What if Snyder Had Accepted Washington Offer?

Not quite four years ago, Quin Snyder was one of the "hot" coaches in college basketball after leading Missouri to an Elite Eight finish. But, after his departure Friday as the program's coach, we are left to speculate as to who might be hired to replace him. And we can also wonder how things might have turned out differently for Snyder if he had not turned down a certain job offer.

His name appeared at or near the top of so many "coaches on the hot seat" lists coming into this season that most of those who follow college basketball closely probably looked upon Quin Snyder as a figurative interim coach of sorts at the University of Missouri.

That assumption proved correct – until Friday, that is, when it was announced that the former Duke point guard and assistant coach at his alma mater had resigned, effective immediately, as the head coach of the 10-11 (3-7 in the Big 12) Tigers.

After leading his first four teams to NCAA Tournaments (including a West Regional final loss to Oklahoma in 2002), the overall record has been just 42-42, including losses in the last six games he coached for the Tigers.

There were much-publicized NCAA and university investigations into his program, with his two top assistants (Lane Odom and Tony Harvey) – who had helped recruit the players that got the program so close to a Final Four in 2002 – eventually departing.

As the talent level slipped with each passing season, so did the program's records.

A 3-1 start (including wins over Oklahoma State, Kansas and Oklahoma), despite what was the leanest talent he'd had in Columbia, led some to think that maybe Snyder – especially during what is clearly a "down" season in the Big 12 – might escape the hot seat after all.

Six consecutive defeats – by an average margin of 18 points – dashed that notion.

Does anyone else wonder how things might have been different for Snyder if he had accepted then-Washington athletic director Barbara Hedges' offer to become the Huskies' coach after Missouri had lost to the Sooners in that 2002 regional final in San Jose, Calif.?

It's something to ponder – which, undoubtedly, Snyder has done more than a few times.

You can trot out a litany of names for candidates to replace Snyder (now-interim coach Melvin Watkins certainly shouldn't be one of them, based on the expectation levels that exist among those who support the program; remember, he joined Snyder's staff after being fired at Texas A&M).

Rick Majerus, in his second year as a television commentator, will certainly be sounded out about his interest in the job – if he hasn't been, already.

And most of the "hot names" will be bantered about, including those residing at the schools in the upper-half of the Missouri Valley Conference – especially, Dana Altman (Creighton) and Greg McDermott (Northern Iowa).

*It's still much too close a race to call two weeks into February.

But, if J.J. Redick is posing with the John R. Wooden Award Player of the Year trophy on April 8 in Los Angeles, we can look back to the Tuesday night Atlantic Coast Conference game in Chapel Hill as the figurative moment that moved him squarely atop the Player of the Year pecking order over Adam Morrison. And it just wasn't that Redick scored 35 points in Duke's 87-83 win over North Carolina.

Remember when the Blue Devils' guard was looked upon as a "spot up shooter" or a guy who could only flourish with as many screens set as possible?

The guy now just destroys defenders off the dribble, in half-court or in transition.

He's going to score 50 points in a game sometime between now and April 3. And, the way Duke has been cutting it close with just about everyone of late, it may come in a game in which his team needs every one of those points to win.

*Josh McRoberts' performance (17 points and five rebounds, including a flurry in which he caught a lob from Sean Dockery with his back to the bucket and reversed slammed the ball, then nailed a 3-point from the right wing) for Duke against North Carolina was the first pronounced opportunity for much of the nation to see what all the hype was about when he was in high school.

If the Blue Devils can continue to get those kinds of performances out of the 6-10 freshman forward, it would make their road to Indianapolis a lot easier to navigate.

*If Redick gained a lot of Player of the Year support Tuesday night, then the same thing happened to Bruce Pearl that evening in terms of the Coach of the Year voting.

Anyone who followed Pearl's success as a head coach at Southern Indiana and Wisconsin-Milwaukee (where he averaged 24.4 wins over 13 seasons) had to have known that it wouldn't take him too long to turn Tennessee into a Top 25-caliber program.

OK, but who really thought there was a possibility that the Volunteers would be 17-3 (and 8-1 in the SEC) going into a Feb. 11 game at Georgia in his first season in Knoxville?

With victories over Texas, Florida and Kentucky (in Lexington, Tuesday night) as part of those 17 wins, he has to be considered the leading candidate for the COY hardware, although the efforts of John Thompson III (Georgetown), Thad Matta (Ohio State), Ben Howland (UCLA) and Bill Self (Kansas) have to be strongly appreciated and recognized, as well.

*Kentucky signed three very highly touted high school guards – Rajon Rondo, Joe Crawford and Ramel Bradley) in the class of 2004.

