March 22, 2012

HuskerOnline.com's basketball coaching Hot Board
























The candidates


Dana Altman, Oregon






Record: 450-269 as a head coach and 40-26 in second season at Oregon



Coaching background: Oregon (2010-present), Creighton (1994-2010), Kansas State (1990-94), Marshall (1989-90)



Bio: Altman, 53, is in his second season at Oregon after coaching the previous 16 seasons at Creighton. After guiding the Ducks to a 21-18 record in 2010-11, Altman's team is 19-8 overall and ranked fourth in the Pac-12 standings at 10-5. He left Creighton with a record of 327-176 (.650) and led the Blue Jays to 13 consecutive postseason appearances, including a stretch of 11 straight seasons with 20-plus wins.



Why Altman: Altman has been considered a top choice to replace Sadler for some time now, mostly because of his ties to Nebraska and the way he built Creighton into an annual NCAA Tournament contender. A native of Wilber, Neb., it's believed Altman would be interested in coming back to his home state to try and turn around the Huskers the way he did the Blue Jays. He obviously knows what it takes to recruit to the state, and already has a good relationship with NU athletic director Tom Osborne.


Joe Dooley, Kansas





Record: (163-71) as a head coach and (26-30) in five seasons at Wyoming.



Coaching background: Assistant coach at Kansas (2003-present), Wyoming (2002-03), New Mexico (1999-2002), East Carolina (1991-95), South Carolina (1988-91); head coach at East Carolina (1995-99).



Bio: Dooley, 48, has established himself as one of the top assistant coaches in the country over the course of his career, particularly in his nine seasons at Kansas. He's helped coach the Jayhawks to a national title, four Elite Eight appearances, five Sweet 16s, seven Big 12 regular-season conference titles and five Big 12 tournament championships. More importantly, he's been recognized as one of the country's top recruiters, and in 2007 was named fourth-best recruiter in college basketball by Rivals.com. In his one stint as a head coach at East Carolina, he left with a record of 57-52 over four seasons.



Why Dooley: Dooley fits the mold of the top assistant at a major program perfectly, as he boasts an abundance of championship-level experience. What makes him an even more attractive hire is his proven track record as a recruiter. He recruited guys like Cole Aldrich, Mario Chalmers and Sasha Kaun to Lawrence, and that would undoubtedly be his best selling point in taking over at Nebraska.


Larry Eustachy, Southern Miss





Record: 392-254 as a head coach and 139-109 in eighth season at Southern Miss



Coaching background: Southern Miss (2004-present), Iowa State (1998-2003), Utah State (1993-98), Idaho (1990-93)



Bio: Eustachy, 56, has won at every stop in his head coaching career, posting a conference championship at all four schools where he's coached and guiding three of those to NCAA Tournament appearances. After leading Utah State to a conference title in 1997-98, Eustachy took over at Iowa State and led the Cyclones to their best season in school history in 1999-2000, going 32-5 with a Big 12 championship and advancing all the way to the Elite Eight. At Southern Miss, he's coached the Golden Eagles three straight 20-win seasons, and will likely make it four in a row this season.




Why Eustachy: Looking solely at his resume, Eustachy seems like a no-brainer candidate to take over at Nebraska given his success and familiarity with recruiting to the region at the high-major level. Unfortunately, some compromising photos of him at college house parties during his final season at Iowa State in 2002-03 led to his resignation from ISU and tarnished his reputation. However, Eustachy is now nearly 10 years removed from those mistakes, and there's no doubt he's hungry for another chance to come back to a BCS program.


Ben Howland, UCLA





Record: 372-193 as a head coach and 204-95 in ninth season at UCLA



Coaching background: UCLA (2003-present), Pittsburgh (1999-2003), Northern Arizona (1994-99)



Bio: In his first head coaching job, Howland, 54, led Northern Arizona to its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 1997-98. That helped him get the job at Pittsburgh, where he guided the Panthers to back-to-back Big East regular-season titles and Sweet 16 appearances in 2002-03. Howland then took over at UCLA in 2003-04, and he's since led the Bruins to three Pac-12 regular season championships and two conference tournament titles, and became one of only three coaches in history to take his team to three consecutive Final Fours (2005-07).



Why Howland: Despite his enormous success, there has been plenty of grumbling from the UCLA fan base about the Bruins' drop in productivity. At just 15-12 overall and 8-6 in the Pac-12 (sixth place), Howland was officially placed on the hot seat. Should he be let go, Howland would immediately be one of the most sought-after coaches in the country. If Nebraska wants to make a splash by bringing in a big name and a proven winner, it needs to look no further than Howland.


Chris Mack, Xavier





Record: 67-26 in third season as head coach at Xavier



Coaching background: Xavier (2009-present); assistant at Xavier (1999-2001, 2004-09), Wake Forest (2001-04)



Bio: Mack has burst onto the scene in his first head coaching job, posting a very successful record since taking over at Xavier in 2009 after serving seven total seasons there as an assistant. Through some impressive early recruiting, Mack has led the Muskateers to consecutive Atlantic-10 regular season championships and NCAA Tournament appearances, including a trip to the Sweet 16 in his first season. He was named the 2010-11 A-10 Coach of the Year after Xavier went 24-8 overall and 15-1 in league play, and his teams went 29-3 in the A-10 the past two years.



Why Mack: At just 41 years old, Mack is one of the hottest young coaches in the country. Though he has just two years as a head coach under his belt, Mack has already accomplished more than most coaches with far more experience. While several major programs will be looking to lure him away from Xavier, Mack would be the perfect choice should Nebraska decide to look for a young coach with a proven amount of success already.


