Bobby Gonzalez certainly took risks during the 2008-2009 season, accepting several high risk-high reward transfers in Herb Pope, Keon Lawrence, and Jeff Robinson. The season before that, he brought in Robert Mitchell, a former Atlantic-10 Freshman of the Year winner.
Last September, Seton Hall rewarded his ability to bring in Big East caliber talent from other schools with a contract extension that was supposed to keep Gonzalez tenured until 2015.
Now, after three of those four transfers embarrassed this program during the 2009-2010 season, Brandon Prunty of The Star Ledger reports that Gonzalez is out as the Pirates' coach.
Gonzalez's fiery personality resulted in frequent outbursts on the sideline that often led to technicals and even suspensions. His seventh technical of the season came last night in a game that was almost certainly the death blow to his time to Newark.
That game featured not only Gonzalez's technical for arguing with officials, but also an unfortunate incident in which the aforementioned transfer Herb Pope punched a Texas Tech player in a region no man wants to be punched. Texas Tech added the cherry on top with an 18 point beat down of the Pirates.
Prunty's anonymous source stated that the results on the court were not the reasons for his firing, but rather the behaviour of both the coach and the program led to Gonzalez's dismissal.
Two season ago, Gonzalez brought in Robert Mitchell from Duquesne, a potential star in the making. In his first year playing with the team in 2008-2009, Mitchell quickly became that star, averaging 14 points per game. This season, Mitchell fell in the depth chart because of transfers Keon Lawrence, Herb Pope, and Jeff Robinson.
His minutes decreased and his frustration towards Gonzalez increased until he lashed out at the Seton Hall skipper.
“It’s hard to stay consistent as a player, when the coach isn’t consistent,” Mitchell told The Record of Hackensack .
Mitchell questioned Gonzalez's substitution patterns and Gonzalez's demeanor on the sideline. Seton Hall immediately dismissed the junior.
In November, another of Gonzalez's star transfers, Keon Lawrence, drove drunk with a suspended license. He crashed his car and was charged with assault-by-auto and driving with a suspended license. Despite the charges, Gonzalez only suspended Lawrence for eight games.
In Seton Hall's opening round NIT game Tuesday night, Gonzalez's third transfer, Herb Pope violated a written rule of basketball and the unwritten rule of manhood and took not one, but two shots at Darko Cohadarevic.
Officials obviously ejected Pope and following the incident and Gonzalez's team lost control of the game, falling behind by double-digits at halftime.
Ironically, the final transfer Jeff Robinson was really the only player that played last night with the attitude that he gave a darn. Seton Hall fans greeted him with arguably the loudest ovation of the night when he left the floor for the final time.
CBS's Gary Parish questioned Gonzalez's behavior and program mismanagement in November. Predictably, Gonzalez cursed the writer out, denying that his acceptance of high-risk transfers was bad for the program.
Clearly, they were bad for the program and according to Adam Zagoria , at 2PM Wednesday, Gonzalez will be officially let go.
So what's next for Seton Hall?
The school's administration needs to find a coach who stresses discipline, recruits well, and teaches defense. If the Pirates can reel in a coach that can recruit the New York City area better than Gonzalez, then he will likely have the offensive talent to succeed.
Teach his kids defense and discipline, and the future coach could succeed at a school that hasn't been consistently successful during the past two decades.
Seton Hall doesn't have many current New York City coaching options as college basketball in the city has generally been lacking. One option could be Iona's Kevin Willard who almost instantaneously turned that program around.
He preaches defense and team basketball, and the result was the school's best season since 2006. Keep in mind, Iona won just two games the following season in 2007.
Willard has connections in the coaching community as his father is Ralph Willard, the former Holy Cross headman and current Rick Pitino assistant at Louisville.
Seton Hall could go big as well. Tuesday night, Pat Knight, the son of Bob Knight, told Adam Zagoria, “If I’m St. John’s or Rutgers, to me, you gotta be an idiot…if you’re an AD or president, it doesn’t hurt to call."
There are options out there for Seton Hall basketball. At this point, it is finding the right coach that can clean up the program and instill the discipline found at most successful Big East schools.
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