Friday, January 18, 2013

Likability/Hatability: Big Ten Basketball Coaches Edition

Tom Crean's hissy-fit-like pseudo-handshake with Bo Ryan served as yet another reminder that he's a classless child who we could not be happier is not the coach of our team. It got me to thinking, though: how does Tommy stack up against the other coaches in the conference on the likability/hatability scale? Let's see.

Wisconsin's Bo Ryan

Coach Bo looks like a goblin and is goofy and over-the-top in his demonstrative, work-the-refs sideline demeanor. This sort of makes it easy to hate on ol' Bo. However, in postgame interviews and press conferences, he's a much quieter, softer-spoken man than you might expect. There's not much to suggest Bo does anything that skirts the rules -- he simply recruits big, goofy white kids who Wisconsonites love and teaches them to play winning, Big Ten basketball.

Verdict: Hard to hate, also hard to like, though.

Michigan's John Beilein

Beilein always appears to be coaching hard, yet his sideline antics don't tend to rub us the wrong way. In fact, we wish Coach Painter was a little more fiery, so it would be hard for us to bash Beilein too much.

Of course, it's Michigan basketball, which always winds up breaking some rules when they're good. Maybe B will reverse the trend.

Verdict:: Likable, for a Michigan coach.

Minnesota's Tubby Smith

Tubby has a surly side, but for the most part, you rarely hear anything negative about this guy outside of Lexington (and even then it's because he only won one title there). He's got that grandfatherly, kind old man appearance, but he also can coach some ball. Minnesota was perfect for him after Kentucky because the expectations aren't any more than compete now and then and make the tournament most of the time. At a lot of schools, there would have been some serious coaching seat heat on Tubby over the past few seasons, but there hasn't been much flak out of Minneapolis, likely because everyone wisely realizes they're Minnesota and aren't getting a bigger name there than Tubby Smith.

Tubby doesn't embarrass himself or his school on the sidelines and despite some leniency on thugs like Trevor Mbakwe, he seems to run a decent program.

Verdict: Likable.

Indiana's Tom Crean

A phony, embarrassing, over-the-top doofus who is such a sore loser he can't even respectfully shake hands or conduct a radio show without being a surly prick, all the while quoting scripture on Twitter and somehow putting together top recruiting classes despite never having won a thing. He's a lousy game coach and has been exposed by Brad Stevens, Bo Ryan and almost Tubby Smith so far this season. There is truly nothing likable about this clown and in our opinion it's only as matter of time before it's revealed that he has crossed lines he shouldn't have.

Verdict: Hatable.

OSU's Thad Matta

Matta isn't the kind of guy who acts out on the sidelines or comes off as a poor loser or obnoxious guy. That said, we have issues with him because of a "guilt by association" mentality. He's the coach at a school that is known to play ball, if you know what I'm saying and I think you do I'm talking about cheating. Wait, what?

Matta, as noted, isn't an embarrassment to the conference in terms of his demeanor, but he's also not a real good coach. Why do I say that? Look at the talent that has gone through there and look how few actual title runs the Bucknuts have made.

Verdict: So-so.

MSU's Tom Izzo

Izzo is a guy who we, like many of you, used to really like. We thought he represented the Big Ten well and was a stand up guy. But then more and more happened to chip away at St. Tom's image, at least in our eyes. There's no doubt he's an excellent coach -- his many Final Four banners back that up -- but Tom's judgement and clear willingness to look the other way when his thugs are acting like, well, thugs, is something we just cannot forgive.

Verdict: Getting more hatable.

Illinois' John Groce 

This article says John Groce is "everything Illinois could have hoped for." I guess they were hoping to continue Bruce Weber's recent legacy of mentally-soft teams who melted down in key spots. Harsh? Sure, but just look at the evidence. As for Groce, though, it's far too early to know if he's a hatable or likable guy. He did well at Ohio and was an assistant at OSU before that, as well as at Butler. So really, it's hard to figure this guy.

Verdict: Jury still out.

Iowa's Fran McCaffery

Fran is a tough name to go through life with as a male, I would think. Coach Fran seems to us to be a decent enough guy and, again, as you can tell is often our barometer, he doesn't do anything that embarrasses his program or his players. Iowa is struggling to climb their way back to respectability and it has seemed for a few years as though they were close to breaking through. Maybe if they got really good Fran would take on some hatable characteristics, but as of now we have no real problems with him.

Verdict: Likable

Northwestern's Bill Carmody

What does it say about the basketball program at Northwestern that Carmody has now been there for going on 13 years and has yet to make a NCAA tournament? As most of you know, Northwestern has never made the NCAA tourney, which, if you're ever going to concern yourself with conference pride, this should bother you.

