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Brown: "Leave the car running, I'll only be here a minute."
22. Larry Brown, SMU
Brown's last college game was that 1988 national title game that made Danny Manning a legend. Now, Brown's returning to coach a program that struggled to a 13-19 record in Conference USA and is beginning preparations to join the Big East.
If SMU was digging for publicity, mission accomplished. As far as the basketball improvements, we'll have to see.
Transfers Crandall Head, who couldn't get off the bench at Illinois, and Josiah Turner, whose DUI issues hastened his exit from Arizona, may improve the team's fortunes. Alternatively, those players may turn SMU basketball into a soap opera and have Brown walk out muttering, "I'm too old for this."
21. Ray Harper, Western Kentucky
Harper was a king in Division II and NAIA competition, but he looked like he was in over his head when the Hilltoppers dropped four of his first five games after Ken McDonald's firing. The Toppers caught fire after Valentine's Day, winning seven of eight—including a run through the Sun Belt tournament.
Still, Harper's not immune to roster attrition, with leading scorer Derrick Gordon transferring to UMass and big man Vinny Zollo leaving for Furman. If he can still motivate his players with the same us-against-the-world mindset that spurred their postseason magic, WKU might not wait until February to make their presence felt in the Sun Belt.
20. John Cooper, Miami (Ohio)
Cooper was thrust into the national spotlight when Tennessee State ended Murray State's bid for an undefeated season. The Tigers went on to post their first winning season since 1996 and first 20-win campaign since 1979.
Now, he takes over a Miami program that has stumbled to three straight losing seasons under longtime coach Charlie Coles.
Miami hasn't won 20 games since reaching the Sweet 16 in 1999. If Cooper can recruit the Ohio-Kentucky-Tennessee corridor, the RedHawks may get back above .500 quickly.
19. Jay Spoonhour, Eastern Illinois
Spoonhour has 10 games of Division I head coaching experience, serving as interim coach when his father Charlie resigned from UNLV. He went 6-4 and fell just one game short of leading the Rebels into the 2004 NCAA tournament.
Jay Spoonhour has extensive experience as an assistant at Midwestern schools, working at both Saint Louis and Missouri.
The Panthers have enjoyed only one winning season in their past 11, and the Ohio Valley Conference is currently ruled by Murray State's iron fist. Other contenders like Tennessee State and Morehead State are in coaching flux like EIU, so Spoonhour could surprise in his return to D-I.
18. Richard Pitino, FIU
Pitino has coached not just for his famous father, but for Billy Donovan at Florida. Pitino has one year to guide FIU in the Sun Belt, then the Golden Panthers will move on to Conference USA.
FIU is a school that simply should not have trouble recruiting, with its metro Miami location and picturesque campus, but Isiah Thomas's name didn't carry weight.
Still, Pitino, with his Gator ties and Final Four experience at Louisville, may be better equipped to leverage the strengths of his new home and sell them to recruits.
He'll have to learn to do it quickly, with only five scholarship players returning. A stern test comes on December 19, when FIU travels to the KFC Yum! Center to face Papa Rick and Louisville.
17. Jim Ferry, Duquesne
Ferry leaves LIU, where he took a team from 5-22 in 2002 to a pair of NCAA tournament trips. The Blackbirds were second in the nation in scoring last season, dropping more than 81 points per game.
That fast, aggressive style could allow Ferry to punch a little above his weight class in recruiting if he gets time to fully implement it at Duquesne. He's got experience building a program out of thin air, but can he take a middling Atlantic 10 program and push it into competition with the likes of Xavier, Richmond and the incoming VCU and Butler?