• Davis Cordova

Coaching Hires: Midway Grades

Updated: Jan 12

Coaches in new places around college basketball get their first evaluation on their performance so far.

Midway through the 2021-22 college basketball season, and it's time to take a look at the offseason hires throughout the country and give the notable coaches a grade up to this point.

Wes Miller - Cincinnati: B-

Wes Miller ruled the Southern Conference for his last five seasons as the head coach at UNC Greensboro with a 125-43 record and two NCAA tournament appearances. Now as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats, Miller looks to have the same success, but it will take time, and this season seems to be taking the rebuild route. Although the Bearcats have a 10-4 record, they’ve defeated just one notable opponent in Illinois and have lost home games to Monmouth and 5-6 Tulane. Miller has been able to lock up commitments from two three-star recruits and a four-star guard for the 2022 class which, according to 247 sports, has ranked the Bearcats class 29th nationally. It took Miller a few seasons to build UNC Greensboro, it will take a few at Cincinnati too.

Tommy Lloyd - Arizona: A

Thought of as the “head coach in waiting” under Mark Few at Gonzaga, Tommy Lloyd saw an opportunity at Arizona open up, and he couldn't pass up an opportunity like this. Lloyd has been known to recruit well overseas as he’s been able to bring players like Domantas Sabonis and Rui Hachimura to Gonzaga throughout the years. Lloyd was able to salvage most of the Wildcat roster and has led the program to a top-10 ranking and a 12-1 record. Watch for Arizona to compete with UCLA and USC for the Pac-12 title.

Hubert Davis - North Carolina: B+

North Carolina is a top-three job in college basketball, and it comes with great support but can also come with great expectations. A pre-season ranking of 19th for the Tar Heels put a lot of expectations on Roy Williams' replacement, Hubert Davis. In the off-season, Davis was able to keep All-ACC forward Armondo Bacot and brought in Oklahoma transfer Brady Manek. A 10-4 start to the season with one ranked win over now 7-6 Michigan has Davis looking mediocre at the moment. With a top-10 recruiting class set to come in for 2022, expect North Carolina to compete for an ACC title next season.

Chris Beard - Texas: A-

Chris Beard led Texas Tech to the national championship game with less resources. Now with almost unlimited resources at his alma mater, Beard can turn the Longhorn program into a consistent contender. After taking over as the head coach, Beard had to recover what was lost. Most of the Big 12 championship roster was leaving for the pros or for other schools, but Beard was able to keep Andrew Jones and Courtney Ramey for another season. Beard also used the transfer portal to his advantage as he was able to reel in the most sought-after transfer from Minnesota in Marcus Carr. He was also able to bring in Timmy Allen from Utah and Tre Mitchell from the University of Massachusetts. With a 12-2 record, Beard has the Longhorns in a great spot to compete for a top seed in this year’s NCAA tournament.

Porter Moser - Oklahoma: A

After Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger retired last season, Oklahoma hired one of the hottest names of recent memory in Porter Moser from Loyola Chicago. Moser led the Ramblers to two sweet sixteen appearances and a final four Cinderella story in 2016. With coaching change comes players coming and going via the transfer portal such as Oklahoma’s Brady Manek leaving for North Carolina and Moser able to bring in his best player so far, Tanner Groves from Eastern Washington. With an 11-3 record, the Sooners are on track to claim a spot in this year’s NCAA tournament barring a meltdown in conference play. Moser has been able to implement his elite defense very well within the program and get players from the transfer portal that work well to his style of coaching.

Mike Woodson - Indiana: B

Indiana is considered a blue blood school by many and Mike Woodson, former New York Knicks coach, looks to revive his alma mater. Woodson was able to maintain most of the roster from last season and more importantly kept 2021 AP All-American center Trayce Jackson-Davis for another season. Through 14 games, the Hoosiers are 11-3 and are coming off of a big win versus a ranked Ohio State team. At Indiana, you're expected to reel in five-star talent and so far, Woodson has a commitment from the 18th-ranked recruit in the country for the 2022 class, five-star guard Jalen Hood-Schifino. It’s too early to tell how well this hire will pan out.

Shaka Smart - Marquette: B-

A rough tenure at Texas led Shaka Smart back to his home state to coach Marquette. It hasn't been the greatest start to a season as the Golden Eagles are 9-6 but have played six ranked opponents (3-3) and are 1-3 in conference play. Smart is in the middle of a small rebuild and is rebuilding the program that fits better with his schemes and playcalling, which will take time for a school in the Big East. Expect Marquette to be competing for a Big East championship in 2-5 years, but not now.

Mark Adams - Texas Tech: A-

Texas Tech was, by now Texas head coach Chris Beard, left out to dry as multiple players entered the transfer portal and pursued the professional route when Beard decided to leave. Mark Adams, who was Beard’s top assistant, decided to stay and take over the program. Over the off-season, Adams was able to recruit one of the most wanted transfers in forward Kevin Obanor from Oral Roberts. In his first season as head coach, Adams has the Red Raiders ranked in the AP Top 25, with a 10-3 record, and competing for the Big 12 regular season title.

Ben Johnson - Minnesota: A-

Many Minnesota fans disagreed with the firing of former head coach Richard Pitino. Guard Marcus Carr was considered one of the best players in the Big Ten and transferred to Texas after last season. Now, the Golden Gophers, led by head coach Ben Johnson, are 10-2 with wins over Western Kentucky and Michigan. Their top three scorers came from the transfer portal in Jamison Battle, Payton Willis and E.J. Stephens. In his first year as coach, Johnson will try and claim a spot in the NCAA tournament, but he’ll need to survive the Big Ten gauntlet first.

T.J. Otzelberger - Iowa State: A+

The Iowa State program has turned a full 180 degrees since March in terms of its success after firing Steve Phrom and hiring T.J. Otzelberger from UNLV. After a 2-22 campaign a season ago, the 11th-ranked Cyclones are 13-1, with their only loss to the reigning national champion in Baylor along with ranked wins versus Xavier and Memphis and three wins over 2021 tournament teams in Oregon State, Iowa and Creighton. Coach Otzelberger had only three scholarship players from last season when he started in March, so the transfer portal has worked wonders for Otzelberger as he was able to bring in his leading scorer Izaiah Brockington from Penn State, Gabe Kalscheur from Minnesota and Tristan Enaruma from Kansas. The culmination of these transfers, along with four-star freshman Tyrese Hunter, have worked very well with Otzelberger’s defensive play calling as the Cyclones have allowed just 57 points per game and are forcing 18 turnovers per game.

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