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March 23, 2010
Around the Rim
Coaching Carousel Beginning to Spin

by John Perrotto

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Say this much for the administration at DePaul and Iowa: They are reportedly aiming high in their coaching searches.

Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon is said to be at the top of DePaul's list. Dixon, though, is very happy at Pitt and a source close to him rated the chances of him moving to a fellow Big East rival as "remote."

DePaul, though, has made it clear that it wants to hire an established head coach and some of the names being mentioned as possibilities include UTEP's Tony Barbee, Butler's Brad Stevens, Baylor's Scott Drew and UNLV's Lon Kruger.

Iowa, meanwhile, supposedly wants to try to lure Bruce Pearl away from Tennessee. Pearl was once a Hawkeyes assistant but it seems farfetched to think he would give up a good job to try to rebuild a program that became a mess during Todd Lickliter's three seasons as coach. Once the Pearl pipedream ends, look for Iowa to make a heavy push to hire Northern Iowa's Ben Jacobson. Pearl is also expected to give a strong recommendation of Volunteers assistant Ben Forbes to Iowa.

Lickliter, meanwhile, is expected to land at Toledo.

Two other urban Big East schools are looking for a coach and Hofstra's Tom Pecora is reportedly on the list at both St. John's and Seton Hall. Pecora has shown the ability to win and recruit in the New York metropolitan area, a big plus for both schools, particularly St. John's.

After being rebuffed by Florida's Billy Donovan, St. John's now has its sights set on Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt and the feeling is said to be mutual. Hewitt is a native New York who feels he has lost the support of the administration at Georgia Tech.

Siena's Fran McCaffrey is thought to be the favorite at Seton Hall. Others reportedly under consideration are Robert Morris' Mike Rice, Iona's Kevin Willard, Santa Clara's Kerry Keating, Cornell's Steve Donahue and Richmond's Chris Mooney. Kansas assistant coach Joe Dooley and former Providence coach Tim Welsh are also thought to be on the radar.

Rice is in demand after leading Robert Morris to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and taking No. 2 seed Villanova to overtime before losing in the first round last week. Fordham plans to substantially increase its program's budget and is said to be ready to make a substantial offer in an attempt to lure Rice back to his alma mater.

Mark Few has rejected numerous chances to leave Gonzaga for bigger jobs but it appears the opening at Oregon is the one that might finally lure him away from Spokane. Few is intrigued by Oregon opening a new arena next season and being able to remain in the Pacific Northwest. If it is unable to land Few, Oregon's backup plans are thought to include Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon and former NBA and Seton Hall coach P.J. Carlesimo.

Auburn will interview North Texas coach Johnny Jones today as a potential replacement for the fired Jeff Lebo, who was hired at East Carolina on Monday. Auburn is also reportedly considering Barbee, Wright State's Brad Brownell and Arkansas State's John Brady. A long shot possibility is UAB coach Mike Davis.

In a surprising bit of news, Dave Odom has become a candidate at Charlotte two years after retiring at South Carolina. Dooley, Brownell and McCaffrey have been mentioned for this opening, too, along with Wofford coach Mike Young and Kansas State assistant Dalonte Hill.

Former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie tops the list of candidates at Houston while Sam Houston State's Bob Marlin is also expected to get serious consideration. Two of the nation's rising young assistants, Texas' Rodney Terry and Villanova's Chris Walker, have also been mentioned.

Hawaii Brings Arnold Back to the Island

It was quite ironic that Hawaii hired recently fired Southern California assistant Gib Arnold as its coach over the weekend. Arnold's father, Frank, coached the Rainbow Warriors for two seasons from 1985-87 then resigned after compiling an 11-45 record.

However, Gib Arnold graduated from high school in Honolulu during his father's brief tenure and fell in love with the islands. Thus, he had no trepidation about taking the same job in which he father failed so miserably. Frank Arnold believes his son will have success.

"I just realized I was the wrong guy for the job," Frank Arnold told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. "I was an outsider and I just didn't feel like I was a good fit, so for my sake, and Hawaii's sake, I decided to resign. That's the truth. I think it's just the opposite with Gib. Now, he's the insider. He's been there, he knows the people, he's fond of the people. I was always fond of the people, too, but I didn't know the people. Gib does."

Hawaii was 10-20 this season under Bob Nash and finished last in the Western Athletic Conference. The Warriors have had three straight losing seasons and not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2002.

Gib Arnold said he will reverse the losing trend by recruiting better players.

"We're going to go after some great athletes who can play at this level and win at this level," Arnold said. "And if they're not good enough to play at the Utah States and New Mexico States then we're not going to recruit them."

Preseason Tournaments

Because it's never too early to think about next season, let's look at the fields for two early-season tournaments in 2010-11.

Georgia Tech, Michigan, Syracuse and UTEP will meet in the Legends Classic at Atlantic City on Nov. 26-27 after hosting early-round games. Also in the field are Albany, Bowling Green, Detroit, Gardner-Webb, Mercer, Niagara, Western Carolina and William & Mary.

The field for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic on Nov. 18-19 at Madison Square Garden will be Illinois, Maryland, Pittsburgh and Texas. Those four will host sub-regionals along with Toledo and UC-Irvine. Also in the field will be Charleston, Illinois-Chicago, Louisiana Tech, Navy, Rhode Island and Seattle.

John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.

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