Dean Keener’s Replacement

On March 4th the Daily News Record’s Dustin Dopirak listed several possible candidates to replace Dean Keener at the helm of JMU’s basketball team.

  • Mike Jarvis, former head coach of St. John’s, George Washington and Boston University. Jarvis has a 364-201 career record, taking Boston University to the NCAA Tournament twice before taking George Washington and St. John’s to the national playoffs three times each.
  • Ron Bradley, associate head coach, Clemson: Bradley spent a year at Madison as Sherman Dillard’s highest-paid assistant and was a head coach at Radford for 11 years, taking the Highlanders to the NCAA Tournament in 1998.
  • Rick Byrd, head coach, Belmont: The Knoxville, Tenn., native has led Belmont to two straight NCAA Tournaments and has them in first place in the Atlantic Sun again.
  • Steve Donahue, head coach, Cornell: Donahue has the Big Red in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years.
  • Chuck Driesell, assistant coach, Maryland: Driesell, son of Lefty Driesell and a former JMU assistant and head coach at Marymount, is Gary Williams’ recruiting coordinator for the Terrapins.
  • Darrin Horn, head coach, Western Kentucky: The 35-year-old Kentucky native broke 100 wins this season and has the Hilltoppers tied for first place with South Alabama in the Sun Belt.
  • Jeff Jones, head coach, American: The former Virginia coach and player has American atop the Patriot League.
  • Mike Lonergan, head coach, Vermont: The Catholic graduate and Bowie, Md., native led the Catamounts to the America East regular-season title last year.
  • Bart Lundy, head coach, High Point: Though the Galax native is just 35 years old, he’s already compiled 200 wins as a college coach.
  • Steve McClain, assistant coach, Colorado: Before joining Jeff Bzdelik’s staff at Colorado, McClain took Wyoming to the NCAA’s once and the NIT twice as a head coach.
  • Steve Merfeld, assistant coach, Bradley: Merfeld led Hampton to two NCAA Tournaments and a first-round upset of No. 2 seed Iowa State in 2001.
  • Jimmy Patsos, head coach, Loyola (Md.): The former Maryland assistant inherited the Greyhounds after a 1-27 season in 2003-04 and has them atop the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference en route to their third straight winning season.
  • Randy Peele, head coach, Winthrop: Peele, a Norfolk native, won a Big South title as head coach at North Carolina-Greensboro and has Winthrop tied for first in the Big South this season.
  • Mark Phelps, assistant coach, Arizona State: The Old Dominion graduate and Virginia Beach native has been with Herb Sendek for 11 years, first at North Carolina State and now in the Pac-10.
  • Larry Shyatt, assistant coach, Florida: The former Clemson and Wyoming head coach served under Billy Donovan for both of the Gators’ national-championship runs.

The best candidates on this list are Mike Jarvis, Chuck Driesell, Ron Bradley, and Mark Phelps. I realize that all great basketball coaches in the NCAA were assistant coaches at some point in time, but I’m always weary of hiring unknown assistants. I like Mike Jarvis, but he’s 62 years old and probably wouldn’t coach for very long. If we’re going to get an assistant coach, let’s get one from a high profile school like UNC, Duke, UCLA, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, etc.

JMU officials have a big task on their hands. The football team is in great shape with Mickey Matthews, and now it’s time to turn the basketball ship around and point it in the right direction.

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