N.C. State Goes With Gottfried

Posted by jstevrtc on April 5th, 2011

The coaching carousel is really gaining momentum now that the season has ended, and Mark Gottfried has decided to turn in his ESPN mic-plates for North Carolina State colors.

Gottfried Takes On the NCSU Coaching Job -- And a Whooooole Lot Of Headaches

Ending a long and frustrating coaching search, the Wolfpack announced the hiring of Gottfried within the last hour. Gottfried’s last gig was at Alabama, where he coached for ten seasons and part of an eleventh (1998-2009). He posted a 210-132 (0.614) overall record and an 84-83 record in SEC play as leader of the Crimson Tide, taking his team to the NCAA Tournament for five straight seasons from 2001-02 to 2005-06. His 2003-04 team made the Elite Eight before losing to the eventual champion Connecticut Huskies. Gottfried left in January of the 2009 season after star guard Ronald Steele decided to jump ship, and hasn’t coached since.

Before his time at Alabama, he coached three seasons at Murray State from 1995 to 1998, taking the OVC crown all three years, and making NCAA Tournaments in his last two seasons there. He was 68-24 (40-12) at MSU. Gottfried also won a  national championship in 1995 in his last of seven seasons at UCLA as an assistant under Jim Harrick.

The initial reaction to this hire appears to be to compare it to St. John’s’ taking on Steve Lavin last year, since, like Lavin before him, Gottfried most recently worked as a color commentator and studio analyst as part of ESPN’s college basketball coverage. To us, though, the hiring of Gottfried in Raleigh is more a product of how many coaches at smaller programs — for example, guys like VCU’s Shaka Smart and Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, two targets of the NC State search — are choosing to live by the Valvano Doctrine of “don’t mess with happiness” and stay at programs at which they’re already successful, as well as hoping that they can mimic Brad Stevens‘ recent successes at Butler. With what Stevens and his Bulldogs have achieved in the last two years, if you’re a coach at a mid-major program, it makes staying at your smaller school a lot more attractive of an option than, say, the prospect of going up against Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski at least four times a year on the court and fighting them for local stud recruits off of it. What also can’t be ignored is the reluctance that some coaches may have had to work with NC State athletic director Debbie Yow, whose stormy relationship at Maryland with coach Gary Williams was well-publicized.

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Pat Knight Headed To Lamar

Posted by nvr1983 on April 5th, 2011

While most of the media’s attention was directed at NC State‘s curious decision to hire former Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried another school was making a significant hire. Lamar will likely never command the same attention that an ACC school like NC State does, but the Cardinals appear to be set to announce that former Texas Tech coach Pat Knight will be their next coach in a press conference this afternoon. Although much of Knight’s reputation comes from his much more successful father (do we even have to name him?), the addition of a coach who has experience at the Big 12 level is a significant pick-up for a team in the Southland Conference.

Pat Knight will have lower expectations, but it is time for him to make a name for himself

Knight took over the reins at Texas Tech during the 2007-08 season when his father abruptly retired. The Red Raiders struggled to a 4-7 finish that season, but did show some signs of life including an 84-75 win over 22nd-ranked Kansas State in Knight’s third game as head coach and an 83-80 win over 5th-ranked Texas a few games later. Unfortunately for Knight the highlights in Lubbock were few and far between. In his three full seasons at Texas Tech he only finished with a winning record once (19-16 in the 2009-10 season when he made his only postseason apperance winning one game in the NIT before bowing out in the quarterfinals) and compiling a record of 50-61 overall and 16-42 in the Big 12 never finishing higher than 9th (he did finish 7th in the season he partially coached).

