Monday, February 29, 2016

21 Guns - Potential Head Coaching Candidates For the 2016-17 NCAA Basketball Season

Ryan Koechig, Eric Resnick, Scott Kier, and Bill Treichel contributed to the following post with volumes of research, writing, editing, time and effort.  To those, and the many others who provided their own thoughts, as well as the fans who completed the initial survey that put us in a position to find these names, I say "Thank You".

UPDATE: Advance to the end of the post to see an update on the reported Doug Overton interest in "A Philadelphia job" that broke today

Hot off the heels of the year's most read column on the blog, Searching For a Dragon, the devoted and massively underpaid blog staff headed out and did a coaching search of their own.  A paid search firm, and/or the Athletic Director's office have some advantages in their search, as they know budget and program goals.  And while we will have a followup on the absurdity of them not sharing program goals with potential donors, that fact won't stop the blog Powers That Be from stumbling around and conducting a whimsical, bumbling search that best resembles Stevie Wonder in a Carnival Funhouse.

We posted this today, as Conference Tournament Season begins, so that fans can follow and watch these potential coaches in action as we step into the madness of March.  We'll be watching with you here at Blog HQ.

For those looking for a shorter read, feel free to start in with Category 4 and read down for the most likely candidates.

Category 1 - Too Close For Comfort

Each of the following candidates have proven themselves worthy of consideration for Head Coaching openings around the country.  Going on the assumption that Drexel will be looking for a clean slate, DU may not be the best home for these candidates at this time.

Bashir Mason - Head Coach - Wagner University - Age 32 -   Lets just get this out if the way.  A Bruiser Flint player will not and should not get this job.  This is no knock on Bashir, or even Bru for that matter; it's simply best to use this opportunity to get a fresh start.  Bash has done well at Wagner and has a promising career in front of him; Drexel is just the wrong place/wrong time at this time.

Geoff Arnold - Assistant Coach - Saint Joseph's University - Age 51 - Geoff was Associate Head Coach to Bruiser while Bashir was playing at Drexel, but took some money to move out to City Line and bring his nephew, Langston Galloway with him.  That move was worth the price and more for SJU.  Geoff is a cancer survivor and a good coach who knows Philly and can recruit in the area.  Like Bashir, Wrong Place/Wrong Time.

Derek Kellogg - Head Coach - University of Massachusetts - Age 42 - Best postseason win at UMass?  When he led a comeback to beat Drexel on the road in the NIT.  Also, say what you will about Eric Zillmer, he's not going to hire a Calipari guy that UMass just let go twice in a row.  Kellogg is qualified, but with that other baggage, those qualifications won't matter in a Drexel search.

Ashley Howard - Assistant Coach - Villanova University - Age 35 - Of the former Bruiser players and assistants, Ashley will likely be the hottest commodity.  Known for his recruiting prowess, Ashley has quickly moved up, traveling from DU to La Salle, back to Drexel before heading on to Xavier and Villanova.  He's studied under some serious coaches, his father played in the NBA, and he's as much a Philly guy as they come.  That is the pedigree for this position, but if the administration is looking to clean house, then Ashley isn't a fit.

Category 2 - Square Peg Meet Round Hole

These qualified candidates may check any of the boxes that are ideal for a Drexel Head Coach, but for one reason or another don't seem to be a fit for the Blue and Gold at this time.

Blaine Taylor - Color Commentator - Comcast Network - N/A - Age 58 - Possibly the most qualified man for the job, Blaine spent the better part of the 00's owning Drexel while being well paid and productive at ODU.  A colorful past coupled with his age and his excellence in his current TV role means he may not be a fit for Drexel at this time, which is a bit of a shame for a man who knows the CAA and can coach on and off the court with the best of them.

Scott Nagy - Head Coach - South Dakota St - Age 49 -  One of the best resumes of the bunch, what he has done to take SDSU Division I and be successful is the stuff dreams are made of for a school like Drexel. If DU wants to make that same type of jump from NCAA doormat to A-10 level program and annual contender, a coach will need to overcome a hurdle similar to what Nagy has already achieved.  But at 49 and with 21 years at SDSU, he is unlikely to move, although he reportedly interviewed for the Bradley job last year.

