Coaching Search Notes: Giannini rises

This Purple Wildcats Insider update checks out more names on the Northwestern coaching search list.

— Did Dr. John Giannini increase his stock with another impressive tournament win? Despite boasting a mediocre résumé compared to some other competitors, Giannini found success in the here and now. His La Salle team relinquished a major lead before regrouping to beat 4-seed Kansas State. With a matchup against Mississippi and Marshall Henderson upcoming Sunday, La Salle – one of the last four in – could stay in this bracket.

– Is the name Tony Bennett a realistic one for Northwestern? After four years in Virginia, could the talented recruiter find his way to Evanston? He received a contract extension before last season, but the precedent favors the Wildcats. He left Washington State despite signing an extension, and some think he could be a promising fit for NU. He is renowned for selling players on the program. And even though many of his recruits – some for unlucky reasons – have not panned out, Bennett would be one example of a home-run hire. He could win and haul in recruiting classes regardless of academic restrictions. Athletic director Jim Phillips would have to one-up his current base salary of $1.7 million. For this crucial hire, it might be worth the shot.

– Speaking of underrated recruiters, none fly under the radar quite like Bob McKillop of Davidson. He found Stephen Curry, current NBA star, out of nowhere. He consistently competes with power-conference teams, and this year's Davidson squad nearly knocked off 3-seed Marquette in the first round. McKillop, with strong loyalty to the program, might never leave and try his hand at a power-conference position. If Collins and other top candidates decline interest for whatever reason, he might be worth the call.

– Many believe that Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen ranks highly on the search list – if not second. Chris Collins appears to be the clear front-runner; that might not change. But Paulsen makes sense. At Northwestern, which prides itself on the sense of "family," Paulsen has close ties with president Morton Schapiro. Given Schapiro's influence and respect, there's no reason his voice would not be heard in this process. The search firm will look for the correct "fit," and someone who upholds the values of this institution.

Stay tuned to Purple Wildcats for more coverage of the Northwestern basketball head coaching search.


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