While You Were Sleeping
Offseason Coaching Changes
by Adam Shandler
Hey, the college hoops off-season is a long one, and while you were preoccupied with baseball, the World Cup and co-ed beach volleyball, stuff happened. Here’s what how it went down on the coaching circuit — who’s in, who’s out, who came, who went. Please keep good notes. This will be on the final.
We’ll start with the notables:
Out: Nolan Richardson
In: Stan Heath
No one deserves a big time job more than Heath. Last season, he guided Kent State to 21 straight victories before a valiant end against final-four squad Indiana in the Elite 8. Heath, a minority candidate and all-around good guy, is the perfect public relations firehose to Nolan Richardson’s fiery exit.
Out: Pat Harris
In: Jim Crews
West Point loves their alumni, but who are we kidding here? Coaching and recruiting at Army is no picnic, so after five seasons of heartache Pat Harris is discharged without commendation. Enter Jim Crews, whom college hoops pundits thought would be a lifer at Evansville. The Indiana native brings 17 seasons and 294 coaching victories with him.
Out: Jim Molinari
In: Jim Les
You want me to say Les is more. I know you do. But I won’t. I’m only good for so much camp. Les, a former Bear who played with Hersey Hawkins on that dynamic 1985-86 club, returns to the Hilltop after serving as an assistant director of player development with the Sacramento Monarchs. Molinari, dubbed “the Dean of Missouri Valley Conference Coaching” exits after a dismal 9-20 season.
Out: Henry Dickerson
In: Jeff Lebo
Everybody loves Lebo. Or they soon will. The Dean Smith and Eddie Fogler protege leaves behind a Tennessee Tech team that surprised fans with a quarterfinal appearance in last year’s NIT. The former Tarheel is billed as the best hope of the Mocs returning to the dance.
College of Charleston
Out: John Kresse
In: Tom Herrion
It’ll be sad to see the retired John Kresse go. His Cougar teams epitomized the ‘Cinderella’ notion of the NCAA tournament. Well, at least they named the gym after him. Tom Herrion, 34, had supporting stints at Providence and Virginia. Only three seniors return to this club on a roster of 15.
In: Pat Kennedy
Out: Dave Leitao
Pat Kennedy got out while he had the chance. Doubts from school admin about his abilities and Depaul being the brunt of C-USA had Kennedy fleeing to the country. Big Country, as in Montana. Dave Leitao is an interesting choice for head coach of the Demons. Leitao is getting his second crack at being a head coach. He spent two seasons at his alma mater, Northeastern (1994-96) but shuffled back to the relative comfort of an associate head coach under his mentor, Jim Calhoun, at UConn.
Out: Steve Robinson
In: Leonard Hamilton
Most people want to end their careers in Miami. Not Leonard Hamilton. He has built a great portfolio with the Canes — 2 straight twenty-plus seasons, three straight NCAA appearances and four straight postseason trips — and taken it with him to Tallahassee. (We’ll try to forget all about that one dismal season with the Washington Wizards in 2000-01).
Out: Jerry Tarkanian
In: Ray Lopes
Sorry, kids, but the aquarium is closed. Tark has taken his towel biting into retirement. But this Lopes guy ain’t a bad replacement. While an assistant at Oklahoma, he recruited Eduardo Najara, Aaron McGhee and Ebi Ere to Norman.
Out: Stan Heath
In: Jim Christian
If you were Stan Heath, you would go to Arkansas too. Jim Christian has big shoes to fill after the Golden Flash’s magical run in the NCAAs. Kent does good by promoting this assistant.
Out: Fran Fraschilla
In: Ritchie McKay
Fran Fraschilla was winning, but not enough by UNM’s standards, thus his resignation in March. Now New Mexico goes for the sentimental. McKay’s late father, Joe, played for the Lobos in the early 1960’s. The two-year Oregon State coach leaves the Beavers after posting a combined 22-37.
Out: Ritchie McKay
In: Jay John
John, the former Arizona assistant knows the Pac-10. In addition to assisting Lute Olsen for the last six seasons, John carried a clipboard for Ernie Kent at Oregon. Brings 17 years of coaching to the Beavers.