Andrew Toole - Head Coach - Robert Morris - Age 35 - Andrew Toole spent a year at Lafayette under the great Fran O'Hanlon before heading to a Robert Morris program that was quickly rising and continued to rise under Assistant Coach, and then Head Coach Toole.  His resume has taken a couple of significant shots after the last couple of years, having a terrible year at RMU this season and being connected to his former Head Coach, Mike Rice.  Aside from that, he is a strong candidate on paper:  a New Yorker who played at and graduated from Penn, he is well known in AAU circles and if President Fry wanted to buy low, he'd be an interesting name.

Bill Barton - Assistant Coach - University of Pittsburgh - Age 55 - Barton's resume reads to be one of a career assistant coach.  A Boston guy, he followed Ron Everhart to Pittsburgh when Everhart moved from Northeastern to Duquesne.  Barton spent three season at Duquense before taking a job with the Thundering Herd of Marshall under Tom Herrion before signing a contract at Pitt.  Besides the CAA ties under his belt, his widespread success in east coast recruiting for Pitt gives him a key weapon anywhere he goes.  At 55, he may view himself more as a player development specialist than a head coaching candidate, though.

Darren Savino - Associate Head Coach - University of Cincinnati - Age 45 - Probably a moonshot for the Drexel brethren, Savino cut his teeth as an interim Head Coach during Mick Cronin's leave of absence.  His 20+ year coaching career has seen him at schools from St. John's to the University of New Mexico.  Particularly attractive to east coast schools such as DU, he went to St. Anthony's (NJ) and played under Bob Hurley, and alongside the coaches son and current Arizona State Head Coach Bobby.  Savino would bring an incredibly connected recruiting network and significant assistant coaching experience to a program, but as he has already been exposed to an associate head coaching gig at the high major level, may not be interested in the DU job.

Category 3 - Geographically Challenged

The below individuals are qualified and exciting applicants for programs but don't have any East Coast connections.  While being associated with the Philadelphia or East Coast hoops scene is not a necessary qualification, it's questionable whether these candidates would want to move themselves and their families away from their current regions.

Travis Steele - Xavier University - Associate Head Coach - Age 32 - A Villa 7 graduate who has an ear for the Midwest AAU scene, he started his D-I coaching career at Indiana before joining the Xavier program where he has been an assistant for the last seven seasons.  Steele has been mentioned for jobs across the Midwest over the last couple of off-seasons and is one of the youngest rising stars in D-I. Similar to Dayton, Xavier is a school that DU may be using as an example of a program at a similar level that is having success, something to attempt to emulate.  With young children and a familiarity with the Midwest it's likely he will be heavily involved with potential suitors closer to home, but he is certainly worthy of review by Drexel.

Michael Lewis - Butler University - Assistant Coach - Age - 37 - Two names.  Bobby Knight.  Brad Stevens.  Lewis played for Knight and assisted for both coaching giants.  For that alone he should be near the top of every AD's list of potential head coaches.  He has a Master's Degree that he earned during his stop at Texas Tech and also spent time at Eastern Illinois and Stephen F Austin.  He's been in a number of systems and Butler has continued to succeed even after Brad Stevens departure because assistants like Lewis stuck around.  He has never left the Midwest, but would bring a fresh and successful perspective and incredible connections to the DAC.

Jeff Boals - Assistant Coach - The Ohio State University - Age 42 -  One of the most discussed assistant coaches in the country over the last half a decade, Boals is ready for the next step.  Hailing from the heavily acclaimed Thad Matta coaching tree, Boals is known as a player development guy, a guy who has had to earn it every step of the way and has done so.  That he was a candidate for his alma mater's Head Coaching gig at Ohio University and didn't get the job is a warning sign.  That he has been a finalist in so many other searches but not selected is another.  But at 42, his time has come, and with coaching stops at Charleston, Marshall, Robert Morris, Akron, Ohio and Ohio State, he's put the work in.

Category 4 - The Dayton Section

Dayton gets a whole section!  With three highly qualified candidates and the type of success that Drexel aspires to at a conference level that is familiar to those in the Philadelphia area, each Dayton assistant gets a look here.

Allen Griffin - Assistant Coach - University of Dayton - Age 37 - A Syracuse basketball alum that shot so poorly in college you would have think Bruiser recruited him, Griffin has ground his way through his post-collegiate career.  After playing in Europe and the NBDL he has held four assistant coaching positions, including at Hofstra University under the questionable regime of Mo Cassara.  Most recently he's been under the slightly more heralded Archie Miller at Dayton for the last five seasons, dancing twice and having a shot to do so this season as well.  Not only did he work in the CAA, he lived three doors down from Charles Jenkins growing up!  Jim Boeheim, Archie Miller pedigree from a New York native with CAA experience make him a natural to be considered for the Drexel gig.

