College coaches with a lot to achieve, or lose, as season winds down

As the top of February approaches and the NCAA Tournament turns into more and more shut, some coaches have put their applications in favorable positions whereas others have teetered towards the recent seat.

Which coaches have an opportunity to boost their profiles as we head into the ultimate couple weeks of the common season? 

And who might use a robust end to take away a bit of warmth from underneath their chairs?

Our school basketball writers Andy Katz, John Fanta, and Michael Cohen study the state of affairs throughout school basketball and make their picks for which coaches are in a dicey place, that are trying sharp heading into March, and which may turn into high candidates within the subsequent hiring cycle.

Who is a coach on the recent seat who wants a robust end to the common season with a purpose to cool issues off? 

John Fanta: Brad Brownell, Clemson 

In 13 seasons on the helm, Brownell has totaled two NCAA Tournament victories. It seemed just like the 54-year-old was going to place speak about his job being at stake to mattress when Clemson began ACC play 7-0, however even at 19-8 the Tigers discover themselves on the surface trying in in the intervening time. Why? An completely devastating trio of Quadrant 4 losses, the newest one coming this previous weekend in a 10-point defeat to bottom-feeder Louisville, which has simply 4 wins this season.

I’ve been instructed that second-year athletic director Graham Neff is contemplating making a change if the Tigers do in reality miss the NCAA Tournament for a ninth time in 11 seasons. With how mushy the bubble is that this season, Clemson might nonetheless make a late push to be thought-about, however will probably be troublesome. But by the identical token, a possible 23-win ACC crew — between work completed within the the rest of the common season and the convention event — ought to be up for dialogue. 

That stated, right here’s the Tigers’ remaining schedule: 

  • Wednesday: Syracuse
  • Saturday: at NC State
  • Feb. 28: at Virginia
  • March 4: Notre Dame

Going 3-1 is doable and certain must occur forward of the NCAA Tournament, which means the Tigers might want to get a marquee street win to attempt to negate a few of the latest main blows to the résumé.

Andy Katz: Jim Boeheim, Syracuse

I don’t see it as my position to fireside and rent coaches. But I’ll say this: I received’t be stunned if we see a change at Syracuse. It ought to be famous that a few weeks in the past, Jim Boeheim stated he’ll “probably” be again subsequent season. He additionally stated: “I know it’s my choice. I can do whatever I want. I just don’t know for sure.”

If he doesn’t retire this offseason, then it’s arduous to see the Hall of Fame coach persevering with the tenure past 2024. The Orange are going to overlook the NCAA Tournament until they win the ACC event. The timing appears proper to go the Orange on to Adrian Autry, who’s the most probably successor on the workers. We’re in an period wherein change is more likely to proceed within the ACC in some unspecified time in the future within the close to future at Miami (Jim Larranaga) and Florida State (Leonard Hamilton), as properly. By the way in which, essentially the most intriguing opening within the nation, not to mention the ACC, is at Notre Dame. That rent ought to create a domino impact.

Michael Cohen: Jerry Stackhouse, Vanderbilt 

It may appear a bit of unusual to pick a coach whose crew has received 5 consecutive video games to climb to 8-6 within the Southeastern Conference, which is sweet sufficient for sixth place forward of Wednesday’s motion. But a miniature run within the final two weeks isn’t sufficient to shroud an underwhelming efficiency from Stackhouse since he arrived in Nashville in 2019. The Commodores are on the verge of lacking the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive yr, whereas ending no higher than eleventh within the SEC throughout Stackhouse’s first three seasons. 

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Of explicit concern is the presence of a brand new athletic director, Candice Storey Lee, who had but to enter her present position when the Commodores plucked Stackhouse away from the Memphis Grizzlies, the place he was an assistant coach from 2018-19. The one that employed Stackhouse, former athletic director Malcolm Turner, resigned in 2020, lower than a yr after bringing the extremely touted basketball coach to Vanderbilt. It’s not unreasonable to assume Lee would possibly decide to wipe the slate clear and rent somebody of her selecting.

Stackhouse was amongst a wave of faculty basketball hires from the final decade that focused former gamers with sturdy careers within the NBA, a listing that features the likes of Penny Hardaway at Memphis, Juwan Howard at Michigan, Patrick Ewing at Georgetown, Mo Williams at Jackson State, Rod Strickland at LIU, Aaron McKie at Temple and Damon Stoudamire at Pacific. But practically all of these coaches have underwhelmed at finest and flopped at worst. The Commodores want a couple of extra wins if Stackhouse needs to stay round subsequent season. 

