SI chimes in on ISU hoops

By Chris Williams, Publisher

The Iowa State men’s basketball program got plenty of pub in Seth Davis’ most recent web column for Sports Illustrated.

In THIS PIECE, Davis breaks down the best and worst of the 2010 college basketball coaching carousel. This makes for an especially interesting read this year, when you consider all of the changes that we witnessed locally.

Let’s get to the hardware.

Davis’ riskiest hire? You guessed it. Fred Hoiberg. Here’s what Davis had to say.

Fred Hoiberg was more than just a great player at Iowa State. He was a cultural icon, the Ames native who sank feather jump shots and went by the nickname "The Mayor." That qualifies him to be the guest speaker at a booster function but not necessarily a head coach in the Big 12. Hoiberg was most recently the vice president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he has zero coaching experience, of any kind, at any level. Maybe he’ll turn out to be a brilliant hire, but for now it looks like Iowa State is trying to do the same thing Houston was when it hired Clyde Drexler in 1998. Drexler went 19-39 in two miserable seasons before resigning.

Our old friend Greg McDermott made some headlines as well.

McDermott was the recipient of Davis’ "Best job beating the posse out of town" award.

Here’s what Davis wrote concerning McDermott.

Greg McDermott’s days at Iowa State appeared to be numbered. He was fortunate to keep his job after the Cyclones went 4-12 in the Big 12 this season, and since he was losing his top three scorers, next year was looking like it was going to be pretty ugly. McDermott made a smart move, then, by taking the Creighton job that was vacated when Dana Altman left for Oregon. Creighton is an excellent job in a terrific league (Missouri Valley) with which McDermott is very familiar, having coached for five years at Northern Iowa. Plus, it’s always better to follow someone who left for another job than someone who was fired. You’ve got a better chance of winning right away.

Chris’ Take: Other than the Clyde Drexler reference, Davis is spot on with both of these paragraphs. The Drexler comparisons are starting to get a little nauseating. On the surface, it makes sense but if you dig a little bit, the situations are very different.

But I have to agree with the risk comment. Hiring a guy with no head coaching experience at all in the Big 12 Conference is about as high risk as you can get. Hoiberg gets to learn by going up against some of the best recruiters in America. It’s going to be tough. Really tough. But Hoiberg will be surrounded by support in Ames. He’ll have his family around him. He’ll have lifelong friends around him. There is no doubt that he is very popular within the Iowa State boosters so he’ll have their support. Jamie Pollard has proven over time to be one of the most supportive AD’s in America over rough times. Just look at how he stood beside Greg McDermott.

This CAN work. There is no guarantee that it will. There is risk with every hire. Heck, we don’t even know that Coach K would be successful in Ames. Iowa State basketball can’t get much worse than it has been over the past few years right? I say, you might as well go hard or don’t go at all. Give Fred Hoiberg a shot.