If Hewitt goes, who might Tech target? Glad you asked

Both of these men are Tech legends, but they're not on my list. (AJC file photo)

Both of these men are Tech legends, but they're not on my list. (AJC file photo)

I believe Georgia Tech will be in the market for a basketball coach within the month. I do not know this for a fact, but I work today on that assumption. But before I offer a half-dozen (or so) candidates I’d consider to replace Paul Hewitt, I should explain why some major names aren’t on the list.

• Brad Stevens isn’t on it because I’ll believe he’ll leave Butler only when I see it, and maybe not then. The same goes for Mark Few of Gonzaga.

• Tubby Smith isn’t on the list because the Tubby’s-coming-back-to-Georgia-to-coach-somebody rumor has become such an annual occurrence as to be discounted. (Didn’t take the Hawks job back in 2004, did he? Didn’t return to UGA in 2009, did he?) And Tubby Smith — who is, I should stipulate, among my all-time favorites as both a man and a coach — will turn 60 in June. I’m not sure you start over with a 60-year-old.

• Mark Price isn’t on the list because he hasn’t been a collegiate head coach and isn’t currently working in college basketball. (He’s the shooting coach for the Golden State Warriors.)

• Lon Kruger of UNLV isn’t on the list because he’s 58. Fran Dunphy of Temple isn’t because he’s 62. Blaine Taylor of Old Dominion isn’t because he’s 53. (Which is younger than I am, for the record.)

• Bobby Cremins isn’t on the list because you can’t go home again.

• Bobby Knight isn’t on the list because the great lure of Georgia Tech basketball — it plays in a prestigious conference and is based in the capital of a state that produces a slew of big-time basketball players (Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Derrick Favors, Trey Thompkins) — would be rendered null and void. Because no big-timer would play for Bobby Knight.

• Randy Bennett of Saint Mary’s isn’t on the list because he has never worked east of the Mississippi. (Though he did spent two years as Lorenzo Romar’s assistant at St. Louis, which is pretty darn close to the Mississippi.)

• Jamie Dixon of Pitt and Jay Wright of Villanova aren’t on the list. I’d love it if they were, but they have better jobs. And the Big East is a hotter conference than the ACC.

Which leads me to this: Three ACC programs hired new coaches last spring, and none elicited a “Wow!” Clemson hired Brad Brownell of Wright State. Boston College hired Steve Donahue of Cornell. Wake Forest hired Jeff Bzdelik of Colorado. This isn’t to say any were bad hires — Brownell and Donahue have done well — but none had the sizzle of Bob Huggins heading to West Virginia or John Calipari going to Kentucky. (FYI,  Calipari was interested in the Tech job back in 2000.)

There’s the preface. Here’s my list:

Mike Anderson is on left. On the right is Tony Greene, the Atlantan who's the best ref in the business. (AP photo)

That's Mike Anderson is on left. On the right is Tony Greene, the Atlantan who's the best ref in the business. (AP photo)

Mike Anderson, Missouri: He’s close to Dixon/Wright status in that he presides over a Top 25 program in a major conference. (And Missouri can throw money at him to stay.) But he grew up in Birmingham and coached at UAB and worked under Nolan Richardson at Arkansas, and he might have a hankering to return to the South. And I for one would love to see his full-tilt style shake up the rather staid ACC.

Scott Drew, Baylor: He coached under his famous dad Homer at Valparaiso and has worked since 2003 in Waco, where he inherited a program leveled by a scandal involving the murder of a by a former player. He’s 84-43 over the past three-plus seasons. Last spring he took the Bears to the Elite Eight, after which he signed a 10-year extension. Not sure he’d leave for Tech, but how much longer is a coach this young (40) and skilled apt to stay in Waco?

Brian Gregory, Dayton: He doesn’t fit the definition of a Hot Young Guy. He’s 44, which isn’t that young, and his Flyers are 5-6 in the Atlantic 10, which isn’t hot. But he’s 167-89 in seven-plus seasons at a mid-major that takes the sport seriously, and he apprenticed under Tom Izzo at Michigan State.

