MHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts Director of Athletics John McCutcheon announced Tuesday the formation of a consultative committee which will aide in the hiring of the new men's basketball coach.
The committee will be involved with the evaluation of prospects and provide commentary about the candidates to McCutcheon who will then make the final recommendation to Chancellor Dr. John Lombardi.
The committee consists of the following:
TORRS — University of Connecticut assistant men’s basketball coach Tom Moore will be one of the favorites to take over at Massachusetts, a job that is expected to be vacant today. According to a source, UMass coach Steve Lappas will be fired today. The Minutemen were 16-13 this season, including a first-round loss to La Salle in the Atlantic 10 tournament, and failed to get an invite to the National Invitation Tournament. Not making the NIT was considered the last straw for the UMass administration as far as Lappas’ job status.
Other early candidates for the UMass job will include Manhattan coach Bobby Gonzalez, Memphis assistant and UMass alumnus Tony Barbee, Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard and Boston University coach Dennis Wolff, a UConn alumnus.
Moore’s name is also expected to surface for the vacant Siena job with Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins also drawing interest.
During his 11 seasons at UConn, Moore has gone from being the restricted earnings coach to one of the nation’s top recruiters. Moore, who turns 40 in May, coached for five seasons at Worcester State from 1989-94, producing a 76-59 record and a Division III NCAA tournament berth in 1994.
UMassHoops.com note: Many external links have been made to coaches' bio pages. In some cases, where the men are no longer at their last coaching position, a bio from that position still exists, and is linked to this page. teve Lappas has not yet moved out of his office in the Mullins Center, but speculation began on potential replacements for the University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach shortly after it was announced Monday that his contract would not be extended. There's no perfect candidate out there. Everybody is going to have some strengths and some areas where they could be stronger, athletic director John McCutcheon said. ''It's an open process. We want to find the best possible person for this position. Certainly head coaching experience does carry some weight, but that does not exclude individuals who are very established as top assistant coaches.
''We want a person who has energy. who has character and can represent the university in the community and with our alumni base and certainly somebody who knows the X's and O's and is a proven recruiter.''
McCutcheon said Monday that he and his senior staff had received phone calls all day from people representing interested candidates.
Here are some potential candidates.
Tony Barbee, Memphis assistant coach - The former Minuteman star forward is interested in the job. He has been an assistant for the past five years under former UMass coach John Calipari, who has proclaimed Barbee ready for a head coaching position.
Barbee has had a hand in bringing some of the nation's top recruits to Memphis.
Tom Moore, UConn assistant coach - He's well-respected for his coaching ability and has made videos about coaching with head coach Jim Calhoun.
Moore has had an important role in recruiting the players who have made the Huskies one of the nation's top programs. With the success being enjoyed by former Calhoun assistants Dave Leitao and Karl Hobbs who are now head coaches at DePaul and George Washington, respectively, Moore might be the latest UConn assistant to land a head coaching job.
Matt Doherty, former North Carolina coach - He recruited most of the Tar Heels' current top-five ranked roster before being let go in a controversial firing. Doherty is nationally known which would draw attention to the UMass program, but his perceived abrasive style helped lead to his departure from Chapel Hill.
Bobby Gonzalez, head coach Manhattan - The Jaspers' head coach was a hot commodity last year after leading Manhattan to two NCAA Tournaments and was a candidate for openings at St. John's and Miami. He also was rumored to be a UMass candidate before Lappas was hired in March 2001. Minuteman alumnus Rick Pitino is Gonzalez's mentor.
Don't rule out
Ron Everhart, Northeastern head coach - The Husky coach would likely be interested in such a move. He's done an impressive job with limited resources and led the Huskies to the America East title game. Everhart's contract is different than the one Don Brown had that led to legal problems when UMass hired him last year as football coach.
Steve Lavin, former UCLA coach - He led the Bruins to five Sweet Sixteens in the NCAA Tournament. He's just down the road at ESPN in Connecticut and could be looking to get back in the game.
Tim O'Shea, Ohio University head coach - The Wayland native was an assistant under UMass graduate Al Skinner at Rhode Island and Boston College. O'Shea turned around a struggling Bobcat program that is in this year's NCAA field.
Travis Ford, Eastern Kentucky head coach - Another Pitino guy, he led Eastern Kentucky to this year's NCAA Tournament.
Mike Hopkins, Syracuse assistant - Jim Boeheim's top aide is well-respected and is ready to be a head coach. Many think he is the heir apparent to Boeheim.
