When it comes to college basketball insider news, few people if any are more plugged in than ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.
With all of the basketball coaching movement and player transfers, this is Goodman’s busy time of the year so we appreciate him taking a minutes this morning to talk to PSN about the ongoing Pitt basketball coaching search.
PSN: It appears to be a battle between Pitt and UConn for Danny Hurley. Is UConn his likely choice?
Jeff Goodman: Yes, I think that’s safe to say. I don’t know that 100% but from everyone I’ve talked to close to Hurley the only thing that would stand in the way is money from him not taking the UConn job. If Pitt offers $3 million and UConn only offers $2 million, that’s a significant difference but if UConn can close the gap and get closer to Pittsburgh, I’d be surprised if Danny Hurley isn’t the next coach at UConn.
PSN: If Pitt loses Hurley, are they potentially in a danger zone as far as coaches they’d be interested in for this job?
Jeff Goodman: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. You look down the list now of coaches and I’m not sure landing a name coach is the best thing to do. Name coaches aren’t leaving the places they’re in. Most of the really good coaches aren’t going to Pittsburgh right now and leaving the situation they’re in. Frank Martin left Kansas State for South Carolina which is kind of a lateral move because he didn’t like his athletic director. Buzz Williams left Marquette for Virginia Tech where he kind of wore out his welcome. Those are rare though. Lateral moves like that are rare. Does Pittsburgh go out to get a name just to go get a name or do they go out and get a good up and coming coach. That’s what I would do. Go get a young up and comer, who has energy. This isn’t a total rebuild because maybe the right guy keeps these players and I think some of these players can be pretty good by the time they’re juniors and seniors. But Parker Stewart is obviously gone, he’s gone no matter what and a few others will probably join him. If I was Heather Lyke, I would try and identify and I’m sure she is going to rely heavily on Eddie Fogler on this hire, to find the right guy who’s got energy and can coach. I would be surprised if they got a big name.
PSN: Speaking of big names, are names like Thad Matta and Sean Miller unrealistic?
Jeff Goodman: Thad Matta I don’t think goes to Pittsburgh. He already said no to Ole Miss and Georgia. I do not think Thad Matta goes to Pittsburgh. I don’t think that’s an equation for him. I think Sean Miller would go to Pittsburgh if Pittsburgh would take him. That sounds insane that I’m even saying that. But the bottom line is that a lot of things are rolling around Sean Miller right now which makes it tough to take a risk on him right now especially from somebody like Heather Lyke who’s so compliance heavy in her background. I don’t know who ultimately makes the call here. Is it going to be Heather Lyke? Is it going to be someone above her? Will somebody sign off on them going after Sean Miller? I don’t know but if it’s me, I would roll the dice on Sean Miller. I would, I’d roll the dice. I’d say you know what, we’ll take a shot at bringing him home and if in a year something comes out FBI related, then we’ll have to make another move. But in that year, my guess is that Sean Miller makes that program better. Remember to that we don’t know until we hear the audio if Sean Miller did anything wrong yet or illegal. We don’t know. So that’s a part of it too We don’t know. It does make it harder to hire him but to me, you’re innocent until proven guilty.
PSN: You mentioned young candidates, who are some names that Pitt should be looking at?
Jeff Goodman: I think Ryan Odom right now is someone. We might not have looked at him the other day but you see what he did and his personality would work. Is he a high, high energy guy, maybe not that but he’s a positive guy who’s young. When you look at him and are around him, he’s got similar personality traits to Brad Stevens and Tony Bennett, that type of coach. Does he have enough experience, I don’t know that’s the hard part of this one. I was told that they’re looking for someone with more experience. But I figure that he should at least be on the list now. Mark Schmidt is a name you’ll hear he’s a good coach. Again, Pittsburgh fans aren’t going to be all that excited because they know him from Robert Morris. John Becker is another name, good coaches. But are you winning the press conference, No, but do you care about winning the press conference? You shouldn’t be, it’s completely irrelevant. Press conferences matter for one day. To me you gotta get someone in there that can win games. That’s the most important thing. I’ll also say this, I think the first thing that the new coach should do is hire Brandon Knight as associate head coach. Day one. Whoever it is, bring back Brandin Knight. I would also get Mike Rice on that staff. I’d do that in a heartbeat. You get Brandin Knight and Mike Rice back on staff recruiting and things will improve.
One other name that I’d consider, who might be a bit of a reach is Billy Lange. He’s an assistant coach with the 76ers now before that he had two stints at Villanova as an assistant coach. The second one, he was probably deserves more credit than anyone else for Villanova’s revival. He recruited the right kids for Villanova and was a huge reason as to why they’re back. He’s a high energy guy. I’m not saying I’d hire him or that he’s even on their radar but I’m just thinking of names at this point that would fit at Pittsburgh right now. He’s a Northeast guy, has recruited Philadelphia, Maryland, DC, the Northeast heavy. He’s a guy they should look at.
Jeff Goodman can be found on Twitter at @GoodmanESPN and on ESPN Insider.