Next Men's Basketball Head Coach

February 6, 2017 @ 12:25 AM

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It seems like we could use a thread going on this topic.

Cuonzo Martin? Archie Miller? Kevin Keatts? Fred Hoiberg? Scott Drew?

So who is your favorite candidate and why?

Sweetchuck13 on February 6, 2017 @ 08:55 AM

I think Martin is really intriguing - he's a solid, though I admit not spectacular coach as far as X's and O's, and I think he'd recruit very well in the Midwest. If he continues the year the way they've played so far and gets an NCAA win or two, I think he'd be my top pick.

Miller is great - I'd have no problem with him either.

Not sure I see the Kevin Keatts love - he's done an impressive job but his head coaching resume is a little light, isn't it? I actually had to Wikipedia him to figure out who he was - is there something I'm missing here?

I don't think there's any way Hoiberg is available by early March.

Personally I'd pass on Scott Drew - he's fine, but there's always rumors about his recruiting tactics, and I don't think his record justifies the possible shortcuts.

Other semi-realistic names I'll throw out there for fun:

  • Andy Enfield, USC - it might take a sizable contract, but I'd like to think we're still above them in the major conference pecking order (they only draw about 4,000 or so to most home games).
  • Tim Jankovich, SMU - timing probably isn't right as this is just his first year after waiting out Larry Brown, but between this and his previous ISU success, I think he's a good coach.
  • Gregg Marshall, Wichita St. - doesn't seem like he's leaving anytime soon, but it's worth poking around.

HiggsBoson on February 8, 2017 @ 01:04 PM

Some are saying that Mike Thomas becomes AD at Cleveland State. If so, maybe he can take Groce with him.

Joe Edge on February 8, 2017 @ 01:47 PM

Now wouldn't that just about be perfect ? I'd be happy with that....

Joe Edge on February 9, 2017 @ 11:25 AM

There is a picture floating around the internet, of JW giving JG a big hug after the NW win.... Solidifies my brain tumor of an idea that there's a bromance going on there...

Next year's coach = John Groce (please Gawd, don't let this happen)....

JW's supreme desire to turn Illinois into a football school, will be highlighted when he gives JG an extension... His overwhelming desire for Illinois to be a football powerhouse, will push him to let basketball slide. The less fans think about BB, the more they'll be excited about FB.... (I must be having an anxiety attack!) ...

Robert on February 9, 2017 @ 12:53 PM

Every school on earth wants to be a "football school". It's where all the money comes from. Kentucky football makes more money than Kentucky basketball.

I want to say that Louisville is the only school where basketball out-earns football (and that's because they built an NBA arena and make premium seating money hand over fist). As I recall, even Kansas football out-earned Kansas basketball.

Joe Edge on February 9, 2017 @ 02:33 PM

I understand everything you said... And (frankly) I already know that. I even appreciate what you're saying....Yes, every school wants to be a 'football school'... duh...

Obviously (one of JG's favorite words), I'm not very good at articulating my point - or rather my FEAR...

There is a grain of information in my head, which is causing a 'brain tumor' to appear.... And that grain of information says: JW likes JG so much, that he's willing to keep JG (despite his poor showing) at least for another year - perhaps an extension. FEAR is growing in this tumor, that JW thinks that Lovie will turn the UI into a football school, and that will relieve (enough) pressure from fans on the basketball side of the street. The idea is: the more fans are excited about FB, the LESS they are worried about having a winning BB program (at least in the short run), and missing the NCAA tourney (again) can be lived with, because JG has sold him on the 2017 class as being 'foundational' and necessary for long-term success.... Not to be confused with 'JW doesn't care about BB'... As that's not what I mean - he does care... It's just that because BB effects such a small segment of the fan-base, he (perhaps) feels he can mollify them for the short run (1-2 years), and when Lovie builds his program, there will be less grumbling, which can give JG more time to get his program out of the cellar...

Not entirely sure I explained my thoughts any better this time. The older I get the harder it is to express ideas clearly and concisely.... But as before, I hope that this is only a fleeting 'FEAR' and not a real tumor.... FB is nice, but I love BB....

Sweetchuck13 on February 9, 2017 @ 04:14 PM

I have no doubt Whitman was happy about the NW win and probably celebrated with Groce. But that doesn't automatically mean Groce's job is safe, even if he really likes him.

At the end of the day, Whitman sees what's going on and sees the empty seats at SFC and everything else. He was here 1997-2000 and knows what a good basketball program looks like. This is not it.

He will fully support Groce until the day he is fired. As he should - there's no reason to indicate otherwise and he's clearly not giving any interviews at this point in time to give the old "vote of confidence". Whitman's too smart to get dragged into that.

Did you expect him to be sulking in the stands or emotionless after the NW game? Of course he's going to celebrate. But I still expect a coaching search at the end of the season.

Joe Edge on February 9, 2017 @ 10:43 PM

I can easily see that I'm still not articulating the idea I wanted to portray.....

No.... I never expected 'sulking' or being 'emotionless'... In fact, I'm the one who said that they had a 'bromance' going. . . And of course Bro's celebrate wins... High Fives, lots of back slapping, big smiles, hearty handshakes... sure... Hugs ? ? Hmmmmmm .... I sure hope you're right about that search at the end of the season...

Joe Edge on February 9, 2017 @ 10:47 PM

cannot edit....

I sure hope you're RIGHT about that search at the end of the season.. Sorry, I sometimes suffer from the 'fat finger' syndrome....

Joe Edge on February 10, 2017 @ 11:46 AM

actually... that edit DID work.... even tho the error message appeared... SO... YEA... the edit works...

