Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Monday, March 19, 2007

Happy Hour 03/19: So Who's the New Guy?

Right now, the Michigan blogosphere and media runneth over with lists, candidates, and opinions regarding who should be the next men's coach at Crisler Arena. I really have nothing to add, especially since I'd just come up with the same names, and honestly, I don't know a whole lot about 60% of these guys.

My initial reflex was to jump up and down while fluttering my hands at the mention of former Stanford coach Mike Montgomery. At first glance, he would seem to be exactly what Bill Martin should be looking for. He's coached at a school with extremely tough academic standards, put together a consistent Pac-10 powerhouse, while notching some won-loss records any coach would be proud of. Plus he's got a little of that NBA experience, which is nice, too.

However, I also think he might be a bit too old to undertake a project like this, and seems to be more of a West Coast guy. I'm betting Michigan wants someone younger (although you could argue they've already gone that particular route) with strong Midwestern ties and connections.

As our buddy Doug Hill said over the weekend, Michigan really needs a coach who can sell this program, and I definitely agree with that. Amaker certainly had his failings as a game coach, but I think his primary flaw was his seeming refusal to promote Michigan basketball.

How can a coach in this era of college basketball not even have a radio or TV show? And last year (I believe), there were rumblings that Fox Sports Net wanted to follow Amaker and his team during the end of the season, as it fought to make the NCAA Tournament. What an opportunity to show yourself to fans, alumni, and potential recruits, right? Except Amaker refused. You know who didn't, and took FSN up on its offer right away? Tom Izzo.

So my current impulse is to bring in a guy who will work like hell to encourage interest in his program, and I think mid-major coaches are used to that sort of demand. They're not presuming people will watch simply because of notoriety and reputation. They're not banking solely on the name of their school to attract attention. They're out there working like hell to embrace the community at large because they can't afford not to. And Michigan needs that kind of mentality right now.

But here's what people who actually know about this stuff are saying right now:

Maize n Brew has done an incredibly thorough job of outlining the candidates (after reading his list, I knew there was no sense in me even trying) and assessing their chances of being your new Michigan men's basketball coach. Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery is the most likely, in his opinion, followed by Washington State's Tony Bennett and UNLV's Lon Kruger.

Michigan Sports Center details the most important qualities that the next coach will need (teaching fundamentals, recruiting Detroit), and posts its own meticulous list, with a couple of additional candidates to consider.

MGoBlog has zoomed the microscope in even further, breaking down the talent pool into two categories: Name Guys and Mid-Majors. (Oh, and just in case you weren't sure, Brian really, really doesn't care for Terry Foster.)

♦ Former coaches and TV analysts disagree! The Ann Arbor News' Nathan Fenno covers the differences in opinion over just how good a job Michigan is right now. (Fenno also wrote this insightful profile of Tommy Amaker almost a year ago).

♦ The Detroit News' Eric Lacy says Amaker's biggest problem may have been that he thought coaching basketball was the only thing he had to do at Michigan.

♦ Oregon's Ernie Kent says if Michigan talks, he'll listen. I'm sure his bosses are thrilled that he made these comments while his team is preparing for its next NCAA Tournament game against Kruger's Runnin' Rebels. (That just didn't sound right, did it?) (via the Detroit News)

♦ According to Ann Arbor News columnist Jim Carty, Michigan could've done much more to support Tommy Amaker, and will have to prove it's serious about winning to attract a better successor. (Maybe they can take a walk by Fisher Stadium to check out the renovations when the subject of a practice facility and investing in the basketball program comes up.)

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