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Tubby Smith Fired: Ranking the Best Candidates to Replace Him at Minnesota

Andrew DoughtyCorrespondent IIMarch 25, 2013

Tubby Smith Fired: Ranking the Best Candidates to Replace Him at Minnesota

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    In a move shocking no one, Minnesota fired head coach Tubby Smith following six adequate seasons. In a widely lauded move, Smith was hired in 2007 with the promise of recruiting dollars and new facilities.

    Those dollars and new facilities never came as highly touted recruits crossed state lines and the Gophers fluttered around mediocrity while recording just one NCAA tournament win in those six seasons.

    Norwood Teague, a fundraising-savvy former VCU athletics director, took over for Joel Maturi last year and again began pumping hope into a tired fanbase, one that hasn't seen an official tourney win since the George H.W Bush administration.

    With a bevy of mid-major commodities on the market, Teague is expected to nail his first major hire in maroon and gold after smashing his last hoops hire at VCU in 2009.

    He could lure one of these 10 coaches to Minnesota with, finally, a new practice facility and recruiting dollars.

10. Joe Dooley

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    Dooley joined Bill Self's staff at Kansas in 2003 following assistant positions at South Carolina, New Mexico and Wyoming along with a brief head-coaching stint at East Carolina.

    The excellent recruiter has been mentioned for some lower-tier vacancies in the last few years, most notably as a finalist for the Holy Cross job in 2009, but nothing that even sniffs a Big Ten job.

    It might be a risk to grab a guy with only four years of head-coaching experience at ECU, but his recruiting connections could help in luring the local prep trio of Tyus Jones, Rashad Vaughn and Reid Travis to Dinkytown in 2014.

9. Flip Saunders

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    Saunders, a former Gophers guard and ex-Timberwolves head coach, has the local flavor and could spur excitement from the alumni base.

    Unfortunately, the lifelong NBA coach has zero college basketball experience.

    Saunders coached the Wolves for nine-plus seasons followed by eight years in Detroit and Washington.

    His name was tossed around following the firing of Dan Monson in 2007 before then-AD Joel Maturi landed Tubby Smith. A great basketball mind with local ties that could assemble a high-profile staff of NBA and college lifers, the 58-year-old is a name worth mentioning again.

    While Saunders' school spirit appears high, his lack of recruiting and college hoops experience is not ideal.

8. Greg McDermott

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    Greg McDermott is known more as Doug McDermott's father as opposed to the other way around.

    The former McDermott has stabilized a Creighton program following the Dana Altman debacle after arriving from an uninspiring stint at Iowa State. The 48-year-old Northern Iowa alum's resume is chock full of mid-major head coaching experience with stops at Wayne State, North Dakota State and Northern Iowa.

    Greg McDermott has won two NCAA tournament games in three seasons and the Midwest lifer could be an intriguing pick to coach in the Big Ten.

    His lack of success in Ames might turn off U of M president Eric Kaler, but the mild-mannered coach might be worth a shot.

7. Andy Enfield

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    More health care management companies knew about Andy Enfield than casual hoops fans just a few years ago.

    The former Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics assistant took five years off in 2000 to assist in the development TractManager, a health care contract management company, before leaping back into coaching at the desire of Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton in 2006.

    Enfield is only in his second season at Florida Gulf Coast but has turned thousands of heads with the Eagles' fast, high-flying play in becoming the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16.

    His recruiting experience is minimal and mostly limited to the South, but the Gophers could nab themselves an up-and-comer if they're willing to take the risk.

6. Anthony Grant

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    Minnesota AD Norwood Teague has close ties to Alabama head coach Anthony Grant as the two spent three years together at VCU.

    The 46-year-old Miami native bounced around the East Coast as a small-college assistant before joining Billy Donovan's staff at Florida.

    Teague then lured him to Richmond in 2009, where Grant went 76-25 in three seasons at VCU, leading the Rams to two NCAA tournament appearances after the program recorded only two berths in the previous 25 seasons.