Carmody was successful at Princeton in the '90s, taking the Tigers to the NCAA tournament twice, including winning a game in '98. Nothing jumps out at us in terms of him being an unlikable guy, other than the fact that he can't nudge the Mildcats to a tourney berth even once.

Verdict: Likable as a harmless kitten.

Nebraska's Tim Miles

Miles has worked his way up the coaching ranks to get to his current Big Ten position and we can honestly say we hope he does well at Nebraska. Miles seems like a good guy and an easy person to root for. As with Groce, we haven't seen enough of him to have developed any ill will (and you all know how easy it is for us to do that), but maybe eventual success will change that.

Verdict: Likable

Penn State's Pat Chambers

Chambers has a significant project ahead of him. PSU has never been a basketball hotbed, and that was only amplified when Ed DeChellis bolted to become the head coach at Navy -- actually choosing Navy over a Big Ten program. Could it be that DeChellis worried about job security? Possible. Or maybe he saw the writing on the wall after six seasons and felt building a winner in Nappy Valley would be nearly impossible.

Regardless, Chambers has come in and tried to do his best. The Lions play hard but have struggled to find any success. Again, Chambers is new to the conference so we're undecided about him.

Verdict: Jury remains out.


WinamacBoiler said...

no Painter review? I know we're biased, but what gives, J?

Purdue Matt said...

Don't forget Izzo's extremely shady recruitment of Dawson, or his hiring away of Dane Fife. Also, he's great at saying all the right things about on court incidents but not actually doing anything. He's a slimy politician.

WinamacBoiler said...

You mean like finally choosing to punish your players when you know your next game is against the kitties?

Ryan said...

You really think we need to review Matty??? C'mon now!

I think J was extremely fair with his wording on Izzo...and the only reason he's not on the right side of the scale is because we used to really like him. We were fooled like so many until we really started looking at he and his program.

I feel dirty even talking about him.

Ryan said...

(bdowd here, by the way...posted from the wrong google account)

I'm not the only Ryan on here...

WinamacBoiler said...

Ryan - I love the Matty as much as the next guy - just would be interesting to think of it from an outsider's perspective. Maybe shoot the question to one of J's colleagues at a non-hateful blog (read: not IU) and see what they think of our guy's likeability...

zlionsfan said...

The thing about Izzo is that he's been there long enough that you wonder if anyone can actually have an impact on his decisions ... I don't know if it's to the point (yet) that he's untouchable, but the current AD was a team manager under Heathcote, so he definitely has basketball ties, and it isn't too hard to find articles that indicate the football team is held to the same standards that the basketball team is. (Did I say "none"? That's not quite accurate. I mean, they take away starts, you know.)

So maybe the AD doesn't care, or he doesn't care because Izzo told him not to, or it's like a lot of schools where everything is forgiven if you win. But there was a time where I was impressed with Izzo because of what he was able to do with that program (Heathcote basically had Magic and a bunch of meh teams) ... now, I see the things that he doesn't stop, and it's really disappointing.

McCaffery is supposed to be very entertaining to watch, both on the sidelines and with his style of play. (Which the conference needs - too much Wisconsin.)

The fact that Carmody has survived coaching in this conference for 13 years is amazing. It would be like playing an NCAA Football online dynasty and taking Indiana: even if you're good at the game, how are you going to beat the guy who's about as good as you and coaching OSU?

James said...

Liked Coach DeChellis, who had Penn State going in the right direction. They won the NIT and then made the NCAA, though they were bounced the first round. But then he bolted for Navy at the end of the school year, not shortly after the end of the basketball season. Though the Naval Academy is not a normal college (any Squid will tell you that, even if you don't ask!), it was still unusual timing.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I believe Coach DeChellis knew that awful things were happening in the football showers and he quietly left before the stench of the pig pen attached itself to his reputation. His current job is a lifetime position if he works within the rules and regulations of the Naval Academy, but I wouldn't be surprised if he bailed-out on Penn State.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff, but I gotta disagree with you on Matta. I think he's a severely underrated coach. He's in his 13th season as a head coach, and he has NEVER won fewer than 20 games in a season. In fact, he has won 77.2% of his games as a head coach, including 77.4% of his games as a head coach in the Big 10.

Additionally, in the previous seven seasons as Ohio State's coach he has made two Final Fours (matched only by Tom Izzo in that regard for Big 10 coaches). He has also had seven players drafted and once won the NIT Championship (take that for what it's worth).

I think he has the reputation of just having some talented players and rolling the ball out there and letting them do their thing, but I don't think that's that case. He's done a great job of maximizing his talent (you can point to all the kids that played for him that got drafted who had much better college careers than pro careers as evidence for that) and his teams have been successful. I'd put him squarely in the "good coach" category, though I know many will disagree

Band of Boils said...

Highly entertaining read.
Verdict: likable

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