Jackson: Coaches on the hot seat
What’s happening outside Champaign-Urbana:
1 Porter Moser and Loyola’s journey into the Missouri Valley Conference got off to a rough start when the Ramblers lost all three top assistant coaches to other programs. But Moser, the former Illinois State coach, has bounced back in a nice way. He’s hired two Chicagoans in Emanuel Dildy and Matt Gordon and Rock Island native Daniyal Robinson. Gordon and Robinson worked with Moser at Illinois State. Dildy spent last season on Jay Spoonhour’s staff at Eastern Illinois. Moser also added former Southern Illinois standout Bryan Mullins as director of basketball operations. Moser has surrounded himself with guys who know the league and the state. Loyola has shown a commitment to him, too, announcing Friday that Moser’s contract was extended through the 2017-18 season.
2 It was a sad deal a couple of years ago watching Purdue’s Robbie Hummel battle through two ACL tears to get back on the court. Imagine being Stanford’s Andy Brown. The Cardinal announced last week that the senior likely would miss the upcoming season after tearing the ACL in his right knee during a team workout. It’s the fourth torn ACL of his career and first to the right knee. The forward missed the first two full seasons of his career and was limited to nine games in 2011-12 before another ACL tear. He played in 33 games last season and averaged 6.2 points and 2.8 rebounds. His basketball career is likely over, but he’s working on a master’s degree from Stanford, so he will be all right.
3 Can Iowa count on Mike Gesell this season to be the point guard to lead the Hawkeyes back to the NCAA tournament? Iowa announced last week that the 6-foot-2 point guard would miss about a month, including the team’s overseas trip, after suffering a broken right hand. Gesell missed four games late last season for the Hawkeyes with a stress fracture in his foot. Fair or not, he’s starting to earn a reputation as an injury-prone player. Iowa is expected to open the season as a Top 25 team, and Gesell is a key piece in Fran McCaffery’s squad.
Here’s a look at 10 coaches on the hot seat:
Tony Barbee, Auburn
Barbee got a vote of confidence from his AD, but he’s 12-38 in the SEC and needs to turn it around now.
Rick Barnes, Texas
The folks in Austin are growing restless with Barnes, and after missing the NCAAs, it won’t get easier with Selden McClellan and Myck Kabongo gone.
Ken Bone, Washington State
The Cougars had things going under Tony Bennett, reaching the NCAAs twice in three years. Bone’s leash might be short after going 4-14 in the Pac-12 last season.
Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest
Fans already are fed up with a coach who wasn’t a popular choice to begin with, and the situation might be beyond repair after a 34-60 record.
Johnny Dawkins, Stanford
Once a hot name in coaching, it’s time to start winning games in Palo Alto, where the Cardinal went dancing 13 times in 14 years before his arrival.
Steve Donahue, Boston College
A good core of young players is expected to get the Eagles back in the NCAA tournament picture. If it doesn’t materialize, Donahue might be done at Chestnut Hill.
Mark Fox, Georgia
In four seasons with the Bulldogs, Fox has produced one winning season, and with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the NBA, expectations aren’t high.
Stan Heath, South Florida
The Bulls play boring basketball and have had one winning season in Heath’s six in Tampa, including last season’s 12-19, 3-15 Big East showing.
Oliver Purnell, DePaul
The former Clemson coach is 6-48 in Big East play in Lincoln Park, and with the league changing, better results will be expected.
Craig Robinson, Oregon State
The Beavers haven’t reached the NCAAs under the president’s brother-in-law and finished last in an improving Pac-12 last season.
3 questions for ...
... athletic director Mike Thomas
Recently, one of the recruits visiting campus made a point to say he really enjoyed speaking with you during a visit. How active a role do you play in recruiting?
I’m generally involved when the kids come on campus; it would be unusual if I’m not involved in that process. Most likely, if I’m not, it’s because I’m out of town. I meet with the kids, their legal guardians, other family members.
This is your second full summer at Illinois. Have things slowed down for you?
Not really. I think in Year 1 you’re trying to learn the landscape and get grounded. Year 2 doesn’t change. We’ve had everything going on with the State Farm Center, and that won’t let up. We’ve raised a lot of money from the first year, and there’s a lot more money to raise, and there’s a lot more things from a facility standpoint that need to happen that I’ve said will happen. That’s based on what happens with State Farm Center, knowing we’re going to get that moving. Starting out is like drinking water out of a fire hose. The spigot might get turned down a little bit, but it never goes off.
Are you going to need a roster to figure out who all these new basketball players are at the start of the season?
A lot of folks might need some name tags, but I know all these kids. Most of these kids, when they came on their recruiting process, I met them and their families. I can walk in that gym and those kids know who I am. I spoke at their initial meeting that John (Groce) had with them when they came for summer school, and I had a chance to speak to the group. One of the things I said is, “I might be strange, but I’m not a stranger. You’ll know who I am.”