    Upon taking the Alabama head-coaching job in 2009, he compiled outstanding recruiting classes, including a massive nationwide 2011 class headlined by Trevor Lacey, Rodney Cooper, Moussa Gueye and Nick Jacobs.

    Underachieving teams with poor offensive execution have unfortunately marred his resume and clouded future openings, but the players' coach with excellent connections would energize a tired fanbase and help land some local talent.

5. Buzz Williams

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    Many are calling Williams' interest in the "U" a stretch, but the fiery Marquette coach could be a nice fit.

    The Southern-grown coach took over for Tom Crean in Milwaukee in 2008 and has five tourney appearances since, with the Golden Eagles grabbing their third straight Sweet 16 berth this week.

    Williams has a reputation for recruiting athletic versatile players and maximizing talent, something the departed Smith failed to do.

    A sexual assault cover-up by Marquette players last year combined with rumored tension with Marquette AD Larry Williams could be a recipe for a job move.

4. Gregg Marshall

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    Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall's resume is littered with small-college assistant experience before becoming Winthrop's head coach in 1998 and winning 194 games over eight seasons.

    After taking over for Mark Turgeon, he led the Shockers to their second straight tourney berth, upsetting No. 1 seed Gonzaga en route to the Sweet 16 this season, instantly shooting his name to the top of many short lists.

    Marshall mainly focuses on regional recruiting but has landed a couple productive transfers in proving his player development can translate to the Missouri Valley. An adequate presence along the East Coast and down South has opened eyes the last three summers, contributing to his rising stock as the likes of UCLA and Minnesota should be calling.

3. Brad Stevens

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    Brad Stevens, a 36-year-old Indiana native, did something Bill Self, Jim Boeheim and Roy Williams have never done in recording over 2,000 career wins: back-to-back title game appearances.

    He concluded his sixth season at Butler following six seasons as an assistant, giving him tremendous experience for an under-40 coach.

    Known for his calm, yet relentless, style of play that limits opponents' runs in controlling the game for as long as possible, Stevens has had his name mentioned for numerous openings since Butler's 2010 NCAA tournament run.

    Despite the local nature, he has a reasonable recruiting reach, snagging the likes of Ronald Nored, Shelvin Mack and Roosevelt Jones from across the country.

    The Gophers desperately need a consistently reliable teacher that maximizes talent.

2. Chris Mack

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    Skip Prosser, Thad Matta, Sean Miller and now Chris Mack.

    The previous three Xavier head coaches went on to find success at high-major schools and the 43-year-old fourth-year head coach could be next, if he's willing to leave his alma mater.

    Mack, an Ohio native, played for the Musketeers before spending six seasons as an assistant under Sean Miller. Despite missing the tournament this season, he has led Xavier to two Sweet 16 appearances while successfully recruiting the Midwest and East Coast.

    Regarded as one of the best two-way coaches in the country, Chris Mack could be a tremendous hire if he's willing to leave Cincinnati.

1. Shaka Smart

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    There is a reason former VCU and now-Minnesota AD Norwood Teague offered Shaka Smart an eight-year contract extension days after the Rams' 2011 Final Four run that would nearly quadruple his salary.

    Smart is college hoops' hottest commodity.

    The soon-to-be 36-year-old was rumored for the Illinois vacancy last spring before staying put in Richmond and will likely receive a call from UCLA in the coming days after the Bruins fired Ben Howland.

    His fast style of play abuses under-assuming opponents with their full-court press, routinely capitalizing on forced turnovers, as the Rams led the nation in turnover margin this season. His "havoc" system could convince the talented Midwest players to stick around.

    "There were some great opportunities that were out there, but this was really less about those opportunities and more about my desire to be here," Smart told USA Today in January.

    Does Minnesota have what it takes to lure an apparently content Shaka Smart away from VCU?

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