- Scott Powers, ESPN Staff Writer
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UTEP coach Tony Barbee is a strong candidate to be DePaul's next head coach, according to ESPN college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb.
Gottlieb said Monday he believes Kentucky assistant coach Rod Strickland, a former DePaul player, would be a candidate to join Barbee's DePaul staff.
"I know [DePaul] reached out to Frank Martin before he re-signed with Kansas State," Gottlieb said Monday on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN 1000. "I think what they do is go down and get UTEP's coach. He played at UMass, was an assistant at Memphis and has done a terrific job at UTEP.
"That's what everyone is saying -- that Rod Strickland comes in, who used to be an assistant at Memphis and now is at Kentucky, is a legend at DePaul -- that's what everyone is saying ends up happening at DePaul."
Barbee, 38, took over at UTEP in 2006. The Miners have improved in each of his four seasons. This season he has guided them to a 24-5 overall record and a Conference USA regular-season title with a 15-1 mark. UTEP is ranked No. 21 and is an eighth seed in ESPN’s Bracketology.
Barbee, an Indianapolis native, was previously an assistant under John Calipari at Memphis and Massachusetts. Barbee also spent time at Wyoming as an assistant.
Gottlieb believes it will take time for any coach to return the Blue Demons to their former basketball glory.
"I think you have to find a way to be patient, build it," Gottlieb said. "There are some inherent problems at DePaul. [Northwestern's] Welsh-Ryan [Arena] is closer to their campus than [Allstate Arena] is to their campus. They have no atmosphere, no kind of student support. I don't know how you plan to compete on a year-by-year basis if you're in the Big East."
DePaul fired coach Jerry Wainwright midway through his fifth season on Jan. 11, and assistant Tracy Webster was named the interim coach. DePaul has gone 1-14 under Webster. It opens up the Big East Tournament against South Florida on Tuesday.