As for Lamar the school does have some basketball tradition having won the Southland several times (most recently in 2008), but the team finished 13-17 last year and just 7-9 in conference (tied for second to last). The team does return some firepower in Mike James (12.5 PPG, but with 52 in a game against Louisiana) and Anthony Miles (11.9 PPG with a more consistent scoring pattern than James) as both will be seniors next season. The question is whether Knight can turn around this program with significantly lower expectations than he had in Lubbock and help resurrect his career. The issues of location (let’s be honest Lubbock isn’t the most desirable location for most players) shouldn’t be as much of a disadvantage in the Southland Conference where Beaumont, Texas won’t be as relatively unattractive and Knight will not have more traditional powers competing for the same players as he has. Knight will probably get several more attempts as a head coach even if he fails here because that is just the way that athletic directors work (safer to hire a failed coach than to hire someone who hasn’t failed), but if he wants to build his own legacy apart from his father

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Missouri Casts Its Lot With Frank Haith

Posted by jstevrtc on April 4th, 2011

Like most of the college basketball world, Frank Haith was in Houston over the weekend. After taking in some Final Four action, it looks like he’ll come back with a sweet souvenir: the head coaching job at the University of Missouri.

On Monday, he’ll fly back to the University of Miami and tell the team he just left about his decision. We think they probably already know.

Haith took the reins at Miami before the 2004-05 season as the Hurricanes began play in the ACC. His best season came in 2007-08 when he led his team to an overall 23-11 record and an 8-8 mark in the ACC that tied them for fifth in the league. They lost to Texas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament that season. Miami was his first head coaching job after working nineteen seasons as an assistant at six different schools.

Haith Is Now the Main Man In Columbia

Missouri’s hire of Haith — which was announced less than an hour ago, as of this writing — raises several questions. Just days ago, Missouri was supposedly close to wresting Matt Painter from Purdue, but he ended up inking a new eight-year deal to remain a Boilermaker. Painter has been a head coach for seven seasons, fronting Southern Illinois for the 2003-04 season, leading the Salukis to 25-5 overall, a 17-1 Missouri Valley Conference mark, and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Since he took over at Purdue before the 2005-06 season, Painter has made the Tournament each year except for his first, making the Sweet 16 twice, and has built a 130-61 (0.681) record, 59-37 in the Big Ten. Haith’s predecessor at Missouri, Mike Anderson, who just left to take the position at Arkansas, has been a head coach for nine seasons, leading the way at UAB for four campaigns before becoming a Tiger in 2006. Anderson posted a 111-57 (0.661) career in Columbia, tallied 43-37 in the Big 12 in his five seasons there, and made the NCAA Tournament the last three years. These numbers suggest the sort of coaching market in which Missouri should find itself.

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If UConn Wins The Title Will Jim Calhoun Retire?

Posted by nvr1983 on April 1st, 2011

As he nears the conclusion of his 39th consecutive year as a coach at the Division 1 level and 25th at UConn a single question looms above Jim Calhoun and the program that he helped build: What will he do?. After sanctions were handed out against against UConn and Jim Calhoun a month ago stemming from the Nate Miles fiasco there was quite a bit of speculation that Calhoun’s days in Storrs might be coming to an end particularly given his numerous health issues over the past few years. Less than a month later UConn’s surprising run through the Big East Tournament and now the NCAA Tournament has shifted the focus and now instead of calling for Calhoun to step down the media has been heaping praise upon Calhoun calling this year the most impressive coaching job of his career. With his Huskies sitting just two games away from Calhoun’s third national title, which would tie him with Bob Knight in fourth place for most NCAA championships for a coach, the question has become whether this would be the ideal time for Calhoun to retire when he is at the pinnacle of the sport.

Calhoun has a lot to think about


Having coached at the college level since 1972 when he first arrived at Northeastern Calhoun has compiled an exemplary resume only finishing below .500 on four occassions with the last occurring during his first season at UConn (1986-87). Since that time Calhoun has only failed to guide his team to the post-season once (in the 2006-07 season when the Huskies finished a disappointing 17-14), but that doesn’t mean his career has not been through its share of ups-and-downs. One of Calhoun’s defining characteristics has been his resiliency as demonstrated by the fact that he rebounded from a first round exit in the NIT in 1993 to make 3 straight Sweet 16s or another NIT bid in 1997 to make an Elite 8 the following season before winning his first NCAA championship the following season with a histroically underated team led by Richard Hamilton and Khalid El-Amin.

