16. Norm Roberts, St. John's
Vitals: 20-47 (Big East, 4 years); 72-151 (Overall, 8 years); 0-0 NCAA Tournament
From 1995-2004, Roberts toured with Bill Self as his equipment engineer, with gig stops at Oral Roberts, Tulsa, Illinois and Kansas. Some people just aren't cracked out to grab the mic and take the stage by themselves - ever hear about the musical exploits of Tony Banks from Genesis? Didn't think so. Roberts' most successful season as a solo artist is a measly 16-15 for
15. Fred Hill, Rutgers
Vitals: 6-28 (Big East, 2 years); 21-39 (Overall, 2 years); 0-0 NCAAs
Another assistant coach lifer (24 years with stints at Seton Hall and Villanova) who finally got his break in 2006. Not much life has been breathed into the somnambulant Scarlet Knights program, though Hill scored a prized recruit with freshman Mike Rosario, impressing the Rutgers brass to extend his contract to the 2012-2013 season. Though Rosario looks to be a star player as promised, good coaches don't lose non-conference games to St. Bonaventure, Lehigh and Binghampton. There's usually a reason a guy doesn't ascend to a head coaching job after 20 years - he's not cut out for it. I fear the writing is on the wall for Rutgers and they just flushed money down the drain.
14. Jerry Wainwright, DePaul
Vitals: 20-31 (Big East, 3 years); 229-202 (Overall, 14 years); 1-3 NCAAs
Another once proud program that has hibernated for the better part of 20 years. DePaul should be plucking from the abundance that Chicago has to offer and fielding very competitive teams, but it's just not happening under Wainwright's watch. There's only two kids from the city on the current roster and a third from the suburbs. Sure he led UNC-Wilmington and Richmond to the Big Dance, but since coming to Chitown, he's missed the BET twice in three years. Looking at the man, does he really look like a guy 20-year-olds will respond to? Hell no. If he coached in the 80s, his team might have been intimidated by him since he's a dead ringer for the principal from The Breakfast Club. But now his droopy face does little to inspire the troops. Get some new blood in their DePaul. What a joke.
13. Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
Vitals: 10-25 (Big East, 2 years); 93-61 (Overall, 5 years); 0-2 NCAAs
Doug can shed more light on the state of Cincy hoops, but the program is still trying to find an identity since Huggy Bear forced himself out of town. Cronin, a Cincinnati native and alum, brings a fiery passion to the sideline that has provided a little spark in his teams. Cronin proved to be a great recruiter in his time as assistant coach for the Bearcats from 1997-2001, reeling in future stars such as Steve Logan, Jason Maxiell, Kenny Satterfield and DerMarr Johnson. He went to assist at Louisville under Pitino before making the jump to head coach at Murray State. He's perfectly content to remain in the city if he can groom his young team into a contender. Cronin made two trips to the NCAA tournament with the Racers, so he's enjoyed a little success that proves he might be up to the task. On a side note, it looks like Cronin might not be the best baller in his own family.
12. Bobby Gonzalez, Seton Hall
Vitals: 11-24 (Big East, 2 years); 159-108 (Overall, 9 years); 1-2 NCAAs
Something's brewing in South Orange, New Jersey. The longtime assistant of Pete Gillen, with stops at Virginia, Providence and Xavier, Gonzalez grabbed the reins at Manhattan and steered the Jaspers to two NCAA bids, including a huge upset of Florida in 2004. Making the jump to Broadway, his tenure began tenuously with an underwhelming 4-12 BEast record, but he nearly doubled the win total last year. Gonzalez has solid recruiting connections in the East and looks to be rebuilding the proud program that PJ Carlesimo guided to the championship game. With a legit scoring threat in Jeremy Hazell, the Pirates are poised to move into the upper half of the league's standings this year. We may see Gonzalez break out as a coach to be reckoned with.
11. Buzz Williams, Marquette
Vitals: 0-0 (Big East); 14-17 (Overall, 1 year); 0-0 NCAAs
Very little career resume to work with on "Lightyear" Williams. But I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt on being an up-and-coming coach. Tom Crean brought Buzz into the fold a year ago after Williams' only year of head job experience at New Orleans. With Crean's abrupt departure, the keys to the Corvette are all his. Not bad for a guy who's only 36. A reputed recruiting ace, Buzz spent two years under Billy Gillespie's tutelage at Texas A&M. With a veteran team at his disposal, we'll find out soon enough if he can sink or swim in the BEast.
10. Stan Heath, South Florida
Vitals: 3-15 (Big East, 1 year); 124-96 (Overall, 6 years); 3-3 NCAAs
Heath brings a strong background to Tampa/St. Petersburg. He's enjoyed success at Arkansas and Kent State (Elite Eight appearance in 2002) after learning the trade from Tom Izzo at Michigan State for 6 years. So the quality of the coaching isn't as much a question, but rather if he can summon the same magic tricks at South Florida. Though there is plenty of talent to choose from in the state, there is zero support for a program that has never had any measurable success. WeIsND made an official trip to the Sun Dome and were amused and bewildered at the lack of enthusiasm shown a Big Easy conference program. I think I counted 14 students making up the "rabid" student section. There were three banners hanging from the rafters, extolling the program's "success" - 1991 NIT; 1995 NIT Elite Eight; 2000 NIT. The fact that it was a record crowd for the ND game underscored the problem that Heath may not want to stick around to fix. If he can inject a little life into the program, there's a significant opportunity to build a legit program. Time will tell if that happens under Heath's watch.
9. Keno Davis, Providence
Vitals: 0-0 (Big East); 28-5 (Overall, 1 year); 0-1 NCAAs
Another overachieving 36-year-old, Davis was named 2008 National Coach of the Year after his remarkable season with Drake. Davis' coaching pedigree is stellar, studying under his father, Dr. Tom Davis (of Iowa fame) for five years at Drake before taking over. When Providence cut ties with Tim Welsh, Davis was the hot name to bring in. We'll see if he can keep the momentum going, though I'm a little weary to bet anything on a guy who shares a name with a kind of poker. I believe Keno will be a good fit in Rhode Island (however long he is there) and restores some of the luster of the program that another man on this list brought to great heights.
8. Jay Wright, Villanova
Vitals: 71-57 (Big East, 7 years); 270-167 (Overall, 14 years); 7-6 NCAAs
Everyone knows Jay Wright as a consistent performer in the GQ Fashionable Four. Sure, it makes him an easy target for sleazebag comparisons, but with Wright's suave attire comes a penchant for success. Learning at the knee of Rollie Massimino at Villanova and then UNLV, Wright witnessed a true legend wield his craft. On his own, Wright proved himself a winner at Hofstra, with Speedy Claxton helping to break in his dance shows on two occasions. Returning to Villanova in 2001, he's led the Wildcats to four consecutive trips to the Dance, including one Big East regular season title. His efforts bring a steady stream of talent off the competitive courts of Philly. Nova also annually pits itself against the Big Five, testing themselves in their own city before proving their mettle in the BEast. Wright is a formidable counterpart on any given night.
Part 2 to come once I return from a needed trip to the sunny beaches of Whale's Vagi...I mean, San Diego.