Tuesday, March 20th, 2007...10:28 pm

Who will be Michigan’s next basketball coach?

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I was going to write a post about Tommy Amaker being fired and evaluate his potential replacements but my friend Wolk beat me to it by sending out a great email today (a copy is below). I agree with Wolk that we need a coach who can recruit and coach. Although Michigan has a great basketball history, it does hurt the basketball program that Michigan will always be labeled a “football school”. That is why we didn’t get Rick Pitino and have no shot at guys like Calipari or Tom Crean. They want to be top dog at their school and that will never happen at Michigan as long as their is a Big House looming over Crisler.

Michigan needs to find a natural fit like Wisconsin did when they hired Bo Ryan in 2001. Ryan has been a coaching legend at Division III Wisconsin-Platteville for 15 years and seemed to adjust perfect to big time basketball. I’m not sure who that guy is for Michigan but I think there are a ton of good options below. I’m pulling for Tony Bennett (terrific job this season, Midwest native, young and energetic, his father was a coaching legend) or John Beilein who wins wherever he goes and has an original and innovative coaching style that is fun to watch.

Brian from mgoblog does a great job profiling the big names, mid-major candidates and random others.

Here is Wolk’s email analyzing the top candidates.

Mike Montgomery is a solid college coach. He did well at Stanford for a long time, a school that is similar to Michigan in psychology and structure. He is an intelligent guy, not the best recruiter, not pro material, not a blockbuster name, but maybe a good fit. Also PAC-10 to BIG-10 isnt a tough step.

Tony Bennett is a good coach, and very hot right now. He doesn’t have much head-coaching experience, and that is always a risk. Is he a flash in the pan? Is he exactly what Amaker was 7 years ago, the new hot coach who hasn’t proven that much? WSU was awesome this year, but he didn’t recruit those kids, and there is a high risk/reward with hiring him.

Chris Lowery is going to be a solid choice because Southern Illinois is the new hot bed for college coaches. Bruce Weber went to Illinois and is doing well, Matt Painter is at Purdue and doing very well, can we do the same and transplant another SIU coach to the BIG-10, he maybe a good fit, although with our luck he will be the dud of the bunch. If we went with him, I wouldn’t complain because I have been screaming for a Mid-Major coach to come in and re-vamp the program and actually “coach” not just recruit.

Lon Kruger. Lonny Lonny Lonny… well with UNLV upsetting Wisco last week, he just bumped himself a couple hundred K on the paystub. You couldn’t argue with Lon Kruger. He has coached and succeeded at K-State, Florida, and Illinois, didnt do well in the NBA, but a lot of guys are college coaches. He is a great coach, knows the BIG-10, maybe a bit of an ego, but after Amaker, maybe we need that.

Steve Lavin. NO. too much hair gel for Ann Arbor.

Rick Majerus. Wont live to coach more than a year. Michigan Daily headline reads: Basketball Coach Rick Majerus dies at Chop House after eating 3 sirloins.

John Beilein. He is just okay, success at WV is very different than being successful at most other Big East schools. I am not sure if he has the moxy to be our coach, then again, Amaker had the moxy of a swan. I like that he was good at Richmond and can coach and recruit, he could work.

Sean Miller. I really don’t know that much about him, I know that he has been successful at Xavier, I also know that Huggins leaving Cinci helped Xaviers program.

Ben Braun. Cal is a solid program, he has been there for a while, he comes by way of Eastern Michigan, so he is familiar with the region, but I don’t know how much of an upgrade this will be.

My general opinion is that we haven’t had a “coach” in Ann Arbor in 15 years. Seriously, Steve Fisher was the best recruiter (dirty, but none-the-less) I have ever seen. See Fab Five for references, but not a great coach. Brian “Doody-ball” Ellerbe was just the worst, not a coach not a recruiter, he was by definition, and assistant coach that got a head-coaching job by accident. And then Amaker, the guy recruited good talent, serious players, and just couldn’t get it done. He couldn’t develop a photo let a lone a raw talented team. Which is why we may need to break it down and go get a guy who can coach. A mid-major guy who runs the kids, gets the most out of the players, and makes heart a big part of the team. Regardless of who it is we also need to keep our current commits or it could be 3 years before we see the NIT again, forget the NCAA.