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Who will be the next head coach at George Mason?

George Mason Basketball: Who will be the next head coach at George Mason?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Who will be the next head coach at George Mason?

Still weird to think I won't be seeing Jim Larranaga at the CAA media day this year but when you read about why he left George Mason, you almost can't blame him. If your a Mason fan your anger and blame really can't be placed on Larranaga but rather the University administration and AD Tom O'Connor.  They have made it pretty clear they don't seem to care all that much about staying competitive in what has become a much improved CAA conference. Larranaga on 106.7 The Fan this morning completely dodged the question about his rumored rift with O'Connor, it's safe to say that was a big issue. Here is the audio from that exchange:

Also here is a little piece of that Mike Wise article about Coach L's departure that the SB Nation highlighted and I think everyone should read:
"Mason could’ve done more.

Did you know VCU is spreading $150,000 among Smart’s three assistant coaches, who already make about $300,000 between them, because they understand what it takes to keep their young, hot coach to stay in Richmond?"
Sure money wasn't the only reason Larranaga left. He always wanted to coach in the ACC, has siblings in Florida, a house there already, and you can't blame his wife for wanting to spend their later years away from those Northern Virginia winters.

Now we look to who will be the next head coach at George Mason.  Unlike in 1997 when Larranaga was inheriting a basement CAA team, a new coach here would take on a team that could be receiving some Top 25 votes in the early weeks. The position seems pretty open and really anyone could be a candidate at this point.  I've already speculated Bill Courtney but remember he's only been at Cornell as a head coach for one season. He might want to see what he can do there before taking on something else and at this point I'm not even sure if the school has contacted him. The Washington Examiner posted this Top 5 list over the weekend:
5. Jim Baron » The last basketball coach O'Connor hired before Larranaga was Baron in 1992, when O'Connor was the AD at St. Bonaventure. Baron has six 20-win seasons in 10 years at Rhode Island but no NCAA appearances. At 57, is he too old and too settled?

4. Jim Ferry » The 43-year-old took run-and-gun Long Island to the NCAA tournament with two local standouts -- Springbrook grads C.J. Garner and Jamal Olasewere. But does O'Connor have bad memories of uptempo basketball after inheriting Paul Westhead when he took over at George Mason in 1994?

3. Mike Rhoades » If Shaka Smart had left VCU, the Rams would have been comfortable promoting his 36-year-old assistant, who posted a 197-76 mark in 10 seasons at Randolph-Macon.

2. Bill Courtney » The 40-year-old former player at Robert E. Lee High and current coach at Cornell served eight seasons under Larranaga, recruiting many of the players from the Patriots' 2006 Final Four team. Big question: Does O'Connor want a Larranaga disciple?

1. Mike Lonergan » In six seasons, the 45-year-old has taken Vermont to the NCAA once, CBI once and NIT twice. Lonergan has plenty of local ties, playing at Archbishop Carroll, playing and coaching at Catholic and working as an assistant at Maryland. George Mason is a logical next step.
Mike Lonergan seems like the most logical choice at this point because of this area ties and track record.  Apparently a radio station in the Vermont area says he's a finalist for the George Mason job. However the Junkies on 106.7 The Fan said this morning that Lonergan has yet to be contacted by George Mason.  Perhaps this could be happening this week. One name not on that list is American head coach Jeff Jones who also played and coached at UVA.  He's really brought up the program at American and has experience talking teams to the NCAA tournament.

We could very well be hearing some new names this week because at this point it's all speculation by fans and the the media.



Anonymous EShine said...

I think these articles are limiting our scope of possibilities. These guys have obvious ties to the area / school. What about asst coaches from major programs (similar to Shaka)? There are guys like Wojo out there and any number if coaches with good pedigree who can step in and make an impact. No disrespect to the guys listed. Just saying there are a ton of guys who want this.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous c hirsch said...

Jeff Jones, barf.

This list means nothing, as does all the speculation. The media didn't even know Larranaga was speaking to Miami until Thursday, and he had been talking to them since April 8th.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous c hirsch said...

I heard this one guy might be coach because he ate at Ciao Hall once and didn't have explosive diahrrea afterwards.

After hearing Larranaga this morning I'm pretty annoyed with the administration. We are on the cusp of something special, hope they don't take it for granted and screw it up.

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...

For Tom O'Conner's employment's sake, I hope the next coach gets to the Sweet 16, second round at best.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous burythemfast said...

For the George Mason basketball team's sake, I hope Tom O'Connor gets fired.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...


1:51 PM  
Anonymous ChristopherY said...

The next head coach is a HUGE decision for this programs future. But the other issues this episode has opened up are just as important, and maybe even bigger. The fact that VCU is going to pay THREE TIMES as much as Mason for their assistants is deeply concerning. Did VCU overpay for Shaka Smart? Possibly, but the VCU assistants were making double what GMU's were making before their run, which is absurd for a guy like Chris Caputo.