Cuonzo Martin, Missouri State: Here’s your Hot Young Guy. Martin was Glenn Robinson’s wingman at Purdue when the Big Dog was the best player in college basketball. Martin played in Europe and survived non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and has become a coach of growing portfolio. He won 24 games last season at Missouri State, which as Southwest Missouri State perpetrated a memorable NCAA tournament upset of Clemson at the old Omni. Martin’s latest Bears are 20-6, tied with Wichita State atop the Missouri Valley Conference. Another reason to like Martin: He worked under Gene Keady at Purdue, and Keady assistants do well. Think Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt, Bruce Weber at Illinois and now Matt Painter with the Boilermakers.

Chris Mooney, Richmond: Good young coach — he’s 38 — at another pedigreed mid-major. He played under the legendary Pete Carril at Princeton, which means, surprisingly enough, that he runs the Princeton Offense. Mooney led the Spiders to the NCAA tournament last season, but they were upset (Richmond was actually the better seed) by Bennett and Saint Mary’s. Richmond is 20-6, tied with Temple for second in the Atlantic 10 . Possible disqualifier: Richmond played Tech in December  and lost. If you go by RPI, that’s the Spiders’ worst loss of the season.

Mark Turgeon, Texas A&M: Played under Larry Brown at Kansas, coached under both Brown and Roy Williams there. Turgeon also signed a contract extension after last season, in which he took the Aggies to the NCAA tournament for the third time in three tries. This appears to be his best A&M team — it’s 19-5 and ranked No. 21 in the Associated Press poll. Not sure he’d leave for Tech, either, unless he just wants out of College Station and into the ACC. (A&M is rumored to be bound for the SEC, which might or might not be a consideration.)

OK, there are six candidates, three of whom would surely see Tech as a step up. And you’ll notice I included only current head coaches. This kept me from including assistants Mark Montgomery of Michigan State, Steve Masiello of Louisville and Joe Dooley of Kansas, all of whom should be head coaches soon. But there’s one assistant coach who bears special consideration, and he is …

That's Noodles Neal in the background, hugging Mark Price. (AJC file photo)

Good ol' days: That's Craig "Noodles" Neal in the background, his hand on Mark Price's head. (AJC file photo)

Craig Neal, New Mexico: Known as Noodles when he played at Tech, where he first served as Price’s backup before becoming an outstanding point after Price departed. He has been Steve Alford’s chief assistant in Albuquerque since 2007, and last season the Lobos were 30-5 and entered the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 seed. This year they’re 17-8. I cannot imagine a circumstance in which Neal would not crawl to Atlanta for a chance to coach his alma mater.

Oh, and one more name, this one a long shot but nonetheless intriguing:

Herb Sendek, Arizona State: He’s the dullest guy in the world, and he’s not a great recruiter. He left N.C. State in a snit because Wolfpack fans weren’t satisfied with five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. But things haven’t gone great for him in Tempe — he’s 85-70 in four-plus seasons and has reached the Big Dance only once — and his Sun Devils are 9-15 and hold last place in the Pac-10. There’s a chance Sendek could get fired this season. It’s not often a big-time program hires a coach who has just been canned at another school, but Sendek does have a history of winning in the ACC. He was 46-34 in league play his final five seasons at State.

And that’s it — a long post regarding a short list. And if you’re asking which of these names fascinates me the most, I’d think really hard and say:

Cuonzo Martin.

By Mark Bradley

387 comments Add your comment

rawdawg

February 15th, 2011
3:20 pm

GTHorsie

February 15th, 2011
3:21 pm

The problem is that GT won’t be able to afford a “Hot Young Guy”. I vote for bringing Price in for the rest of this season, and start grooming.

