There is no news in the State search, which means either Lee Fowler is doing
a great job of keeping things quiet or he has no clue where to go next.
Since Fowler has always struck us as being exceedingly self-confident, and since
as a former assistant basketball coach, he has a lot of contacts in the game,
we're guessing he has some idea of Plan B.
There are names which haven't come up yet, including Kevin Stallings of Vandy,
a guy who has won at a demanding academic school, and Stan Heath of Arkansas, a
guy who has won at Ball State and in (their) Fayetteville.
Stallings would fit the bill in many respects. He's widely respected in
the coaching fraternity, and winning at Vanderbilt is very difficult, certainly
harder than at State.
Stan Heath would be an interesting candidate as well. He had a
tremendous tour at Kent State, taking his team to the Elite Eight. At
Arkansas he as recruited well and is building a solid program, not the easiest
thing to do after Nolan Richardson's acrimonious departure.
He worked under Tom Izzo, who obviously likes his protege: "In his
five years at Michigan State, he was a part of four straight Big Ten
championships, three straight Final Fours and a national championship, so he has
a blueprint and an understanding of what it takes to be successful. He took over
a Kent State program that had high expectations, yet he found a way to exceed
the expectations by winning championships and advancing to the NCAA Tournament
"Stan has a great basketball mind and relates very well with kids. He's
a people person, while also being well organized with an understanding of what
he needs to do to accomplish his goals."
Heath would also be the youngest coach in the Big Four, and as a young
African-American coach would present an obvious contrast to Coach K, Roy
Williams, and Skip Prosser.
He has all the advantages of Frank Heath, save being born in Burlington, and
none of the disadvantages.
Another guy who certainly got our attention during the tournament was Will
Brown, the young coach of Albany. He has great recruiting contacts in New
York and had no fear of Jim Calhoun.
When John Beilein's name has come up, people have said, yeah, but he runs
Herb Sendek's offense. Well, sort of. And more to the point, he runs
it brilliantly. And we might add, the players would have an easy transition.
John Pelphrey's name has also not come up, and that's a bit of a
surprise. He's a superb recruiter, has built South Alabama up quickly, and
of course was one of Kentucky's Unforgettables. Do you think he'd relish
the chance to play Coach K on a regular basis? We do.
Also, Andy Katz says Billie Gillispie is not interested - but Jeff Ruland is. Those of you with long memories may recall that Ruland was so angry when his old coach Jim Valvano for taking the State job that he refused to speak to him for years. But like most of us, he couldn't stay mad at the man forever, and now wants to follow in his footsteps.