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COACHING SEARCH WATCH: Candidates, scoops, and a quick podcast

 People are talking, talking ‘bout people.  

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

It has been four days since UConn announced it would begin a process to remove Kevin Ollie from his post as UConn Men’s Basketball coach. Since then, we have come up with a list of candidates, discussed qualities we’re looking for from the next coach, and released an update two days ago detailing Kevin Ollie’s intention to contest the firing and some commentary from Geno Auriemma.

There has been a lot more speculation, mostly involving Rhode Island head coach Danny Hurley but also Tom Crean and maybe even Jim Calhoun. Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel wrote an article with some parts that are worth highlighting:

“UConn’s meager revenue from the American Athletic Conference, a lack of resonance from its geographically disparate league (i.e. home games with East Carolina) and the flopping of Ollie (post-national title) have left administrators there pondering how UConn can resuscitate its brand nationally...

The perception of the Connecticut job will be especially crucial for Hurley, who is expected to also be weighing interest from Pittsburgh...

Hurley told reporters there Wednesday that he hasn’t “thought one second” about coaching at Pitt. That statement is as necessary in that moment as it is untruthful in reality. It would be stunning, with two prime jobs in the Northeast open, if Hurley is back at Rhode Island next season.”

Thamel also took a weird cheap shot at Jim Calhoun, while also noting that he was not a serious candidate for the job. Outside of that, it was a pretty fair assessment of the situation.

It appears Hurley is definitely interested in making a change this offseason, and it looks like UConn and Pitt will be the two schools going after him the hardest. Pitt has been in touch with Tom Crean as well and the administration there may have a few other candidates who don’t overlap with UConn’s list of targets. Another name who wasn’t on our previous list, St. Bonaventure’s Mark Schmidt, may also be a candidate for Pitt or UConn.

The New Haven Register’s Dave Borges dropped some additional knowledge on us Thursday morning:

“There has been some talk of a show of support for Ollie, according to a source, though it’s not clear how thorough a plan that is. More clarity on the situation should arise once the players return to campus this weekend.”

That would certainly be interesting.

The announcement of Ollie’s removal led to the de-commitment of James Akinjo, a talented point guard who was a class of 2018 commitment. Borges reported that the two others, wing Emmitt Matthews Jr. and big man Lukas Kisunas, plan on waiting to see who their new head coach would be. He ended with an interesting bit about the projected timing of the hiring, given Ollie’s appeal and the potential protracted legal battle likely to follow.

“Sources at UConn seem to believe the school could make a hire before Ollie’s situation is resolved.”

We also got this hot scoop from longtime hoops reporter Dick Weiss.


One final thought: If Hurley is interested in making a move, he’s going to probably want to know all of his options. I doubt UConn will be able to lock this up before his season ends at Rhode Island if indeed this is the direction the school is looking to go.

Also, we have a podcast coming out later today. Actually, since we like you so much, you can just get it now. It’s just a quick discussion between Aman and TCF on the firing, what it means, and where things may be going from here. You can subscribe on iTunes here.