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Utah Utes basketball team need a coach with experience at the helm

Published: Tuesday, March 22 2011 11:10 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — When the University of Utah hires its men's basketball coach, sometime in the next week or two, it should be a 51-year-old who has 10 years of major college experience from at least two other schools and a career winning percentage of 61.8 percent.

That is, if the U. wants to hire a coach comparable to those who will be competing in the new Pac-12 Conference next year.

The above profile — 51 years old, 10 years Division I head coaching experience at two schools while winning nearly 62 percent of his games — fits the other 11 Pac-12 coaches (including Colorado's Tad Boyle).

Of those 11, all but one came to their present school with head coaching experience at a Division I school and most at more than one. The only one hired without head coaching experience is Stanford's Johnny Dawkins, who spent 10 years as an assistant at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski before going to Palo Alto.

The ones with head coaching experience range from Mike Montgomery, who had 25 years of college experience — mostly at Stanford — before going to Cal four years ago; to Oregon State's Craig Robinson, who had just two years at Brown before taking the Oregon State job in 2008.

Montgomery kind of skews the averages since he is more than a decade older than any other coach at 64 and has been a major college coach longer than anyone else with 29 years under his belt (28 with winning records), not to mention two years with the Golden State Warriors.

Still, most of the Pac-12-to-be coaches had considerable experience before getting their present jobs.

 Dana Altman coached for 21 seasons, including 16 at Creighton before leaving last April to take the Oregon job.

 Ben Howland coached five years at Northern Arizona and four at Pitt before going to UCLA.

 Kevin O'Neill coached 13 seasons at Marquette, Northwestern and Arizona before getting the job at USC last year.

 Herb Sendek coached at Miami (Ohio) for three years and North Carolina State for 10 before heading west to Arizona State five years ago.

 Washington's Lorenzo Romar coached at Pepperdine and Saint Louis for three years each before going to Seattle, where he has coached for nine years.

 Sean Miller, who has been at Arizona for two years, came from Xavier, where he won 72 percent of his games in five years.

Washington State's Ken Bone and Colorado's Boyle are the next most inexperienced behind Dawkins and Williams, each with four years of Division I experience at Big Sky schools before their present jobs. However, Bone did have 12 years of head coaching experience at Division II Seattle Pacific, where he never had a losing season and averaged 21 wins a season.

Those are some pretty impressive résumés for Utah to try to match in their next head coach selection.

After terminating a coach with no head coaching experience in Jim Boylen, Utah athletics director Chris Hill is unlikely to hire another assistant coach (sorry, Steve Wojciechowski) and also isn't likely to hire a coach with limited head coaching experience like Ray Giacoletti (sorry, Randy Rahe).

Although Hill is keeping mum as usual about potential candidates, sources say he is determined to hire a coach who has been a successful Division I coach with success in the NCAA Tournament who also has Western ties.

That limits the field considerably, although several coaches fit the bill including BYU's Dave Rose, Randy Bennett of Saint Mary's, Richmond's Chris Mooney (five years at Air Force, one as head coach), ESPN analyst Mark Gottfried (eight years as UCLA assistant before 14 years as head coach) and UNLV coach Lon Kruger (25 seasons as head coach, seven at UNLV).

The day Boylen was let go, Hill said he was in no hurry to hire a coach and said it could even go into April. Because a couple of the aforementioned coaches are still playing in the tournament, it will likely be next week before any offers can be made.

Utes announcement Wednesday

The University of Utah will hold a press conference regarding the women's basketball team's head coaching situation Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Head coach Elaine Elliott took a leave absence this season after 27 years at the helm. Interim head coach Anthony Levrets guided the Utes to a 18-17 record and a Mountain West Conference tournament title.

email: sor@desnews.com

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