Postseason college basketball tournaments are underway at the mid-major level. Big college tournaments are happening next week.
One at a time, teams are closed for the season after being eliminated. And the college coaching carousel begins to turn.
Georgia looks set to fire Tom Crean, and the Southeastern Conference could see many changes, with speculation circling Missouri’s Cuonzo Martin, Ole Miss’ Kermit Davis, South Carolina’s Frank Martin and Mississippi’s Ben Howland.
Maryland and Louisville have their grand openings right now. Iona coach Rick Pitino has dismissed suggestions that the Terrapins are calling for him.
“The University of Maryland is one of the top schools,” Pitino tweeted. “The basketball program can be among the best in the nation. I hope they find the next great Gary Williams. I love training at Iona and I am totally committed to my players. I won’t be.”
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Potential candidates include Eric Musselman, who seems happy in Arkansas, as well as Ed Cooley (Providence), Andy Enfield (USC) and Kevin Willard (Seton Hall).
UMass are looking for a new coach in the Atlantic 10 after moving from Matt McCall. Former Indiana coach Archie Miller could be a target there, along with middling hitters Dana Ford (Missouri State), John Becker (Vermont), Bashir Mason (Wagner), James Jones (Yale) and Jared Grasso (Bryant).
Illinois State is an extremely attractive mid-major opening in the Midwest. The Chicago Sun-Times presented an interesting wish list that included former Iowa State coach Steve Prohm, Wright State coach Scott Nagy and SEMO coach Brad Korn – who coached the long-suffering Redhawks competitively in the Ohio Valley Conference has made.
Also listed were great college assistant coaches Roger Powell Jr. (Gonzaga), Ryan Pedon (Ohio State), Dean Oliver (Wisconsin), and Kyle Green (Iowa State).
Georgetown has decided to give former Hoyas legend Patrick Ewing another chance despite his winless campaign in the Big East game. His unlikely run to last year’s NCAA tournament – by winning the conference tournament – helped him gain more time.
“Of course I want to be back,” Ewing told reporters. “But in this position and this job, anything that happens is going to happen. I hope to come back and do something I love in a place I love and bring us back to being king of the hill.”
Meanwhile, 900-year-old Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told a Syracuse Ratio broadcaster that he would not be stepping down after a difficult season — and that a succession plan was in play.
“I think if I said I’m retiring now, having given these players my word, it would be like, ‘Oh, they’ve had a bad year, so he’s just going to retire,'” Boeheim said Saturday . “This is what it would look like to me. Maybe not for you. Maybe not to someone else. But I would see that. “He gave his word to these players, he’s healthy, he feels great but they’re having a bad year so he’s just going to quit.”
Here’s what people wrote about the coaching carousel:
Markus Schlabach, ESPN.com: “For an athletic program that last season won a national championship in soccer and won national titles in baseball, golf, tennis, track and field, gymnastics, and swimming and diving, Georgia’s inability to field a competitive men’s basketball team annually is around one Fighting for NCAA tournament place was a never-ending mystery. . . Technically, Georgia hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game since 1996, when they upset the No. 1 seed Purdue 76-69 and reached the Sweet 16 under Smith. The 26-year drought is the third longest among Power 5 schools. Only Nebraska, which has never won a game in the NCAAs, and TCU, which last won in 1987, have waited longer. Even if you include Georgia’s first-round win over Murray State in the 2002 NCAA tournament, which was later vacated due to NCAA sanctions related to Harrick, it has the fourth-longest drought in the Power 5 leagues (Penn State has not won an NCAA tournament game since 2001 ).”
Adam Spencer, Saturday in the south: “The Rebels have now lost (7 of their last 8) games with the only win coming in Georgia. They’ve been plagued by injuries, but it’s not looking good for coach Kermit Davis and his side. Davis’ seat heats up quickly. . . We’ll see if the Rebels can salvage anything in Saturday’s regular-season final against Vanderbilt in Oxford. For now, however, it looks like Ole Miss and Mizzou will be locked into this 12-13 match on day one of the SEC tournament.”
Matt Norlander, CBBSports.com: “With March here, there are some hot mid-major coaching contenders for this year’s coaching carousel. Murray State’s Matt McMahon is as prominent as any, with Cleveland State’s Dennis Gates, Wagner’s Bashir Mason and South Dakota State’s Eric Henderson in that group. (Grant) McCasland definitely falls into that category, but he’ll likely need a legitimate job at a power conference to be yanked out of his North Texas situation. UNT athletic director Wren Baker has consistently championed the program in terms of funding. The staff is better paid than anyone else in C-USA, and from upgraded locker rooms to workout room renovations to practice facility facelifts, UNT is setting the pace at the conference. It’s one of the reasons the school is moving to the American Athletic Conference in two years, with football obviously taking center stage.”
Joe Henricksen, Chicago Sun Times: “Despite nearly a quarter-century without a single NCAA tournament appearance, this is a program in the collegiate basketball industry that is widely regarded as one of the better mid-major jobs in the country. That’s why Kyle Brennan, a fresh and relatively new face to ISU athletics, is in a great place. Brennan was hired as Director of Athletics in December 2020 and will not have a difficult time compiling a list of top candidates. This becomes a coveted mid-major job with inquiries from potential candidates he never dreamed would be interested. But any good sports director will already have at least a short list of candidates they want to interview and take their time with it. The early termination of (Dan) Muller, who was fired with five games remaining in the regular season and the conference tournament remaining, buys Brennan even more time. But that list must include someone who can target and recruit the state of Illinois, along with the recruiting breadbasket that surrounds the state. The St. Louis and Indianapolis metropolitan areas are less than a three-hour drive from campus. This job, with the entire Chicago area an easy two-hour drive to Normal Campus and central to the rest of the state, needs a coach to recruit this state.”
“I just really focus on the things that I participate in every day and that we try to do our best to control. It wasn’t easy to do that but at the same time these guys are fighting, they keep coming back, they keep showing energy and we keep trying to give ourselves every chance to win but we were just close.
Crean, to ESPN, on being a dead coach walking in Georgia.