kentucky but don't forget that this guy is a hell of a coach who had a tremendous amount of success in-state at UTEP and Texas A&M. While he is not a great recruiter, he is a great tactician. He will have this club in the NCAA's quicker than you think he would.
Grade: A

UNLV - Dave Rice
Rice has a lot of connections to the program as well as the Mountain West. He won a national title under Jerry Tarkanian in 1990 and served as an assistant for the Runnin' Rebels from 1991-2004 and after a season at Utah State he worked at BYU under Dave Rose as that program grew steadily. The man knows his Mountain West hoops and has what it takes to build off of what Kruger built in Vegas.
Grade: B+

Utah - Larry Krystkowiak
Well the Utes do love their mediocre NBA coaches after firing Jim Boylen for Krystkowiak. He had some success in his two seasons at Montana including making the Tournament both years. Is this the guy, though, that will lead Utah to success as they head to the Pac-12? I do not think so.
Grade: C-

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