College Basketball – Black Monday

Posted by on March 17th, 2015  •  0 Comments  • 

The postseason begins for college basketball tonite, as the 32-team field for the NIT begins play, and four teams take part in play-in games for the NCAA tournament, as we roll out March Madness..
Today is also the beginning of the next phase of the life of college basketball coaches, after 12-schools dumped coaches and staffs on Sunday and Monday.
One of the victims, University of San Diego coach Bill Grier, who won early with players left from Brad Holland’s program, and then lost and lost and lost.
He was cut loose with a nice payday to leave, after 6-losing seasons in a 7-year span, and a (117-144) record.  
It was stunning it did not work out.  A longtime assistant at Gonzaga, who had close ties to the Dan Monson-Mark Few eras, he surely had the resume to deserve this position. 
Somewhere on the road between Spokane and Alcala Way, something was lost.  Strong willed coach, strong recruiter, but nothing worked.  
USD is indeed a special place for academics, and it is a different place to recruit to, almost an Ivy League atmosphere.  Maybe that’s the problem, that USD is really out on an island by itself.  There aren’t other Harvards-Yales-Darmouths nearby.  But with so many athletes available, you would have thought Grier would have gotten a higher share of quality student-athletes to play in the JCP-Pavilion.
He was fiery, and early on, a turnoff to deal with.  Losing overwhelms you, and it seemed that tidal wave knocked him down.  
The slimeball point shaving scandal with the player he inherited, Brandon Johnson, didn’t really stain him.  He didn’t have alot of player defections either.  He just didn’t recruit many big men to compliment special players like Johnny Dee and Chris Anderson.  His big men became big stiffs, and that hurt in a better than you think West Coast Conference.
The Zags and BYU have brought the spotlight, and pretty good players to the league, and if you don’t have horses, you don’t have much of a chance.  And life on the WCC street corner is very different than recruiting to the Big West, where the entrance standards at Fullerton-Irvine and others are different.  USD is surely not like cross-town power San Diego State either.
There will be another day for Bill Grier.  He deserves it.  Maybe different standards, different access to players, maybe a basketball spotlight, not being in the shadows of the Aztecs, UCLA, and the NBA will help.
The names out there overwhelm you, from a young lion like Eric Mussleman, almost a Jim Harbaugh clone, to an old-dog class guy like Paul Westphal, to a PAC-10 guy like Ben Howland or Craig Robinson, this is an important hire for AD-Ky Snyder.  Double Blue basketball has to be a money maker for the Athletic program as a Division 1-school.  The next hire has to be a successful hire, though most of us though the last one would be a good one.
You need a special type of guy to want to come to a place like USD.  But if Gonzaga can find and keep a Mark Few, then Snyder can do the same.
Bill Grier, good man, just not good results, for a guy few knew, but a number of us really liked.
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