Tuesday, March 26, 2013
3-point shot: Poaching coaches and teams
By Andy Katz
1. Wichita State's Gregg Marshall doesn't have to move since he has a stable, lucrative deal. He now heads the dominant team in the Missouri Valley Conference, and if he wants to leave, he can stay until the right, plumb job comes along. But La Salle's John Giannini and Andy Enfield of Florida Gulf Coast are in a different situation. La Salle is a very difficult program to sustain, as evidenced by how long it took it to get back in the tournament. The A-10 is certainly changing with Xavier, Butler, and possibly more teams, leaving. If Giannini could get a Big Ten gig then he'd have to go. Enfield will never be hotter than he is right now, regardless of what happens this weekend. If he's content to stay put then that's fine. But he's a viable candidate in the Big Ten (Northwestern and Minnesota) where both ADs are looking for the next big thing. Both Northwestern and Minnesota have favorites in Chris Collins of Duke and Shaka Smart of VCU but Enfield and Giannini could end up being dark horses in these two searches or others. Lehigh's Brett Reed could have moved a year ago after upsetting Duke. He stayed put. His star player C.J.McCollum got hurt and the Mountain Hawks didn't make the field. That shouldn't change Reed's candidacy but you don't hear his name this month.
2. Smart has now become the most-coveted coach. If he wanted to push he could likely have the pick of the Minnesota, UCLA or USC jobs. Or he could stay put at VCU. I wouldn't be at all surprised by the latter. Smart could have had the Illinois job, but stayed at VCU. He coached the Rams to the third round of the NCAA tournament. His "Havoc" style of play is a major hit. It puts people in the seats because it is entertaining to watch to see the Rams win. The Shaka watch at all locales will be on high alert over the next week. This shouldn't last long. He'll either stay put, like Pitt's Jamie Dixon did, or he'll be on the fast-track to a higher league. If that were to happen then that would be a major blow to the A-10.
3. The A-10 had to act swiftly in adding George Mason to replace Butler or Xavier. The A-10 made a play a year ago for Mason but decided to go with VCU and Butler instead. Those turned out to be sound moves. A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said there was nothing wrong with a 13-team league citing the odd-number Big Ten (11) and ACC (9) for years. Mason fits the A-10 profile and had to get out of a CAA, which is being poached like a carcass by various conferences. The A-10 continues to look for basketball-centric schools for its long-term survival. Meanwhile, the CAA missed out on luring Davidson along with the College of Charleston. The CAA could really use Davidson now and it might be worth trying to make another play. What these latest moves prove yet again is that every conference is out for itself. Please spare us any further commentary from a conference commissioner about being pilfered by other leagues. They all do it to the league below them. They are all guilty of trying to steal from one league to strengthen their own.