HiggsBoson on February 9, 2017 @ 06:42 PM

If Groce is given an extension for anything less than winning out through the B1G tournament and a couple of wins in the Dance, I'm likely to put on my Chief shirt and go on the warpath for a new AD.

iluvrt on February 10, 2017 @ 04:47 PM

Me and OJ want to give Grocer a 3 year extension, because after all, he lost Nunn. He hasn't had a chance to play with his guys. Injuries. Unconnectedness. Unsynchronicity. Unlistening. He is such a great guy, man, bald bro, human, blessed...

Bear8287 on February 11, 2017 @ 09:03 PM

Come on. There should be a lot more buzz on this thread (especially after today's latest debacle). :-)

GHD said (here),

Keatts? Archie Miller? Chris Holtmann? Those are the obvious mid-major candidates. Cuonzo Martin and Tony Bennett are two established coaches with midwestern ties who might (or might not) see Illinois as a step up in in program potential. And anyone thinking of a Lovie analogy brings up Hoiberg.

Don't be surprised if Whitman pulls a surprise and hires someone we didn't even consider.

What's everyone else thinking? It looks like Cuonzo is going after Mark Smith. Any chance he brings him to Illinois?

Bear8287 on February 11, 2017 @ 10:52 PM

Any thoughts on Monty Williams?

iluvrt on February 12, 2017 @ 09:02 AM

Ben Jacobsen or bust

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 11:53 AM

Arguments for Keatts:

  • Groce just hired a 30-something vball coach with zero head coaching experience;
  • Elite asst coach experience;
  • Coached at the top prep school.
  • Turned around UNCW quickly. Kenpom ranking three seasons before Keatts: 238, 287, 280; three seasons with Keatts 174,84,56. (For comparison, in Groce's best season we finished with a rank of 39.)

Arguments against Keatts:

  • Asst coach, lead recruiter, when Louisville had recruiting scandal;
  • Primarily recruits VA and mid-atlantic;
  • Limited HC experience. Limited D1 coaching experience.
  • No tourney run.

HiggsBoson on February 19, 2017 @ 07:28 PM

Pretty sure it was Whitman who hired the volleyball coach. :)

Groundhogday on March 6, 2017 @ 02:44 PM

Good catch!

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 12:02 PM

Arguments for Martin:

  • Proven P5 head coach;
  • NCAA tournament experience;
  • B1G asst coaching experience (8 years at PU);
  • Strong midwest, St. Louis recruiting ties.

Arguments against Martin:

  • Never stayed anywhere long enough to build a program*;
  • Keady coaching tree**.

*Was never accepted by TN fans, so I don't blame him for leaping to Cal. And who can blame him for taking the TN job from Missouri State?

** This is a tougher nut. After Weber, fans are wary of the Keady coaching tree. But the primary limitation with Weber and Painter is that they haven't been able to consistently recruit at a high level. Can Martin consistently recruit at a high level?

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 12:07 PM

I'll tip my hand and say that Cuonzo Martin is the obvious hire if we can get him.

Bear8287 on February 12, 2017 @ 01:21 PM

It's unclear whether he could make the Illini program elite (but in all fairness that's tough to say with almost any new hire) but the Illini would likely be much improved almost immediately.

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 06:14 PM

Getting into the NCAA tournament consistently and having the occasional run would be a step up from our current program standing.

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 11:15 PM

One caveat for Martin: he didn't leave TN in very good shape. Recruiting wasn't anything special. Then he landed a local top 5 kid at Cal, and used that as leverage to land another top 5 kid from GA that he had recruited from TN. Other than that great duo in 2015 (no small accomplishment), Martin hasn't been a great recruiter.

Joe Edge on February 12, 2017 @ 12:32 PM

Norm Roberts (asst under Self at Kansas, and at Illinois) ? ? Thoughts ? ? ?

Bear8287 on February 12, 2017 @ 01:18 PM

His past head coaching record probably does him in. Only two (barely) winning seasons as a head coach at Queens and then St. Johns. Combined conference record of 47-135. Illini fans would probably go ballistic with that hire...

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 01:21 PM

Yeah, zero chance we hire Norm Roberts.

McAdoo on February 12, 2017 @ 01:23 PM

Gregg Marshall - Wichita State - This would be an excellent hire. I think deep down Marshall wants a chance at a big-time gig at some point, although Wichita State treats him very well. I think Illinois could have gotten him two or three years ago, but not now. The Illini's reputation has been hurt that much just over the last couple years.

Brad Underwood - Oklahoma State - He's the guy Illinois should call after Marshall likely says no. He did a great job at Stephen F. Austin and he has Illinois connections thanks to being an assistant at Western Illinois for a decade.

Tim Jankovich - SMU - Jankovich coached under Bill Self, which will have some allure. Never could get into the NCAA Tournament as head coach at Illinois State, but he's done a good job so far at SMU after taking over for Larry Brown. I don't think he'll be a target unless a couple guys say no.

Cuonzo Martin - California - Martin did a nice job at Missouri State and parlayed a 26-9 season into the gig at Tennessee. Martin then was on the hot seat and (Rightly) bailed for Cal even after a Sweet 16 season. Made the NCAA Tournament last year at Cal but lost in the first round. It appears that Cal will make the Big Dance again this season. The biggest problem with this candidacy is his connection to the Keady-Weber coaching tree. A huge chunk of the fan-base isn't clamoring for a guy with such connections.

Kevin Keatts - UNC-Wilmington - Has connections with the Pitino coaching tree and he's done nicely at UNC Dub. Was an assistant at Western Michigan for two years so he has some Midwest connections along with being on Pitino's staff at Louisville for 4 years.

