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Give a Nugget
Charlotte is in need of a basketball resurgence and fast. After going through a decade of not making the NCAA tournament and jumping conferences, the program has gotten stale and we have little to get excited about. From a team that thrived in the national spotlight, taking the mighty Heels to the wire (twice) and routinely beating the likes of Louisville, Cincinnati and Memphis, to a team that had their rivalries stripped and their pride wounded. Now the Niners find themselves back in Conference USA, but of course our old “friends” are all gone. It almost feels like a going back to your old high school, but the kids are all younger, unfamiliar and look at you funny. Personally, I would have loved to go to the American Conference with Cincinatti, Memphis, ECU and UCONN(!!)…but that's a different story.
The time of resurgence is now. It's actually a couple of years late, but I'll take it. The first step was when Alan Major and the university agreed to part ways due to medical concerns. Alan Major wasn't a bad person or coach, and he deserves our respect, but we just needed a lot more. I sincerely wish him well and hope he gets his health back.
But now it's time to talk coaches and rumors! When discussing coaches, the big concern I have is that Conference USA isn't putting multiple teams in the NCAA tournament. I think this year we only had one team…so that leaves NO room for error. We need somebody that can gain immediate success. Here are my reviews based on the rumor mill:
Personally, I would love this hire! In fact, I think this is probably the most “do-able” because he's at a smaller school and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't come with a gigantic price tag. However, I'm not totally concerned about price (my name isn't Judy Rose), I'm concerned about track record, which this guy is like a world class sprinter. He is young and already successful as a head coach with a 107-53 record. The best part is that his record over the past three seasons is 75-23 (over 20 wins for each season) with one NCAA appearance and one NIT appearance. At Central he has only one season that was .500, the rest are all winning seasons. The only bad thing is that he is young (40 years old), and young coaches that taste success tend to jump to bigger opportunities, and we need somebody that can be loyal.
People seem to be a little skeptical about this potential hire, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because his overall record at Wofford is 180-166, but you have to look deeper than that. Like his last 6 years consist of a record of 127-75 which included four 20+ win seasons, 4 NCAA tournament appearances and only one losing season. That is a big turnaround so that leads me to believe that perhaps he had a restrictive program/athletic director in his first 7 years as head coach (of course Charlotte is loaded with resources to use and cash to spend…just kidding!). I'm sold on the winning culture he infused at Wofford. Here's the problem….he's been at Wofford for over 25 years! Something tells me he's not going anywhere and I appreciate that type of loyalty.
Yeah, I said it. Melvin Watkins! The guy who totally “spurned” the program to head to Texas A&M after he coached a Demarco Johnson charged team to two straight 20+ win seasons and two straight NCAA tournaments. But I will say this: get over it. People my age only remember Melvin for that incident, but his Niner heritage runs a LOT deeper than that. For example, he was the captain of the 1977 Final Four team. The freakin' captain! Not to mention that after he graduated, he hung around the Charlotte coaching staff until he was offered the Texas A&M job. That would be a total of 20 years! This guy isn't Benedict Arnold. This guy just jumped ship to make (a lot) more money and support his family. Most of would have done the same. We're human. I'm sure this wasn't an easy decision for him, but it's an easy one for me if he ever came back. With two years as HC at Charlotte that included two NCAA appearances and 20+ win seasons….I'd say “welcome home” to one of Charlotte's greatest sons.
I didn't even know this guy was interested, but it was reported by ESPN that Niners have already offered him the job, and I'm totally cool with it. I mean, its Mark FREAKIN' Price! This guy is an NBA legend. Rockstar at shooting, ball control and passing....a complete fundamentalist. Now he can be found on the sidelines working for another NBA legend, Mr. Jordan, with the Charlotte Hornets…visibly improving the jump shots of the entire team, more noticeable with the super athletic Michael Kidd-Gilchrest. And here's the best part, he's actually considering it. If we somehow pull this off, it could be a huge turning point. In a land full of McDonalds All-Americans being hoarded by Heels and Blue Devils, he might be able to lure one or two away by providing mentorship and experience of an NBA super star. Joke about it, but most players aspire to be in the NBA, and the recruiting line of “I've played in the NBA and coached in the NBA….I know what it takes to make it there” comes in really handy.
This guy took his name out of the hat, so it's not worth discussing. What IS worth discussing is the rumors floating around that the reason he took his name out of consideration is because the Niners aren't putting enough resources in the team to be successful. In a conference with NO room for error, we need an administration that can help develop the program. I'm hoping this is wrong, so step up Judy!
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