Photo courtesy of The Maneater
Kyle Hay, 23 Sports Reporter
Thursday night marked the end of Kim Anderson’s head coaching tenure at at the University of Missouri and I don’t think anyone was surprised when word broke that he was stepping down. You can’t go 19-44 in your first two seasons, then follow it up with an 8-24 season, and not expect to lose your job. In fact, in the press conference after their second round loss to Ole Miss, Anderson admitted that he expected to be fired the first day he took the job. There’s no question that he was, and still is, a well-respected and admired coach and person both inside and outside the Mizzou community. However, there is also no denying that the Tigers needed to move on from Anderson for the betterment of their program. This leaves just one question: Who will be the next head coach at the University of Missouri?
Cuonzo Martin and Lorenzo Romar are two guys that instantly come to mind. Martin is currently in his third season as the head coach of the Cal Bears and has one NCAA tournament appearance in that span. He has a 62-37 record at Cal and prior to coaching the Golden Bears, he coached the Tennessee Volunteers to an NCAA appearance in 2014. However, any rumors of Martin accepting a job elsewhere were shot down a couple days ago when he made it clear that he was committed to sticking with his current head coaching job at the University of California-Berkeley. Lorenzo Romar, on the other hand, is a much more experienced and polished coach than Martin. Currently in his 15th season as the Washington Huskies’ head coach, Romar has made more than a name for himself, amassing 298 victories compared to just 196 losses. He’s also led the Huskies to six tournament appearances, three conference championships and two regular season titles. One important attribute that both of these coaches share is their ability to recruit, somewhere that Mizzou really needs to step up. Martin and Romar are no strangers to landing top prospects. In 2016, Martin welcomed former No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown and current Cal standout Ivan Rabb. Romar on the other hand was able to land guys like Isaiah Thomas (currently second in the NBA in scoring), Dejounte Murray, Marquese Chriss and future No. 1 draft pick hopeful Markelle Fultz. Romar’s name has been tossed around the NCAA as a possible candidate for the Mizzou head coaching vacancy largely due to Washington’s lackluster season. Despite this, Washington recently confirmed that they would hold on to Romar, practically eliminating him from contention for Missouri’s head coaching job. With these two down, who else could get the job?
One more guy comes to mind. Tom Crean, currently the head coach at one of the most historic basketball institutions in the country, Indiana University, seems to be the front runner for the position. In his 18 years of coaching, including a stint at Marquette prior to Indiana, he’s notched 356 victories, nine NCAA appearances, and one Final Four. If there’s one knock I have on Crean, it’s his inconsistency from season to season, especially since he’s been with Indiana. There will be seasons above 25 wins and drops below 20 wins. Even in his best seasons, he’s shown an inability to succeed in the postseason. He has three total regular season titles but has failed to win a conference championship. If he does become the next Missouri head coach, he’ll have quite the mess to clean up. Though he does have flaws, just like every other coach, he’s more than qualified for the job. One thing that will help him is his experience.
To go straight from the University of Central Missouri to an already struggling SEC team was asking a lot of Kim Anderson. However, Crean has been to the tournament, he’s seen the Final Four, he knows what it’s like and what it takes to make a run at a title. If Missouri can land Crean, it would be the first step in the right direction of an otherwise long road back to relevance for the Tigers.