These five new coaches should produce right away
Posted: Monday April 23, 2007 8:31AM; Updated: Monday April 23, 2007 10:09AM
By Monday morning college basketball's coaching carousel involved 50 teams; 46 jobs have been filled and Rick Majerus is ominously circling as a candidate for St. Louis' vacancy. While late April is the beginning of the honeymoon period for fresh hires, fans no doubt hold certain expectations for the winter: that the new coach will either breathe life into a moribund program, lift a team from major-conference mediocrity to the Final Four or maintain the school's winning tradition while somehow eclipsing his predecessor's achievements. The over-optimistic faithful would also like these things to happen immediately, if at all possible. After all, Bruce Pearl made Tennessee's turnaround look so easy ...
Pearl's success should have been viewed as an anomaly, but his rapid revival of the Volunteers from outside the NIT to a two-seed in the NCAAs has helped bring about an "Age of Impatience" for new, high-profile hires. Fans' short-term hopes have become increasingly unrealistic; only a small group of coaches should be expected to win right away, while the rest need time to build. Today we'll look at five prominent hires who should feel the heat in Year 1 ... and Tuesday we'll examine five coaches who shouldn't.
Five Coaches Who Should Be Expected Win In Year 1:
1. Mark Turgeon, Texas A&M
As an ex-Kansas guard and protégé of Larry Brown and Roy Williams, Turgeon was the best-pedigreed mid-major coach on the market. That put him in somewhat of a power position, in that he could be picky about his jump to a power conference after rebuilding both Jacksonville State and Wichita State. Texas A&M was the kind of gig he couldn't pass up, not just for the cash (they were planning to pay Billy Gillispie $1.75 million per year before he left for Kentucky), or the infrastructure (a new practice gym and arena refurbishments on the way), but because the roster was already loaded.
This is no rebuilding job. The Aggies are on the verge of becoming a regular presence in the top 20, and it's Turgeon's responsibility to keep Gillispie's budding powerhouse on track. All-America guard Acie Law is gone, but with 6-foot-9 senior Joseph Jones and 7-foot freshman DeAndre Jordan, the No. 8 overall recruit in Rivals.com's class of 2007, the Aggies should have one of the nation's most formidable front lines. Combine them with renowned defensive stopper Dominique Kirk and three-point gunner Josh Carter -- whose accuracy was the main reason A&M ranked sixth in the nation in offensive efficiency -- and Turgeon's team should again be in the thick of the Big 12 race.
Reasonable Expectation: Top three in Big 12, NCAA Sweet 16
2. Frank Martin, Kansas State
Martin, Bob Huggins' former top assistant, is regarded as the most questionable major-conference hire of the offseason -- essentially, a Band-Aid for a reeling K-State athletic department that wanted to hang on to uber-recruits Bill Walker and Michael Beasley after Huggins fled for West Virginia. Despite the fact that Martin lacks any head-coaching experience at the college level, he is stepping into a situation with a high level of urgency. K-State clearly regarded the lone season it will have with the duo of Walker, a sophomore who missed most of his freshman year with a knee injury, and Beasley, the MVP of the McDonald's All-America Game in March, important enough make this risky personnel move.
The Wildcats' hope, in the wake of the Huggins debacle, is that one big season with Walker and Beasley -- who aren't Mike Conley Jr. and Greg Oden, but will both be prolific scorers and lottery picks -- will put K-State back on the map. While the program has a rich history, it hasn't produced a recognizable NBA player in nearly 20 years, and modern-day recruits don't know Mitch Richmond from Mitch Hedberg. They have, however, heard of Walker and Beasley, and a decent run by those two could set the tone for the Huggs Refugees to keep the Wildcats respectable. A bumbling campaign, though, has the potential to leave the program in shambles after the duo bolts for the NBA Draft.
Reasonable expectation: Top five in Big 12, NCAA second round
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