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The carousel turns (cont.)

Posted: Monday April 2, 2007 2:54PM; Updated: Monday April 2, 2007 5:05PM
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Beth Bass, the CEO of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, thinks there are plenty of coaches ready to fill the openings. "People forget about the coaches running the programs ranked 18-34," she says. "Those coaches are ready to step in. And there are a lot of Division I-A BCS assistants who are ready to step up." Yet, she concedes some top assistants who might have been polishing their head-coaching credentials at mid-majors in the last five years have instead stayed at their posts, waiting for the ideal situation to pop up. "A lot of top assistants have turned down jobs," Bass says. "It's not that they mind working hard, but is there a good fit? They know exactly the elements they need to be successful. They would take the jobs if they knew there was a commitment there."

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Longtime Tennessee assistant Holly Warlick is one who has passed on opportunities in the past. "It's hard for me to find the right position because I'm in a place where women's basketball is really important, it's up there with men's football and basketball," she says. "So it's difficult for me to go to a place that doesn't have the respect for women's basketball. The right situation will come along, but it's going to have to be good, because I enjoy what I do."

North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell has not seen as much movement among assistants as she might have expected during her 21-year career at North Carolina. "You would think as long as most coaches like myself have been at a school, there would be a lot of assistant coaches ready to step in at those places," she says. "But a lot of assistant coaches like their situations. Why would you leave? You're at a school where you enjoy doing what you're doing, you have a good salary, and you're winning. There's a lot to be said for quality of life and happiness. I think a lot of coaches who you would have thought would have moved on have gotten out. Maybe they didn't realize the time commitment and the travel. If you're going to do it and be really good at it, there's not much time for other life."

As LSU acting head coach Bob Starkey has discovered since taking over for Pokey Chatman, who resigned on March 7 amid allegations that she had an inappropriate relationship with a former player, there's a big difference between being the top assistant and a head coach. "I'm less interested in the job now than I was two weeks ago," Starkey, who prefers scouting and breaking down film to recruiting, fundraising and dealing with the media, told reporters last week. "It's a lot more than I thought it would be."

For those coaches who want to move up, this is the year to do it, whether they think they are truly ready or not. The competition for coaches and the money being offered them has never been better. "How do you get ready?" asks fourth-year Kentucky coach Mickie DeMoss, who was the Florida head coach from 1979-83 before serving as Pat Summitt's top assistant at Tennessee for 18 years. "Sometimes you just have to jump in."

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