Who is a coach who has his crew peaking at simply the fitting time and is primed to make some noise in March?

John: Chris Collins, Northwestern

I added the exclamation level as a result of that is as massive of a shock as any in school basketball. The Wildcats have been picked second-to-last within the Big Ten preseason ballot. Pundits pegged it as a yr when Collins, who led this system to its solely NCAA Tournament look in program historical past in 2017, needed to reply from 5 consecutive shedding seasons since that Big Dance look and present important strides of enchancment. 

And reply, they’ve. The Wildcats are properly on their approach to the NCAA Tournament whereas occupying second place within the convention with an 11-5 league report. Collins has a roster rooted in expertise, with main scorers Boo Buie and Chase Audige combining for 32 factors per recreation and actually taking possession of this crew from the beginning. Buie has made a number of performs in closing time for Northwestern alongside the way in which, together with a game-winner in opposition to Indiana final week to take over second place within the Big Ten. 

Audige is the person who units the tone defensively and is thought to be the most effective within the convention on that finish of the ground. 

Winning 5 straight video games and getting it completed with the most effective defenses within the nation — No. 21 in KenPom, third in B1G in scoring protection at 61.9 PPG — the Wildcats are clicking on all cylinders as March looms. More than something, they’re taking part in with the very best trait you possibly can have this time of yr: confidence.

Michael: Jim Larranaga, Miami 

The coach finest recognized for his magical run to the Final Four with George Mason in 2006 is now the architect of one of many higher, most constant applications throughout a downtrodden period within the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Hurricanes reached the NCAA Tournament simply twice within the 11 years following former head coach Leonard Hamilton’s departure in 2000, however Larranaga has hauled them again into the nationwide highlight. He’s cobbled collectively eight 20-win seasons since taking the job in 2011 and can convey Miami to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time subsequent month on the heels of an Elite Eight look final yr.

After bringing again two of his top-four scorers from final season, Larranaga enhanced his roster with two wonderful additions via the switch portal. Bruising ahead Norchad Omier (6-foot-7, 248 kilos) is averaging 13.9 factors and 9.8 rebounds per recreation after two standout years at Arkansas State, the place he poured in 17.9 PPG as a sophomore. And sharpshooting guard Nijel Pack (6-foot, 184 kilos) is averaging 13.5 PPG whereas hitting 41.8% of his 3-pointers on 158 makes an attempt to rank ninth within the nation amongst gamers from energy conferences. With Omier and Pack in tow, the Hurricanes now have 4 gamers scoring in double figures this season.

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Larranaga’s crew additionally seems to be getting scorching on the proper time with six consecutive wins forward of Tuesday’s journey to Virginia Tech. Miami has overwhelmed Clemson (street), Duke (residence) and North Carolina (street) throughout that stretch to climb to No. 31 in each KenPom and the NCAA NET rankings after checking in at No. 13 within the newest AP Top 25 ballot. Remaining video games in opposition to Virginia Tech, Florida State and Pittsburgh are all winnable getting into the ACC Tournament.  

Andy: Shaka Smart, Marquette

The Golden Eagles have been one of many shock groups this season. Smart’s final look within the NCAA Tournament got here to a surprising finish when Texas misplaced to Abilene Christian. He’s bought an opportunity to take the Golden Eagles on a deep run. This crew has a lead guard in Tyler Kolek, has scorers and finishers in Kam Jones and David Joplin, and has bigs Oso Ighordaro and Olivier Maxence-Prosper who can end across the basket.

This crew defends, and performs with objective and keenness. Smart can lead the Golden Eagles to the Sweet 16 and proceed to point out that the Texas loss was extra of an aberration than the norm on his résumé. Smart ought to be the Big East coach of the yr. And he’s bought an incredible shot to steer the Golden Eagles to the Big East title. 

Who is a coach who has an opportunity to make a giant impression forward of the following hiring cycle? 

Michael: Brian Dutcher, San Diego State

Any dialogue about what Dutcher has completed during the last 5 years at San Diego State — 5 straight 20-win seasons, 4 journeys to the NCAA Tournament — has to start with the caliber of program he inherited from former colleague and mentor Steve Fisher, who retired following the 2017 season. Fisher received not less than 20 video games in 11 consecutive seasons from 2006-16 and introduced the Aztecs to the NCAA Tournament seven occasions throughout that span. He received 34 video games in 2011 to earn Naismith College Coach of the Year honors and received 31 video games in 2014. The cabinet was removed from naked when Dutcher, who labored as Fisher’s assistant for greater than 25 years at Michigan and San Diego State, took over. 

