Names to know: Indiana coaching search big board 2.0

  • 03/24/2017 8:55 am in

We’re now more than a week into Indiana’s search for its 29th coach in program history after Tom Crean was fired last Thursday.

Inside the Hall will continue to have complete coverage of the search until it concludes, but here’s an updated look at some potential candidates for the opening. As the board is not meant to be a ranking of candidate preference, we’ve kept the original order in tact, but have updated our comments on each potential candidate.

(Editor’s Note: This list is in no particular order and is an attempt at a comprehensive list of potential candidates for the position. Inclusion of a candidate on this list does not imply interest in the position from the candidate nor does it imply that Indiana would be interested in the potential candidate. All photos via Getty Images.)

Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics

Forget about it. Not happening. Here’s what Stevens said about the Indiana job last Friday:

“I don’t speak to the rumor mill or anything else, but I’ve made it pretty clear I’m going to be here. I’ve been asked about that quite a bit and my answer will be the same — I’m going to be here until the Celtics decide they want to move in another direction,” he said before last night’s game against Brooklyn.

“Maybe a little bit,” he said of whether he hears from people back home at a time like this. “One thing about it — I grew up in that state and spend a lot of time down there. I certainly love the state of Indiana and what basketball means in that state. IU means a lot to the people in that state. I was no different as a kid, but again, I’ll be here. Doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of the teams in the state — I root for one a heck of a lot more than the rest.”

Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder

The Donovan rumors haven’t died down completely, particularly after ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption discussed the possibility of the move to Indiana earlier in the week. Still, the timing here seems like it would be a major obstacle to overcome, if Donovan is even interested. Here were Donovan’s comments about the situation from late last week:

“I am totally happy here. I love it here. I love the guys I work with every day. I love our staff, the organization. As far as I’m concerned, my commitment is totally here and doing the best job I can while I’m here.”

Tony Bennett, Virginia

Virginia’s season ended last weekend in the NCAA tournament round of 32 with a 65-39 loss to Florida. In the days since, the Cavaliers have announced three transfers. Bennett has talked enthusiastically about his future in Charlottesville:

“We’ve got to improve our program. They accomplished some stuff this year, but we’ve got to get better, and we’ve got to continue to recruit well, continue to develop players well.”

Sean Miller, Arizona

Miller is a name that has remained on the edges of the discussion, but there’s been no strong indication that he’s a serious candidate. There are plenty of reasons that he’s an intriguing candidate – he’s young, he wins, he recruits at a high level and he’s well respected around the country. But he also has a great situation in Tucson and that job carries far less pressure than the one in Bloomington. The only potential play here would be that Miller believes he’s taken things as far as he can at Arizona and is ready for a fresh start after Thursday’s loss to Xavier. That seems unlikely, particularly after Miller just agreed to a contract extension in February.

Archie Miller, Dayton

Miller hasn’t been talked about much since Dayton’s loss to Wichita State in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but he’s a candidate to continue monitoring. He’s one of the nation’s best young coaches, he’s been very successful at Dayton and he didn’t take the NC State job, which suggests he’s holding out for a destination job. There’s been plenty of discussion that Ohio State is the job that would make a lot of sense when Thad Matta departs, but would he say no to Indiana if given the opportunity?

Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

There’s been very little buzz about Marshall’s Indiana candidacy and the dustup involving his wife during Wichita State’s loss to Kentucky in the second round of NCAA tournament probably didn’t help. Marshall didn’t close the door on finishing his career somewhere other than Wichita State in comments last week:

We think we’ve got something really good going, so I don’t really worry about it. I think it’s very humbling to have your name mentioned with these jobs. Sometimes, I listen. Ultimately, maybe I’ll take one. But right now, we’re very, very happy where we are.

Chris Collins, Northwestern

Not only did Collins take Northwestern to the NCAA tournament, he won a game and then pushed a No. 1 seed (Gonzaga) to the brink last weekend. The Wildcats have most of their core returning next season, so the potential for an even deeper run next season is there. It would be rare for a coach to switch jobs within the conference, but a chance to lead a program with the prestige of Indiana might be difficult for Collins to pass up.

Chris Holtmann, Butler

Butler is still alive in the NCAA tournament and plays North Carolina tonight in the Sweet Sixteen. So if he’s even a candidate – and we’re not sure he is – Indiana would need to wait until the Bulldogs are eliminated to make a push. There’s plenty to like about Holtmann. He’s from Nicholasville, Kentucky, he played at Taylor University and he’s a legitimate national coach of the year candidate.

Steve Alford, UCLA

Alford to Indiana was referenced as being a “done deal” by former IU player and ESPN analyst and radio host Dan Dakich, who later backed off the claim. There was also a report – which was later proven to be incorrect – that Indiana has already offered Alford a contract. The Bruins play Kentucky on Friday night in the Sweet Sixteen in what should be an incredibly entertaining matchup. Alford’s candidacy has been a subject of debate amongst Indiana fans. This year’s UCLA team is on an incredible run, but will Bruins fans ever fully embrace him? On the IU side of things, he has support and he has opposition. Given his Indiana roots, it’s hard to imagine him being anything less than successful on the recruiting trail in the state.

