The New Kentucky Basketball Coach Is...?
OK, mark one up to a lesson of not looking before you leap. The Kentucky "Mildcats" will be paying off Billy Gillispie to leave after two dull years accented by home losses to VMI and Gardner Webb.
So eager to put in place the "Pitino-light" leader of that longtime college basketball dynasty, Texas A&M, the brass in Lexington overlooked the fact the poor fellow did not have the experience and personality to guide the once-glorious Wildcat program.
So, who will be the new basketball coach? Five potential suspects have arisen over the past month. Let's take a closer look at who will become the most famous Kentucky Colonel since Harland Sanders.
The Blue Bloods For The Bluegrass State
5. Leonard Hamilton, head coach at Florida State.
Currently ACC coach of the year and former Big East coach of the year. Hamilton was the assistant head coach of Kentucky from 1974 to 1986 under Joe B. Hall.
Hamilton is known for acquiring talent from unusual places and making sure that talent is eligible to play.
While Billy Gillispie seemed to have trouble "handling" official Tony Greene in Wildcat games this year, the menacing glare of Hamilton makes short work of any unsteady referee.
Cross him once, shame on him, cross him twice, shame on you.
4. Mike Anderson, head coach of Missouri.
Currently Big 12 champion and finalist for NCAA Basketball Coach of the Year.
Anderson is from Alabama, coached UAB for several years, including 2004 when his Blazers upset Kentucky in the NCAA tourney. As a player, he schooled under Nolan Richardson at Tulsa and then was an assistant to Richardson at Arkansas for 17 years, winning the 1994 National Championship along the way.
Anderson is known as the master of pressure defense, a direct coaching descendant of Mr. Henry Iba of Oklahoma State through the Iba-Don Haskins-Nolan Richardson family tree.
3. Tim Floyd, head coach of the University of Southern California.
Currently PAC10 Champion, former NBA head coach, native of Mississippi.
The one man who can go toe to toe with Rick Pitino in recruiting and come out the winner. Floyd is known among the nation's youth as the coach who can put you in the position to make the most money in the professional game.
Floyd is a highly emotional and demonstrative coach who works well with the media.
2. Jay Wright, head coach of Villanova.
2006 National Coach of the Year in College Basketball.
Brilliant student of the game who possesses the ability to take his and beat yours and yours and beat his.
Wright is a graduate of Bucknell and served as an assistant at Villanova and UNLV before taking over at 'Nova.
Noted as an outstanding recruiter, the handsome Wright has been named four times as the best dressed coach in college basketball and is considered a front runner for the head coaching position of the 2012 United States Olympic team.
The fact that Wright is so beloved by his players, and such an astonishing communicator to the fan base, only adds to his attraction as a head coach.
1. Jamie Dixon, head coach of Pittsburgh University.
Finalist for 2009 National Coach of the Year.
Dixon was the assistant coach at Pitt for five years before taking over as head coach in 2003 and is closely identified with the physical, bone-crushing style of the Panthers. The truth is he is a native of California and a graduate of Texas Christian University.
Dixon has averaged 27 wins a year at Pitt while operating in the the most competitive and talented conference in the country.
Potential Coaching Stars of Tomorrow
3. John Pelphrey, head coach of Arkansas.
2. Oliver Purnell, head coach of Clemson.
1. Sean Miller, head coach of Xavier.
These three candidates have demonstrated their ability to win and know how to handle themselves around talent.
Miller spent five years as an assistant coach at N.C. State after playing point guard for Pittsburgh.
Purnell was the head coach of a surprisingly good Dayton program before going to Clemson, and had previously worked as an assistant at Maryland.
Pelphrey has that most genuine of all pedigrees, a former Kentucky player under Rick Pitino, he was Mr. Basketball in the state of Kentucky for 1987. Pelphrey also served as an assistant coach to Eddie Sutton at Oklahoma State and Billy Donovan at Florida.
Heavyweight Dream Candidates
3. Rick Barnes, head coach of Texas University
2. John Calipari, head coach of Memphis
1. Billy Donovan, head coach of Florida
While it is highly unlikely any of these men will answer the call to Lexington, stranger things have happened. Who would have thought Rick Pitino could end up at Louisville?
So, what will it be Kentucky? Another year of not making the NCAA Tournament? Another home loss to a team that came only for the payday?
It would seem there is no other choice but to remove the current coach and replace him with one of the 11 listed above.
It appears the picture of a youngster growing up in the Bluegrass State and believing that the Louisville Cardinals represent what the state's basketball legacy is all about may be too much for the loyal Big Blue fans to take. A change is gonna come.
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