Thursday, January 29, 2009

Damon's Options

The AJC (through Moore and Bradley) and ESPN (Schlabach) have weighed in on possible replacements for Dennis Felton, fired today after 5+ seasons in Athens. Here's a closer look at each, along with a few possible candidates that I've taken the liberty of coming up with myself:

Likely Targets (in no particular order):

Anthony Grant, Virginia Commonwealth
Positives: Former assistant of Billy Donovan at Florida, was actually close to being named Donovan's successor after he had accepted the job with the Orlando Magic....recruited a number of the McDonalds All-Americans that played in Gainesville.....beat Duke in the 1st round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament at VCU.
Negatives: Hasn't duplicated the success of his first year at VCU.....interviewed at a number of schools last season but did not take/get a job (which may have been his choice).....will probably be at the top of the list of a number of schools after this season.

Brian Gregory, Dayton
Positives: 98-60 record over his first 5 years at Dayton....former assistant at Michigan State for Tom Izzo.....Mark Bradley apparently likes him alot.
Negatives: Only one NCAA tournament appearance with a team he inherited......current roster at Dayton consists of only one player from south of Tennessee.....Mark Bradley apparently likes him alot.

Mike Davis, UAB
Positives: 8+ years of head coaching experience, including 6 at Indiana, where he led the Hoosiers to the 2002 National Championship game...first coach in Indiana history to lead the Hoosiers to 20 win seasons and NCAA tournament berths in his first 3 seasons....native of Alabama that played collegiately for the Crimson Tide......does not have a relatively a large buyout from UAB.
Negatives: 48-41 in his last 3 years at Indiana, with only 1 NCAA tournament NCAA tournament berths in his 3 years at UAB, following 3 consecutive berths under the former coach.

Tubby Smith, Minnesota
Positives: Former UGA and Kentucky head coach familiar with the state of Georgia and metro Atlanta areas....won a National Championship in 1997 at Kentucky.....14 straight NCAA tournament appearances at 3 schools (Tulsa, Georgia and Kentucky)
Negatives: Left UGA under his own accord after only 2 seasons at the helm......will be 60 years old in 2 years......contract with incentives at Minnesota could exceed $3.3M per year.

Jeff Capel, Oklahoma
Positives: Former Duke player and son of a very successful coach at Old Dominion....directed OU to 23 wins and an NCAA tournament win in just his 2nd season.....young and well-known with AAU coaches, would likely be able to recruit the area well.
Negatives: Manageable salary, but one that OU would likely match or beat to keep him in Norman.

Sean Miller, Xavier
Positives: 93-39 record in 4 seasons at Xavier, including Elite 8 run in 2008.....former player at All-Big East selection at Pittsburgh.....beat Georgia in the NCAA tournament in 2008.
Negatives: $2M buyout from Xavier, which apparently kept Indiana from being able to hire him last season.....Xavier will likely do everything possible to keep him.

Lon Kruger, UNLV
Positives: Former Florida and Atlanta Hawks coach that knows the Atlanta area well.....experienced success at Florida, Illinois and UNLV....back to back NCAA Tournament appearances at UNLV including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2007.
Negatives: Failure as Hawks' coach may have left him in a negative light with UGA fanbase (although most recruits wouldn't even likely remember that)....not necessarily a "sexy" hire that some of the other names might be.

Scott Drew, Baylor
Positives: Led Baylor on a meteoric rise from an almost impossible reclamation project following the Baylor scandals under former coach Dave Bliss.....son of Valparaiso legendary head coach Homer Drew.....won 20 games and led Baylor to the NCAA tournament in 2008.
Negatives: 57-80 through his first 5 seasons at Baylor, although he inherited about as bad a mess as one possibly could...signed a 10 year contract at Baylor last year.

Other options (otherwise known as the personal commentary portion of this particular blog):

Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh: If you ask most of the few UGA basketball fans that follow college basketball closely, this might be the best possible option. He's been at Pitt as a head coach and assistant for over 10 years now, and has a contract through 2016. He is a West Coast native that spurned overtures from Cal last year, and will more than likely be sought as the primary candidate to replace Lute Olson at Arizona. The Dawgs would need to pony up big for this one.

Brad Stevens, Butler: 3o wins at Butler in his only full season, but beyond that he's largely unproven. He has coached under 2 pretty good bosses in Thad Matta (Ohio State) and Todd Lickliter (Iowa.)

Mark Few, Gonzaga: One of the most successful "mid-major" coaches of all time, and seemingly on everybody's short list when a job comes open. But, he's been an assistant and head coach at Gonzaga for 20 years now. He may be settled for life.

Mike Anderson, Missouri: Former UAB coach that was groomed under Nolan Richardson (back when Nolan Richardson was a great coach.) Would coach a style that should translate well to the type of athletes that this state has to offer, and should be successful in the SEC.

Sam Mitchell, currently unemployed: Toronto Raptors head coach as recently as December, has publicly stated that he'd be interested in the job should it come open, which will probably earn him an interview just because he's shown interest. He was NBA Coach of the Year a few years back, but not sure if that would translate to the college game.

Bob Knight, ESPN: This would be intriguing to say the least. But he's old, and he probably won't be anywhere close to a long-term solution. 3-4 years maximum, but little doubt that UGA would win during that time period. I doubt he'll even get a call, but hiring him would certainly put UGA in a place in the college basketball universe that it never has been before.

Gary Williams, Maryland: There are rumors that he may be on his way out at Maryland, so the only question would be whether or not he wants to coach somewhere else immediately. My guess is that he'd probably take some time off. He has not recruited very well in recent years at Maryland.

Out of all of the above, Dixon, Miller, Capel and Anderson would be my first choices, although I'm not sure any of those are realistic. Grant, Kruger and Drew are probably more likely possibilities. Gregory and Tubby are probably the only ones that wouldn't get me too excited.

One thing is for sure, Damon will have many options at his disposal. He'll have to work hard to mess this up.


Mike Rowan said...

I hate that they fired Felton!

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Anonymous said...

How old is Gary Williams and would he really be interested in the Georgia job? Mark Few might be a good option but I am not sure he would leave. I took a trip to Seattle a few years ago during the tournament- the Zags get more press during basketball season than the Huskies do. My vote is still for Tubby but if he says no- Sean Miller or the guy from Butler might be a good option as well as Anthony Grant. I don't think Jamie Dixon would give us the time of day.

Amanda said...

Yes! Felton is a good player they even scored in the last game.. very sad! Amanda Vanderpool