On Friday, Doug Gottlieb called Alford to Indiana a “done deal” on the Dan Patrick Show:

Mike White, Florida

White and Florida will attempt to navigate past Wisconsin tonight in the Sweet Sixteen, but there’s been little buzz regarding a potential courtship of White. Still, there’s no disputing his upside as one of America’s top young coaches.

Fred Hoiberg, Chicago Bulls

The Hoiberg tenure in Chicago isn’t off to a great start as he nears the end of his second season as a head coach in the NBA. But there’s been little to no talk of his potential IU candidacy. He’s a long shot, at best.

Chris Mack, Xavier

Mack’s name is shooting up the wish list for Indiana fans. He’s now 10-6 in the NCAA tournament as a head coach after Thursday’s win over Arizona. His tournament resume lacked anything beyond the Sweet Sixteen prior to this season, but he’s now in the Elite Eight with a team that had significant injuries. He was the Atlantic 10 coach of the year in 2011 and was the Henry Iba national coach of the year in 2016. He’s also recruited the state very well. Would he leave Xavier, his alma mater, for IU?

Kevin Keatts, UNC-Wilmington

Cross him off the list. Keatts is the new coach at North Carolina State.

Will Wade, VCU

Cross him off the list. Wade is the new coach at LSU.

Dane Fife, Michigan State

Fife had a chance to take the job at Duquesne, but turned it down. And there are reasons to keep him on the board. While he might not be a splashy hire from a name perspective, Fife knows the Big Ten, he knows the midwest and he knows Indiana. And he’s only 37, which means he would be a long term solution. For those reasons, he deserves a hard look and evaluation in the process.

Randy Wittman

Wittman would obviously have some support among those who believe the program needs a former player at the helm, but seems like a reach that he’s never led a college program. There’s been virtually no discussion of his candidacy.

Bryce Drew, Vanderbilt 

Bryce is a new addition to the board after his success at Valparaiso and guiding Vanderbilt the the NCAA tournament in his first season there. Although far from one of the favorites for the job, Drew has established a quality resume in a short amount of time and his ties to the state would likely be an added bonus.

Filed to:

  • 87 Hoosier

    Nope

  • Eville Hoosier

    I can’t say he is the best option. Just always thought he would be a nice fit for recruiting Indiana kids. Maybe I have rose colored glasses on saying that, but I believe he could. However, I don’t care if it is Alford or Dane Fife or who we get. My main concern is getting the most out of your players. If Alford came in and his players were performing like we played this year, I would say the same thing I said about TC. I know it worries folks that this will be TC 2.0, but I don’t see that happening. Just my opinion. I am personally leaning toward Mack, Miller, then Alford (obviously would be thrilled with Donovan or Stevens). I just hope whoever it is can put their heart into the Hoosier state.

  • HoosierDom

    Yeah, I guess the big 10 story line has been flipped.

  • Mack and White in the Elite 8.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    That’s fair. I loved Alford as a player. I remember wishing my parents had named me Steve! I will always be a huge fan. I think that he would do a good job with recruiting Indiana as well.

    My concern is that we just fired a coach because of a) inconsistency, and b) not enough March results. If that was true, and I have no reason to believe that it wasn’t, how can Alford be a candidate? A quick glance at his resume shows that he is a) inconsistent, and b) doesn’t win enough in March.

    For me, if it isn’t Donovan, I’d rather hire a younger coach who we can have here fore 20+ years. I think Mack and Archie would be excellent fits here, but I would love to have Mike White. Those four are my favorites. I’d even rather have an unproven Fife than Alford. After 22 years, we pretty much know what Alford is as a coach. With Fife, we don’t really know. I know that bothers a lot of people, but I find it a little exciting and intriguing!

  • Jeff Crowder

    Steve Alford to ESPN: I am Absolutely 100 percent not going to Indiana. Staying at UCLA. I am happy. Love it here. Have a great class coming in, and brand-new practice facility. Obviously, I love my alma mater. Committed to UCLA. I am not going to talk to Indiana. I am staying a Bruin.”

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    Totally spitballing here, but they could have driven him to Indy to throw off the scent. There are way more departures to any number of places from IND.

  • Not sure how he could walk back from that statement.

  • iugradmark

    If Alford is not interested we should know which direction we are headed. Either it is Mack or Donovan meaning they are still negotiating or one of the coaches that is done playing will be announced very quickly.

  • Jeff Crowder

    So now it’s between Billy, Mack, White and Holman? Miller?

  • Sounds about right to me. And I’d be happy with any one of them.

  • Could be, sure.

  • Was probably a charter, so it would naturally have taken back off to get to its next client. Or something. Hell, I really don’t know much about this stuff. But as calbert says above, they could have driven him to Indy for an outgoing flight.

  • Jeff Crowder

    Too bad (or good) three of them are still coaching.

  • Yep.

