Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Best First Year College Basketball Coaching Hires

Now that we're in the thick of the conference schedule, I thought it would be interesting to see who [so far] have been the best college basketball coaching hires from the offseason. I picked the top 5 based on what they've done so far... this is no indication on how I think they'll do in the future. Anyway, in no order...

Kelvin Sampson (Indiana) - I was planning on having Sampson on this list anyway, but then the Hoosiers really drove the point home with their win over #2 Wisconsin. The Hoosiers aren't supremely talented right now, but Sampson has them playing excellent defense. Plus, the fact that he's gotten Eric Gordon to come to Indiana next year is a big point in his favor. Things are looking up for Indiana.

One other thing about the game... what's up with Indiana fans storming the court? I know Wisconsin's an excellent team, but Indiana was ranked and playing at home? To paraphrase Doug Gottlieb, if Bobby Knight were dead he'd be rolling in his grave right now.

Bob Huggins (Kansas St.) - The Wildcats are 5-2 in the conference, 16-6 overall, and are in contention for a Tourney bid. Of course, they don't really have any quality wins yet, and their most athletic player is hurt for the season, but that's ok for now. We'll get a good chance to see what they're made in the next two games... they play at Texas, and then at Kansas.

Jeff Capel (Oklahoma) - Capel gets a slight, slight nod over Mike Anderson of Missouri for the 5th spot. I mean, these guys are competitive and Longar Longar is their leading scorer. The same Longar Longar that scored 127 points in his first 2 seasons at OU. Plus, bonus points for his building of the VCU program (more on them later). He is in a similar situation as his predecessor Kelvin Sampson is in right now... they don't have a lot of offensive talent, but they play hard defensively. Unfortunately, their offensive talent is far too low now to make a realistic run at the Tourney, but I do like Capel as a coach.

Anthony Grant (VCU) - They finally suffered a conference loss, but at 11-1 they still lead the CAA, the same conference that produced George Mason a year ago. The pieces may have been put in place by Capel, but someone's got to coach these guys. They've got a guard-oriented attack that could pose some problems for some teams. Three guards score at least 13.9 PPG.

Tony Bennett (Washington St.) - Bennett was the natural choice to replace his father after Dick Bennett left, but they should still be commended for making the choice. Bennett has brought some offense and some excitement to Pullman in his first year. Their only 3 conferences loss have come against Oregon (in OT), @ UCLA, and @ Stanford. Not bad.

Who do you think has been the best new hire?