UPDATE: I guess I’ll give myself a half-hearted, mildly depressed “told you so”. Brad Stevens has reportedly turned down the Oregon job. Tweet from @TheBigLead: “Source: brad stevens rejected Oregon today. Not a $ thing- simply not interested. Ouch. Phil knight not a happy man.”
Jamie Dixon, Steve Alford, Tubby Smith and Mark Turgeon: All used the Oregon coaching vacancy as an opportunity to get more money from their current programs.
Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan, Coack K: Seriously? Why even bother.
Mark Few: Forgetaboutit. He’s not coming.
The search for Ernie Kent’s replacement has taken more turns than Richard W. Lariviere’s stance on “openness”.
Now, it seems, we’re pinning our hopes on a 33-year-old who looks so young that a CBS commentator remarked “[Brad] Stevens looks like he checks the mirror every morning to see if it’s time to start shaving”.
There are certainly question marks about his experience – only three years as a head coach, all in the Horizon League – but he’s done better than anyone could have ever asked for, taking Butler literally all but three inches away from a national championship.
He has a knack for winning, thanks to an unparalleled passion for the game of basketball. While in college, he took his future wife to a high school basketball game on their third date.
This, unfortunately, is why I can’t see him coming to Oregon.
He’s born and bred Indiana. When Brad was five, he watched taped basketball games before he went to afternoon kindergarten. At seven, his dad started driving him to Indiana Hoosier games.
He was so dedicated to the game that he would bring the unprepared ingredients for grilled cheese sandwiches over to his friend Brandon’s house, so as to not waste time waiting for sandwiches to cook.
So you think that guy is going to pack up his family and leave Indiana, the place he’s lived his entire life, for Oregon, a place with relatively zero basketball tradition?
Not a chance.
More money, better facilities and flashier uniforms await him in Eugene, to be sure, but that’s not what Stevens is about. He’s about the tradition.
Stevens could build an empire at Butler, akin to what our neighbor Mark Few has done next door at Gonzaga, and I think there’s a good chance that happens. But if he leaves, it won’t be for Oregon. It will be for a school where basketball is first; where it’s more than a game, it’s a way of life.
I could see him taking the Wake Forest job for exactly those reasons.
So now that I’ve poopoo’d all your excitement about the latest wunderkind, I’ll make up for it by suggesting another name. One that didn’t take me long to talk myself into and now I’m starting to love.
If we could get him to leave Mizzou, I think he’d be a perfect fit.
He’s won everywhere he’s gone.
At University of Alabama-Birmingham, he took the Blazers to three NCAA tournament appearances in his four years, including a 76-75 upset over #1 seeded Kentucky to get to the Sweet 16, and he was named Conference USA Coach of the Year in 2004 (over John Calipari at Memphis).
Anderson was then hired by Missouri in 2006, a once-proud program that Quinn Snyder trashed and left for the NCAA sanctioning-wolves.
After a middling first two seasons, Anderson led the Tigers to the Elite Eight in 2009 and the second round in this year’s tournament.
He runs an up-tempo, aggressive style of play that would be able to take advantages of the athletes Oregon has in a way other candidates wouldn’t.
Dubbed “40 Minutes of Hell”, Anderson’s style would be perfect for the type of players that Oregon can recruit (those who would make the most of the Ducks’ supreme practice/workout facilities) and also, he’d be going after a different kind of recruit than most of his opponents on the West Coast – advantage Oregon.
He even has strong moral standards, booting two of Mizzou’s star players, leading scorer Stefhon Hannah and Kalen Grimes, from the team after a night club fracas (Hannah) and being arrested for hitting a man with the butt of a shotgun (Grimes).
John Canzano would be proud.
At 50 years old, he’s relatively young, proven and more than capable of making Oregon an immediate contender.
Only problem is, can Pat Kilkenny/Spencer Stuart/whoever’s running the athletic department, convince him to leave the Tigers, where he just signed a 7-year extension at $1.6 million per? (turning down a $2 million offer from Georgia in the process)
Anderson has never coached outside of the South before, but I think an opportunity to become King of the West Coast could be attractive enough for the Alabama native to leave his roots.
Plus, wouldn’t it be awesome to watch E.J. Singler scrambling around like a beheaded chicken on the full-court press?
That’s enough of a reason to hire Anderson right there.
And in case you forgot the Missouri-Oregon game this year, here you go.