Joe Mihalich, Niagara - He led the Purple Eagles this season to their first NCAA Tournament since Calvin Murphy was in school. He's a former La Salle assistant and has recruiting ties in the Northeast.
Ralph Willard, Holy Cross head coach - After struggling at Pitt, Willard has had a great run at Holy Cross. If UMass is willing to try another coach who struggled in the Big East, Willard could get a look.
Dennis Wolff, Boston University head coach - The long-time successful Terriers coach might be less interested because his son is a freshman at BU.
Jeff Capel, Virginia Commonwealth head coach - The 30-year-old former Duke player has shined in three seasons at Virginia Commonwealth. He's rumored to be a candidate at Virginia, where Pete Gillen stepped down Monday.
Pete Gillen, Virginia coach - He excelled at both Xavier and Providence before faltering in Charlottesville where he had only one NCAA Tournament appearance in seven years. Now that he's out of a job, he could get some consideration.
Bruce Pearl, Wisconsin-Milwaukee - The Boston College alumnus and Massachusetts native has built the Panthers into one of the better mid-majors in the nation.
Jim O'Brien, former Boston College and Ohio State head coach - The affable former BC coach was forced out at Ohio State amid allegations of recruiting improprieties. UMass is unlikely to start a new era with a coach with a damaged reputation.
Mike Jarvis, former St. John's and George Washington head coach - In addition to leaving the Red Storm under an NCAA cloud, Jarvis is among the people most universally hated by UMass fans because of his time coaching at George Washington.
Fran McCaffrey, head coach UNC-Greensboro - After Bruiser Flint was forced to resign four years ago, McCaffrey was among the favorites before Lappas moved into the picture. But McCaffrey's teams are well under .500 in the past three seasons.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com.
he search for a new University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach is off to a good start as two coaches likely to be strong candidates - Memphis assistant Tony Barbee and Connecticut assistant Tom Moore - both expressed strong interest in the vacancy. Barbee, a UMass star in the early 1990s who is assisting former Minuteman coach John Calipari at Memphis, said he remains a big fan of his alma mater.
''Obviously I have an interest,'' said Barbee, who was in Massachusetts scouting high school games and could interview at UMass shortly. ''As a proud alum and a guy who has a great love for that community, that university and that program, the only thing I want is to see that place have great success. If my role is as a fan in support, that's fine. But if I get an opportunity to be the head coach and make it successful, I'd relish that opportunity.''
Barbee is No. 5 on the UMass all-time scoring list and was a popular player with a reputation for making big shots.
He played professionally for two seasons in Spain before returning to Amherst. He spent a year as part of the UMass radio broadcast team before beginning his coaching career as the third member of Bruiser Flint's staff.
He left for a year to coach as an assistant at Wyoming before returning to UMass for a year before joining Calipari at Memphis.
Coincidentally, Moore rooted for Barbee during his playing days.
''I loved those John Calipari teams. It was such a fun team to watch as fan of college basketball in Massachusetts,'' Moore said.
He was the head coach at Worcester State at the time. Moore is a life-long New Englander, who attended St. John's in Shrewsbury and Boston University. He joined Jim Calhoun's UConn staff for the 1994-95 season.
Moore has been with the Huskies for the past 11 seasons, but would like the chance to coach the Minutemen.
''Its something I'd be real interested in. I'm a Massachusetts guy and I'm extremely fortunate to have had my entire coaching career in New England. I'd love to be able to continue that,'' Moore said. ''The UMass job is a job I always thought would be a real intriguing one for me. I think it's a great job and the Atlantic 10 is a great league. I'd be flattered if they were interested.''
Matt Vautour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conn assistant coach Tom Moore is deep into preparation for the Huskies' first-round NCAA Tournament game against Central Florida on Friday in Worcester, Mass.
But the 39-year-old hopes to find time this week to pursue the head coaching position at UMass. The spot opened Monday when UMass fired Steve Lappas after four seasons.
"It's something I would be interested in," Moore said Monday. "It's been a school and a program that I've followed. I really enjoyed their success in the early 1990s. I know a little about the history and tradition they have there. They're in a league (the Atlantic-10) that would provide a great opportunity for me to be a head coach. It would be a logical move career-wise."
Moore is in his 11th season with the Huskies, ascending to the top assistant's position after beginning as the restricted earnings coach. He has previous head coaching experience, leading Division III Worcester State to the most successful five-year period in the program's history from 1989-94.
Moore has been rumored as a candidate for many jobs during the past several years, but was never given a serious look. The Millbury, Mass., native and Boston University graduate has made no secret of his desire to remain in New England. He said he planned to speak later Monday with Jim Calhoun and UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway about the UMass vacancy.
