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Good and Questionable Coaching Hires for 2019 pt.1


By Jack Williams

Over the last month or so, several teams have hired new coaches. Some of them paid a lot of money to search firms to find their next coach. But, out of these hires which were good and which were questionable? So far, there were several rookie head coaches, which includes head coaches on other levels of college basketball, assistant coaches and NBA players turned head coach. There were also several refurbished coaches, meaning head coaches who have been fired once before but found new life), and coaches who have advanced from other teams.

Let’s look at those who were head coaches on other levels of College Basketball (for example JUCO, Division 2, Division 3 or NAIA):

Cal Poly hired John Smith

Coach Smith was very successful on the California Community College level. He led the Riverside City College to the California State Championship in 2019
So this was a great hire for Cal Poly because Coach Smith has some history of winning. He has an overall winning record of 196 and 87. Coach Joe Callero led Cal-Poly to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in team history and that was in a season where Cal-Poly had a losing season.

Fairfield hired Coach Jay Young

Coach Jay Young was once the head coach at the division II New Haven. Coach Young has an overall winning record of 78-65. He is also known as a very good recruiter and served as assistant coach of Rutgers for several years.

This was a good hire. The reason is, Coach Jay Young has some history of leading a team to the tournament, even though it was on the division II level. But Fairfield is a low mid-major team. Therefore, Coach Young should be able to duplicate that same success that he had on the division II level. Fairfield has had some post season appearances in the last few years under the previous coach Sydney Johnson. They’ve participated in the CIT in 2012, 2016 and 2017 but never the NCAA Tournament.

Niagara hired Patrick Beilein

This was an excellent hire for Niagara. Coach Beilein has name recognition being the son of Michigan head coach John Beilein. He has also head coaching experience on the division II level. He led Le Moyne to the Division II NCAA tournament three (3) times in a row. Le Moyne finished in the elite eight in 2018. Coach Beilein has a winning overall record of 109 and 68.

I got a feeling that Coach Beilein is going to be an instant winner at Niagara. I guarantee you that he won’t be at Niagara for more than two (2) seasons. Out of this rookie division I head coaching class, he’s seems to be the most promising. I believe that he’s going to be the Chris Beard of this bunch.

Rookie head Coaches who haven’t had any experience as head coach:
Montana State hired Danny Sprinkles

Sprinkle was on the staff of Cal State Fullerton since 2014 until becoming head coach at Montana State. Assistant coaches who have never served as head coaches are always questionable. Just because a person can recruit doesn’t mean that he can coach.

San Francisco hired Coach Todd Golden

Coach Todd Golden is young and this will be his first go around as head coach. I would have thought that since San Francisco was winning that they would hire someone with head coaching experience. But Coach Golden is already aware of how this program operates. So I’m kind of in the middle on this one.

Southern Illinois hired Bryan Mullins

Coach Byran Mullins was once a star layer at Southern Illinois. Mullins is also the former assistant coach of the Loyola Ramblers men’s basketball team.

There again. A coach with no head coaching experience. Always a tossup. This one is questionable because this is Southern Illinois University in the Missouri Valley Conference. This is a very competitive mid-major conference. I would have thought this team would have gone with someone who has head coaching experience.

William & Mary hires Dane Fischer

Coach Dane Fischer spent the las four (4) seasons as assistant coach at George Mason. But there again he doesn’t have head coaching experience. Questionable.

And lastly our NBA hire. Vanderbilt hired Jerry Stackhouse

Another NBA players turned division 1 head coach! If you look into all NBA players turned head coach, so far there hasn’t been any success stories. None of them have gotten past the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. And the majority of them never made it to the NCAA Tournament.

Now Vanderbilt just fired a coach for going winless in the SEC. Then they turned around and hired a coach that statistically shows that the chances of success is very low. This is a very questionable hire.

Refurbished coaches, meaning coaches who have division 1 head coaching experience but was fired at some point or left for the NBA or something.