Mick Cronin - Cincinnati - Was given a lot of rope at the start of his Cincinnati career (Four years without a 20-win season and no NCAA Tournament appearances) but finally turned it around and has done well in the six years since (20+ wins and a Big Dance trip every season). However, the fan base reaction again could be a factor against Cronin since this would be ANOTHER coaching hire from the state of Ohio.

Monty Williams - San Antonio Spurs VP of Basketball Operations - I frankly don't see how he's a realistic candidate, but his name has been put out there as a potential "Lovie"-like move (Along with the obvious Hoiberg rumors) from Josh Whitman.

Archie Miller - Dayton - Miller's name is out there somehow, but this won't happen. Miller won't take a job that one of his coaching buddies just got fired from.

Finally, two SUPER-SLEEPERS...

Matt Lottich - Valparaiso - Lottich has only been a head coach for one year but he has the Crusaders at 21-5. Assisted under Bryce Drew from 2013-16. Played college ball at Stanford under Mike Montgomery.

King Rice - Monmouth - The Hawks beat five power-conference teams in 2015-16 but lost in their conference tournament championship to miss out on the NCAA Tournament. Monmouth doesn't have the same power-conference wins this year (Although they did beat Memphis at Memphis) but they are still 21-5 and currently in control of the MACC standings. Here's why I like Rice as a super-sleeper: He played at North Carolina under Dean Smith, assisted for six years at Illinois State and has completely turned around what had become a moribund Monmouth program during the last four years of Dave Calloway's coaching tenure.

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 01:41 PM

Underwood is in his first year at Ok State. Doubt he considers moving.

Gregg Marshall would be a slam dunk, but I'm guessing that if he leaves Wichita State it will be for a place that doesn't get as much media attention as Illinois. (Sort of like Dana Altman moving to Oregon after turning down offers for years at Creighton.)

Bear8287 on February 12, 2017 @ 03:54 PM

Mick Cronin is an interesting suggestion. He seems to check most of the boxes. If I had to guess, the biggest obstacle to him getting an offer from Illinois is that Mike Thomas was the AD who hired him at Cincinnati.

BTW, Thomas made some really good hires at Cincinnati, what the heck happened at Illinois? (Probably best for another thread...)

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 01:39 PM

Arguments for Chris Holtmann:

  • 6 years as D1 head coach;
  • Three NCAA tourneys as HC, advanced to 32;
  • Competes near P5 Big East;
  • Can win with lesser talent; Midwest roots.

Arguments against Chris Holtmann:

  • modest success at Gardner-Webb;
  • Groce coaching tree;
  • Inherited great Butler mid-major program;
  • Zero P5 experience, not clear he can recruit at a high level.

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 03:12 PM

Monte Williams strengths:

  • Youngest NBA head coach in history;
  • Modest success as NBA head coach;
  • Successful NBA assistant;
  • National team asst coach;
  • Highly recommended.

Monte Williams weaknesses:

  • Zero college coaching/recruiting experience.

Hard for me to believe he is a serious candidate.

Bear8287 on February 12, 2017 @ 04:08 PM

Interesting candidate no doubt. He falls into the big-risk with potentially big reward category.

You have to love Keatts' resume. All that he's done is win everywhere he's been. He's also a bit in that high-risk/high-reward potential category. If he makes the step to a P5 program and wins, everyone will say he's a winner and a great coach. If he doesn't then he'll just be forgotten as another coach that didn't succeed at the next level.

Cuonzo Martin has shown that he's a legitimate P5-level coach. He has a really good resume but the numbers don't "pop" like they do for Keatts. Definitely a lower-risk candidate than the other two but it's unclear on how to gauge his upside. Potentially he could come into Illinois and recruit well, grow with the position and do really well. He hasn't had that big tourney run yet to help indicate one way or the other. I suspect that he'd likely put the program back into better shape than where Weber left it, but it's not clear that he could get it back to where Self left it.

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 04:38 PM

To get Illinois back to where Self left it whoever we hire has to recruit at a high level. That is what really distinguished Self.

RSCI top-100 recruits for Martin as a P5 head coach: 2017 - Baker (81) 2016 - Moore (52) 2015 - Brown (3), Rabb (5) 2014 - Mostella (99) 2013 - Hubbs (22)

Reportedly the lead recruiter at PU, and responsible specifically for Jujuan Johnson and Etwaun Moore.

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 10:11 PM

Interesting to look B1G coachs' backgrounds when hired:

Tom Izzo - Michigan guy his entire life, coached high school, N. Michigan, and 12 years as MSU assistant before taking over for Heathcote.

Bo Ryan - Wisconsin guy for coaching career. 7 years as UW asst, 14 years of great DIII success at UW-Platteville, and just two mediocre years at UW-Milwaukee.

Thad Matta - Bounced around a lot as an asst with 6 years in two stints at Butler. As HC one year at Butler (NCAA 32), and three great years at Xavier (NCAA 32, 32, 8) before taking OSU job.

Mark Turgeon - Asst 10 years, then climbed ladder from Jacksonville State (2 yrs), Wichita State (7 yrs), Texas A&M (4 yrs) --> Maryland. One NCAA bid at Wichita (sweet 16), four straight NCAA 1st weekends at TAMU.

John Beilein - 28 years as HC, seven schools from high school to West Virginia (5 years, E8, Sweet 16, NIT champs).

Fran McCaffery - 10 years as ND asst, 14 years as low-, mid-major HC , taking Sienna to three straight NCAA tourneys before taking Iowa job.

Tom Crean - 12 years as an asst (last four MSU) before getting Marquette job. 9 years at Marquette, w/ 5 NCAA tourneys including 1 final four. (Side note, was more successful at Marquette overall than IU.)