But how could the Wildcats have not evaluated Tennessee sophomore Chris Lofton (Maysville, Ky.) well enough to realize they needed to find a way to get him in one of their uniforms?

The same thing could be said of the Louisville Cardinals, of course.

Other than J.J. Redick, there might not be a better jump shooter in all of college basketball right now – as Lofton demonstrated in Lexington Tuesday night (31 points, including seven of 10 3s).

Do you think the subject of ``Why didn't we offer Lofton (a scholarship)?'' has come up between Tubby Smith and Rick Pitino and their respective assistants a time or two since Lofton starting dropping in jumpers for Tennessee as a freshman?

*Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina (17.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game) should rightfully be considered the front-runner for national Freshman of the Year honors.

But he's something short of a lock right now.

From this perspective, his two biggest challengers are Kansas wing Brandon Rush (14.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game) and Marquette point guard Dominic James (15.1 point, 4.3 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game).

John R. Wooden Award Weekly Top 10 Ratings (statistics through games of Feb. 9)

1. J.J. Redick (6-4, Sr., Duke):

He's been sensational all season. But is going to have to score in the 30 to 35-point range for the Blue Devils to hold on against every team they play this season?

Statistics: 28.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals per game (.505 FG%, .441 on 3s)

2. Adam Morrison (6-8, Jr., Gonzaga)

A big game against Stanford Saturday would no doubt weigh more heavily in voters' minds that all of those hefty scoring efforts he's been putting up against WCC competition.

Statistics: 28.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals per game (.510 FG%, .433 on 3s)

3. Shelden Williams (6-8, Sr., Duke)

No, he's not a leading candidate for national player of the year (as a TV talking head proclaimed the other night). There are only two "leading candidates" this season. But he's a heck of an Option No. 2 for a team to possess.

Statistics: 18.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 2.1 steals, 3.9 blocked shots per game (.580 FG%)

4. Mike Gansey (6-4, Sr., West Virginia)

He's still the leading candidate for Big East Player of the Year. But Rudy Gay is closing that gap rapidly.

Statistics: 18.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.3 steals per game (.597 FG%, .477 on 3s)

5. Rudy Gay (6-8, So., Connecticut)

Gay has averaged 21.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.0 blocked shots over the past three games while hitting 25 of 42 shots from the field against Pittsburgh, Indiana and Syracuse. That's the kind of All-America productivity we've been looking for, big guy.

Statistics: 15.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 blocked shots per game (.454 FG%)

6. P.J. Tucker (6-5, Jr., Texas)

His consistently assertive play for the Longhorns of late was enough for him to move teammate LaMarcus Aldridge out of the Top 10. He's capable of returning very shortly, though.

Statistics: 16.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.9 steals per game (.545 FG%)

7. Nick Fazekas (6-11, Jr., Nevada)

As the case with Morrison, some will say that Fazekas is getting his numbers against something-less-than ACC, Big East or Big Ten caliber competition in the WAC. But 25.4 points and 11.2 rebounds in the past five games, three of those on the road, can't be scoffed at.

Statistics: 21.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.2 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 1.3 blocked shots per game (.534 FG%)

8. Randy Foye (6-3, Sr., Villanova)

If he continues to struggle with his jump shot, he could slip into the "others" category next week, a la Dee Brown. He nails shots when his team needs them most (re: in the rally vs. Marquette last week), however.

Statistics: 20.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals per game (.420 FG%, .375 on 3s)

9. Brandon Roy (6-5, Sr., Washington)

He can take one giant step toward the Pac 10 Player of the Year award – and giving the Huskies more NCAA Tournament at-large breathing room – by leading his team past conference-leading UCLA in Seattle Saturday. Statistics: 19.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.4 steals per game (.507 FG%, .417 on 3s)

10. Darrel Mitchell (5-11, Sr., LSU)

Mitchell has scored at least 24 points in four of the past five games. He may need that kind of productivity when his team visits Gainesville Saturday.

Statistics: 18.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.2 steals (.496 FG%, .465 on 3s)

Others: Maurice Ager (Michigan State), LaMarcus Aldridge (Texas), Dee Brown (Illinois), Rodney Carney (Memphis), Jordan Farmar (UCLA), Taj Gray (Oklahoma), Marco Killingsworth (Indiana), Chris Lofton (Tennessee), Leon Powe (Cal) and Craig Smith (Boston College).

Inducted into the USBWA Hall of Fame last April, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is also a columnist for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram. He can be reached at frank.burlison@presstelegram.com. Read more of Burlison's pieces at www.FrankHoops.com

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