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Friday, April 10, 2009

Fox's Jeff Goodman - Grading all the coaching carousel moves (Memphis/Josh Pastner "B")

Grading all the coaching carousel moves

The coaching carousel was fairly quiet this year. In fact, there were only 25 changes — a far cry from the total of the past few offseasons.

We'll give you a rundown of each and also grade them.

Athletic director Mitch Barnhart made up for his blunder two years ago by luring John Calipari from Memphis. Calipari wasn't the first choice, but is ideal for the program and the diehard fans in Lexington. He can coach, recruit and will love dealing with the fans and boosters. Calipari has wasted little time showing he can get big-time players to UK with the addition of talented big man DeMarcus Cousins.
FORMER: Billy Gillispie
CURRENT: John Calipari
Grade: A

Things looked bleak for the Wildcats after AD Jim Livengood struck out with Jamie Dixon, Jay Wright and a few other big names. He even brought USC's Tim Floyd to Tucson and got rejected. But Livengood, who was down to his final strike, hit a home run with the addition of Xavier's Sean Miller — a young guy who can recruit and coach. It may take Miller some time to get up to speed on the West Coast, but he'll get it done.
FORMER: Russ Pennell (interim)
CURRENT: Sean Miller
Grade: A

This one was a no-brainer. The Crimson Tide went out and identified VCU's Anthony Grant as their top target and then brought him to Tuscaloosa and got their guy. Grant was just waiting to see what happened and whether Billy Donovan left Florida for Kentucky before tying the knot with 'Bama. This was as good a pickup as 'Bama was going to get. Grant is one of the elite young coaches in the game.
FORMER: Mark Gottfried
CURRENT: Anthony Grant
Grade: A

For a while there, it looked like BU was going to screw this one up. However, the Terriers made a quality choice by bringing former Jay Wright and Villanova assistant Pat Chambers on board. He can recruit, is a Northeast guy and has learned from one of the best in Wright. His prep school connections won't hurt, either.
FORMER: Dennis Wolff
CURRENT: Pat Chambers
Grade: A-

It appeared as though the administration was infatuated with bringing on someone with North Carolina ties, but in the end they went with a Davidson guy in Matt Matheny — who was key in the Wildcats recent success. Elon has a similar profile, so it shouldn't be all that much of an adjustment for Matheny — other than the fact he won't have a guy named Stephen Curry in the program.
FORMER: Ernie Nestor
CURRENT: Matt Matheny
Grade: A-

Here's another one that almost screwed things up. The administration looked hard at UAB's Mike Davis and even took a peek at former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie, but at the end of the day, decided to go with a guy familiar with the area in Portland State's Ken Bone, who has been to two straight NCAA tournaments. Good move.
FORMER: Tony Bennett
Grade: B+

Scott Cherry was key in George Mason's magical run a few years back and then was on Darrin Horn's staff at Western Kentucky and South Carolina. He'll do a nice job at High Point and was a solid hire.
FORMER: Bart Lundy
CURRENT: Scott Cherry
Grade: B+

Mark Fox is a terrific coach, but it's certainly an interesting out-of-the-box hire that had some scratching their heads. Georgia missed on Jeff Capel and Mike Anderson and went with a Midwest guy who has spent the last few years as the head coach at Nevada. My suggestion to Fox — go out and hire a couple of guys who are plugged in to the South. If he does that, with his ability to coach, the Bulldogs can be a player in the SEC.
FORMER: Dennis Felton
Grade: B

This might have been the biggest shocker of the coaching carousel. It wouldn't have floored me quite as much if Arizona had hired alum Josh Pastner, but the 31-year-old was hired to replace John Calipari after spending one season as an assistant with the Tigers. He's a proven recruiter on the national level, but was selling Lute Olson and Calipari. Now he'll have to sell himself. Pastner's work ethic is unparalleled, but the program was going to take a hit — no matter who took over.
FORMER: John Calipari
CURRENT: Josh Pastner
Grade: B

The Wolf Pack made the right move and handed the keys to the program to associate head coach David Carter. All you had to do was watch Carter on the sidelines in a win against VCU after Mark Fox was tossed to realize the guy can coach. Carter was the right man for this job.
FORMER: Mark Fox
CURRENT: David Carter
Grade: B

Charlton Young is a former star at the school and is familiar with the landscape, so this one looks like the right call. He has bounced around quite a bit, but has spent the last four years with Paul Hewitt at Georgia Tech.
FORMER: Jeff Price
CURRENT: Charlton Young
Grade: B

Matthew Driscoll is a veteran who has head coaching experience in the small college ranks and has also been an assistant at Wyoming, Clemson and the last six years at Baylor.
FORMER: Matt Kilcullen
CURRENT: Matthew Driscoll
Grade: B

It's hard to question the administration at VCU with all the homework they've done over the last few years, but this one surprised me a bit because I thought Shaka Smart was still a couple years away. He is extremely bright and has one of the elite mid-major jobs in the country, so the Rams should be in good shape.
FORMER: Anthony Grant
CURRENT: Shaka Smart
Grade: B-

LeVelle Moton was a star at the school in the early 1990s and is considered a bright, up-and-coming coach.
FORMER: Henry Dickerson
CURRENT: LeVelle Moton
Grade: B-

First of all, I think Tony Bennett is a terrific coach and that's clear with what he did at Washington State in his three years since taking over for his dad. However, this hire made little sense. It's not an easy job, anyway, but to bring a guy whose comfort zone is in the Midwest and Northwest makes little sense. How in the world do you not take a hard look at current Oklahoma coach and former VCU head man Jeff Capel?
FORMER: Dave Leitao
CURRENT: Tony Bennett
Grade: C+

Joe Callero certainly had success at Seattle University, but I would have gone with an up-and-coming Pac-10 assistant who is already plugged into the AAU programs and can get players. The jury is out on this one.
FORMER: Kevin Bromley
CURRENT: Joe Callero
Grade: C

John Cooper got the gig and his former college coach, Eddie Fogler, certainly helped get him the job. Cooper has been an assistant at Auburn, Oregon and South Carolina.
FORMER: Cy Alexander
CURRENT: John Cooper
Grade: C

Guys weren't exactly standing in line for this job because, well, it's a difficult one to begin with and now there's an NCAA investigation hanging over their head. Dickey Nutt did a decent job at Arkansas State, going 189-187. I would personally have gone with a young assistant instead of the 49-year-old Nutt.
FORMER: Scott Edgar
CURRENT: Dickey Nutt
Grade: C

Your guess is as good as mine on this one. I don't know much about Edward Joyner other than the fact that he was on Kevin Nickelberry's staff for the past three years.
FORMER: Kevin Nickelberry
CURRENT: Edward Joyner (Interim)
Grade: Incomplete

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Care to regrade Memphis hire? I'm thinking A+++