Chris Collins - Asst for 15 years, mostly at Duke.

Pat Chambers - Asst for 14 years including 4 @ Villanova, Boston HC for 2 years (1 NCAA tourney)

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 10:20 PM

Guys who were proven commodities when hired (near or high major HC, NCAA success): Beilein, Turgeon, Matta, Crean.

Unproven as high major HC: Tom Izzo, Bo Ryan, McCaffrey, Chris Collins, Pat Chambers.

Other unprovens when hired: Pitino, Gard, Groce, Miles, Pikiell, Painter

Groundhogday on February 12, 2017 @ 10:24 PM

No clear model, except that when you hire an unproven guy it helps to know them well (Izzo long-term MSU asst; Ryan UW asst, long success in state; Matt Painter, Keady disciple becomes HC in waiting).

Anyone think we should have hired Chris Collins back in 2012? He wanted the job. Certainly wasn't much support for that move at the time, but with hindsight...

Bear8287 on February 13, 2017 @ 02:13 AM

In hindsight, heck ya. Northwestern is going to the NCAA tourney this year and probably for many more if Collins stays there.

Anyone care to venture a guess as to when the next time the Illini will make an NCAA tourney appearance?

iluvrt on February 14, 2017 @ 11:25 AM

I don't see any way UI makes tourney next year. Depending on the new coach, I will wait for 2020. If we got a spectacular hire, maybe 2019. But I don't think Sean Miller or Bill Self are coming here

Groundhogday on February 14, 2017 @ 02:32 PM

If our new hire kept the incoming class intact, we'd have everyone back for the 2018-19 season. It isn't at all unreasonable to think we could be back in the NCAA tournament for that season.

Joel Goodson on February 14, 2017 @ 08:23 AM

I'm hoping for Monty Williams, FWIW. Yes, there's some risk involved, but that holds whenever there's a coaching change. Martin is my Plan B guy (Miller's gone, IMO).

On a side note, first post on this forum. Tired of being bounced off Loyalty.

Groundhogday on February 14, 2017 @ 11:02 AM

Not some risk. HUGE risk. Zero college coaching/recruiting experience. Little name recognition for recruiting purposes. Not terribly accomplished as an NBA coach. I have to believe Colangelo is talking Monty up to get his name out there for other jobs because it seems to be hard to imagine we'd really hire him to lead a B1G program as his first taste of college ball.

Joel Goodson on February 14, 2017 @ 01:40 PM

It's all about faith. Ball is ball. CoachIng is not an issue. When people learn his background, they'll be very impressed. Williams has great people skills. That should translate very well to recruiting. Think Williams will be a home run. Martin is a great fallback.

Groundhogday on February 14, 2017 @ 02:30 PM

There is far more to recruiting than people skills. And there are logistics and rules for college basketball that don't exist in the NBA. And lastly, no ball isn't ball. You can do very different things in the NBA than in college given the vastly greater practice time and more experienced players. He might adapt to the college game, he might become a good recruiter, he might learn how to structure a good college program - but he hasn't yet done any of those things.

But I would agree that hiring Williams would be is all about faith: belief in something without any supporting evidence. I would prefer not to make a faith-based hire.

Groundhogday on February 14, 2017 @ 02:41 PM

Following up on the ball-is-ball thing: very few good colleges have been successful in the NBA. And conversely, I can't find a single example of an NBA coach with no prior college experience taking a college job. I'm sure that must have happened somewhere, but it must be rare.

Joe Edge on February 14, 2017 @ 08:48 PM

I always thought it was a different game.... NBA vs NCAA

NCAA is more of a 'coaches' game (players are expected to do what coach says), whereas the NBA is more of a 'players' game (coaches give guidance, but players are actually in charge).

I'm probably wrong, but that's how I look at it, and that's why I don't like Pro Ball (of any kind actually)...

Groundhogday on February 14, 2017 @ 10:38 PM

At the college level, a coach spends an inordinate amount of time on non-basketball stuff: making sure kids go to class, disciplinary issues, recruiting, alumni smoozing. Contact time with players is limited, the season is much shorter, and there is more time between games. Teaching is a much bigger deal than in the NBA.

When it comes to game prep and strategy, NBA coaches are far ahead. But those skills aren't nearly as important in college as recruiting, teaching, and keeping kids out of trouble.

HiggsBoson on February 19, 2017 @ 07:29 PM

Doesn't this apply to Lovie Smith, too?

Joe Edge on February 14, 2017 @ 11:07 AM

Welcome Joel... Many here have the same problem with Loyalty lately.... Besides, it's a much more informed and mature crowd here....

iluvrt on February 14, 2017 @ 11:27 AM

I also got sick of loyalty too. You open your browser, and it's "banned forever". Dan can bite me. Way cooler here, always has been

Joel Goodson on February 14, 2017 @ 01:33 PM

No clue what I did to piss him off, other than a rule 5 violation. Lots and lots of wiggle room there. Didn't bother responding to my request for further elaboration. No justification, totally ridiculous.

Bear8287 on February 14, 2017 @ 08:27 PM

Wow. You scofflaw. What did you do? (Perhaps you didn't trim out any unnecessary text from a quote?) :-D

Welcome to IlliniBoard!

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If you have a point to make in a thread, make it, do not repeat your point over and over again.

If you use the "quote" feature to respond when replying in a thread, trim out any unnecessary text from the quote. Most of the time it is not necessary to include the entire quote when replying.

It is not necessary to respond to most or every single post in a thread. If you absolutely must reply to more than one post in a thread, make use of the "multi-quote" feature so your reply fits neatly into one single post.