"I'll put all my planning and a game plan in coach Calhoun's lap and Jeff's lap," Moore said. "I'll take their direction as to which way they think is proper to explore this. I don't have a ton of experience with this. I've been rumored for a lot of jobs, but I don't have experience in pursuing them.
"I've made it pretty known that I really value New England and, in particular, my central (Massachusetts) roots. That this job is close to those roots makes it even more appealing. By striving to get a head coaching job in such a limited geographical area, it really limits my choices. In this business, sometimes you can't do that. I'm aware of that. But this is something that I'd like to have personally."
UMass is a shell of the program it was from 1992-97, when the Minutemen advanced to the 1996 Final Four with Hartford native Marcus Camby winning national Player of the Year honors. During that span, every game in the 9,493 seat Mullins Center was sold out. The Minutemen began a downward spiral during which attendance slipped to an average of 3,869.
Lappas guided UMass to a 16-12 mark this year, including a stunning upset of UConn, but the Minutemen lost to La Salle in overtime in the first round of the Atlantic-10 tournament and did not receive a bid to the NIT.
Moore, considered one of the top assistants in the country, has also been mentioned as a candidate for the Siena job. He is the lone remaining member of the assistant coaching staff that helped UConn to its first national title in 1999. Karl Hobbs is in his fourth year as the head coach at George Washington and leads the Colonials into their first NCAA Tournament in six years. Dave Leitao is in his third season as the head man at DePaul and lost to UConn in the second round of last year's NCAA Tournament.
Hobbs might emerge as a candidate at Virginia, which fired coach Pete Gillen on Monday.
hanks to Monday's firing of Steve Lappas, UMass is looking for a new coach. Perhaps it'll look toward Memphis.
"I don't know," said UofM coach John Calipari. "But I hope so."
No, Calipari isn't considering returning to UMass. But one of his assistants, Tony Barbee, is a leading candidate for the job, according to several reports.
Barbee played for Calipari at UMass in the early 1990s, and even did a year of color commentary for the Minutemen radio network. He's been at Memphis with Calipari since 2000.
"Tony would be an unbelievable choice," Calipari said. "Who knows that situation better than him?"
Calipari said he's already talked to multiple people at UMass about Barbee, who was on a recruiting trip Monday in, of all places, Boston. Asked if Barbee could interview with UMass before returning for the Tigers' NIT game on Wednesday, Calipari answered, "I don't know. He could."
According to The (Springfield, Mass.) Republican, Barbee is expected to interview as early as today.
he search for a new men's basketball coach at the University of Massachusetts will focus on finding someone who can provide more than "X's and O's" type knowledge, someone who athletic director John McCutcheon feels can reconnect with the program's shrinking fan base.
"It was a factor," said McCutcheon, who fired Steve Lappas from the position Monday. "The disconnect with our fan base over the last four years was very real."
McCutcheon hopes to find a coach within three or four weeks, and while he wants someone with coaching experience and accomplishments, people skills are considered essential.
"It's a key component in what we are looking for in a head coach," said McCutcheon. "Somebody who just wants to work on X's and O's and just stay in your office is not somebody that will be a fit for us."
McCutcheon said he is looking for "somebody who can energize our fan base."
With that in mind, sources at UMass said former UCLA coach Steve Lavin was on the list of candidates. Lavin, who now works for ESPN as a college basketball analyst, said yesterday that he nad not been contacted by UMass and was content at ESPN. However, when asked about a possible return to coaching in Amherst, he said he was intrigued.
"It's got a great tradition and in a great conference," said Lavin yesterday by phone from Chicago. "It's intriguing."
UMass officials very well could be intrigued by Lavin, whose strengths as a coach include recruiting players and marketing his program. Some who know Lavin compare him in a favorable way to former Minuteman coach John Calipari, who was as much a salesman as a coach in the early years of his tenure at UMass (1988-96).
The search process began yesterday for UMass when the school announced the formation of a 10-person committee to aid in evaluating candidates for McCutcheon, who then will make his recommendation to Dr. John Lombardi, the UMass chancellor.
Whether Lavin meets the criteria or is even interested remains to be seen. But as the committee gathers names -- possibly Ohio University coach Tim O'Shea, former UMass player and current Memphis State assistant Tony Barbee, Connecticut assistant head coach Tom Moore, or Boston University coach Dennis Wolff -- the process will pick up speed, especially as games are played and current coaches finish their commitments for the season.