Hire learning: Big success post-Shaka

Hire learning: Big success post-Shaka

Hire Learning: Each day during the Illinois coaching search, beat writer Paul Klee will provide insight on the process:

So Shaka Smart wasn't entertaining overtures from other schools, including Illinois?

He's a gem, certainly, a 34-year-old with all the tools to star in the profession. But other schools that courted the VCU coach might tell you it can work out quite well in the end.

Missouri, Maryland and N.C. State expressed interest in Smart after the 2010-11 season. The coaches who eventually were hired experienced remarkable success in their first seasons:

— Missouri's Frank Haith. Won 30 games and was named USBWA National Coach of the Year — and, yes, suffered a first-game NCAA tournament loss to Norfolk State.

— Maryland's Mark Turgeon. Had the same record as Illinois (17-15) — despite working with a roster that featured seven scholarship players and six walk-ons.

— N.C. State's Mark Gottfried. Led Wolfpack to Sweet 16 — and recruited a school-record three McDonald's All-Americans in his first go-round of recruiting for N.C. State.


Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas met with interim coach Jerrance Howard on Thursday to get a status update on the current Illini. Howard and the players are scheduled to begin spring workouts Monday at Ubben Basketball Complex. Players have been out of town this week on spring break.

"We're not wasting any time," Howard said Friday. "(They are) getting to work right away."


An erroneous report from an Indiana Hoosiers fan site Friday set off a wave of rumors that Butler coach Brad Stevens was headed to Illinois.

The report, originating from a website operated by Rivals.com, stated Illinois had contacted Stevens. He later told ESPN.com he had been fishing Friday and the Internet reports were false.

"There is absolutely no truth to it," Stevens told ESPN.com.

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aaeismacgychel wrote on March 24, 2012 at 12:03 am

Well, I for one am glad Mike Thomas hasn't contacted the caucasian Brad Stevens.  We came this close to being racist.  Phew... Thanks for setting the record straight, Brad, we appreciate it.

And don't worry, Mike Thomas, you have all the time in the world to find a new coach.  I mean it's not like South Carolina's AD is trying to take Frank Martin off the market.  Oh wait, my apologies.  I almost became racist there.  I forgot that while Frank is a minority, his Cuban descent just doesn't make him quite black enough for this job opening.  And I for one am all for equal-opportunity employment, except of course in the cases where it leads to racist hiring practices, like this one obviously.  Anyways, just keep doing what you're doing, Mike.  I'm sure things will work out great.  Yep, just great.

Dan Bloeme wrote on March 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm


It's time for Mike Thomas to seriously consider and offer the head basketball coach position to get ready for this, Reggie Theus! Theus is starting to make a lot of sense if you want a splashy hire, someone that has done well in college coaching and also comes with the strong backing of Lou Henson. One thing is for sure, Reggie sure won't be dull, unlike his milquetoast dorky predecessor.
 . . . . . . . . .  . Read more > http://t.co/yP3r2vh3


illiniearl wrote on March 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Mr Bloeme, I think you should just let Mikey T. figure this out on his own.  Also, I also recommend emailing me your suggestions before posting for sanity check.   I could use some more kahunas from ya!

Bear8287 wrote on March 25, 2012 at 1:03 am

Thanks for the link.  Very interesting.  If Mike Thomas really has recruiting Chicago at the top of his list of candidate requirements, then Reggie Theus could be a good fit.

There's an inteview with Lou Henson here (scroll to about the 10:30 mark if you just want to hear comments about Reggie). Lou says nice things about Reggie but it's not an all out endorsement of only hiring Reggie.

peterborich wrote on March 24, 2012 at 8:03 pm

So you hate Mike Thomas for firing Bruce Weber.  Why don't you just say so, instead of your reverse racist ridiculous ridicule?