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Maryland Basketball Coaching Search: Leading Candidates, Rumors, and Rick Pitino

BYU, Bearcats, or Barcelona: Where should Maryland look for its next coach?

Fc Barcelona V Monbus Obradoiro - Acb Liga Endesa
what a high-powered machine here, able to get pictures of sarunas jasikevicius through our wire service. thanks, vox
Photo By Javier Borrego/Europa Press via Getty Images

How do you know when your basketball team sucks? When they have a worse record than Northwestern, Big Ten basketball’s Mendoza Line.

The good news? Maryland will not hire Danny Manning.

A quick recap of the poll on who Maryland should hire from Version 1 of the MD Basketball Reverse Hotseat—but first, a setup. My job involves investigating bad things that happen to people, basically, failure analysis. Like your typical cop, who is inundated with dumb people doing dumb things on a daily basis, I have developed a cynically dim view of human nature. Ironically, my pessimistic outlook of human nature allows me to be pleasantly surprised and grateful when my fellow humans actually exhibit good, even graceful, behavior. Thankfully, this occurs on a fairly frequent basis.

Unfortunately, my pessimistic view of humans was corroborated with the results of the Maryland Basketball Reverse Hot seat poll where Rick Pitino garnered 2nd place with 28% of all votes.

I keep telling myself that this is just the result of classic OTE trolling. If so, well done and go f**k yourself.

When discussing coaches, I will include their current team’s KenPom ranking when applicable. Yes, a single mid-season KenPom ranking has minimal meaning, but it does provide context for some deceivingly good and bad W-L records, as well as taking into account lower levels of play, like coaching at Iona.

Number 1 with a bullet:

Garnering the most votes was Andy Enfield, head coach at USC, who got 33% of the votes, and the only coach to beat out the human form of an STD, Rick Pitino (HC, Iona).

Enfield remains the most likely and probably the best choice. His USC team currently sits at 34 with a 20-4 record. He did a very respectable job rebuilding a P5 program that was in total disarray.

Fave Wild Card:

Believe it or not, a coach not well-known outside of Maryland basketball circles received the 3rd most votes, Sarunas Jasikevicius. Played for Maryland in the 90’s, spent some time in the NBA, and repeatedly gave the US Olympic team fits when playing for Lithuania. Has worked his way up the coaching ranks from coaching Lithuanian professional basketball all the way up to coaching one of the best teams [FC Barcelona] in the 2nd best professional basketball league in the world. Dude can coach. Here is is Wikipedia profile—he comes from the Gary Williams-Tom Izzo-Fran McCaffrey tree of craztensity. He would surely be entertaining, but may end up pulling a Bobby Knight.

He has my support. He would be more energizing to the fanbase than pretty much any other coaching candidate, but he is a Wild Card for a reason. I just don’t see a Lithuanian with a prestigious job coaching in Spain wanting to come to the US to kiss the asses of flippant, coddled teenagers with huge egos and their parents. I’d love this hire, but I don’t see it happening. Also, he would have to hire some assistant coaches with recruiting/AAU ties because he has no ties to the slimy world of college basketball recruiting.

Turge Replacements:

These guys get mentioned in just about every article: High Floor, Low Ceiling. I think hiring one of these guys would cause MD’s half-crazed fanbase to go fully ballistic. And I can’t imagine Damon Evans firing Turge just to replace him with a younger facsimile. I just don’t see this happening.

Ed Cooley, HC at Providence got just 3% of the votes from the initial poll. Providence currently sits at 42 in KenPom and is sporting an inflated 20-2 record. Been at Providence for 10 years, made 5 NCAA tournaments, but never made it out of the first weekend.

Sound familiar?

Kevin Willard, HC at Seton Hall, got just 6% of the votes from the initial poll. SH currently sits at 37 in KenPom and is sporting unimpressive 15-7 record. Been at SH for 11 years, made 4 NCAA tournaments, but never made it out of the first weekend.

Sound familiar?

Guys I like, but have not gotten any traction:

Mark Pope, HC at BYU. BYU currently sits at 46 in KenPom with a 17-8 record. This is a down year for him where he has accumulated a .750 winning percentage in his 3+ years at BYU, which is only his second HC coaching gig. He will be a P-5 coach at some point. Rumors are he is the heir apparent at Kentucky, in which he would return to his alma mater. I’m sure he can be convinced to take a detour to College Park if the offer is good enough.

I’d be optimistic at this hire. No obvious connections to the Big Ten or the East Coast, but he can clearly coach.

Casey Alexander, HC at Belmont, Belmont currently sits at 55 in KenPom with a 20-5 record. Dude has killed it at Belmont with a .818 winning percentage in 3 seasons at Belmont. Yes, it’s Belmont. But, for context, Belmont sits at 55 whereas the god of college basketball and sketchiness, Rick Pitino, has Iona at 75 in KenPom with a 17-5 record. Maryland is currently sitting at 94.

Before Belmont, Alexander dramatically improved the teams at Stetson (very low D1) and Lipcomb. He compiled a .574 winning percentage in six years at Lipcomb, improving from 15-15 his first year to 29-8 his last year. Actually got a NCAA tournament bid at Lipcomb and came in 2nd in the NIT the following year. He went from 9-20 to 15-16 in his two years at Stetson.

Dude can coach. At the P5 level? We have seen a lot of guys flame out going from Mid-major to P5. I’d be optimistic, but these guys are always a bit of a gamble.

New Intriguing Candidate:

Wes Miller, HC at Cincinnati. Cincinnati currently sits at 78 in KenPom with a 16-7 record in his first year with the Bearcats. Last season under a different coach, they sat at 116 in KenPom with a 12-11 record. Before that, he coached 10 years at UNC Greensboro, establishing deep root sin the mid-Atlantic. his first five years, he compiled a 39-46 in-conference record. His last 5 years, he improved dramatically, compiling a 70-20 record, winning the conference twice and getting two NCAA bids and two NIT bids.

So What Happens?

I think this selection comes down to how much money Maryland is willing to hand out.

I would be truly excited about Enfield, Sarunas, or Pope.

Intriguing, but higher risk are Alexander and Miller. I’d be less excited, but okay with these hires.

You know how I feel about Pitino. And Thad Matta ain’t happening.

Hopefully, MNW can create another poll.

Can I ever! Thanks, Larry!


Who should be the next Maryland coach, assuming interest?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Enfield (USC)
    (67 votes)
  • 4%
    Pope (BYU)
    (8 votes)
  • 3%
    Alexander (Belmont)
    (6 votes)
  • 23%
    Jasikevicius (FCB)
    (42 votes)
  • 2%
    Cooley (Prov)
    (4 votes)
  • 2%
    Willard (Seton Hall)
    (4 votes)
  • 4%
    Miller (Cincy)
    (8 votes)
  • 21%
    Someone else (comments!)
    (37 votes)
176 votes total Vote Now