If you break the "quote" feature in your reply, use the "edit" button to fix your post-

Joe Edge on February 14, 2017 @ 08:52 PM

They never give any clue to how you broke the rule... You just DID... So therefore you're banned... that's why I won't go back there anymore... I'd start a 'fake news' campaign to give the site a bad name, if I had the time or the energy....

Bear8287 on February 19, 2017 @ 04:01 PM


Account has been suspended for the following reason: Rule #5. Date the suspension will be lifted: Aug 19, 2017, 08:00 AM

Me too! :-D That's hilarious! Do they just randomly select people to Rule #5?

McAdoo on February 15, 2017 @ 07:52 PM

Andy Enfield from USC was mentioned earlier, I think he would be a good hire although I don't see him as a first target type.

Another name: Mark Gottfried from (At the moment) NC State. I don't think he's much of a coach, but he sure can recruit.

Bear8287 on February 15, 2017 @ 09:54 PM

As far as Gottfried goes, Zook could also recruit. Not too interested in a coach that fails at a program that should succeed. The fact that Groce actually beat Gottfried this season doesn't help his case either.

Bear8287 on February 15, 2017 @ 10:15 PM

Andy Enfield looks interesting. Did a really good job at Florida Gulf Coast. Seems to be doing for USC what Collins is doing for Northwestern...

Groundhogday on February 16, 2017 @ 10:18 AM

USC has been successful in the past, so not as big an accomplishment as Collins at NW. The Pac12 is dreadful this year, so take their conference record with a grain of salt. Don't get me wrong, he is a good coach, but I'm not sure I'd be thrilled with Enfield at Illinois.

Bear8287 on February 16, 2017 @ 02:56 PM

It looks like Collins is going to take the Wildcats to the tourney this year, so that's like what, maybe winning a national championship at USC? :-D

Even though the PAC12 is dreadful this year, there's not a whole lot to be said for the B1G this year either.

Didn't the B1G have 5 teams in the Sweet Sixteen not that long ago? Maybe 0 this year? (...and still Groce can't win...)

Bear8287 on February 19, 2017 @ 06:20 PM

Enfield's Trojans were taken to the woodshed yesterday by UCLA: 102-70. 32 point blowout. Not a real good look...

Groundhogday on February 19, 2017 @ 06:03 PM

Tupper's column on Whitman's options:

  • Strong finish + Mark Smith commitment saves Groce's job;
  • Proven P5 coach (Bennett, Martin);
  • Mid-major HC (no examples given);
  • Top assistant from blue blood program;
  • Lovie model, NBA coach (Monty Williams);
  • Go crazy, hire Bo Ryan as HC with Roger Powell as coach-in-waiting.

So far the only thing consistent about Whitman is that his hires have been impossible to predict. But Powell as coach-in-waiting under Bo Ryan??? At least pick a senior mentor with some connection to Powell and/or Illinois.

Tupper link

Bear8287 on February 19, 2017 @ 06:22 PM

Define "strong finish" for me. Would that be something like an 11-game winning streak at the end of the B1G regular season? :-D

Groundhogday on February 19, 2017 @ 07:09 PM

You would have to ask Tupper. From my perspective, we would have to win out the regular conference season and take the B1G tourney to launch into the NCAA tournament. Short of that, he gone.

And as for Mark Smith, it is hard to imagine he would commit to Groce given the coach's precarious situation.

HiggsBoson on February 19, 2017 @ 07:27 PM

Strong finish to me = win out through the B1G tournament and at least one, preferably two wins in the Dance. The odds of this happening could be written on the head of a pin with a jumbo magic marker.

This talk about Mark Smith made me think he had actually committed, which, I guess didn't happen.

Groundhogday on February 19, 2017 @ 07:20 PM

Long shot candidate: Jeff Capel. Top assistant at an elite program (Duke), mid-major success (started the VCU run of success at just 27 years of age), Established P5 coach, good recruiter (Blake Griffin, many others), NCAA tournament success (E8 at Oklahoma).

The only catch for Capel is that OU imploded after his top recruiter was caught paying a player. As far as I know, Capel was never implicated in violations, and after six years at Duke (no Coach K's right hand guy) perhaps Capel's career has been resurrected? Guy is just 42 years old!

Groundhogday on February 19, 2017 @ 09:16 PM

From OU fans after Capel was let go:

  • Recruited several McDonald's All-Americans, but frequently had no backup plans when the 5-stars fell through. Roster always had holes. (Sounds familiar!)
  • Very hands off, so chemistry problems festered.
  • Hired a sleazy asst who was paying recruits.
  • Was good when he had Blake Griffin, otherwise teams disappointed.

Joel Goodson on February 20, 2017 @ 07:42 AM

Good primer for casual fans. For hardcore fans, just a rehash of the ongoing conversation, save for the Bo Ryan hail Mary. Groce saves his job with a miracle finish? Not happening (miracle finish). I expect Whitman will move quickly once we're bounced from the BTT.

Groundhogday on February 20, 2017 @ 11:28 AM

There was nothing about the Iowa or NW wins that suggested a fantastic finish.

Joel Goodson on February 20, 2017 @ 03:41 PM

No, there wasn't. We can win out the regular season, then win 2 BTT games and it won't matter a whit. The die is cast, just have to wait for the season to end.

Groundhogday on February 20, 2017 @ 04:03 PM

Question: Are there any elite assistants at blue blood programs being groomed for a HC job? That career advancement model seems to have become passé. Capel at Duke is only example I can think of.

