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Coaching Search Bracket: Darian DeVries vs. Matt McMahon

Darian DeVries’ took over for Niko Medved at Drake, and he does so now in our bracket after three consecutive 20-win seasons at Drake. But is DeVries’ resumé enticing enough to eliminate Murray State’s Matt McMahon?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 06 Missouri Valley Tournament - Drake v Loyola Chicago Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Half of the candidates in our field are gone, including one — Colorado State’s Niko Medved — who pulled himself out of the coaching market entirely by signing a contract extension.

Did we go overboard with 15 candidates? Maybe. But readers were pretty clear in their preferences. The only mild drama involved a split opinion over Kim English, who unfortunately lost in our tiebreaker format. At the start, we wondered how much consensus would exist. Turned out, it’s more than we thought.

Maybe that changes in this round.

The format remains unchanged. We’re just deciding regional winners now. But instead of full-profiles, we’re going to compare each coach head-to-head. At the bottom of each piece is a poll, where you have 24 hours to make your preference known. The fan vote will make up 50 percent of the vote.

Who makes up the other half? The Rock M staff.

If the staff is unanimous and the fans make the same selection, easy enough. If, however, there is a consensus amongst the staff, but the fans disagree, we have a tie. To break the tie, we’ve enlisted the services of Jim Root (@2ndChancePoints), who will render the final verdict.

Today, we circle back to the Steady Risers Region, where Drake’s Darian DeVries, swapped in for Medved, meets Murray State’s Matt McMahon. In the Young Bloods Region, Wyoming’s Jeff Linder faces San Francisco’s Todd Golden.

Give Darian DeVries credit for this much: patience.

Over 17 seasons on Creighton’s staff, he passed up chances to slide into a head coaching job outside the Midwest. Four years ago, though, Niko Medved bailed after a lone season at Drake, and the school’s administration looked westward to Omaha for a longer-term solution.

DeVries is an Iowa native. He starred at Northern Iowa and, while on Dana Altman’s staff, told his boss the job in Des Moines was atop the list of opportunities he coveted. Then, in March 2018, it came his way, and at the time, those close to DeVries assumed he was settling in for a long tenure.

Now, that theory may face a test.

DeVries, 46, picked up the momentum Medved created, winning 20-plus games each of his first four seasons. Last season, the Bulldogs started 19-0 en route to the program’s first-ever at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, which ended in a first-round loss to USC.

This year, Drake returned five starters, and they added a top-100 talent in Tucker DeVries, the coach’s son, who opted to play for his dad over offers from Creighton, Florida, Iowa State, and Oregon. However, while Drake put together a solid campaign, finishing 24-10 overall, a weak schedule wasn’t overcome by a regular-season sweep of Loyola Chicago.

Why did we hold off including DeVries in our original pool?

I mean, Jeff Linder and Todd Golden have been in their jobs a shorter period. Yet both are guiding programs in slightly tougher conferences. And when COVID hasn’t ravaged schedules, Wyoming and San Francisco’s non-conference slates have been far superior to the competition Drake lined up. During DeVries’ tenure, the Bulldogs’ non-conference schedules have only ranked higher than No. 279 once – his first season.

In that span, Drake is 13-17 against the KenPom top-100 and 4-8 against those teams that come from outside the Missouri Valley. With everyone but Joseph Yesufu still around, the program 5-9 in those games. Its best non-league win was over Richmond.


So, why is Dennis Gates in the mix and not DeVries? First, look at Gates’ resume. He spent eight years at Florida State and moved among low- and mid-major jobs. The totality of DeVries’ experience before Drake was with Creighton. Now, he ascended with the program to the Big East, but still, he’s spent the bulk of his career in the upper Midwest.

But if you’re going to apprentice somewhere, Creighton isn’t bad. DeVries is deeply versed in Dana Altman’s spread system and potent secondary break by Greg McDermott. The question will be whether he can stock his roster with the kind of shooting that made both systems so dynamic.

So, why include DeVries at all? Because he’s still rapidly elevated a program that made tremendous initial steps under Medved in a conference where Porter Moser and Loyola Chicago were perennial contenders. It’s a run-off between him and Missouri State’s Dana Ford for best rebuild, and both are in prime position to fill the vacuum created when the Ramblers join the Atlantic 10.

You also can’t accuse DeVries of feasting on empty calories and spare Matt McMahon. Just look at Murray State’s SOS during his tenure. The Racers haven’t played a slate better than 220th nationally. Until this season, McMahon was 4-13 against the KenPom top-100.

The positives we touched on in our original profile still hold up: mining undervalued guards, a fantastic ball-screen based offense, and improvement after Ja Morant moved on. DeVries’ best developmental handiwork came with Doug McDermott, but I doubt many will say that it trumps Morant’s two seasons with the Racers.

Ultimately, the question is whether you deem the sample size large enough for DeVries for him to help MU shake off the doldrum. But his Midwestern roots, experience with proven offensive minds, and relatively quick results at least merit consideration.

The choice is up to you.


Which coach would you prefer to see leading Missouri next season?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Darian DeVries
    (87 votes)
  • 70%
    Matt McMahon
    (209 votes)
296 votes total Vote Now