Monday, March 28, 2011

Tennessee Makes The Right Choice With Cuonzo Martin

Count me on board with the Volunteers choice for their next basketball coach.

Although Cuonzo Martin's resume is short with just three seasons as a head coach it is already filling up with accomplishments.

After a rough first season with the Bears, Martin righted the ship improving their conference standing to 7th in his second season and winning the Missouri Valley regular season title in his third. A four point loss to Indiana State was the only thing keeping Missouri State out of the NCAA Tournament this season.

The former Purdue player spent nine seasons on the bench with Gene Keady whose coaching tree has produced current Boilermaker head coach Matt Painter as well as Vandy's Kevin Stallings, Illinois' Bruce Weber and St. Johns' Steve Lavin. All four of these schools played in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

Tennessee fans expected a big name coach with a lot of wins on their resume. I am going to assume one of those desired names was Shaka Smart.

The truth is we don't know how well Smart will do in the long run. In his two seasons at VCU he has finished 5th and 4th in the CAA. Not exactly blowing anyone away. The NCAA Tournament run is great but George Mason did it a few years back and hasn't come close since. LSU had a great run under John Brady. Georgia Tech made it to the championship game under Paul Hewitt.

As much as Bruce Pearl elevated the Tennessee program he also brought it crashing down. His actions forced Mike Hamilton's hand in firing arguably the greatest coach in UT history.

Vols fans wanted a Rick Pitino type hire who was brave enough to take over Kentucky when the Wildcats were on probation. As great as Pearl was he did not take the program to the level of Kentucky. I know that stings Volunteer fans but it is the truth.

The NCAA is coming and they have shown a recent history of hammering those who lie to the them. Martin did his homework by checking out the possible sanctions and said UT AD Mike Hamilton "has assured me it will all work out."

After failing two recent hiring tests, Hamilton studied up for this one and nailed it with Martin.


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