Groundhogday on February 20, 2017 @ 04:26 PM

What was the media reaction when Florida hired Mike White to replace Donovan? At the time he was 37 years old, with a successful four years at LaTech with three mid-major conference championships but no NCAA bids. Best team at LaTech had a KenPom ranking of 39, rest were 75+.

I'd guess Florida fans are pretty happy with the hire right now. As with the hire of Chris Tamas for volleyball, the key thing is to evaluate the candidate not the resume. Obviously, whoever we hire will have to have a decent resume, but that won't be the sole basis for the hire.

HiggsBoson on February 21, 2017 @ 08:29 AM

I live in central Florida, and I don't recall there being much media noise at all when he was hired. Most of the interest was in where Donovan was going. In fact, I didn't even remember that he was the UF coach until it came up. And they're doing a lot better than Illinois this season.

Groundhogday on February 20, 2017 @ 11:03 PM

Interesting how many of the top coaches are likely to retire in the next five years. There is going to be a shake out with elite programs scrambling for coaches.

SI: Coaching stars are aging

Bear8287 on March 4, 2017 @ 04:49 PM

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So, I thought that maybe it was time to get this thread going again.

Can't say that based on what Cuonzo Martin and Andy Enfield have done so far this season that I'd be overly enthusiastic about either of those choices.

Kevin Keatts' team has clinched at least a share of the CAA title and plays W&M tomorrow at home. (UNCW's worst loss this season was @W&M so it should be interesting.)

SMU has looked pretty good this season, so Tim Jankovich probably deserves to be in the discussion too.

iluvrt on March 4, 2017 @ 04:51 PM

I'm waiting for the vote of confidence

Bear8287 on March 4, 2017 @ 04:53 PM

I vote that I'm confident that John Groce needs to be replaced as the head coach of the University of Illinois Men's basketball program.

Did you mean that vote? ;-)

Groundhogday on March 4, 2017 @ 06:53 PM

The worrisome thing is that Whitman clearly wants an excuse to retain Groce. This suggests he doesn't have a good hire lined up. And yet Groce has pretty much forced his hand. Fans and donors would abandon Whitman if he retained Groce after this season.

Joe Edge on March 4, 2017 @ 08:15 PM

Yes, it is also worrisome to me as well. JW clearly thinks highly of Groce, and clearly wants an excuse or reason to retain him...

I would think that a decision to keep him would be really difficult to explain to the many donors who (are rumored) to want JG gone. Plus, I also can't imagine struggling to pay for the new SFC renovation by giving students free tickets, and general admission for $8-10, would make financial sense to the UI Administration....

Bear8287 on March 5, 2017 @ 12:22 AM

This suggests he doesn't have a good hire lined up.

Sigh. Yes, that would seem to be a reasonable conclusion.

Something needs to be done though. There's a $500K longevity bonus coming up soon for Groce if he's still here and not granting him an extension would be a load and clear message that we're just waiting until we can find someone better to replace him. I don't see how that would be good for recruiting or the program...

Bear8287 on March 5, 2017 @ 12:54 PM

Along the lines of "be careful what you wish for" has anyone taken a look at where the UT Longhorns are this year in the Big 12?

Any thoughts on where that program is headed?

Joe Edge on March 5, 2017 @ 02:04 PM

You can easily see the difference between a football school and a basketball school in the Big12.... Kansas on top, Texas on bottom.... I'm sure Rick Barnes is saying 'I told you so'....

Groundhogday on March 5, 2017 @ 02:34 PM

Texas in year 2 of the Smart regime is almost exactly where we are in year 5 of the Groce regime. Shaka may or may not succeed, but you have to give him a chance to recruit his guys and coach them up.

If anything, this is a warning about hiring guys who were one-hit wonders at the mid-major level. Shaka went to the final four with a team that finished 4th in the Colonial. Never in 6 years won his league at VCU. BUT we'll have to wait a few years to see whether Shaka works out at Texas.

iluvrt on March 6, 2017 @ 09:34 AM

At this point, I would take Shaka no questions asked. ABG

Joe Edge on March 6, 2017 @ 02:00 PM

For Sure... I was always nervous about hiring a coach with a 33-30 record, who just happened to get lucky with a pretty good PG who got really hot in the tourney.... And then, not being able to land a top 100 high school PG or C in 4 years, really hurt this program.... I have no idea who the next coach SHOULD be.. I only hope JW is as smart as everyone thinks/says he is, and can ferret out a good hire for us.... I believe this hire (not withstanding the Lovie hire) will be the defining moment for JW as an AD.... If Lovie works out (and I'm certainly rooting for him to), fans will be really happy from September to Christmas.... But if fans sit at home during the long Illinois winters, and stew/bitch/moan about basketball continuing to be mediocre and not making the NCAA tourney, it will not bode well for Mr. Whitman long term....

Groundhogday on March 6, 2017 @ 05:10 PM

Groce was hired because:

  • He got credit for recruiting Oden and Conley to Ohio State (turns out Matta was the real force behind OSU recruiting);
  • The 2010 & 2012 MAC tournament wins that launched Ohio into the NCAA tournament (including some real nail biters);
  • 1st round upset of Michigan in 2012 NCAA tournament, defeat of 12th seeded S. Florida, and competitive game against UNC in the sweet 16.

The ball bounces differently in the 2012 MAC championship game, and he isn't remotely considered for the Illinois job. That's why I laugh a bit when people say we shouldn't make the decision to fire him based upon the Rutgers game alone, ball bounces differently and maybe we are in the NCAAs. Yeah, live on the edge year after year and you won't always get lucky. Best to be solidly in the NCAAs and not need that end of game break.