Tom Ostrom - Assistant Coach - University of Dayton - Age  45 - The key to Dayton's recruiting, Ostrom's roots are in the midwest AAU scene.  Prior to taking the gig at Dayton he had been a four year assistant at Arkansas (dancing once) and coaches at a Florida program under a guy named Billy Donovan.  A coaching lifer, he may not make as much sense as the other Dayton assistants as he doesn't have significant east coach exposure and he is a bit older.  Despite that, he's qualified for the job, his pedigree is strong and he could bring Midwestern recruits to Philadelphia, avoiding the local recruiting battle that is hard to win as the coach of Drexel Basketball.

Kevin Kuwik - Assistant Coach - University of Dayton - Age  41 - Special.  That's the word that comes to mind when reviewing Kuwik's 41 years.  He graduated summa cum laude from Notre Dame with a degree in engineering, he also participated in the schools ROTC program.  Kuwik served in Iraq, including a recall to duty when he has been coaching full time.  While his personal life includes both triumph and tragedy, his on the court victories match his academic success.  He was Director of Basketball Operations for Brad Stevens at Butler, a video coordinator under Thad Matta at Ohio State and has spent the last five years under Archie Miller at Dayton.  That may be the best trifecta of coaching trees on this list.  And that is without mentioning that he was a team manager at Notre Dame under future NBA coach John MacLeod.  He's a tremendous academic success, he's studied under the best coaches in the game and has east coast ties, growing up in upstate New York and having coached early in his career at D-II Saint Michael's College of Vermont.  While he is lumped in with the other Dayton candidates, he could easily be in either of the next two sections.

Category 5 - Strong Potential Candidates

The below are exceptional candidates and are expected to be under consideration by the school.  While coaching within the CAA footprint, these coaches haven't seen significant overlap with the CAA or it's institutions, a feature that would make them more of a slam dunk for an interview.

Brian Earl - Associate Head Coach - Princeton University - Age 39 - The Drexel Powers That Be would be doing a disservice not to at least have him in for an interview if he is willing.  He was considered a top candidate for the Princeton job when his former teammate Mich Henderson got the gig in 2011.  Earl stayed on as Associate Head Coach to his good friend and it's been a very successful marriage.  With Ivy League talent the Princeton team has been in the top half of college basketball all 5 seasons that Henderson and Earl have led the program in both 2pt shooting and 2pt defense, which are some of the most predictive factors out there for overall success.  For perspective, Bruiser Flint and staff have accomplished that twice in 15 years with CAA talent on board.  Earl is smart, loved by his players, and has had Princeton, yes, Princeton, running more uptempo.  Add that to his youth and what you have is a very promising Head Coach candidate, who will be as concerned with his teams academics as he is with its on the court success.  The concerns at Drexel will stem from an Ivy League rooted career that didn't see a lot of crossover with CAA players or politics.  Also, would Earl have interest in leaving his longtime friend and a great gig at Princeton?

Scott Cherry - Head Coach - High Point University - Age 45 - Cherry checks all the boxes.  He played under a guy named Dean Smith at UNC, has CAA experience as part of Jim Larranaga's staff at George Mason, where he participated in the Final Four run, and as a Head Coach has brought High Point from doormat to competitive team.  Cherry even has a year of coaching women's basketball under his belt.  After seven seasons at High Point and with only one year left on his contract, he's expected to see significant interest this off-season.  At 45, Cherry can be considered at the older end of a "youth movement" and may demand a higher salary than other candidates but his record of success is unblemished.  The knock on Cherry if there is one is a reliance on the three ball.  If the strongest signal of excellence is consistency, relying on the most inconsistent shot in the lot is tough.  Similarly, his teams have never had a strong defense which is a significant warning sign.  X's and O's may oddly be an issue here, but credentials and pedigree are not.

