ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) Tuesday night, the Missouri Tigers welcome Auburn to Mizzou Arena, trying to put up a win for the first time in the team’s last six games, and according to kenpom.com, the game is the “most-winnable” game left this season. And it’s in January.
This column will join the chorus of others to remind readers that Kim Anderson is a great ambassador who bleeds black and gold and didn’t deserve the hand he was dealt when he landed his dream job. An NCAA probe he knew nothing about when he got head coaching job. A roster depleted by the previous regime’s focus on transfers. Academic progress problems.
But with the increasing odds of a third season with less than 11 wins, it will be time to go in a new direction. Athletic Director Jim Sterk’s statement last week saying that he recognized the public’s concerns but that decisions needing to be made based on his evaluations would be handled “at the appropriate time,” should mean soon after the team finishes play in the SEC tournament.
We’ve speculated about possible candidates before, and other speculative lists are starting to emerge. Here’s my updated outlook, in no particular order.
A lot has happened since the Quin Snyder era came and went at MU. Snyder’s demise in Columbia shouldn’t be held against worthy candidates who learned the college game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Jeff Capel, the former Old Dominion and Oklahoma coach and current interim Duke Head Coach during Mike Krzyzewski’s leave for back surgery, could be a good option. Same with Steve Wojciechowski, the former Duke guard turned Marquette coach, who could bring former Cardinal Ritter standout Chris Carrawell with him as an assistant from his current staff. Sterk will have good in-house counsel for the search in Associate AD Brian White. Basketball is one of his areas of oversight and his father is Duke’s Athletic Director. White will have the intel he needs to decipher if a candidate with Duke ties is really interested in the job, or is just biding time to be in position when Coach K retires.
Perhaps Sterk considers some of the coaches he saw regularly in the West Coast Conference. Randy Bennett has built a mid-major power at St. Mary’s, with some form of postseason appearances dating back to 2007-2008. What helps his cause is that he was a Lorenzo Romar assistant at Saint Louis from 1999-2001, so he knows the recruiting geography.
Cuonzo Martin has to top this list. The current Cal head coach may feel like he’s got unfinished scores to settle after he left Tennessee. The East St. Louis native would seem to offer an instant fix to the school’s recruiting woes in the St. Louis metro area and would offer a compelling alternative to what Travis Ford is building at SLU and what John Groce has accomplished on the trail over the last year. What about Rick Stansbury? He was the longtime coach at Mississippi State and has a Final Four to his credit. After a brief retirement he emerged as a Texas A&M assistant and is in his first year at Western Kentucky, where he’s compiled an impressive recruiting class for next season. It isn’t out of the question that some of that talent could travel with him, although that’s not why you’d make the hire. Want a wild card? Matt McCall, a former Florida assistant who learned the college game as a student manager and later assistant at Florida under Billy Donovan. His time as a Gator overlapped that of David Lee and Bradley Beal. McCall is now in his second season as a head coach at Chattanooga.
The Search Firm and Odds & Ends
Assuming the school hires a search firm, let the hired help do the legwork on asking the folks you need to ask, even if you don’t expect it to go anywhere. I put Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall and Dayton’s Archie Miller in this category.
There are also candidates out there who just always seem to pop up a lot in searches. Martin has been in that category before, although he makes a lot of sense here. Florida Gulf Coast’s Joe Dooley fits this mold. The former Kansas assistant under Bill Self was a candidate for the St. Louis job last spring and has been linked to other jobs over the last few years. He knows the recruiting scene in the Midwest from his time at KU, and who knows, maybe he could be the one who helps broker a renewal of the MU-KU rivalry.