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2014-2015 Season Preview: Which new coaching hires will succeed?

Steve Wojciechowski

Steve Wojciechowski, right, walks into the Al McGuire center as he is named coach of the Marquette University men’s basketball program Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in Milwaukee. Wojciechowski has been an assistant basketball coach at Duke University. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)


Bruce Pearl

AP Photo


Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 college hoops preview package.
MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

Every spring the coaching carousel takes over college basketball, with moves being made for a variety of reasons. For some programs the goal is to “win the press conference,” hiring a name sure to create a buzz amongst the fan base while also ensuring that the on-court product receives a similar boost. For others the press conference matters little, with the goal of finding the right man for the job being the only things that influences the athletic director’s decision. Below are five head coaches in new spots who are positioned to experience success, and five who will struggle.

1. Bruce Pearl, Auburn: Hiring Pearl was a major coup for Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs. Given the recent lack of success he needed a guy who could both reinvigorate an apathetic fan base and improve the on-court product. Pearl’s accomplished the former, and while the latter will be tougher to do strides have been made there as well. Grad transfer Antoine Mason will team up with senior K.T. Harrell on the perimeter, and junior college transfer Cinmeon Bowers will help int he post. And he has four talented recruits lined up for next season as well.

2. Cuonzo Martin, California: The hiring of Martin was met with some skepticism due to the lack of connections on the west coast. However that situation was rectified in part by the hiring of assistant Yanni Hufnagel, and Martin’s efforts to establish and strengthen those bonds haven’t gone unnoticed either. And while interior depth is a concern due to the season-ending injury suffered by Kameron Rooks, the Golden Bears do return senior David Kravish, junior Tyrone Wallace and sophomores Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews. He’s got some good pieces to work with in a Pac-12 that’s wide-open after prohibitive favorite Arizona.
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3. Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette: The longtime Duke assistant has his first head coaching gig and it’s a good one, as he arrives in Milwaukee to take over a program that prior to last season made eight consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Wojciechowski has pieces to use for the future as well, with junior Steve Taylor Jr. and sophomore Deonte Burton among those with eligibility remaining beyond the 2014-15 campaign. And he’s done well on the recruiting trail, most notably reeling in elite 2015 forward Henry Ellenson.

4. Danny Manning, Wake Forest: Manning has a tougher task in front of him now than his last job (Tulsa), but he’s already off to a good start when it comes to recruiting.

5. Kim Anderson, Missouri: Anderson was highly successful at Central Missouri, and his ability to hang onto Tim Fuller and add Rob Fulford will undoubtedly help with recruiting.


1. Dan D’Antoni, Marshall: D’Antoni’s head coaching experience came at the high school level (from 1975-2005), and while the time spent in the NBA should be respected running a college program is an entirely different matter.

2. Ernie Kent, Washington State: Kent has plenty of experience coaching in the Pacific Northwest, as he spent more than a decade at Oregon. And he should be familiar with today’s Pac-12 given his recent work with the conference’s network. That being said it’s tough to win those major recruiting battles in Pullman, especially when going head-to-head with other Pac-12 programs. Add in the fact that his best player, DaVonte Lacy, is a senior and this is a far tougher job for Kent than the one he took over at Oregon.
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3. Orlando Antigua, South Florida: Antigua was John Calipari’s right-hand man at Kentucky, helping to reel in some of the nation’s best recruiting classes on an annual basis. He won’t be picking from a similar pool of athletes in his new job, but the good news is that there’s a good amount of talent in Florida and there are New York connections to be tapped into as well. The concern: only three coaches who have spent multiple seasons at USF have left with a winning record, the last of which being Seth Greenberg (108-100 from 1996-2003). Maybe it’ll be easier to rebuild in the American than it would have been in the 16-team Big East, but you’re still competing against the likes of UConn, Cincinnati and Memphis.

4. Wayne Tinkle, Oregon State: Tinkle’s off to a good start in Corvallis from a recruiting standpoint, with family ties to the coaching staff netting him 2015 prospects Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson Jr. That being said, he’s fighting against history here. Since Ralph Miller retired in 1989 no coach has left the program with a winning record, and only four coaches in the history of the program have managed to win 90 games or more with a winning percentage above .500 (Miller, Paul Valenti, Slats Gill and Bob Hager).

5. Jim Christian, Boston College: Christian was successful in two separate stints in the MAC, but things didn’t go too well when he took over a struggling TCU program. And with six seniors and a junior in Olivier Hanlan on this year’s roster at BC, rebuilding in the future could be difficult.