I know I already put together a quick list of potential replacements for Tom Crean as the next head basketball coach at Indiana earlier today, but this list is different. This is my wish list, the names I think Fred Glass should limit the search to unless they all say no.
I’m putting this list together because of the importance of this coaching hire. If Indiana gets the right guy, the Hoosiers can take back the Big Ten. Tom Izzo is in the latter part of his career, Bo Ryan is gone — Indiana can own this conference with the right man in charge.
The wrong decision would be a significant opportunity missed. So without further ado, here’s my wish list. Let me clarify: My realistic wish list.
1. Billy Donovan (Oklahoma City Thunder)
I have no idea if Donovan really wants to return to the college game like some suggest. But if he does — if he just doesn’t enjoy coaching Russell Westbrook — Indiana should open the checkbook and pay him whatever he wants. Remember: Donovan took the OKC job to coach Westbrook and Kevin Durant, and Durant obviously is no longer around.
Donovan won back-to-back National Championships at Florida in 2006 and 2007, and he’d do a great job at Indiana. He’s the total package — brilliant recruiter, great in-game coach, very good at adjusting his style to his personnel. Donovan would be my first call, and if he has even the slightest interest, I’d make him a lucrative offer.
2. Tony Bennett (Virginia)
Bennett is a coveted commodity again this offseason, and Glass would likely have to pay Bennett handsomely to get him to Bloomington. Illinois has already expressed serious interest in the current Virginia coach, reportedly so interested that they’re mulling an offer that would pay Bennett $4.8M per season.
I think Indiana has a stronger shot at Bennett than it does at Donovan, and I expect Bennett to listen when Glass calls. There’s the money aspect — Bennett is making $2.1M at Virginia and Indiana can pay much more — but it’s about even more than that. Because of conference realignment, the ACC is much more brutally competitive than it was a few years ago, and Bennett can only win with lesser talent so long against the likes of North Carolina, Duke, Louisville and others.
Bennett could own the Big Ten, and he’d be able to recruit to Indiana. The question would be: Would Bennett be willing to adjust his style to his personnel? If he got a host of McDonald’s All-Americans, would he be willing to play at a faster tempo? If not, I could see some kids not wanting to play his style based on defense and taking care of the ball. But if he would be willing to adjust to his current roster — which I think he would — Bennett would have great success in Bloomington.
3. Fred Hoiberg (Chicago Bulls)
Hoiberg’s transition to the NBA hasn’t been the smoothest with the Bulls this year, and many have speculated about his interest in returning to the college game. Hoiberg was the beloved Mayor at Iowa State, and would be an interesting candidate for the Indiana opening. Like Donovan, I have not clue if he truly is interested in leaving the NBA, but I think he could succeed at Indiana.
4. Archie Miller (Dayton)
Miller is the wild card in this search. He’s widely considered the best young coach in college basketball, and has certainly done a lot of good things at Dayton. My concern would be whether the Indiana job is too big or too much for him. But I do think Miller is a capable coach that would represent Indiana in the right manner.
NOTE: I have concerns about Steve Alford and Gregg Marshall, which is why they aren’t on my wish list.