College Basketball Coaching Carousel: 2011-2012 Edition
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The 2011-2012 college hoops season is a few short weeks away, and in keeping with the annual tradition, many head coaches have rotated to a different program.
Over 25 Division I schools will start this year’s campaign with a new face in front of the bench. In case you had difficultly tracking each change, here is a rundown of all the changes in carousel format.
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson
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This merry-go-round begins with the ouster of John Pelphrey at Arkansas. The Kentucky grad was fired after four seasons in Fayetteville.
Pelphrey’s replacement is former Missouri head coach Mike Anderson, who makes a triumphant return to a Razorback program for whom he was an assistant under Nolan Richardson. Anderson recorded 111 wins in five seasons in Columbia.
The Missouri void was quickly filled by Frank Haith, who left Miami for greener pastures in the Big 12. Haith leaves a Hurricane program that went under investigation for recruiting violations shortly after his departure. The Canes finished with a pedestrian record of 129-101 under Haith’s seven year reign.
Inheriting the Miami mess is long-time George Mason skipper Jim Larranaga, who led the Patriots to five NCAA tournament appearances in 14 years including a memorable Final Four run in 2006.
After losing their head man to the ACC, Mason balanced the ledger with the selection of former Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt. Hewitt was fired after 11 seasons with the Yellow Jackets, posting a 93-94 record in his final six seasons after taking the Ramblin’ Wreck to the title game in 2004.
Taking the reins in Atlanta will be Dayton’s Brian Gregory, who migrates south after eight seasons in southwest Ohio. Gregory brought the Flyers to the NCAA tournament twice during his tenure and won an NIT championship in 2010.
Gregory’s back-fill is Archie Miller, who had been an assistant at Arizona under his older brother, Sean.
Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon
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The first turn in Carousel #2 is the retirement of Maryland icon Gary Williams, who stepped down after 22 seasons with the Terrapins. Williams brought a national championship to College Park in 2002, and the court at Comcast Arena has already been named in his honor.
Attempting to fill Williams’ large shoes is Mark Turgeon, who leaves a rejuvenated Texas A&M program he managed for four years. Turgeon posted a mark of 97-40 with the Aggies and hopes to raise Maryland back to the ACC elite.
Replacing Turgeon in College Station is Billy Kennedy, who headed Murray State for the past five years. Kennedy earned 107 victories with the Racers and will lead the Aggies into the SEC.
Assistant Steve Prohm was promoted to the head coaching position at Murray State following Kennedy’s departure.
Former Providence head coach Keno Davis
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The third rotation is localized to the Northeast and was sparked by the termination of Keno Davis at Providence. Davis was relieved of his duties following consecutive seasons with a 4-14 Big East conference record.
The new leader of Providence basketball is Fairfield coach Ed Cooley, who heads to neighboring Rhode Island after five years with the Stags. The Providence native posted a strong 92-69 record at Fairfield highlighted by an NIT appearance in 2011.
Princeton’s Sydney Johnson was drafted to fill the Fairfield vacancy. Johnson departs the Ivy League after four years with the Tigers, elevating his alma mater from the league cellar to the automatic NCAA tournament berth in his final season.
Former Tiger standout and assistant coach Mitch Henderson replaces Johnson at Princeton.
Former Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl
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The fourth carousel begins with one of the most highly publicized firings of 2011: Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl. The colorful Vols head coach was dismissed following recruiting violations and a humiliating 30-point loss to Michigan in the opening round of the 2011 NCAA tournament.
Filling Pearl’s shoes is Cuonzo Martin, who departs Missouri State after a three-year stint as head coach and fresh off a Missouri Valley Conference regular season title. The Purdue alum will start his second tenure as a head coach this fall, having served as an assistant for the Boilermakers for eight seasons prior to Missouri State.
The Purdue connection continues: former Boilermaker assistant coach Paul Lusk replaces Martin at Missouri State.
Navy head coach Ed DeChellis
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The next revolving door begins with the departure of Billy Lange at Navy. The former Villanova assistant left Annapolis to return to Jay Wright’s staff.
Lange’s replacement is Ed DeChellis, who leaves Penn State and the Big Ten for the Patriot League. The Pennsylvania native had coached the Nittany Lions for eight seasons, finally reaching the NCAA tournament in 2011.
Pat Chambers was selected to replace DeChellis in State College. Chambers brought Boston University to the Big Dance in his second season with the Terriers, following a stint (ironically) as an assistant under Jay Wright at Villanova.
BU promoted assistant coach Joe Jones to the head position following Chambers’ exit.
Lamar head coach Pat Knight
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A pair of terminations frames the next revolving door, beginning with the removal of Steve Roccaforte at Lamar University. Coach Roc was relieved of his duties after five seasons with the Cardinals, and has since been hired as an assistant at South Florida.
Roccaforte's vacancy was filled by former Texas Tech head coach Pat Knight, who was himself fired after four seasons in Lubbock. Knight failed to lead the Red Raiders to the NCAA tournament during his tenure and posted just one winning season.
Texas Tech hired Billy Gillespie as their new head coach, who returns to the Big 12 after a short and forgettable stint at Kentucky. Gillespie had previously led Texas A&M to the Sweet 16 in his third and final season in College Station.
UC Davis head coach Jim Les
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This mid-major roundabout was triggered by the firing of Gary Stewart at UC Davis. Stewart was let go after eight seasons and a dismal record of 88-148.
Stewart is succeeded by Jim Les, who heads to the west coast after receiving a pink slip of his own from Bradley University. The former NBA point guard leaves his alma mater after nine seasons and just one NCAA tournament appearance.
The Braves’ new head coach is Geno Ford, who leaves Kent State for The Valley. The Cambridge, Ohio native was the head man for the Golden Flashes for three years, compiling a 68-37 record during that span.
Kent elevated assistant Rob Senderhoff to the head coaching role following Ford’s departure.
Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger
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The final carousel kicked off with the firing of Jeff Capel at Oklahoma. The Duke product was let go after five seasons with the Sooners, finishing with a 27-36 record in his final two campaigns following an Elite 8 showing in 2009. Capel has since been hired by his alma mater and will be an assistant on Mike Krzyzewski’s staff.
Relocating to Norman is Lon Kruger, who leaves UNLV to return Oklahoma to the upper echelon of the Big 12. The Kansas native coached the Running Rebels for seven years, making appearances in the NCAA tournament in four of the last five seasons.
Kruger’s replacement in Sin City is former UNLV player and assistant coach Dave Rice, who returns to Las Vegas after assistant coaching stints with Utah State and BYU.
NC State head coach Mark Gottfried
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Several other schools will have new head coaches for the 2011-12 season. A few notable moves not linked to any carousel include:
North Carolina State fired Sidney Lowe, who failed to reach the NCAA tournament in five years with the Wolfpack. Former Alabama head coach and ESPN analyst Mark Gottfried was hired as Lowe’s replacement.
Valparaiso’s long-time leader Homer Drew stepped down following the 2010-11 season, tying a ribbon on a 22-year march with the Crusaders. Drew’s son Bryce slides to the front of the coaching bench to follow in Dad’s footsteps.
Radford head coach Brad Greenberg resigned after four years with the Highlanders and following a suspension for NCAA violations. Greenberg had previously worked as an assistant with younger brother Seth at Virginia Tech. VCU assistant Mike Jones moves from central to southwest Virginia to take over for Greenberg.