Niko Medved - Head Coach - Furman University - Age 43 - Anytime you can hire a guy who has coached at the same SoCon doormat twice, you have to get him.  Medved has excelled well beyond what that first sentence implies.  Known as a recruiting specialist with connections throughout the midwest, Medved served as an assistant to Larry Davis (now Associate Head Coach at Cincinnati) during his initial stint at Furman.  After skipping town to develop his abilities at Colorado State under Tim Miles and Larry Eustachy he returned to Furman to accept the Head Coaching role that he was clearly ready for.  Inheriting the Kenpom #342 team in the country that had gone 3-13 in the SoCon the year prior was no easy task.  Medved has answered the bell.  The record and ranking has greatly improved in all three years that he has led the team.  Perhaps more importantly, the leading indicators, 2pt offense and defense percentages, rebounding, and free throw rate have all improved every single season.  A program that was an embarrassment for the five years prior to his return just finished third in the conference in Medved's third year at the helm.  His teams play slow, methodical basketball that shows off his staff's game-planning and execution.

With a number of returning players next year, Coach Medved may opt to see if his name becomes hotter with a potential conference championship in waiting.  It's unlikely he jumps from Furman to a high major job however, and at 43 it may be a good time to make the next step.  With one successful rebuild under his belt and the returning players that Drexel will have to offer, Medved is a top name to keep in mind.

Pat Duquette - Head Coach - University of Massachusetts Lowell - Age 45 - Well, its not that Umass.  There are plenty of coaches who have rebuilt programs.  Duquette has simply built at UMass Lowell, as he helped guide the program to Division I.  A former assistant to Al Skinner at Boston College and Bill Coen at Northeastern, Duquette has significant knowledge of northeast basketball and the CAA.  At Lowell, he has adjusted around his team this season, pushing tempo and becoming one of the better shooting teams in the country, but the fact that the program has not been filled out with Division I talent continues to hold it back.  Going around .500 in the America East while moving NCAA divisions is no small task and Duquette still has his work cut out for him if he sticks around, which is why he may jump at the offer of another opportunity.

On a personal note, Duquette's cousin made the trade that brought Pedro Martinez to Fenway Park, and I and hundreds of thousands of New Englanders will be forever grateful to the Duquettes.

Category 6 - Leaders in the Clubhouse

These candidates check every box on paper.  Success in their current positions, well spoken in NCAA circles and they have plenty of CAA or Philadelphia exposure as well.  All of these will almost certainly be considered within the walls of the DAC.

Chris Caputo - Associate Head Coach - University of Miami - Age 35 - Lets just get this out of the way now.  By all accounts, Jim Larranaga is not a guy you want to have a beer with.  Chris Caputo has spent 14 years with that man.  It's enough to make you want to take a shower just thinking about it.  Alas, Jim Larranaga is also one of the most successful coaches to come through the CAA.  And one man has been along for the whole ride, from "Hey Hey Hey I'm Jaiiiii Lewis" and ball busting Tony Skinn running to the Final Four at George Mason to the incredibly clean house at the University of Miami.  Larranaga may be downright Belichickian in his ability to walk close to the NCAA bylaws without tripping over them, and while that sounds bad, it's pretty good company to be in if the goal is to win games and stay on the right side of the law.  Larranaga and Caputo have finished in the Kenpom top 100 in nine of the last ten seasons split between Mason and Miami and have danced four times.  His CAA success made Caputo a solid DC area recruiter which is ripe ground for a coach trying to bring players to Philadelphia.  He is young and has no NCAA violations against him.  He may get bigger offers after this years run by the Hurricanes is complete, but for Drexel he checks all the boxes, and is beyond worthy of consideration.

Martin Inglesby - Assistant Coach - University of Notre Dame - Age 38 - If you want to talk fit, it starts and ends here.  Inglesby is a graduate of Archbishop Carroll.  His father played for Villanova.  His sister Chrissi married Baker Dunleavy, who is Associate Head Coach at Villanova.  Multiple sources have stated he had a good line on the UD opening had Monte been removed from the position last season, and he was looked at by Wagner before Bash took that gig.  He was also involved in at least the Bucknell and Monmouth searches in recent years.  And he's had enough puff pieces in local newsrooms that it's clear he may just be well connected across the small neighborhood that is college hoops professionals.  The concern with Inglesby, similar to that of Caputo, is that with the exception of a year at Wagner, his experience is limited to the viewpoint of Mike Brey: he has only been under one coach.  Brey himself isn't known as an X's and O's wizard, and a cringeworthy quote: “Everybody thinks coaching is about Xs and Os. Coaching is about having the ability to motivate people, to lead people and, more importantly, to understand people. And he has that. Martin is super” from Dereck Whittenburg, Inglesby's Head Coach at Wagner, leads to additional concern, especially from those who aren't quite over the fifteen year offensive car wreck that was the Bruiser Flint offense.  On paper however, Martin has put in the years, is well connected, and is ready and deserves a look for the Drexel job.