But Dutcher improved the Aztecs from 22 wins and 21 wins in his first two seasons, respectively, to 30 wins in his third yr when the NCAA Tournament was canceled throughout the pandemic. So far this season, Dutcher has guided San Diego State to an 18-5 report and a No. 22 rating within the nationwide polls. His crew is No. 17 in each KenPom and the NCAA NET rankings with an 8-5 report in opposition to Quad 1 and Quad 2 opponents mixed. The Aztecs have misplaced simply twice since mid-December. 

What makes Dutcher an fascinating candidate for larger jobs is his ties to the Midwest. His father, Jim Dutcher, was the pinnacle coach at Eastern Michigan (1966-72) and Minnesota (1975-86) with a stint as an assistant at Michigan (1972-75) in between. Dutcher himself graduated from Minnesota and has expertise at each Illinois (graduate assistant from 1983-85) and Michigan (affiliate head coach from 1989-98). It could be time for bigger faculties to present him a glance. 

Andy: Rodney Terry, Texas

Terry is the interim coach at Texas. He ought to be the full-time coach. Terry took over when Chris Beard was fired after his arrest on assault fees in opposition to his fiancée (fees have since been dismissed, however the police report was nonetheless damning and the conduct was greater than sufficient to warrant a dismissal).

I don’t perceive why Chris Del Conte hasn’t made this transfer but. Terry is a high 15 finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year award. How can he not get the job? He stored collectively a crew that might have simply splintered. Texas was a 2-seed within the NCAA males’s basketball choice committee’s high 16 reveal Saturday. The Longhorns are tied with Kansas via Monday’s video games within the loss column within the Big 12. He has completed an incredible job maintaining Texas within the chase, and he’s completed it with none drama. Terry has the respect of his gamers, workers and friends. He is a former head coach and a former assistant at Texas. The Longhorns want some consistency. They don’t have to waste time attempting to seize a headline title they received’t get. Just finish the hypothesis and provides him the job. He has earned it.  

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John: Dusty May, Florida Atlantic 

No mid-major coach in school basketball has risen quicker this season than May. 

At 24-3, the Owls have made nationwide headlines in a historic season down in Boca Raton. FAU cracked the AP Top 25 for the primary time in class historical past in January, successful 20 consecutive video games from Nov. 14 to Feb. 1. A former Indiana males’s basketball supervisor from 1996-2000 underneath Bob Knight, May bought his begin in Bloomington as a result of he mowed the garden for Hoosiers crew physician Larry Rink, who linked him to the IU workers. 

Fast-forward to 2023, and the previous Florida assistant shocked the Gators in Gainesville to begin this system’s record-breaking streak. Florida coach Mike White’s brother, Brian, is the athletic director at FAU and had a very good supply of advice when he was making the rent.

In his fifth yr at FAU, May took over a program that solely had successful seasons in its 25-year historical past and was on a streak of seven consecutive shedding campaigns. All the 46-year-old has completed is go 90-59 and shift the Owls, and a budding fanbase, from being an afterthought to dreaming of the varsity’s first NCAA Tournament look since 2002, and second all-time.

The fascinating issue with FAU is that it’s set as much as win a recreation, if not two, within the NCAA Tournament. With a NET rating of twenty-two, a mixed 5 Quad 1/2 wins and no main blemishes, FAU at present has a 10-seed in Mike DeCourcy’s newest projections. Sure, it will imply a second-round upset probably, however crazier issues have occurred. With some energy convention leftovers from the switch portal in addition to some in-state expertise, May has constructed a roster with the fitting mix, one that may be harmful offensively with a mean of 10 made 3s per recreation.  

He’s going to be on the radar for energy convention openings, particularly in a local weather the place turnover is speedy within the teaching ranks and somebody like May, who’s made one thing from nothing, is placing up historical past. 

Andy Katz is a longtime school basketball author, analyst and host. He could be seen on the Big Ten Network, in addition to March Madness and, and he hosts the podcast “March Madness 365.” Katz labored at ESPN for practically twenty years and, previous to that, in newspapers for 9 years.

John Fanta is a nationwide school basketball broadcaster and author for FOX Sports. He covers the game in a wide range of capacities, from calling video games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to offering commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

Michael Cohen covers school soccer and basketball for FOX Sports with an emphasis on the Big Ten. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Cohen13.

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