Gregg Marshall, Wichita State





Record: 298-142 as a head coach and 82-59 in fifth season at Wichita State



Coaching background: Wichita State (2007-present), Winthrop (1998-2007)



Bio: Marshall, 48, has made his mark by turning mid-major programs into budding national contenders over the past 14 years as head coach at Winthrop and now Wichita State. After leading Winthrop to seven NCAA Tournament appearances in nine seasons, Marshall has guided WSU to three straight 25-win seasons, highlighted by last season's NIT championship and a regular season Missouri Valley Conference title this year.



Why Marshall: Marshall is the definition of the hot mid-major coach about to get a shot at his first major conference job. Nebraska will likely have to go after him very hard in order to win him away from other interested programs, and probably won't have a whole lot of time to do it. Either way, there's no doubt Marshall is a candidate worth pursuing, given his proven ability to turn struggling teams into winners quickly.


Josh Pastner, Memphis





Record: 67-28 in third season as head coach at Memphis



Coaching background: Memphis (2009-present); assistant at Memphis (2008-09), Arizona (2002-08)



Bio: There may not be a more heralded young coach in the country than Pastner, as he skyrocketed up the coaching ranks and landed his first head coaching job at national power Memphis at just 31 years old. After leading the Tigers to the NIT in 2009-10, Pastner followed up by guiding his team to the Conference-USA tournament title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament last season. Memphis is currently XXXX in Pastner's third season.



Why Pastner: This might be the biggest long shot of them all, but would be a huge hire if Nebraska could find a way to bring Pastner to Lincoln. At just 34, he's only scratched the surface of his coaching career, and the amount of NBA talent he's recruited and coached at both Arizona and Memphis speaks volumes about his recruiting and talent development skills. Pastner just received a contract extension through 2015, and the Tigers are in their first season as members of the Big East Conference, so the door might be closed for NU to snag him, but there's no denying just how huge of a hire he would be.


Bruce Pearl





Record: 442-129 as a head coach



Coaching background: Tennessee (2005-11), Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2001-05), Southern Indiana (1992-2001)



Bio: Pearl's combination of instantly likeable personality and success on the court made him one of the most popular coaches in the game during his six seasons at Tennessee. He went an impressive 145-61 with the Volunteers with six NCAA Tournament appearances, highlighted by a trip to the Elite Eight in 2009-10. An NCAA investigation into recruiting violations by Pearl forced him to sit out the first 10 SEC games of the 2010-11 season as well as other sanctions imposed by the school, and he was eventually fired in March of 2011. Before Tennessee, Pearl was 86-38 at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and 231-46 in nine seasons at Division-II Southern Indiana.



Why Pearl: By bringing in Pearl, Nebraska would bring a big name to its program who has had plenty of success. However, there would be plenty of consequences as well. As part of his NCAA punishment, Pearl was given a three-year show-cause penalty for his unethical conduct in lying about his violations. This means that the sanctions imposed on Pearl will remain in force if he is hired by another school before August of 2014. If Nebraska were to hire Pearl, it would have to challenge the NCAA restrictions and appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions and show cause for why the sanctions should not follow him to NU.


Scott Spinelli, Maryland





Record: No collegiate head coaching experience



Coaching background: Assistant at Maryland (2011-present); associate head coach at Texas A&M (2007-11), Wichita State (2006-07), Nebraska (2005-06); assistant at Nebraska (2003-05), Loyola-Chicago (2001-03); scout for the Philadelphia 76ers (2000-01); assistant for the Cincinnati Stuff (IBL) (1999-2000); associate head coach at American University (1997-99); assistant at Wyoming (1996-97); head coach at Winchendon (Mass.) School (1993-96) and Milford (N.Y.) Academy (1990-93)



Bio: Spinelli, 44, boasts coaching experience at almost every level of basketball, ranging from the prep ranks all the way to the NBA. While his only head coaching experience was at the high school level, Spinelli has made a name for himself as one of the top recruiters in the country. He was responsible for some of the best players Nebraska has had in the past decade, including All-Big 12 center Aleks Maric. A native of Boston, his strongest recruiting ties range up and down the East Coast.



Why Spinelli: While his reputation as a recruiter is one of Spinelli's best selling points, what makes him a natural at Nebraska is the fact that he not only spent three seasons in Lincoln as an assistant, he also succeeded in bringing in talent, and did it without the opportunity to recruit with the a new practice facility soon-to-be-built arena. On top of all that, Spinelli still has ties to Nebraska from his time here, and has already expressed interest in coming back should he be offered the job. Given his lack of head coaching experience, Spinelli would also be a relatively inexpensive hire.


Erick Strickland





Record: No collegiate head coaching experience



Coaching background: None



Bio: While Strickland, 38, has no coaching experience on his resume, he still stands as one of Nebraska basketball's most accomplished alumni. After a stellar collegiate career as a Husker (1993-96), Strickland went on to play nine seasons in the NBA, four of which with the Dallas Mavericks. Following his playing career, the Auburn, Ala., native who attended Bellevue West (Neb.) High School, worked as manager of business operations for the Mavericks.



Why Strickland: Few players come as close to being the modern face of Nebraska basketball as Strickland, as his long NBA career have made him the most recognizable former Huskers along with Tyron Lue. He has never coached a game of college basketball, but while he lacks experience he brings unrivaled passion for his alma mater. Strickland has already made the rounds around Nebraska media expressing his desire to come back and help turn the program around, and there are some NU fans who see what Fred Hoiberg (another former player with no coaching experience) has done at Iowa State and want to see if Strickland can do the same.




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