Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Search

It's been two weeks since Coach Dakich's resignation, and BGSU's men's basketball program is still without a head coach. That's not an inordinate amount of time, but hopefully things are happening and a decision isn't too far off. BGSU Athletic Director Greg Christopher won't comment on the search until it's over, but some names have been floating around in conjunction with the job. Let's take a look at some of them, shall we?

As for Coach Dakich himself, the most likely scenario is that he'll end up on Steve Alford's staff at the University of New Mexico, and BG assistant/interim head coach Lamonta Stone will probably join him there. I don't think that's official yet; I haven't been able to find anything to confirm it, at any rate. I've also read Coach Dakich's name being linked to head coaching jobs at Indiana State and Marshall, so I would imagine that those possibilities will be exhausted before anything is made official with UNM. Wherever he lands, I wish him all the best. Indiana State or New Mexico would automatically gain me as a fan; it would be tough for me to cheer for Marshall, but I'd do my best.

College hoops journalist Ray Mernagh, author of 1 Chance 2 Dance, a book about Mid-American Conference basketball, said last week on a local sports talk show that the leading candidate for the job is Purdue assistant coach Cuonzo Martin. Mernagh said the job was "his to lose." I have no idea if that's inside information or not (I would imagine it's just an educated guess), but it makes a certain amount of sense--Christopher came to BGSU from Purdue, so the two are already familiar with each other. I'm pretty underwhelmed with this possibility. Admittedly, I don't know much about him, so I don't object strenuously to his hiring. However, Purdue isn't what I would consider a strong basketball program. If we're going to hire an assistant from another program, I'd like to think we could do better. As I said, though, I don't really know anything about him as a coach, so maybe he's great.

Yesterday, the Toledo Blade reported that former Seton Hall coach Louis Orr is interested in the BGSU job. I'm generally not too interested in coaches who were fired from other jobs, but I'm at least a little intrigued by this possibility. I don't follow Seton Hall per se, but as a college hoops junkie I remember watching them play shortly after Orr took over and thinking that they were well coached. In his five seasons at Seton Hall, he took his team to the NCAA Tournament twice and the NIT once, and he was once named Coach of the Year in the Big East Conference. So it's possible he got a raw deal when he was fired. Although I wouldn't say he's my first choice, I definitely wouldn't mind seeing what he could do with the Falcons.

Another intriguing possibility, as far as coaching "retreads" go, is Stan Heath, fired yesterday as head coach of the University of Arkansas. Looking just at numbers, this is a firing I don't understand at all. The Razorbacks had improved each year under Heath, and were coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons and NCAA Tournament berths. Before taking the job at Arkansas, Heath was the head coach at Kent State for one season and took the Golden Flashes to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. Those Golden Flashes were the only reason BGSU didn't receive a tournament berth that year, as they defeated the Falcons three times (including the championship game of the MAC tournament), so I think it's only fair that Heath come back to the MAC now and rectify that situation himself.

With Heath's ouster, it has been speculated on a MAC message board that Dan Hipsher, one of his assistants, will be a candidate for the BGSU job. Hipsher is an alumnus of BGSU and a former head coach in the MAC (with the Akron Zips). Now, anyone who knows me or who reads this blog on a regular basis knows how much I love the BGSU men's hoops team, but if Christopher hires Hipsher as head coach, I'm going to send him a picture of my ass so he can kiss it goodbye. Aside from his mediocre (or worse) record at Akron, his teams there always had the biggest jerk in the league, including his own son. We're supposed to replace Dan Dakich with Dan Hipsher? Please. I personally don't believe he's even a candidate, but since some do, I wanted to mention it.

If I were in charge of the coaching search, my top choice (with my knowledge being what it is) would be Kent State associate head coach Josh Oppenheimer. He's known as a great recruiter on the mid-major level, and he's had success wherever he's been as an assistant. Hiring him away from Kent State would be a boon for BGSU's program at the expense of a division rival, the premiere basketball program in the league. Doesn't that seem like a good idea?

So those are my thoughts, given all that I've heard/read so far. I'll comment again as the situation warrants, but hopefully we'll get the position filled before too much longer (with my luck, I was half-expecting an announcement to be made as I was writing this). Other schools are hiring coaches already, and I want the Falcons to get a good one--not whoever's left over after everyone else has had their choice.

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