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Sidney Lowe Leaves And NC State Fans Rejoice

Posted by nvr1983 on March 15th, 2011

The day that many NC State fans have been waiting years for finally came today as Sidney Lowe announced that he would be would be offering his resignation after another disappointing season in which the Wolfpack finished 15-16. In his five seasons as head coach Lowe was 86-78 overall and 25-55 in the ACC. After succeeding Herb Sendek who left the school to go to Arizona State Lowe never finished higher than 9th in the conference and only made the NIT twice, which was a point of considerable consternation amongst NC State fans given the success of in-state rivals Duke, UNC, Wake Forest (ok, maybe not this year), and even Davidson.

With Lowe gone NC State will begin its search

The next step for NC State will be to find someone to take the reins of a floundering program. According to current Athletic Director Debbie Yow the school has a list of potential candidates that she declined to specify, but stated was single digits and would be a coach who has made the NCAA Tournament consistently. While many NC State fans looked forward to Lowe’s resignation with the hope of getting a coach similar to the one that Yow describes they may be less than thrilled with the actual result. When Lowe was offered the job it was only after the school was unable to land several bigger name coaches.

Given the profile that Yow describes, NC State’s lack of recent success, and the ridiculous concentration of basketball tradition/success within the state it seems likely that NC State will be relegated to repeating history in their coaching search unless they stumble upon someone from a relatively big school that happens to want to go back to North Carolina. Otherwise they should probably be willing to look for through the mid-major ranks for a star wanting to go to “the next level” or an assistant at a successful program who wants to be calling the plays himself.

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Oklahoma Fires Jeff Capel

Posted by nvr1983 on March 14th, 2011

Earlier today Oklahoma announced that it had fired Jeff Capel after two unsuccessful seasons following the departure of Blake Griffin. The firing of Capel shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who have followed the Sooners’ struggles over the past two seasons after going 30-6 and reaching the Elite 8 in 2009 before losing to eventual champion UNC. Despite the departure of Griffin the Sooners were expected to be competitive in the Big 12 and make another run in the NCAA Tournament as they had Willie Warren returning after an outstanding freshman season and had a strong incoming freshman class. Unfortunately for  Capel the Sooners were never able to get on-track and stumbled to a 13-18 season. This year the Sooners had considerably lower expectations, but finished in a similar fashion going 14-18 with their last game (and Capel’s last game as head coach of Oklahoma) being an embarrassing 20-point loss to rival Texas in the Big 12 Tournament that illustrated just how far the Sooners had fallen.

Capel will leave Norman with a sour taste in his mouth

In the end, Capel’s downfall boiled down to his inability to get significant production out of the four McDonald’s All-Americans that he landed in the past five seasons and the lack of interest that the Oklahoma fan base had for the team by the end of this season. Capel leaves Norman with a respectable record of 96-69 in five seasons at Oklahoma, but he went 27-36 leading to the Oklahoma administration to decide to terminate him even though he still has five years left on a recent extension and the school will have to reportedly pay between $2 and $3 million to buyout his contract. Despite his recent struggles, we expect to see Capel on the sidelines of a major program in the very near future (at least as an assistant) given his pedigree (coming from Duke under Coach K) and his prior success (the aforementioned Elite 8 appearance). This firing also adds to the list of solid jobs (Arkansas being the other prominent one) that would be highly coveted by many mid-major coaches and could lead to significant movement over the next few months.

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RTC’s Five Biggest Coaching Moves This Offseason

Posted by rtmsf on October 18th, 2010

David Ely is an RTC contributor.

College basketball is finally back and as always one of the most interesting subplots of the new season is all of the coaches at their respective new schools. It seemed like this year had more coaching changes than normal, so here are the five coaching moves we’re keeping an eye on as well as a few of the ones that didn’t make the cut.

