Friday, March 19, 2010

A Few More Coaches Go Down

I spoke about two weeks ago about Ernie Kent being fired from Oregon. But there have been a few other firings that I want to keep you all updated on. Norm Robert is out at St. John's, Bobby Gonzalez from Seton Hall, Jeff Lebo from Auburn and Tom Lickliter from Iowa. I don't want to talk too much about these because I'm working on my 2010-11 previews, but just a few thoughts:

The Jeff Lebo and Norm Roberts firings make sense. Neither have had any success at all. Roberts in particular lost me this year, after I'd been backing him and hoping St. John's would give him more time. He's constantly been in the last few on some major New York City recruits, but hasn't closed on any of them. And more importantly, the team this year was wildly undisciplined, and that was really disappointing to me. And Jeff Lebo just had no success and his team was going nowhere. In six years at Auburn he managed to hit .500 in conference play just once, and he actually had a pretty easy schedule out of the SEC West. They managed to make a lone NIT, in that one season where they hit .500. It's a program that hasn't been relevant since Cliff Ellis was the coach in the late 1990s. They've got to try something.

I actually don't think Iowa should have fired Tom Lickliter, because believe it or not he grew on me this season. He had a ton of kids transfer out, many of whom he simply inherited. He was finally starting to bring in the guys who wanted to play for him and could play his system. And his team was fiesty this season - they didn't roll over and die like Indiana was doing. They didn't have the talent to beat the top teams, but I would have given him another year or two to show more improvement before cutting the cord. And particularly considering what happened with Steve Alford, you'd think Iowa would have been pretty darn careful not to rush to fire another coach. What happens when Tom Lickliter grabs another job at a lower tiered BCS school and turns them around, while Iowa is already busy firing their next coach? I'm not even sure who they think they want to hire... Keno Davis? I know I wouldn't fire Lickliter if all I was going to get is Davis. Their resumes and history aren't even remotely close.

And the Seton Hall firing is particularly bizarre to me. Bobby Gonzalez did a great job of turning Seton Hall around and put together the best team the school has seen since 2003-04. The explanations given have been about his behavior. It's well known that Gonzalez has a temper, and not only is fiery with his kids, but he also supposedly got in a fist fight with an assistant coach a couple of years ago. But that said, I've enjoyed all of the people from Manhattan College dumping on him now, bringing up all sorts of dirty laundry about how hated he was when he was there. You never heard any of this when he was winning. And you wouldn't hear any of it from Seton Hall if he was winning there. People only care about bad behavior when you're not winning, which is why it always bothers me when these schools get on their high horses and act like they would have still fired their misbehaving coach if he was winning.

Once again, the question for Seton Hall is who they'll find. Do they go back to the MAAC to try to grab Fran McCaffery from Siena or Iona's Kevin Willard? Or do they go after Hofstra's Tom Pecora, whose name always comes up whenever a job in the Northeast opens up? We should find out over the next few weeks, because they won't want to wait so long that their recruiting class gets messed up.

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