WSU HOOPS

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Let the consternation begin

Posted by Jeff Nusser on February 21, 2008

Last year, Tony Bennett racked up just about every coach of the year award there was, leading to his name being linked to just about every major job opening in the country. The same is likely to happen this year, as his name already is being bandied about by pundits as a potential replacement for Kelvin Sampson in Bloomington.

Here is what I wrote about it last year before he signed his extension at WSU, and I’ll tell you that my feelings haven’t changed much. Here’s what he said when he signed the extension, and I believe him.

“It’s said by a lot of people that if you can have a good year, boy, this is a place where you’ve got tot take a look to go elsewhere. It’s a hard place. I don’t feel that way. I think the journey has just started. This group of young men, I want our program to know that. We don’t want to be just a flash in the pan.”

Although Kyle Weaver, Derrick Low and Robbie Cowgill are graduating, one of the most highly anticipated recruiting classes in WSU history is heading to Pullman. I really don’t think Bennett leaves until he’s really established the program for the next guy, and that will take bringing in at least one more good recruiting class and coaching them all up into a perennial Top 25-type team. He might not be here forever, but I think he’s here longer than two years.

So relax, people. I know it’s a little bit in our Cougar DNA to be angst ridden, but don’t let anything cloud your enjoyment of this year.

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3 Responses to “Let the consternation begin”

  1. johnnycougar said

    Good points Nuss. There was a pretty good article in the Daily Evergreen today essentially saying the same thing, with quotes from Coach Bennett about how much he likes it here and how it feels like a small Midwest town sometimes. There wasn’t anything in the article expressly stating that he planned on being here a long time, but I don’t really think he’d take the IU job if it opened up. The way that program is going there will probably be another opening in four years or so.

    I also think Bennett relishes the underdog role. He played that way in college and in the NBA to some extent, and WSU is certainly perennially in an underdog role in the Pac 10 and even in our own state. He has said that he enjoys not having large booster functions and just being able to quietly attend church or spend time with his family. He doesn’t seem to want the spotlight, whether within sports or in his daily life.

  2. MikeR said

    I’m not naive enough to expect Tony to stay here for an entire career (if anything, he owes it to himself at some point to see if he can get the job done on the biggest stage), but I really don’t think he’ll be going after the IU job — or any job, for that matter, during this offseason.

    He still realizes how fortunate he was to take over a program that his dad (painfully) built from the ground up, and I don’t think his dad went to all that trouble with the idea that Tony would be gone in less than three or four years. Obviously, Tony is his own man and will do what he thinks is best, but I’m sure this fact has been made quite clear. And growing up as the son of a coach, Tony has seen first-hand just how important it is to be where you’re happy.

    One thing to remember (and I think it was Grant Wahl at SI who wrote about this last offseason) is that there’s less of a trend among college basketball coaches to “program jump” at the first opportunity than there is among football coaches. Not to say it doesn’t happen, but the difference between haves and have-nots in college basketball is not nearly as pronounced as it is in football. You can succeed on a national level much easier in basketball than in football, so coaches are more likely to stay where they’re comfortable.

  3. […] by Nuss on February 26, 2008 As we mentioned before, Tony Bennett is likely to be a hot coaching candidate in the offseason. However, the writer who […]

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