Meet the Candidates (Part 1)

This past Saturday, Paul Hewitt was relieved of his head coaching duties at Georgia Tech. AD Dan Radakovich and a search committee now begin the task of finding a new head coach. starts a series of articles profiling and handicapping candidates. As the situation evolves, our staff will continue to profile each of the new candidates. Stay tuned – it's sure to be a wild ride!

Name: Cuonzo Martin
Position: Head Coach – Missouri State
Biographical Link
Record at current job: (60–40, 26–28 MVC)
Record at all jobs: (60–40, 26–28 MVC)
Likelihood of hire: Good. The 39 year old Martin will probably be a hot name on the coaching market this off-season. He's built up three years of experience as a head coach, improving each season. He's taken the Missouri State Bears from 10th to 7th and this year 1st in the Missouri Valley Conference, so don't let the career conference record fool you. Martin, a former Atlanta Hawk (57th pick in the 2nd round of the 1995 NBA Draft) is familiar with the city already. He had a short 7-game NBA career but has found his calling in coaching. Following the NBA he coached at his alma mater Purdue under the legendary Gene Keady and Matt Painter. He was named Associate Head Coach the year prior to being named head man for the Bears. Martin's Bears (25-8, 15-3 MVC) despite winning the regular season will likely wait in vain on Sunday night for the NCAA tournament committee to call their names. A heartbreaking loss in the MVC championship game to Indiana State will likely leave them out as an at-large selection. It means less publicity for Martin for a potential NCAA run but that could work well for GT if they want to get Martin before his stock rises too high.

Name: Brian Gregory
Position: Head Coach – Dayton
Biographical Link
Record at current job: (170–92, 70–58 A-10)
Record at all jobs: (170–92, 70–58 A-10)
Likelihood of hire: Fair. Based on his accomplishment as a head coach and experience, he'd be a very good candidate. Salary is probably not a huge issue either since he's currently paid around $550K/year. The 44 year old Gregory has been the head coach at the formidable Dayton Flyers for eight seasons now. In that time he's had five 20+ game winning seasons. He took his team to a conference championship and NCAA berth in his first season (2003-2004). In the 2008-2009 season they returned with an at-large berth as the #11 regional seed and knocked off #6 West Virginia in the first round before being run over by #3 see Kansas in the next round. The following season, they failed to make the big tournament but did make a championship run through the NIT beating along the way: North Carolina, Mississippi, Illinois, and Cincinnati. As a concern, Gregory's teams finished the conference at .500 or worse in 5 of his 8 seasons. This year the record was (22-12, 7-9 A 10). Competing each year against the likes of Xavier, Temple, and Richmond is respectable for sure but some will ask if he can get Georgia Tech to equal or best the likes of North Carolina and Duke.

Name: Robert Burke
Position: Head Coach – Mount Saint Mary's
Biographical Link
Record at current job: (11-21, 9-9 NEC)
Record at all jobs: (11-21, 9-9 NEC)
Likelihood of hire: Low. The preference is to hire someone with head coaching experience so based on that criteria, Burke would get consideration, though he's only been a head coach for one season. It's been a long first season as the head man with a .500 conference record and 11-21 record overall for the Mounts. The long-time successful Georgetown assistant probably needs some more seasoning as a head coach. Mount Saint Mary's has struggled greatly statistically in Burke's first year. The following won't elicit much confidence from Yellow Jacket faithful that Burke should be a prime candidate: points/game 60.6 (324th nationally); rebounds/game 32 (302nd); assists/game (261st); field goal pct (268th). 10 of his previous 12 teams reached the postseason, including six NCAA Tournament appearances, so it's not hard to see why Mount Saint Mary's sees him as an up-and-comer, but he's probably not ready for the ACC just yet though a name to keep in mind down the road some day for a big-time gig.

Name: Shaka Smart
Position: Head Coach – Virginia Commonwealth University
Biographical Link
Record at current job: (50-19, 23-13 Colonial Athletic Association)
Record at all jobs: (50-19, 23-13 Colonial Athletic Association)
Likelihood of hire: Medium. Smart has done a very good job of continuing the success that Jeff Capel and Anthony Grant experienced at VCU. Smart also had stints as an assistant coach at both Clemson and Florida – giving him both ACC exposure as well as southeastern exposure. Smart's teams also play a very up-tempo, pressing style that are referred to as "Wreaking Havoc" or "Havoc Ball". On the downside, Smart has only 2 years of experience as a head coach and is but 33 years of age. That begs the question as to whether Smart is living off the players and success of his predecessor and whether he'll be able to continue to the success. Given his age and limited experience, hiring Smart is likely to be a "boom or bust" type of hire.

Name: Chris Mack
Position: Head Coach – Xavier University
Biographical Link
Record at current job: (50-15, 29-3 Atlantic 10)
Record at all jobs: (50-15, 29-3 Atlantic 10)
Likelihood of hire: Good. Mack has done an outstanding job in his 2 years at Xavier – posting a very impressive 29-3 conference record. But, like Shaka Smart (mentioned above), Mack has but 2 seasons under his belt at Dayton and he came to a program with 8 NCAA appearances in the 9 years before Mack arrived. Mack does, however, have a longer resume than Smart and at 41 years of age, he would certainly still bring youth and enthusiasm to the program. Mack's resume includes a stop as an assistant in the ACC at Wake Forest (under Skip Prosser) – which is a big plus. One potential factor is Mack's interest in leaving Xavier as he is originally from Cincinnati and is a Xavier alumnus.

Name: Russell Springmann
Position: Assistant Coach – University of Texas
Biographical Link
Record at current job: NA
Record at all jobs: NA
Likelihood of hire: Low. Springmann has spent the last 13 years at Texas and the last 10 as an assistant coach - all under Rick Barnes. Springmann is known to be a good recruiter. But, he lacks any head coaching experience. He has a limited amount of experience in the southeast – having been a graduate assistant at Florida. And, he has no experience with the ACC. Additionally, his name has been mentioned in conjunction with the Texas Tech opening – following the firing of Pat Knight. Top Stories