Add that to the continuing frustration with getting athletic facilities built, and this "rift" between Coach L and ToC seems clearer. I imagine Coach made promises to guys like Caputo on salary, and probably recruits (on facilities) and he finally got tired of ToC making a liar out of him.

So what does this mean for going forward? Are we going to be able to attract new assistants of the same caliber as Caputo, Huger and Konkol? How is this going to affect recruiting? Big questions, and I’m not sure we have the right answers.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Mason guy said...

X's and O's first. This is what a lot of you are forgetting, O'Connor is a basketball guy, and knows who knows the game. Go ahead call for his head. Foment intrigue and conspiracy. I'm thinking he was only the messenger. I'm done posting until there's a hire. I actually trust TOC to make the best use of the materials at hand...a business concept. And buy the way, if I'm an investor, I m going short VCU stock. Overpaying top employees is a sure sign of a organization in trouble. Cheers.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...

And underpaying your top employees ensures you will have to settle for just "decent" coaches and the organization will be a failure (or decrease greatly) in the long term. Hopefully I'm wrong, but I don't see Bill Courtney getting a look because he's a "Larranaga guy."

2:29 PM  
Anonymous David Mason said...

Dissagree. VCU may have overpaid but they had to. Smart was only in his second year and had a great first recruiting class, a large one at that (4-5 players). After a run to the final four i would guarantee the new guys would feel more loyalty to him rather than the University. They will pay him 1.2 mil for a year or two and he will most likely be gone. That type of investment is not bad if you are able to keep you program from being dismantled, a mere 2 years after Grant left.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...

I'd rather have Larranaga for another 2 years at $1.2 per. I'm just not willing to settle to being the second best basketball program in Virginia. Or, maybe I should say, have the second biggest basketball *commitment* of any school in Virginia.

3:31 PM  
Anonymous David Mason said...

I am with ya, the lack of willingness to pay the assistants is a real shocker (if true). Prime example of the admin's commitment to the program. BTW- my comment above was responding to the last part of Mason Guy's post.

Hopefully everything turns out for the best,but it will be a nightmare if anyone of our expected regulars leave.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Season Ticket Holder said...

If the source below is correct, things sound very ugly....

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Bazzano Paul said...

Rob Lanier who was just recently hired as the Associate Head Coach at University of Texas would make a great option for Mason. Lanier worked at St. bonaventure while Tome Oconnor was there and he has strong ties to the New York area which has been target for Mason recruiting over the years.

Lanier has also worked under Billy Donovan at Florida for several years and has spent time as an assistant at UVA. Coach Lanier spent time has the head coach at Siena early on in his career and took them to the NCAA tournament and the NIT before moving on. Coach Lanier is still young at 42 years of age and has a feel for the east coast recruiting and the areas of the Big 12, primarily Findlay Prep.

Lanier has my vote.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...

I just read up on him. He looks solid. I think Rob Lanier certainly should be interviewed.

11:36 PM  
Anonymous Jmckend1 said...

Short a stock if the price isn't supported by future cash flows, and right now Shaka Smart is that program's main source of cash flows so he's charging what the market will bare. Larranaga was the money maker. You think women's rowing was funding projects around school? (Sorry women's rowing) Do keep in mind Miami is a private college and works differently so money can be allocated differently, but I don't think raising Larranaga's salary by $500k would have been unaffordable. Business concept: If your athletic department's core competency is men's basketball you don't let that slip. But I guess Title IX can play a part too. (Thanks again ladies)

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Mason guy said...

Cash flow refers to liquidity, cash and equivalents. Perhaps you mean profitability? Earnings? What are they teaching over there in finance 101 these days? Look, I like Shaka, its not about VCU, its about George Mason. Laranaga bolted, get over it.

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Mason guy said...

Ok that was harsh, cash flow is one element of a stocks price, admittedly an important one. This isnt the place for a discusion of EBITDA and the like... Mason for whatever reason didnt match Laranaga's price, for better or worse. 500k plus incentives isnt chump change,I feel good about getting a very good coach. I should have left it alone...Later.

1:09 AM  
Anonymous Taylormade703 said...

$500,000K isn't chump change, but it's still half a million under the going rate. It's fine if we can accept being VCU's little brother. Personally, I think we're better than that.

5:29 AM  
Anonymous Jmckend1 said...

Investment management is just my career.
Anyways, this isn't the place for this. I am busy fomenting intrigue. TOC doesn't know dick; that's why he's not a coach, and he's a crappy AD since you look at all the Mason sports that suck. We have a great cricket team though.

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Mason guy said...

Good to know investopedia is in your arsenal of analytical tools.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Jmckend1 said...

Eliminates jargon so I can pass it to a$$holes.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Jmckend1 said...

You have a great sense of "one-upmanship" combined with an irritating sticktoitiveness Mason guy; good to know that still exists. That being said, it provides definitions, not analysis.

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Mason guy said...

Fair enough let it drop.

9:10 PM  

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