California hires Mark Fox

I think that this was a good hire for California. The reason is that Coach Fox at least has experience getting a team to the post season. He got fired from Georgia because he had never moved a team deep into the post season.. After two (2) seasons in the basement, California wouldn’t mind just making it to the tournament.

Greg Gary was hired by Mercer

This hire is very questionable. Coach Gary resigned from Centenary in 2010, just before getting canned. He couldn’t get his team above 8th place in the Summit. You would have thought that Mercer would have fired their longtime coach that got them some wins to get a coach who has no experience winning. We’ll see what happens.

Nebraska hires Fred Hoiberg

This is an excellent hire for Nebraska. So far, the best hire of the post season. Fred Hoiberg put Iowa State on the national stage. He was very consistent with leading Iowa State to the post season before leaving to take on the head coaching in the NBA. Hoiberg should be comfortable at Nebraska because he’s at home. Coach Hoiberg is from Nebraska. He has family there. And also, His grandfather, Jerry Bush, was also once the head basketball coach at Nebraska.

St. Joseph’s hires Billy Lange

Don’t know about this one. Coach Lange’s last head coaching job was with the Navy. The Navy is a hard team to coach because there really isn’t any recruiting done there. As the head coach of a military school, you go with the best athletes you have available. However, he had some success on the division 3 level. He led the Merchant Marines Academy to the Division 3 sweet sixteen. However, most of the schools that he coached were military schools. We’ll see how he does.

Stetson hired Donnie Jones

This is actually a great hire for Stetson. The reason is, he has some experience at the heading coaching position on the division 1 level. He coach UCF from 2010 until 2016. Even though there’s not much to be impressed about his record. However, Stetson hasn’t had any success on the division 1 level. Any type of success will do for now, even if it’s just a win season. Coach Donnie Jones has the ability to do that. The previous coach Corey Williams came to Stetson without any head coaching experience.

Stony Brook hires Geno Ford

Geno Ford was a good hire for Stony Brook. There was no time wasted with this hire and they have a coach that has experience coaching on the division 1 level. Coach Ford knows the program well because he has served as an assistant coach there since 2016.

Troy hires Scott Cross

Coach Cross was a good hire for Troy. Even though he only made it to the NCAA Tournament once in his twelve (12) years with Texas-Arlington, he had this team competitive in the Sun Belt. No other coach out there knows the Sun Belt better than coach Cross.

And lastly UMKC hires Billy Donlon

Good hire for UMKC. Again Coach Billy Donlon is a coach with division 1 coaching experience. He was the head coach for Wright State from 2010 until 2016.

Coaches who have advanced to other teams

Coach Nate Oats to Alabama

Nate Oats left Buffalo to take the Alabama job left vacant from the firing of Coach Avery Johnson. Good hire for Alabama. Nate Oats is one of the rising stars in division 1 college basketball. He was named the 2019 MAC Coach of the Year. He led Bufallo to the NCAA Tournament three (3) out of the four (4) seasons as head coach there. Alabama is looking for something that they haven’t had in a long time and that’s some consistency going to the post season.

Coach Dustin Kerns to Appalachian State
Dustin Kerns advanced to Appalachian State from Presbyterian. Don’t know what relationship that Coach Kern had with Appalachian State that drew him the team.

Coach Jamion Christian to George Washington
Jamion Christian left Siena just after one season there to take on the job at George Washington. This was a good steal for George Washington Jamion Christian is from the Virginia area. George Washington is in Washington D.C.

Jeff Boals to Ohio

Jeff Boals is back home with this hire. This was a very good hire for this team. Coach Boals is a proven winner.

Buzz Williams to Texas A&M

Buzz Williams left the Virginia Tech job to take the Texas A&M job. This hire along with the Fred Hoiberg hire were the best two (2) hires of the post season thus far. Buzz Williams is also back home with this hire. He is also a proven winner who knows how to move deep into the post season. The SEC gets even more dangerous with this hire. I guarantee you that Texas A&M will be in the final four within the next four years with Buzz Williams on board. Excellent hire!!

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