Steve Donahue at Boston College

Donahue Will No Doubt Find the ACC Challenging

  • Resume: 10 seasons as head coach at Cornell (146-138).
  • Postseason history: Three straight Ivy League Championships (2008-10); Three trips to the NCAA Tournament (2008-10), including a run to the Sweet 16 in 2010.
  • How he got to Boston College: Donahue became one of the nations “It” coaches when the Big Red stormed onto the scene in March Madness, making and breaking brackets everywhere in their run to the Sweet 16. Actually, Donahue probably first garnered attention when Cornell nearly knocked off No. 1 Kansas in January 2010. Boston College, on the other hand, was nudging down the pecking order of the ACC and Al Skinner eventually became the scapegoat for the Eagles lack of success (two losing seasons in the last five). Skinner was fired after the end of the season, and Donahue got the job April 6.
  • Signature style: An up-tempo attack that is dependent on the three-ball. Cornell was the top three-point shooting team in the nation last year, hitting from downtown at a 43.3% clip.
  • Likelihood of success: Depends on what you label success. Will the Eagles duplicate Cornell’s run of three straight Ivy League titles in the ACC? Probably not. But Boston College’s rough play always felt out of place in the ACC, and a more open style should make the Eagles competitive against the Dukes and North Carolinas. There’s no reason to believe that Donahue can’t bring BC back to the level it was at when Jared Dudley and Craig Smith played in Chestnut Hill.
  • Will endear himself if: He can make basketball exciting at Boston College again. BC has always been an awkward match with its ACC brethren, and the school still feels more like a Big East program. Because of the Donahue’s lovable underdog history, he should have a decent-sized grace period before people start to expect results.
  • Will be on the hot seat if: His attempt to change BC’s style fails. Sometimes people don’t like change (just ask Rich Rodriguez at Michigan). If the local writers in Boston start throwing out terms like soft, then it might be that Donahue and Boston College just aren’t the right fit.

Tim Floyd at UTEP

  • Resume: 327-181 combined record in 16 seasons at four schools, including an 85-50 mark at Southern Cal. Floyd also coached for five seasons in the NBA at Chicago and New Orleans where he went 49-190 and 44-45, respectively.
  • Postseason history: Eight trips to the NCAA Tournament including two Sweet 16 berths (Iowa State and USC).
  • How he got to UTEP: Tony Barbee left UTEP during the offseason to become the new coach at Auburn, and UTEP athletic director Bob Stull reportedly contacted Floyd about the position immediately after Barbee resigned. Floyd was a Miners assistant coach under Don Haskins from 1977-86.
  • Signature style: In his introductory news conference at UTEP, Floyd said that the Miners would attempt to run a pro-style offense. Expect to see a lot of half-court sets and diagrammed plays at UTEP under Floyd. Defense might turn into the Miners’ strength. At times USC was a shutdown defensive program when Floyd was at the helm with the Trojans showing the propensity to get creative in their schemes on that end of the floor (i.e., USC’s triangle-and-two defense that nearly took down Memphis in 2007).
  • Likelihood of success: Pretty good. Conference USA is up for grabs in the post-John Calipari Era. The Miners went 15-1 in conference last year, and Floyd has the profile to become a powerful recruiter if he can take a veteran group and build on their 24-6 finish in 2010.
  • Will endear himself if: The Miners compete for the Conference USA title on a yearly basis. The program knew the baggage they’d get when they hired Floyd, but the tantalizing potential of a Memphis-like dynasty emerging at UTEP was enough to justify the move. If Floyd wins games and turns the Miners into a national player (he’s already said he wants to schedule the best in the nation), people will tend to forget his dicey past.
  • Will be on the hot seat if: He gets involved in another NCAA scandal. Everyone knows that Floyd would still be at USC if it wasn’t for violations in the recruitment of O.J. Mayo. If a situation like that arose again at UTEP, Floyd’s career as a collegiate head coach could be over.

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Is This A Make Or Break Season For Jim Boylen?

