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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Dan Wolken - Myths about the Memphis coaching search

Myths about the Memphis coaching search

Posted by Dan Wolken

1. Scott Drew was a smokescreen designed to throw the media off, and Memphis was never interested in hiring him.

You can believe this garbage all you want, but folks, this is just not true. Memphis was very serious about hiring Drew yesterday. No contract was offered, but money and contract terms were discussed. Why would Alan Graf tell Drew and his people yesterday that he was the guy if he wasn’t the guy? The problem is, as the day dragged on and Johnson was “hemming and hawing” on getting a deal done, Drew started to wonder if he was being set up as a fallback option. If you’re a guy like Drew, who has a strong standing at Baylor right now, you can’t sit there and wait while Memphis is dragging its feet or else you are going to damage yourself with your AD and recruits.

2. R.C. Johnson & Co. are still working behind the scenes on a “Wow” hire that will blow everyone away.

Does not appear to be true, unless you consider Leonard Hamilton a “Wow” hire. Because that’s the name that was buzzing around college basketball last night. Leonard gets good players at Florida State, and he would probably get good players at Memphis, too. But his reputation as a poor coach is well-earned; he’s been to just 4 NCAA Tournaments in 20 years at Florida State, Miami and Oklahoma State. And he’ll be 61 years old in August, so this would essentially be a well-paid retirement job for him. But if you’re talking about “name” guys, Hamilton is probably the best Memphis can do. Hamilton, or Billy Gillispie (he would take it). Because nobody who is in a good situation wants this job right now. You could offer Jay Wright the same contract you offered Calipari, and he’s not taking it. The sooner people realize that, the better.

3. Reggie Theus would be a home-run hire and would keep Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins in the fold.

This is nonsense. First of all, Theus might be a good hire, but he would be a risky hire. Getting a bunch of transfers and talented misfits out to New Mexico State and then parlaying a good season into an NBA job doesn’t prove that you know how to build a program. Lots of questions in the coaching world about Theus’ work ethic. Is he really interested in getting into the recruiting nitty-gritty, or is he going to be jetting off to L.A. whenever he can? The stuff about Henry and Cousins is also ridiculous. This idea is being peddled by Otis Hughley, who is trying to position himself for a job on Theus’ staff. But Hughley has no influence anymore on the Cousins situation, and anyone who knows what’s really happening with Cousins knows this to be true. The chances of Henry playing at Memphis? As it was put to me by a trusted source close to the situation last night: Zero.

4. Hiring an NBA person like Avery Johnson or Isiah Thomas would be a good idea .

It would in fact be an awful idea. If you have never recruited a college player, you have no business being in this job. The lure of college kids wanting to play for NBA guys is incredibly overrated. Those guys don’t have the grass-roots connections to AAU basketball. That’s where it’s at these days.

5. Andy Kennedy should be disqualified due to the cab incident last December.

Unfortunately, this appears to be a legitimate concern from the Shirley Raines office and a major reason why Kennedy isn’t higher on the list. But it’s misguided. While embarrassing, this incident is small potatoes. The amount of bad publicity Memphis might receive would be extremely mimimal. Kennedy has a ton of upside as a coach.

6. Derek Kellogg wouldn’t come after just one year at UMass, his alma mater.

It would take a good offer (something in the $1.4-1.5 million range), but Kellogg would come. Trust me on this. And John Robic would probably stay, too, to help him on the bench. My prediction is that if Kellogg got this job, Joe Jackson, Tarik Black and Mardracus Wade would all commit to Memphis in short order. Those kids love DK.


Anonymous said...

Good points that you make.

I'm rather concerned that the AD team would offer a job to someone that was 9-7 in their conf last year and 5-11 this year.

What is happening that an offer to a person that lost 2 times to 1 win in conf is maybe offered the job??????

Anonymous said...

How are your top 4 candidates????

There are 2 national programs that are looking. AZ and Memphis.

AZ can't get anyone because LUTE O/ is still hanging around and the lack of commitment in improving the facilties

Anonymous said...

If AZ can get Sean Miller to consider them, would it be just awful if Memphis contacted him too?

Anonymous said...

What about Western Kentucky's coach. Ken Mcdonald?

Coach said...

I don't know much about Ken McDonald, but I will say that the Hilltoppers program has produced a bunch of big time coaches including Gene Keady (of Purdue fame), Clem Haskins (WKU most famous player) and Ralph Willard (of Pittsburgh and Holy Cross fame).