Out: Murray Bartow
In: Mike Anderson
Birmingham native Anderson spent 17 years as an assistant at Arkansas. This is his first head coaching gig. Already signed five very fine prospects including big guards Derrick Broome (Woodland, Ga.) and Richard Jones of Oklahoma City.
Out: Jerry Wainwright
In: Brad Brownell
Jerry Wainwright got the NCAA tournament run he needed to plow out of the Carolina coastline and into Richmond. Enter Brad Brownell, another young assistant coach rightfully promoted. Brownell can enjoy the return of all-CAA stars Brett Blizzard, Anthony Terrel and Craig Callahan to the squad.
Out: Homer Drew
In: Scott Drew
It’s a family business in Valpo and that’s okay by Crusader hoops fans. Homer steps down to become a special assistant for university advancement. (Hey, how many other former coaches can say that?) Only 31, but very capable, Scott Drew did nothing but win awards for his recruiting as an assistant under his dad. Remember all those names on the Valpo roster you couldn’t pronounce? Yeah, that was him.
Out: Bob Bender
In: Lorenzo Romar
Former Husky point guard Romar returns to Seattle after three consistent seasons at St. Louis. Career highlights: Assistant coach under Jim Harrick during 1995 UCLA title run. As head coach of St. Louis, bested then #1 Cincy in second round of C-USA tournament for eventual berth in NCAAs. Romar has fixed torn and tattered programs in the past. He can make it happen.
Out: Gale Catlett
In: John Beilein
Beilein brings much needed blue collar work ethic (the guy grew up on a fruit farm in upstate NY for crying out loud) to the Mountaineer program. Rebuilt Canisius program and resurrected Richmond program with 100 wins in five seasons and four post-season appearances.
Albany: Will Brown becomes a permanent replacement for Scott Beeten.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: Harold Blevins leaves with assistant Van Holt taking over on an interim basis.
Bethune Cookman: Horace Broadnax makes way for Clifford Reed
Boise State: Greg Graham replaces Rod Jensen
Evansville: Steve Merfeld will take over for Jim Crews, now at West Point
Hampton: After Steve Merfeld’s stunning upset of Georgetown two years ago and another NCAA appearance in ’02, heads to Evansville. Bobby Collins is Pirates’ interim leader.
Lehigh: Bill Taylor replaces Scott Mantesana
Liberty: Mel Hankinson is out, Randy Dunton is in.
Long Beach State: Hello, Larry Reynolds. Goodbye, Wayne Morgan.
Long Island: Ray Martin leaves the Blackbirds, Jim Ferry takes over.
Middle Tennessee: It’s time to get things started; Kermit Davis, Jr. replaces Randy Wiel.
Montana: Embattled former Depaul coach Pat Kennedy takes over for Don Holst.
Nicholls State: Ricky Broussard exits. Ricky Blanton is King Colonel.
Norfolk State: Dwight Freeman replaces Wil Jones.
Portland State: The Vikings program will now be lead by Heath Schroyer. Joel Sobotka exits.
Prarie View: Jerry Francis replaces Elwood Plummer.
Radford: Byron Samuels replaces Ron Bradley.
Richmond: UNC-WIlmington’s Jerry Wainwright steps up to the A-10 pillar, replacing John Beilein.
San Jose State: Phil Johnson replaces Steve Barnes
St. Louis: Brad Soderbergh relieves Lorenzo Romar, now a Husky at Washington.
South Alabama: John Pelphrey is in, Sam Weltlich is out.
TCU: Neil Dougherty replaces Billy Tubbs
Tennessee Tech: Mike Sutton takes over for Jeff Lebo, now at UT-Chattanooga
Virginia Commonwealth: Jeff Capel, yes, of Duke fame, takes over for veteran Mack McCarthy.
Wisconsin-Green Bay: Todd Kowalcyzk replaces Mike Heideman.
Wofford: Mike Young replaces Richard Johnson