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Potential Northwestern Coaching Candidates: Pros and Cons

by Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)

Northwestern announced this morning that Bill Carmody has been fired, so it’s time to start the search for a replacement. We’ve put together a list of potential candidates, with pros and cons to each one.

Chris Collins — Duke assistant coach

Pros: Collins is the clear favorite among Northwestern fans. He’s from Northbrook, Ill., and currently coaches under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke. It has the potential to be a “big name” hire, and Collins is a young guy who has the reputation for being a great recruiter, especially in the Chicago area. Some speculated that he may not be interest in the job, but Teddy Greenstein reports that he does.

Cons: Collins doesn’t have experience as a head coach, and other Duke assistants haven’t done particularly well at their new jobs. The “recruiting Chicago” aspect may also be overblown, since it’s much easier to recruit to Duke than NU, despite the difference in proximity.

Dave Paulsen — Bucknell head coach

Pros: Paulsen has steadily built Bucknell into a very solid program. He’s had at least 25 wins each of the last three years, including a 28-5 mark so far this year, leading his team back to the NCAA Touranment. This won’t be a factor, but NU fans would like it — he developed Mike Muscala into one of the most underrated big men in the country.

Cons: Obviously, success in the Patriot League won’t necessarily lead to success in the Big Ten. NU is a tougher job compared to other Big Ten schools than Bucknell is compared to other Patriot League schools.

Brett Reed — Lehigh head coach

Pros: Another Patriot League coach, Reed led his team to two NCAA Tournaments in the last three years, including a first round upset of Duke last season. If NU decides to go the “successful mid-major coach” route, Reed would be a solid candidate.

Cons: Again, success in the Patriot League doesn’t necessarily lead to success in the Big Ten.

Bryce Drew — Valparaiso head coach

Pros: Drew has won the Horizon League regular season championship in both of his seasons as head coach at Valparaiso, and the Crusaders won the Horizon League Tournament this year, so they’ll be headed to the NCAA Tournament. Drew is young and has NBA experience, which could be a draw for recruits.

Cons: Drew has very little experience as a head coach, having been at Valparaiso for just two years.

Ben Jacobson — Northern Iowa head coach

Pros: Jacobson has built Northern Iowa into a consistent winner in the Missouri Valley Conference, and has had his teams seeded as high as ninth in the NCAA Tournament. He does a good job getting the most out of this players and has always developed solid frontcourts.

Cons: Jacobson doesn’t have much experience recruiting talent hotbeds, and he hasn’t been back to the NCAA Tournament since the historic Sweet Sixteen run in 2009-10 that included an upset of No. 1 Kansas.

Tim Cluess — Iona head coach

Pros: Cluess has done an impressive job in three years at Iona. His team was the CIT runner-up in 2010-11 and made the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team in 2011-12. This year, he’s headed back to the NCAA Tournament after winning the MAAC Tournament.

Cons: Three years of Division I experience might not be enough to judge Cluess at this point. Also, while Iona did win the MAAC Tournament, it semi-underachieved this year, finishing fourth in the conference in the regular season

Jimmy Patsos — Loyola (MD) head coach

Pros: Patsos has led Loyola (MD) to two straight 20-win seasons, including an NCAA Tournament berth last season and a CIT berth this year. He was also an assistant at Maryland under Gary Williams.

Cons: Patsos’ career at Loyola (MD) hasn’t been outstanding, by any means. He’s only been to the NCAA Tournament once during his tenure and never won the MAAC regular season title, though he did take over a terrible program and made it better. Sound like someone else you know?

Tavaras Hardy — Northwestern assistant coach

Pros: Next year, NU will have more talent than it has ever had in its history. Hardy would likely be the best candidate to lead that group and try to make a run at the NCAA Tournament. He’s also young and considered a great recruiting.

Cons: NU will probably look to stat fresh, so it’s unlikely that Hardy will get the job. His ties to Carmody would temper the excitement surrounding a new staff.