  • Guyton25

    lol, yeah his wife is a passionate woman. I don’t know, I’m probably wrong in my thinking that, at any school, a college basketball coach needs to put discipline and absolute determination as the basis/structure to how the team is coached and every facet is run through. Abrasiveness and discipline don’t have to go hand-in-hand. I just miss having those guys like Bronson Koenig and those walk-on guys like Errek Suhr who make their living in the trenches, grinding everything out. Those guys are the most important aspect on a team in the tournament.

  • N71

    1: Stevens, Donovan
    2: White, Mack, Holtmann
    3. Marshall

  • pcantidote

    Prepared coach speak. Totally irrelevant statement. Hope is being honest though.

  • In this day and age Indiana recruits players who have no idea about IU basketball until they step foot on campus(Robert Johnson).

  • 87 Hoosier

    I thought the same thing, so I went to Indy airport departures, but they only show the most recent 25 or so flights, which at the time only went back to around 7:00pm last night.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I did the same thing! Great minds, right?

  • William Stephens

    Rumor is Cuban will donate Donovan’s salary. Money is no issue.

  • William Stephens

    I heard Cuban will cover Donovan’s salary, very interesting.

  • Lisa Wiggins Osmon

    You want someone that will fire up the student section, condition these boys to LOVE the aspect of the game…an all-around great coach (with a few negatives on his resume) nonetheless, an enthusiastic coach that can get the community involved, and supports the other teams?! Bruce Pearl. He had great results (outside of the recruiting debacle). Or even one of his graduate assistants, son to the great Dr Tom Davis, Keno Davis. He’s young, has some great success in his young career. OR…if you want to go the “Butler Way” former assistant Matthew Graves. His an Indiana boy, spectacular high school and college player (Butler). He was an assistant under Brad Stevens. Of the three mentioned, my first go to man would Matthew and then Bruce.

  • IUMIKE1

    Fellow resident of southern IN…and I know EXACTLY what you’re saying. ughhhh

  • IUMIKE1

    Yep, and Roy Williams is perfect example number one.

  • IUMIKE1

    I understand what you are saying and agree with it to some extent and if we had not had the history of the last few years of RMK, Davis, He Who Shall Not Be Named, Dakich and to some extent Crean, I would be more on board with that thinking. Having had that kind of extended history, and having the lofty expectations that we all do, I think we have to roll with a more proven product. That isn’t to say that I think any and all of the others being mentioned that have more head coaching experience are a better choice simply because of that, but, IMHO, the right choice will and should come from those ranks.

  • Outoftheloop

    I was totally wrong about Coach Mack at Xavier, he is now my coach for Indiana! His injuries this season were just like IU’s. He lost some games. But he held his team. Now he is coaching in the Elite Eight!

  • IUMIKE1

    Warming to White more with every additional game I watch him coach and with every additional article I read.

  • IUMIKE1

    Have been wondering why Altman’s name hasn’t been coming up as well. Some want to talk about Alford and how he is the one to get, but IMHO Altman’s teams have for the most part whipped Alford’s teams and he has done it with less highly regarded recruits to boot.

  • IUMIKE1

    I’m of the mind that Altman at Oregon has done an overall better job than Alford, and has done it with less players that were not nearly as highly recruited as the ones that Alford got, especially this year’s example. In fact I would like to see Altman’s name added to the list and for FG to seriously call and gauge if he has any interest at all.

  • IUMIKE1

    My ” current ” list:

    Dream Sequence:
    Stevens, Donovan

    Favorites:
    White, Altman, Marshall

    Fingers crossed if:
    Mack, Holtman, Collins

    Both fingers crossed:
    Fife, Miller, Drew

    WTH (aka shouldn’t be on any list):
    Alford, Wittman, Bennett, Hoiberg

    I have admittedly begun to have some reservations about GM, but the guys has the number to back up serious consideration. Probably would have swapped places with Collins and Marshall, but I still can’t quit thinking that regardless of how much success he might have at IU, if Duke starting calling for him to come home and save the farm, he would heed the call and go.

  • vicbert caladipo

    I gotta finger for you

  • Why you gotta do a guy like that, man?

  • IUMIKE1

    ” Xs and Os are one thing (really, how much difference is there across the coaching spectrum?) ”

    One whole hell of a lot of difference that’s how much. I would also go as far as saying that if a coach is not real good with the X’s and O’s, then he probably is going to be pretty subpar with in game adjustments, and that also makes a really big difference as well. There are several others that I would want as a coach before Alford, but if he is given the job I will certainly pull for him to be successful to the degree that the IU faithful rightfully demand and will be more than happy to say that I was wrong about his hiring, but I just really don’t see that happening. Here’s to hoping that I have to create and practice my, ” I was wrong speech “.

  • Arch Puddington

    Well, we got Miller. Neither of our top choices, but no way to argue this is a bad hire. I am excited and hopeful.

  • IUMIKE1

    I am not at the level of enthusiasm as you are I guess. I really want to know if he was their first choice or if others, besides Stevens or Donovan, were even contacted and if they were why they turned it down. If Miller was their first choice then I think FG did a disservice to himself and even more so to IU. I hope my pessimism is unfounded, but this does not seem to be the best we could have done, especially if, ” resources will not be a problem ” wasn’t just lip service. Color me hopeful…..but not excited.