Daily Dribble: Thoughts on Coaching Changes

March 22nd, 2007

- Getting Steve Alford (assuming it official happens) is a steal for New Mexico. His 152-106 record might not be overwhelming, but Alford brings a few things to the table that you have to love.

A) Publicity. No one particularly paid any attention to the firing of Ritchie McKay.. and except for some love for Danny Granger, no one has paid any attention to New Mexico the past few years.

B) Name Recognition. The MWC has been bringing in some decent "name" coaches the past few years. Lon Kruger at UNLV, Jeff Bzdelik at Air Force (the guy coached in the NBA), even Steve Fisher at SDSU. All of these have worked out well for the conference.

C) Quality. Like I said, Alford's record at Iowa isn't overwhelming, and many would see his time there as a disappointment (only one NCAA Tournament win, off-the court issues, etc..). But, its not like New Mexico is a job that Coach K and Pitino are fighting over. Its not very often a non-BCS school can snag a coach from a BCS school who has even had decent success in recent years. Even this past year, Iowa's 9-7 conference record is impressive considering the team's expectations.

- For Iowa fans, perhaps the most worrisome aspect of losing Alford (maybe the only worrisome aspect since most wanted him gone), is whether Tyler Smith will now leave the program. The Tennessee native was the Big Ten's best freshman outside of Ohio State.. but there's been rumblings that he's unhappy there.

- In somewhat related news, Tom Davis, who was succeeded by Alford at Iowa, is stepping down at Drake. Davis never had great success with the Bulldogs, and this year's record was typical of his tenure. 17-15 overall, but just 6-12 in the MVC. As the Valley has improved in recent years, its been tough for Drake to keep up with schools like SIU and Creighton.

Davis ends an impressive 32 year career with a record of 598 and 355 (60%). He made stops at Lafayette, BC, Iowa (where he won 13 NCAA tournament games in 9 trips), and finally Drake.

Davis' son Keno (is it good or bad to be named after a Las Vegas gambling game?) takes over now.. but it wont be easy for him to produce above what dad could do. Drake is a small school of only a few thousand students.. hasn't been to the Tournament since 1971, and is overshadowed in Iowa by the larger state universities.

- Going back to the MWC making a splash for a second with Kruger, Alford, etc.. it will be interesting to see what direction Utah goes. The Utes obviously haven't had much success since Majerus left and Ray Giacoletti took over. Unlike UNM, Utah will more likely go a quieter route, hiring a name BCS assistant. Michigan State's Jim Boylen seems to be a strong candidate.

- Denver hired former Princeton and Air Force coach Joe Scott this week. Scott should be thrilled he has a job. He basically took a Princeton program that competed for the Ivy League title.. and brought it down to an unthinkable 2-12 conference record this past year. Denver obviously is focusing on the fact Scott was able to win in Colorado with Air Force (bringing them to the tourney in 2004 for the first time in four decades and recruiting the seniors that are now heading to the NIT semis).

- Princeton now has a major decision coming up. More so than which actual coach they bring in, its a decision about what type of style they'll play. From Carril to Bill Carmody to John Thompson III.. the program kept the "Princeton offense" tradition alive. Scott kept a similar slow-down, half-court, style in place.. but its questionable whether this is the proper direction to go in the future.