Here's a guy I loved during the search five years ago ... would he come to the midwest, and would his unique approach to talent acquisition fly at a major conference?
Randy Bennett, Saint Mary's Head Coach
Career Record: 208-112 (10 years at St. Mary's). Last four years: 106-29.
Accomplishments: In the four years before Bennett took over for Dave Bollwinkel at Saint Mary's, the Gaels went 34-80. They went 9-20 in Bennett's first year, 15-15 in his second ... and they have averaged 23 wins per season ever since. They've averaged 26.5 in the last two. They made the Sweet 16 in 2010, whipping Villanova in the second round. Bennett has figured out a small-market approach to running a program, going overseas to find solid talent, and it has paid off, to say the least.
Before He Was a Head Coach: Bennett played his college ball first at Mesa Community College, then at San Diego. He was an assistant at San Diego for nine years and Idaho for two, and he became Lorenzo Romar's top assistant when Romar went to Pepperdine. He followed Romar to SLU for two seasons, then took the Saint Mary's job.
Ties to the Midwest: Basically, it comes down to two years at SLU. That's something ... but that's also it.
Ties to Missouri: See above.
Does He See Mizzou As a Destination Job? For the right price, sure. He's been rumored for jobs ranging from Cal in 2008 to Utah this year, but he hasn't jumped yet. Like Chris Mack, it appears he's happy enough in his current position that it would take both a great situation and really good money to draw him away. He has almost no recruiting ties to the midwest, but as we're about to see, I'm really not sure that matters.
Can He Recruit? Well ... yeah ... but he's really creative about it. Look at this year's roster, for instance. There are 16 players listed, and a quarter of them are from Australia. You've got a Lithuanian in there to boot. Only 11 of his signees from the last five years have even made it to Rivals.com, and only four of those got star ratings (three 3-stars, one 2-star). To say the least, Bennett has international connections, and it has allowed him to procure a strong level of talent (Omar Samhan, Paddy Mills, Mickey McConnell, etc.) to a small, non-traditional power. The question is ... how much of this would continue at a major conference? I don't know what he would do, and I really don't know if it would work, but it's a fascinating thought.
This Year's Recruits (i.e. Players Who Might or Might Not Come With Him): SG Mckenzie Moore (NR, 6'5, Pleasant Hill, CA), and ... that's basically it.
SMC's Ken Pomeroy Stats
SMC's Five-Year Average
Ken Pom Rankings
|SMC Offense||SMC Defense|
|Off. Reb. %||82.4
Statistical Tendencies: If you're looking for a defense-first coach, look elsewhere. They're not terrible defensively, but they're certainly much better on offense. They're fast but not too fast, they take decent shots (with quite a few 3's mixed in), they don't turn the ball over much, they hit the glass pretty hard ... really, they're just a sound overall offense. On defense, they're really good in some areas (they swarm the perimeter and rotate to the ball as well as anybody in the country, and they rebound well) and not so much in others (Turnovers? What are those?).
Would He Come Here? I really don't know. Bennett is basically like Chris Mack, only more established in his current location. He's nearing 50, and if he's ever going to make another move, it's probably going to be soon ... but he's got a really good thing going, and Mike Alden would have to be extremely confident in his abilities to pay what it would take to pull him from the west coast.
Thoughts: I've really liked Randy Bennett for years, and obviously I'm going to love that he's basically figured out a "moneyball" approach to college basketball, figuring out how to exploit inefficiencies (in this case, recruiting international players) to great gain. I don't know how his approach would work in a major conference (Mizzou fans would get restless if he were recruiting guys from the Australian Institute of Sport harder than guys from St. Louis, though that's quite a generalization), but I'd be willing to find out.