20 games, huh?
So this one lit up the Internet for a bit last night...
To leave Missouri for Tulsa surprised many basketball observers, including Tulsa guard Shaquille Harrison. Haith said he was confident he would have the personnel to win 20-plus games this season at Missouri and even more the following season. But he sought better job security: He said he had three years left on his Missouri contract; Tulsa offered six years (about $1.3 million per year).
Tubby Smith, a former Tulsa coach and one of Haith's confidants, said Haith made a "wise and proactive" decision to leave Missouri because "you hear those rumblings, you have to make sure your ear is to the ground" and leave at the right time.
Now, first things first: this is a pretty interesting piece overall. It talks about Haith's sister, who recently had a stroke, and his struggle to deal with that while also coaching basketball. It's a good piece. Plus, viewed through a coachspeak lens, the paragraphs above are pretty harmless "No, no, really, I was happy there, and we were going to be good I think!" stuff. This isn't active bridge-burning stuff here, and I actually find myself kind of happy for him even though the Missouri fan in me isn't.
But ... let's talk about these two paragraphs for a second: 20 wins, huh?
From what I can remember and piece together, here's who know/think would have been on Missouri's 2014-15 basketball squad had Frank Haith remained in Columbia:
Kevin Punter (currently averaging 10.9 PPG at 41% 3PT for Tennessee)
Johnathan Williams III
Maybe Shane Rector stays, and maybe he transfers anyway. Maybe Cam Biedscheid still ends up deciding Missouri isn't for him. Maybe Torren Jones still ends up getting dismissed. We obviously don't know for sure.
And maybe Missouri adds another player or two; some of the names PowerMizzou was bandying about in the spring (before Haith left) were JUCO SG Roderick Bobbitt (currently averaging 8.6 PPG at Hawaii), Patrick McCaw (8.8 PPG at UNLV), JUCO point guard Jay Wright (8.2 PPG, 3.6 APG at UL-Lafayette), IUPUI transfer Ian Chiles (three games, two points at Tennessee), and BYU transfer Matt Carlino (14.5 PPG at Marquette on 43% 3PT).
This team, with Punter and maybe Bobbitt or (especially) Carlino, likely does pretty well offensively. Haith teams usually did. Mizzou ranked No. 1 in the country in Pomeroy's offensive ratings in 2012, lost most of its rotation and still ranked 18th in 2013, then lost most of its rotation again and still ranked 32nd in 2014. So it stands to reason that Haith coaxes a top-100 offensive performance out of this group -- far better than Missouri's current No. 200 ranking.
But wow, is this an awful defensive team. Mizzou currently ranks 187th on defense after ranking 160th last year. I'm not sure I see the Tigers faring any better with Haith in charge, do you? Haith's roster in 2014-15 wasn't going to be nearly as young -- not nearly as much as a "pressing the reset button" situation here -- but the defense was still probably going to cost it dearly.
So with a decent offense and bad defense, this team maybe indeed could have won 20 games, counting SEC Tournament games and NIT (or some random other postseason tournament) games. But there's almost no way it matches even last year's performance, and last year's performance wasn't very good. The story has it that Haith approached Mike Alden for a contract extension after last season, Alden (incredibly justifiably) said "Ehhh ... I'm not sure about that, Frank," and Haith took the hint and bailed. Mizzou might be better with him in charge this year, but probably not better enough to keep him employed at Missouri past this season. He was right to leave, and Missouri was right to let him, even though the results since his departure have ... not been incredible. (Well, they have been incredible, but not in the way one would prefer.)
Of course, that opens up the "Haith gets fired in March 2015, and Mizzou's timing is much better in going after Gregg Marshall" what-if, but ... you'll drive yourself crazy thinking about that one.
He seems to land the really big ones, yeah
Forecasted high in Columbia today: 23
DIAMOND SPORTS WEATHER, BABY.
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