Who Will Be URI’s Next Basketball Coach—See the Potential List

Friday, March 23, 2018


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Some of the coaches on the short (and long) list

As GoLocal first reported earlier this week, Dan Hurley is packing up the house and moving the family to Storrs, CT. Now, the pressure is on Rhode Island to continue to develop the program.

In the past, when successful coaches left Rhode Island it was followed by periods of great drought.

In the late 1970s when Jack Kraft was forced to step down due to health reasons, he was followed by assistant Claude English and URI fell quickly into the abyss.


Similarly, after Tom Penders’s successful rebuild, NCAA Sweet Sixteen run, and then departure to the University of Texas, then the program saw a decline and the pattern repeated itself with the post-Jim Harrick NCAA run and his departure to the University of Georgia. Harrick's successor was his assistant Jerry DeGregorio (1999-2001) 12-48 in two seasons. Jim Baron stabilized the program, but could never get the student-athletes to get the program to the next level.

Is URI going to be able to land the coach that can help the Rams be an annual visitor to March Madness or will the Rams revert back to their old ways? Providence College had similar ebbs and flows with successful coaches making big jumps in status and salary, until Coach Ed Cooley came and made the long-term commitment to the Friars. The result has been five straight NCAA Tournament appearances.

URI Athletic Director Thorr Bjorn said during a press conference on Thursday, "A good friend once told me, 'There are far more great coaches than there are great programs.' I believe we have a great program here at Rhode Island. We are fully committed to building on the level of excellence that our fans and supporters have come to expect."

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Thorr Bjorn, Dan Hurley and President David Dooley

Bjorn on Hurley

Bjorn also took the time during the press conference to weigh in on Hurley’s departure.

"Dan Hurley brought Rhode Island basketball to unprecedented heights, and he leaves the program in a far better place than it was when he arrived. I wish nothing but the best for him and his family moving forward,” said Bjorn.

Hurley is the only coach in team history to win both an Atlantic 10 tournament title and an A-10 regular-season title. Hurley also is the only person to coach the Rams to wins in two different NCAA Championships, bringing the team to the Round of 32 in each of the last two seasons.

During the 2017-18 season, Rhode Island was ranked in the top 25 of both national polls for the final seven weeks of the regular season, the longest run in program history.



Related Slideshow: Who Will Be URI’s Next Basketball Coach—See the Potential List

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David Cox - a front-runner

The top assistant to Hurley has a provision in his contract -- a water-downed successor clause that if he is not selected URI must pay him a fee.

Strengths: A proven recruited at Georgetown, Pitt, and Rutgers. 

Weaknesses: No head coaching experience except high school and three fill-in games at Rutgers. Remember Jerry DeGregorio - elevated assistant, good recruiter? How did that work out? Answer: 12-48

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John Becker - safe pick

Becker has been very successful at Vermont and a winner.

In six seasons he has guided the Catamounts to six 20-win seasons, six straight postseason berths (NCAA twice, NIT, CBI – three times). 

Strengths: Proven head coach. A proven winner at a lower conference.

Weaknesses: The safe pick. The next Jim Baron?

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Preston Murphy - the prodigal son

Assistant Coach at Creighton. URI grad and former star. Left URI under a little bit of a cloud when he demanded a successor clause to Hurley.

Strengths: Knows URI. Fan favorite. 

Weaknesses: No head coaching experience. Think Claude English.

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Rick Pitino - radioactive

Maybe of the most successful basketball coaches in the sport's history. A showman and a press magnet. He would make URI one of the most watched programs in the country. Pitino at URI would drive PC fans crazier than when he jumped from Kentucky to rival Louisville.

Strengths: Multiple NCAA Championships. Hall of Fame. Proven recruiter. NBA experience.

Weaknesses: Program tied to prostitution and illegal payments. 

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Ryan Odom - the flavor of the month

His #16 Seed win over #1 Virginia made UMBC a national fan favorite. He is 46-24 at UMBC, but was just 8-11 as acting head coach at Charlotte.

Strengths: Bright future. A proven winner at a lower conference.

Weaknesses: One game does not make a career.

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Tommy Amaker - missing the Big Time?

He looked like he was going to be a big-time coach, but stints at Michigan and Seton Hall did not work out very well.

In the 10 seasons since taking over at Harvard Amaker has reinvented the Crimson into an "Ivy League power" but playing in front of 1,500 can be a little depressing. 

Does he have something to prove?

Strengths: Proven recruiter getting top 100 recruits at Harvard.

Weaknesses: Couldn't make it happen in the top-tier leagues

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Nate Oats - wanted man

Part of the Hurley family. He was an assistant to Danny Hurley at Buffalo and was elevated to the number one slot and has done nothing but win since taking over.

Said to be one of the candidates for the Pitt job if Sean Miller is not their guy.

Strengths: One of the hottest young coaches in America.

Weaknesses: Does he need to stop in Kingston? 

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Craig Robinson - White House to the Ryan Center

Today, he is the VP of player development.  A job that may be like trying to row up the Niagra Falls. Was a hot commodity after his success at Brown University -- was offered both the PC and the Oregon St. jobs. Had a frustrating stint at OSU -- just like every other coach there in modern basketball. 

Strengths: more contacts at all levels of basketball, politics, and finance than the rest of the state of RI combined. May miss coaching basketball and did love living in RI.

Weaknesses: Does he want to hustle to recruit 18-year-olds?


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