Posted by nvr1983 on July 21st, 2010

Ever since Utah announced that it was moving to the Pac-10 it has seemed like their basketball coach Jim Boylen has been espousing the benefits of the move (please try to get by Gary Parrish’s incredibly lame headline). While we agree that the move will open more recruiting in-roads for Utah, there is one catch for Boylen. He might not be invited along for the ride. According to local media, the move to the Pac-10 also affords the school the perfect point from which to sever ties from Boylen.  Boylen has had a long track record as a successful assistant both at the college level — at Michigan State under both Jud Heathcoate and Tom Izzo — and also in the NBA — with the Houston Rockets where he won two NBA titles, the Golden State Warriors, and the Milwaukee Bucks. Utah, however, is the first head coaching position he has had at any level. Following a successful 2008-09 season that saw Boylen lead the Utes to a 24-10 record, the MWC regular season and conference tournament titles, and a NCAA appearance, Boylen was awarded a new contract that raised his annual salary to $850,000 as the Utah administration believed it had found its coach for years to come.

One of my favorite Twitter avatars

Then last season things came unraveled and the Utes finished 14-17, the team’s worst record in the past 25 years, which predates the Rick Majerus era. On top of that, Boylen struggled with the local media with the most notable example following the Utes loss to BYU, and after the season he lost several key players including highly touted guard Marshall Henderson. Since that time, Boylen has turned towards junior college players to fill the void, and, while they may have the talent, the question is how quickly will they learn to play together. For Boylen’s sake, hopefully the answer is in time to get the Utes back to the NCAA Tournament or the team may be making the jump to the Pac-10 without him.

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Thanks, But No Thanks, Version 2 — Izzo Sticks

Posted by jstevrtc on June 15th, 2010

It’s being reported everywhere, now, that Tom Izzo is turning down the head coaching job offered by the Cleveland Cavaliers and staying in East Lansing as coach of the Spartans.  Chris Broussard stated on ESPN moments ago that , in addition to Izzo’s love of coaching at Michigan State, Izzo is not taking the position in Cleveland largely because he “couldn’t get assurance from LeBron James that LeBron would be back in Cleveland,” but noted that this is due to lack of contact between the two, not because LeBron left Izzo with doubts after a conversation.  By all accounts, such a conversation never happened.

A Spartan for life -- his words.

Spartan fans had reason to be nervous just before the reports began to surface that Izzo was staying;  his future still uncertain, he called a team meeting before confirming he was going to remain as the Michigan State coach, a sequence of events that one could have taken to mean that he was about to accept the job with the Cavs.  This now can only mean that he simply wanted to first alert his players to the good news as any responsible coach would do, and not have them receive it via television or tweet.

That’s why it’s good for college basketball that this man sticks in East Lansing.  Anyone who remembers how he struggled to keep his composure when asked in a post-game interview about the welfare of Kalin Lucas after Lucas tore his Achilles’ tendon knows how much he cares about his players off the court as much as on it (that’s just one example).  His players love him, he’s polite, affable, even self-effacing, as evidenced by the fact that he apologized for taking so long to come to a decision about this job offer.  Clevelanders certainly can’t be too mad at him, since he included in his statements an entreaty that LeBron hang around as a Cavalier.

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Have The Front Yard Stakeouts In East Lansing Started?

Posted by jstevrtc on June 8th, 2010

(Not that we condone such behavior.)

Within the last hour, the AP released a report citing a source who claims that Michigan State’s legendary Tom Izzo has been in talks with the fine folks from the Cleveland Cavaliers — namely, owner Dan Gilbert, who’s a Michigan State alumnus — about the terms of a possible contract to coach the Cavs, if Izzo should feel so inclined.  The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Monday that such talks centered around a five year deal worth $6 million a year.  Even the John Calipari-to-the-NBA rumors didn’t get this far.

If he's talking, Cavalier fans are smiling. (G. Shamus/Getty)

If this is true, Cavalier fans should take heart.  It’s doubtful that Izzo would even be involved in such a discussion if he wasn’t positive that LeBron James was returning to Cleveland.  Even if Izzo doesn’t sign on the dotted line, Cavs supporters are probably breathing a little easier (by the way, the LeBron-O-Meter on that above link is great), not to mention that the New York Post‘s Peter Vecsey is reporting that he has an insider with knowledge of a three-year contract being finalized for LeBron.

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