Groundhogday on March 6, 2017 @ 05:21 PM

BTW, that is why I'm reasonably optimistic about a guy like Keatts. His resume is painfully short, but he did clearly turn around an awful UNCW program, and they got consistently better three years in a row. That is something Groce has never pulled off.

Ohio Kenpom from 2006 with Groce years in bold: 109, 125, 95, 169, 94, 150, 57, 82, 127, 232, 141, 102.

UNCW Kenpom from 2012 with Keatts years in bold: 238, 287, 280, 174, 83, 63.

The main thing that concerns me about Keatts is that their defensive efficiency numbers are terrible. They play a helter skelter full court game that might not translate to the B1G.

Groundhogday on March 6, 2017 @ 11:03 AM

This is where Whitman has to earn his keep. Lovie was a slam dunk opportunity that fell into his lap, and to his credit Whitman made it happen. But most major hires aren't slam dunks and they don't fall into your lap. If the guy you've got isn't cutting it, then let him go and conduct a search for the best possible replacement.

  • Gregg Marshall. He has snubbed many offers in the past, but MVC is collapsing and AAC isn't a done deal. This might be the right time. No one thought Altman would move before he took the Oregon job.
  • Archie Miller. Another guy who has been waiting for the right opportunity. Does it get better than Illinois right now? Just 38 with an elite 8 and to A10 conference championships.
  • Kevin Keatts. Has dominated the Colonial with a program that had limited prior success. Improved every year. But a bit more risk for a guy who has so little high major experience, who has built his current program on transfers. My gut tells me he ends up at NC State.
  • ??? Outside the box.

I'm open to all options! But it is a joke to suggest there are no options. There are plenty of guys who can coach at this level. And who knows if the pool will be any stronger next year or the year after.

Bear8287 on March 6, 2017 @ 01:59 PM

Good news for NC State fans? Archie Miller’s wife tweets Wolfpack sign

Hmm... I thought that Archie Miller to N.C. State was pretty much a done deal (wife's tweeting aside). Why do you think that Kevin Keatts ends up there?

Frankly, I think that any one of the three that you mentioned would be a major step up from where the Illini are at now.

Groundhogday on March 6, 2017 @ 02:43 PM

NC State fans certainly think they are getting Miller. But that isn't a good job, perpetually in the shadow of Duke and UNC. I realize Miller is an NC State alumn, but Illinois is clearly the better job.

Sweetchuck13 on March 6, 2017 @ 02:36 PM

I'd take any of the 3 in a heartbeat at this point. Earlier in this thread I'd never heard of Keatts, but he is impressive, and seems to stand out over most of the other mid-major candidates that may be out there. It'd be nice to see him not only win tonight in his conference tourney, but also win a game (or 2) in the NCAA. Don't think he has to do that to prove himself, but it'd make him a better sell for the fanbase.

What other coaches might be out there? Seems like Enfield and Martin have lost their luster a bit. Any other high major coaches that we might be able to poach? Brad Underwood and Bryce Drew I like a lot, but getting a coach to leave after one year is pretty rare, even if you can sell an upgrade and a raise.

Bear8287 on March 6, 2017 @ 10:58 PM

Well UNCW dispatched CofC to win the Colonial Conference championship and gain an auto-bid to the NCAA tourney for the second year in a row. It was UNCW's 29th win this season and set a school record.

It appears that Kevin Keatts will have appeared in two more NCAA tourneys than John Groce over these two seasons.

One thing that I found surprisingly encouraging was that a CBS reporter was listening in on Coach Keatts talking to his players at a break with 06:15 left and the Seahawks up by something like 15 points. She said that he told them to keep pushing the tempo, that it was wearing Charleston down.

enter image description here

Bear8287 on March 7, 2017 @ 01:06 AM

Jeff Borzello ESPN Staff Writer

What a job Kevin Keatts has done at UNCW. Won nine games the year before he took over -- has won at least a share of the regular-season title in his first three seasons. Heading to his second straight NCAA Tournament, and the Seahawks are good enough to win a game. Keatts is going to be a very hot name on the coaching carousel.

Groundhogday on March 7, 2017 @ 01:47 PM

Another mid-major coach who might be considered for a P5 job is Pat Kelsey. 41 years-old, taking Winthrop to NCAA, former Xavier and Wake Forest asst. Doesn't excite me nearly as much as Keatts, but they did beat Illinois!

Pat Kelsey bio

Bear8287 on March 7, 2017 @ 06:11 PM

but they did beat Illinois!

Yes, I believe that now gives him a better winning percentage at SFC than John Groce, so he's also got that going for him.

iluvrt on March 8, 2017 @ 12:43 PM

After the UM beat down, I am good with ABG.

Bear8287 on March 10, 2017 @ 11:43 AM

I'm pretty much at a point now where this is really the only thread that I care about.

I found this article, Who should Mizzou target to replace Kim Anderson?, in the Kansas City Star by Tod Palmer interesting.

He lists a number of candidates and it's also interesting to see how someone covering a different team looks at the prospects of hiring a new coach. Obviously, a lot of candidates mentioned in this thread show up in Palmer's list too.

Sweetchuck13 on March 10, 2017 @ 01:23 PM

I agree - and perhaps once the announcement is official we should start a new thread. This one is getting a little unwieldy and it's tough to see where the new comments are.

If I'm Whitman, here's my short list - not necessarily in order:

  • Gregg Marshall
  • Archie Miller
  • Kevin Keatts
  • Buzz Williams
  • Monty Williams

Others that might be possibilities, but unlikely to move due to timing would be Bryce Drew and Brad Underwood. And I think a lot of fans' skepticism about who we might be able to attract has more to do with Mike Thomas' failure to attract a top choice. With Whitman doing the selling this time, I'm more optimistic that we get one of our top targets.