GTHorsie

February 15th, 2011
3:21 pm

The problem is that GT won’t be able to afford a “Hot Young Guy”. I vote for bringing Price in for the rest of this season, and start grooming.

Mark Bradley

February 15th, 2011
3:24 pm

rawdawg returns with a kudo’ed vengeance.

Steve

February 15th, 2011
3:27 pm

My vote would be Doug Libscomb, Wheeler High Schools head coach. Even he could do better then Hewitt right? Heck, even Schultz or Bradley could!

norman

February 15th, 2011
3:27 pm

whoa, Bradley. You are writing so many articles recently, I can’t hardly keep up with you. Are you behind in your articles?

Mark Price's Mom

February 15th, 2011
3:33 pm

Don’t be so sure Mark. When my boy puts his mind to something, its as good as done.

Phil

February 15th, 2011
3:34 pm

I’d love it if they approached Cremins with an offer to coach 3 seasons, then “retire”.

He wouldn’t be a long-term fix but would generate excitement and fill a new arena – bringing back the fans Hewitt has lost – until Tech finds a replacement to take us into the future.

Bill

February 15th, 2011
3:34 pm

Bradley- Look up Rick Byrd of Belmont University. He would be an excellent selection.

SohaniGT

February 15th, 2011
3:38 pm

@GTHorsie, what are you talking about?

We’re paying Hewitt 1.7 million dollars a year now, that’s not much less than coaches like Roy Barnes ($2 million/year) and Mike Krzyzewski (2.2 million/year).

Atlanta is a hot recruiting area for basketball, coaches would love the opportunity to work here.

JoeFan

February 15th, 2011
3:38 pm

If GT does replace CPH, then whoever they select, lets hope that person is driven to succeed and is does not have a complacent personality.

Mark Bradley

February 15th, 2011
3:40 pm

I know about Mr. Byrd, Bill. Saw his team almost beat Duke in the NCAA back in 2008.

NOVAJacket

February 15th, 2011
3:40 pm

Noodles would be my choice.

DawginLex

February 15th, 2011
3:43 pm

Hire one of the Duke assistant coaches like Collins or Wojo.

That would keep it in the family.

Ole Miss’s coach Andy Kennedy would leave Oxford in a heartbeat to coach in the ACC.

Innocent Bystander

February 15th, 2011
3:43 pm

I would hope we could do better than Herb Sendek. Craig Neal would be a good hire from the standpoint that he would assuredly re-unite our fanbase. Whether he could actually coach is another story. I have a feeling that DRad wants to hire someone with a proven track record as a head coach, much like he did with CPJ.

And I agree, Cuonzo Martin would most certainly be one of the more intriguing picks, and I for one would be very happy with him.

GTBob

February 15th, 2011
3:44 pm

Pretty good list. I say bring in Cuonzo Martin or Brian Gregory. Either would be a good place to start. Gregory already showed last year that he is a better coach then Hewitt.

Marlon

February 15th, 2011
3:46 pm

Mark,

The best young coach in the country is at Morehead State and his name Donnie Tyndall. How you could not include him on this list? He has done the greatest rebuilding job in college basketball! He is a proven recruiter and his kids graduate! Take some time and do your homework on him.

Dan

February 15th, 2011
3:49 pm

Scott Drew may look like a choir boy but there is a lot of smoke arising from his recruiting practices in the Big 12 -would be surprised if Tech would want to buy into that image and hire a Calipari wannabe

Mark Bradley`s Booster

February 15th, 2011
3:50 pm

Mark: You have obviously done some good work compling this
list of possible names and leaving off those who are not
likely candidates. Do you plan to share with Drad and talk privately with him about these names. Also, you might want to bill for services rendered to the one selected by GT.

Tech '81

February 15th, 2011
3:52 pm

I hope we go all out for Mike Anderson at Mizzou!

Reality Check

February 15th, 2011
3:54 pm

GT Basketball is in for a rude awakening when it comes to hiring a new coach. Even with a lot of cash the campus is not attractive and this has been a lower tiered program 60 or 70% of the time. Just like UGA, youre gonna get a lowered tier coach or assistant. The ACC still has Duke and UNC but that is it. NO ONE else in the conference is an attractive job at all.

New Coach's

February 15th, 2011
3:55 pm

Craig Neal would be awesome for the job. Should I renew my season tickets now?

RAMBLE ON!!!

February 15th, 2011
3:56 pm

I’ll take Noodles out of that list.

JB

February 15th, 2011
3:59 pm

Any of these willing to work for 36,900 a year….That’s about all that will be left unless they can convince Hewitt to take a say 10-12 year payout rather than 7.

Joey

February 15th, 2011
4:00 pm

Your kidding yourself if you think Brad Stevens or Mark Few will ever be in Atlanta other than to visit. Georgia Tech is not a national brand in anything so even some of those other coaches you mentioned I think are a long shot. Is Tech really an upgrade?…..No.

jugdish

February 15th, 2011
4:03 pm

Joey, you could use a course in reading comprehension.

Yup...

February 15th, 2011
4:05 pm

Mike Anderson or Martin would be great. I’m a UT student and saw Martin’s team take us down to the wire earlier this year. They are fundamentally sound and give themselves a chance to win every game.

Side note: I laughed a bit at the man who suggested Lipscomb. He’s a great coach, but he’s been turning down college assistant oppurtunities for awhile now. I know for a fact he’ll be at Wheeler at least until all his kids graduate from there. Which I believe is still 4-5 years down the road. He can recruit Atlanta area though as we’ve seen through his ability to play the ATL transfer game with the best of them.

TomB

February 15th, 2011
4:07 pm

Why is Sean Miller not on this list? Anderson turned down UGA so not sure he wants to come back south. From this list, I would take Turgeon or Drew. Martin is too big a risk in my opinion especially after Hewitt’s Siena resume. How about the one coaching Furman?

Mark Bradley

February 15th, 2011
4:09 pm

I feel certain that Mr. Radakovich could, if necessary, compile an even better list on his own. He’s a pro.

Tech82

February 15th, 2011
4:09 pm

Some interesting names on that list. I wouldn’t count Tubby out but the age is a factor. That said, I think he would be happy to coach another ten years in the ACC and ten years is a long tenure for a coach in this day and age.

Nutty Waters

February 15th, 2011
4:10 pm

I hope we get a coach who realizes that Shumpert is like Joe Johnson. They are both problems because they hog the ball, miss a lot of shots and all the other players think they are supposed to give them first dibs on a shot. Neither are team players.

Gordon

February 15th, 2011
4:10 pm

What about Chris Mack from Xavier?

Buckhead Dawg

February 15th, 2011
4:11 pm

Keep Hewitt! He’s the best!

Delbert D.

February 15th, 2011
4:13 pm

Somebody who will never sign one-and-done type players. Make that a contract stipulation.

blazer

February 15th, 2011
4:13 pm

if Jay Wright won’t come then Anderson or Drew or Noodles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the Princeton Coach would do it!!

TomB

February 15th, 2011
4:14 pm

Sorry, meant Davidson’s head coach, not Furman’s.

Mark Bradley

February 15th, 2011
4:14 pm

All Xavier coaches are good coaches. (Sean Miller, Thad Matta, the late Skip Prosser, even Pete Gillen before he came to Virginia.) But Chris Mack has only been the head coach at X a year and a half.

yellarjacket

February 15th, 2011
4:14 pm

Mike Anderson would be a perfect fit. Up tempo style of basketball and will press you relentlessly for 40 minutes. With the type of athletes coming out of the Atlanta area, Anderson would have a field day recruiting the type of player to fit his scheme. With the UAB experience, he has recruiting connections in the southeast.

Mark – do you know the terms of his existing contract? How much do you think we would need to offer to lure him to Tech?

Mark Bradley

February 15th, 2011
4:15 pm

And Donnie Tyndall of Morehead State was an intriguing thought, and I say this as someone who grew up following the Ohio Valley Conference.

Mark Bradley

February 15th, 2011
4:17 pm

I’m not sure Tech could afford Anderson, yellarjacket. Missouri is a very wealthy school that cares about basketball. I put him on the list, but I’m not sure he’d come if asked. (Same with Drew and Turgeon.)

One Hit Wonder

February 15th, 2011
4:18 pm

Wasn’t Hewitt a “Hot Young Guy” back in the day? Look where that has gotten us. Stay away from the unproven one hit wonder guys. Especially the “one-hit wonders” like Stevens at Butler. Everyone overreacts when a guy makes a championship run (Hewitt, Stevens) then sign him to a ridiculous contract the next year.

Butler is nowhere close to as good as they were last year. Yes Hayward went to the NBA, but these one-hit wonder coaches get way too much love. Go with a guy who knows how to run an offense and plays sound defense. Not a style that leaves us running all over the court like maniacs (Missouri’s coach).

Mark Bradley

February 15th, 2011
4:20 pm

I’m not sure Brad Stevens was a one-hit wonder. Butler was pretty darn good before last season, you know.

freshd

February 15th, 2011
4:20 pm

If Hewitt is replaced, GT should make a call up to Knoxville and grab Tony Jones who filled in for Bruce Pearl when he had to sit out for 8 games. He did a great job, and he proved he is ready to be a head coach.

Mark Bradley

February 15th, 2011
4:21 pm

I thought about Tony Jones, freshd. But he might be the next head ball coach at UT.

Gordon

February 15th, 2011
4:22 pm

Let me eliminate some from your list:

Noodles Neal – too risky, we need a proven head coach.

Chris Mooney – we have Paul Johnson, we don’t need another special offense.

Scott Drew – if he just signed a 10 year extension, there must be a big buyout. Have you checked into that for any of these head coaches?

Turgeon – see Drew.

Herb Sendek – dull, last place in Pac-10, can’t recruit. I remember you wrote something negative about him in Hewitt’s first year. No way.

That leaves Anderson and Martin. I’ll bet we can’t afford Anderson, but he would be my first choice. Martin wouldn’t be a disappointment.

I hope all of this isn’t premature. God help us if March 16th comes and goes.

GT in CT

February 15th, 2011
4:23 pm

I’m wondering how the choice would be dictated by the finances. Would we not be able to afford a proven coach and have to take a chance on somebody like Neal because he’d be cheaper?

jfreak13713

February 15th, 2011
4:27 pm

Noodles Neal would be a great idea! I’m mean I’m sure there are other guys with better or more experience but what the heck sometimes just do what feels right! :)

I’m really sorry to see that Hewitt has done such a poor job but sports is a results type business and his results just haven’t been good. It is time to move on and once Tech is assured of not making any post season they should fire Hewitt start the rebuilding.

Jim in Murray

February 15th, 2011
4:28 pm

If you grew up watching OVC basketball, then the best coach in the OVC is Billy Kennedy at Murray State University. Has been a head coach at three different schools and has ACC experience since he was an assistant at Univ of Miami for a year. Tyndall is charismatic but not the best coach.

LHRJacket

February 15th, 2011
4:30 pm

Pretty good list Mark. Anderson, Gregory, or Drew would be terrific hires. In spite of being near 60, I would welcome Lon Kruger or Tubby Smith as well (Kruger is my first choice). We need to get Tech back to respectability, and while the latter two guys might not stay beyond 4 or 5 years, they will get us back to respectability with absolute certainty. I also like Steve Alford at N.M State. Cuanzo Martin is intriguing, but I don’t want to hire anyone based on one great year (which got us in the predicament we are in today).

Bark Madley

February 15th, 2011
4:31 pm

I specialize in low blows.