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These ex-NBA coaches belong in college ranks

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

Feb. 17
When you see the coaching jobs being done by Paul Westphal at Pepperdine, Rick Pitino at Louisville and John Calipari at Memphis, isn't it unbelievable how they have made the transition from the NBA sidelines to the college ranks? Yes, Pitino and Calipari were successful there before, but it's never easy moving.

All three possess a passion and love for the game and an ability to motivate and teach. Their ability to make their players better because of their teaching skills makes a big, big difference.

Mike Dunleavy
Some signs point to ex-Blazers coach Mike Dunleavy heading to Golden State as well.
Think about some former NBA coaches who are sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the phone to ring. My friends, if I were a college AD with a coaching vacancy, I would pursue one of these guys.

Tim Floyd, formerly with the Chicago Bulls, is one such coach. He was absolutely brilliant rebuilding the program at Iowa State. Floyd led the Cyclones to the NCAA Tournament three straight seasons (1995-97). He also led New Orleans to the Big Dance in 1991 and '93.

Floyd is an ideal teacher and motivator, and those words fit what he is all about. There is no doubt that he belongs on the collegiate level. Unfortunately, in Chicago he had an NBA roster with no shot at being successful. You could have put anybody on that sideline with the team they assembled and it would have been a mismatch with the rest of the league.

Mike Dunleavy Sr. would be a good coach on the collegiate level. He was a fine player at South Carolina and his son, Michael, is a star at Duke. The senior Dunleavy has been attending college games, watching his son play, so it's almost like scouting. Dunleavy Jr. is Mr. Versatility, with a tremendous feel and understanding for the game -- and he got a lot of that from his dad.

Mike Dunleavy Sr. got a raw deal with the Portland Trail Blazers; you try coaching Rasheed Wallace and company! Where have they gone, baby? Dunleavy Sr. can communicate with kids and he's a winner; he'd be a perfect fit on a campus.

Another guy who is a workaholic and an old-school coach is former Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy. He would be ideal because he believes in the little things; he's a teacher who wants to make his players more complete. Van Gundy fits the mold for a college situation. He's even attended a few college practices since leaving the Knicks.

Then there's Leonard Hamilton, the former Miami and Oklahoma State coach. Hamilton made a mistake going to the Washington Wizards. You know he can recruit and coach; the Hurricanes went to the NCAAs for three straight years (1998-2000). Before his arrival, the 'Canes went to the Big Dance just once (1960).

Hamilton was terrific at Oklahoma State, building the foundation for a program that Eddie Sutton took to the Final Four.

These ex-NBA coaches are all waiting for another opportunity. With the right situation and the right chance, they would be big-time successes working in the collegiate arena instead of baby-sitting multimillionaire superstars. Dealing with college athletes is usually easier than dealing with the attitudes of some pros.

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