The Conclusion

There is no conclusion.  At Drexel, there is not even an official search yet.  That's not to be overlooked, as we should be sure to give these coaches and players the respect they deserve in Baltimore.

The names listed largely fit the successful, younger, up and coming mold that DU fans seemed to ask for when we spoke to them weeks ago.  In the end, the Drexel administration may agree with those wishcasting in the community, or they may go to someone who has shown success in the past.  Names that have seen some challenging times but had prior success, like Ron Everhart or Tom Pecora might get dropped, even a Jeff Capel might get mentioned just to try and fire people up or negotiate with others.  Perhaps Donald Trump, since we're told he's a winner and loves winners.  We will hear a lot and know much less.  But one could do a lot worse than any of the coaches on the list above, and certainly those in Categories four through six have had careers that make them excellent candidates for a position at Drexel, or many other schools across Division I.


Many people have quickly jumped to the conclusion that between this tweet and Doug's son Miles Overton playing at Drexel next season that the job being discussed is the Drexel job.  While Doug doesn't have the successful pedigree of the coaches listed above, the connection mentioned certainly makes sense, especially in an area that might be more about who you know than what you know.

It's highly unlikely that DU is leaking this information just before their conference tournament.  So we can rest assured that this information is coming from the Overton camp, a group that should have a strong relationship with Coach Flint.  So what we really have learned from this tweet is that either Doug Overton is very interested in the La Salle job or he is aware that Bruiser Flint is gone, or possibly both.  On the list above, I'd insert him somewhere between category 2 and 5, square peg in a round hole for Drexel athletics.  His lack of coaching success is concerning, and generally the success rate of broadcasters coming back out of the booth to coach is slim to none.  Bringing in a "name" coach like Overton would bring some instant credibility back to the program which would help the situation at the DAC, but La Salle might be a better venue for a man who likes Bruiser Flint enough to entrust him with his son's promising career.


  1. Nice thoughtful write-up.

    Although perhaps not the best hope for the future, I'll spend the next week (okay realistically just until Friday) cheering for Bru to pull a Monte Ross or Matt Brady and keep his job. That being said giving the past 14 years of history the discussion doesn't seem premature.

    What are your thoughts on Jim Rullo? Someone mentioned him in the comments of the other post. He is a Drexel guy, and has shown himself to be a winner as a walk-on player at Drexel, in high school coaching, and in his current position at Neumann. The drawback would be the lack of D-1 experience.

    Maybe we can wait for the other shoe to drop at Louisville and get Rick Pitino. He owes us one, right? Maybe he could follow Mihalic's lead and bring a couple of his freshmen with him too.

  2. While I appreciate the support with the verbacizing of my last name, I'm pretty sure I'd make a terrible coach.

    An interesting tweet that could add a name to the list

    Personally wouldn't like to see that move made. Seems too similar to the Bru hire, a Philly guy that played for a Big 5 school that is well known whose hiring would generate local press for the program. Much more inclined to go for the best hire and generate press by building a winning program.

  3. Ryan! Sorry, my very genuine apology, no excuse for that.

    Will get an update up on all things Overton soon.

    1. Lol, no worries, I've gotten much worse than the N!

      While thinking over lunch, that Doug Overton tweet doesn't specify it's a head coaching position (although, I guess it's implied). Perhaps he's just angling for an assistant roll, either at Drexel under new regime to be around Miles or at LaSalle under Dr. G in hopes of taking over at his alma mater if things don't turn around.

  4. Zack Spiker from Army???

  5. Not sure whether he's ready to be a HC or even how high he is on the HU staff, but Mike Farrelly is another name I just thought I'd throw out there. Played at SJU with Jameer and Delonte. Worked with the Hoop Group, replaced Toole in that job? and then went on to Niagara and Hofstra, following Mihalich. Plenty of Philly ties and connections.

  6. Rashon Burno from ASU/Florida/St. Anthony's. Great local recruiting connections, incredible coaching pedigree (Donovan/Hurley Sr., etc.), and a great person. Would be a sneaky brilliant hire: