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Monday, March 19, 2007

Mike Montgomery, Unemployment Eagles

200430-2 (17-1), PAC-10 Champs, NCAA 2nd round
200324-9 (14-4), NCAA 2nd round
200220-12 (12-6), NCAA 2nd round
200131-3 (16-2), Pac-10 Champs, NCAA Elite Eight
200027-4 (15-3), Pac-10 Champs, NCAA 2nd round
199926-7 (15-3), Pac-10 Champs, NCAA 2nd round
199830-5 (15-3), Final Four
199722-8 (12-6), Sweet 16
199621-8 (13-5), NCAA second round
199520-9 (10-8), NCAA second round
199417-11 (10-8), NIT
19937-23 (2-16), no tourney
199218-11 (10-8), NCAA 1st round
199120-13 (8-10), NIT Champs(!!!)
199018-12 (9-9), NIT
198926-7 (15-3), NCAA 1st round
198821-12 (11-7), NIT
198715-13 (9-9)
Inherited Freaking Stanford, which hadn't been to the NCAA tourney since 1942 before his arrival.
The record above speaks for itself. Turned the most difficult place in the country to admit and keep recruits into a national power. Clean enough that he felt it was his place to call out Billy Donovan for being a dirty cheater. Good God. Look at the record.
Old now: 60, and had an undistinguished run at Golden State. Presumably accepted the Golden State job only because it was Bay-Area local. He's been there for the past twenty or so years and may be hesitant to uproot whatever family hasn't moved out by now (he is 60, after all). Tournament performance never lived up to regular season levels.
Option A, B, and C, in my opinion. If you can get him, get him. Unlikely, though.

Tubby Smith, Kentucky(?)

200722-11, NCAA second round
200622-13, NCAA second round
200528-6, Elite Eight
200427-5, NCAA second round
200332-4, Elite Eight
200222-10, Sweet 16
200124-10, Sweet 16
200023-10, NCAA second round
199928-9, Elite Eight
35-4, National Champions
24-9, NCAA first round (@ Georgia)
21-10, Sweet 16 (@ Georgia)
InheritedKentucky, but before that built a program at Tulsa and had those two good years a Georgia.
Only guy potentially available with one of them national championship thingies. Might be willing to give Joe Crawford a wedgie on his way out of town. A Lloyd Carr-like presence with unquestioned dignity, integrity, and success.
Lloyd Carr-like failure to satiate the ravenous demands of an occasionally petulant fanbase that expects the moon. National championship has a distinctly Coker whiff to it, as it was in his first year taking over for Rick Pitino and he hasn't approached that level since. (He does have three Elite 8s to his credit.) His ceiling at Michigan has to be lower than his apparent ceiling at UK, doesn't it? Last two years have been Alamo outrages to UK fans.
Last two years raise questions, but had been to the Sweet 16 seven of the ten years before that. No doubt has recruiting connections all over the country, including some inroads in Michigan with Crawford and '08 recruit Draymond Green. Even in these two down years UK has reached the second round of the tournament. Would be a big splash as a name and can evidently coach even without Pitino afterglow: witness that three-year stretch with loss totals of 4, 5, and 6. Those are his kids and his program. A tendency to flame out earlier in the NCAAs than UK fans would like is a small concern, but maybe we can deal with that if we reach 30 wins, yesno?

Only feasible if UK wants to eject the guy. As of now he's the highest paid coach in the country and no doubt has a mountainous buyout. He won't be making the money he is at UK, but he'll also be a god walking amongst mortals instead of one of the most hated men in Kentucky. Smith would be an outstanding option if he comes free.

Lon Kruger, UNLV

200730-6 (12-4 MW), awaiting Sweet 16 game versus Oregon
17-13, no tourney
17-14, NIT second round
200022-10, NCAA second round (@ Illinois)
(@ Illinois)
199823-10, Big Ten Champs, NCAA second round (@ Illinois)
199722-10, NCAA second round (@ Illinois)
199612-16, no tourney (@ Florida)
199517-13, NCAA first round (@ Florida)
199429-8, Final Four (@ Florida)
199316-12, NIT (@ Florida)
199219-14, NIT (@ Florida)
EarlierFour straight tourney bids as HC @ alma mater Kansas State
Inherited Mostly poo everywhere he's been. Florida had virtually no program. UNLV had gone through 9 coaches in 13 years. Illinois was a decent program under longtime coach Lou Henson but was coming off an NIT bid when Kruger arrived.
Consistent winner everywhere he's been. Has UNLV in Sweet 16. Took Illinois to the second round three times in four years and established the program Bill Self walked into just in time for it to turn monster. Took Florida to a Final Four. Has a reputation for scrupulous honesty.
Oldish like all these guys. Rep for honest comes couple with rep for distaste for AAU sleaze factory that is where all blue chippahs come from these days; may have trouble recruiting. Would have to pry him away from UNLV boosters intent on keeping him.
I'd be happy with him but not thrilled.

John Beilein, WVU

200724-9 (9-7 BE), NIT
22-11 (11-5 BE), Sweet 16
24-11 (8-8 BE), Elite Eight
200417-14 (7-9 BE), NIT
14-15 (5-11 BE), no tourney
22-14, NIT (@ Richmond)
22-7, NIT (@ Richmond)
18-12, no tourney (@ Richmond)
15-12, no tourney (@ Richmond)
23-8, NCAA second round (@ Richmond)
EarlierCansisus (2 NIT bids, one NCAA)
Inherited A WVU program with little history. The season before his arrival they were 8-20.
A ton of experience, as he's been a head coach for almost thirty years. Has revived, or possibly just -vived, the West Virginia program. Coached a guy named "Pitsnogle" who was basically a tatoo-covered Bill Laimbeer. Clean as a whistle.
Is his crazyass style of play applicable to the highest levels? Beilein, who has toiled for so long at places where a 6'5" guy starts at center, has developed a style suited to those constraints: a 1-3-1 zone on defense and his famous three-mad modified Princeton offense. It's working well enough in the Big East but it seems analagous to Mike Leach's mad scientist bit at Texas Tech. It might be good for pulling up doormats but seems inherently limited at the highest levels.

As noted, Beilein has an enormous 2.5 to 3 million dollar buyout. Could Michigan pay the buyout, pay Amaker's buyout, pay for Beilein, and turn Crisler into something other than a derelict lean-to in the eye of a hurricane of public opinion? Probably not.
Buyout is prohibitive and the total outlay in that situation is approaching a range in which Montgomery or Smith might perk up. There will be -- already has been -- a lot of talk about him, but I don't see it happening.

  • Tom Crean, Marquette. As mentioned earlier, Crean is the fourth-highest-paid coach in all the land. He'd have to take a paycut to come here. Since Wade left, Marquette has gone to two NITs and gotten booted in the first round two other times. Plus he would commit hari-kiri if he ever beat Izzo. Pure fantasy on the part of Detroit sportswriters.
  • Stan Heath, Arkansas. Leaving aside the MSU stuff, Heath was one SEC tourney run away from getting canned. No thanks. Let's try to find someone who's actually liked by their fanbase... Tubby Smith potentially excluded.
  • Bruce Pearl, Tennessee. 1) probably wouldn't leave, as Tennessee would pony up to keep him, 2) has a mildly skeezy rep, 3) exposure of Illinois cheating somehow makes him a controversial figure instead of, you know, the guys doing the actual cheating.
  • Jamie Dixon, Pitt. Why on earth would he leave Pitt? Michigan would be a lateral move for him.
  • Mark Hughes, Sacramento Kings assistant. A Michigan alum, but no head coaching experience outside of the CBA.