I'm no longer a big fan of Martin given how they played down the stretch, and most of the other mid-major names in that article fail to do much for me.

iluvrt on March 10, 2017 @ 03:10 PM

Not a Buzz fan. Archie is the HR. Though Arch is coaching in Ohio and just got bounced by Davidson.

CoachBuzz on March 16, 2017 @ 11:57 AM

I think it will be Buzz, but I could get excited about Keatts.

Joe Edge on March 16, 2017 @ 06:23 PM

There was a post over on Loyalty (which is almost on fire at this point), that was short and sweet, and went totally un-noticed....

Someone posted: A WCIA newsperson got in touch with Monty Williams, and he said something to the effect that he hasn't rejected any offers from Illinois....

Now... I am not sure if this is to backup the idea that JW has NOT offered (so it's NOT a strike 1 against UI as some are suggesting), and confirms what JW has said (ie: No offers have been made).. OR... It's a rebuke of the NBA sports writer who said he was off the table for UI, and he's saying that he's NOT off the table... I'm not close enough to look into it, but maybe one of the (17) who are closer might look into this WCIA story ? ? True or fake news ? ? IDK....

HiggsBoson on March 16, 2017 @ 07:35 PM

An NBA guy and and SEC ESPN guy have been the only sources for these things -- and neither have any particular credibility.

Groundhogday on March 17, 2017 @ 01:38 PM

So... Martin to Mizzou and Keatts to NC State looks increasingly likely.

Our options? Probably not a minority hire because we could have gotten an exemption to make that hire already. So...

  • Archie Miller. This is the obvious hire. Very successful 6 year mid-major coach will move up at some point. Is he waiting for tOSU job? Who knows when Matta will retire, and I'm not sure tOSU is a fundamentally better job.
  • Bryce Drew. I really like this hire, particularly with Roger Powell and Jamal Walker recruiting. I'm not sure he would leave Vandy after just one year.
  • Tony Bennett. He would be a great hire, despite the boring offense, but I don't see it. He will move up from UVA but probably not Illinois.
  • Gregg Marshall. As with Bennett I just don't see this. Bit of a jerk, loves the Koch brothers who fund his program at Wichita State. If he moves it will be to become the next Bobby Knight at IU.
  • Buzz Williams. I'd love this, but he seems happy at VA Tech.
  • Monty Williams, Dan Majerle? I think folks are taking the Colangelo mentoring a bit too literally. Whitman isn't narrowing options to Colangelo's immediate circle.

To be honest, this might be the time to bet on "none of the above." Whitman could easily surprise with someone we didn't even know might be available.

Joe Edge on March 17, 2017 @ 01:49 PM

I'd be so tempted to take 'the field' against this (actually any) list at this point. But then again, I have absolutely NO idea who our next coach should or needs to be.... I really don't have a dog in this fight - - except that I want a coach who can win, win, and win again. I don't have a lot of time left on this rock, and I'd like to see some wins before I check-out. I believe my alma mater deserves better, and I want to experience it.

Groundhogday on March 17, 2017 @ 01:54 PM

If forced to make a prediction, at this point I'd choose Bryce Drew. But I'd put the probability of his hire at p = 0.2 (one in five). Archie Miller would be a close second.

iluvrt on March 17, 2017 @ 07:58 PM

Looks like Monty will be announced Monday

Joe Edge on March 17, 2017 @ 09:16 PM

J.Werner shooting this down... Who knows.... I'll go to the ocean this weekend, and come back on Sunday nite...

HiggsBoson on March 17, 2017 @ 10:31 PM

Haven't yet seen Werner with inside information on anything, so we'll see.

Groundhogday on March 18, 2017 @ 12:34 AM

If it was Monty he could be announced today. (Minority exemption for the posting period.) Lots of smoke, but the obvious choice again is Archie Miller. Would also align with retention of Jamal Walker.

Groundhogday on March 18, 2017 @ 12:48 AM

Another reason to think Miller might be ready to move: His top four players are all seniors. And if he is going to move, Illinois or Indiana. Given that Indiana is going to spend a week attempting to land established P5 coaches, we should have the first shot at Miller.

McAdoo on March 18, 2017 @ 10:51 PM

As I mentioned earlier in this thread (In a post that seems like it was typed a million years ago now) I felt Underwood was someone Whitman should pursue ahead of every available coach not named Gregg Marshall.

Underwood has won everywhere he's been, and he's done that with efficient offenses that score plenty of points. The decision to keep Walker on staff, in my opinion, will certainly help with recruiting in the short-term. I would finish the staff off with a second recruiter and then maybe a veteran assistant that either knows the Big Ten well or is a good defensive tactician (Underwood's defenses have, generally, not been all that great).

I do have one remaining concern: That Indiana will hire Gregg Marshall. I will be very happy if that doesn't happen, with the exception of IU somehow pulling another great coach out of their hat.

Groundhogday on March 19, 2017 @ 12:05 PM

Good call. I really didn't take Underwood seriously as a candidate, figuring Pickens money would counter any offer and he would be reluctant to leave after just one year. I was wrong. Kudos for Josh, doing his hwk on who might be dissatisfied with their contract.

NJJ87 on March 20, 2017 @ 08:26 AM

Marshall is a great coach, no doubt, and would/will? likely do very well at Indiana. However, as a small addition to the "be careful what you wish for" category, did you see the spectacle that Marshall's wife made of herself during the WSU-KU game? Security wanted to remove her, but were told they could not because she was a coaches wife. She's apparently quite a piece of work. Happy to not have her connected with the Illini program.

Bear8287 on March 19, 2017 @ 11:32 AM


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