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Isiah Thomas or Rod Strickland Could Be the Next DePaul Coach

February 2, 2010 – Allen Moll

The poor DePaul Blue Demons. When the AD finally rid the program of the under-achieving Jerry Wainwright as head coach almost a month ago, it signaled that the program needed a change. After all, the once proud program hasn’t made it to the NCAA Tourney in seemingly forever and has only one Big East Conference win in the last 2 years.

When Assistant Coach Tracy Webster took over for the departed Wainwright, he inherited a team without an identity, with their best player, big man Mac Koshwal(13.4 ppg, 10.1 rebs) out with a foot injury, and an anemic offense that is averaging a miniscule 50 ppg. Scoring 50 points in a Big East Conference game is an automatic loss against teams like Villanova and Syracuse which regularly put up 80-90 points on any given night.

While Webster as interim head coach knows the program and personnel, the administration has to go in another direction with a head coach that brings a little something extra to the table to compete and recruit in the NCAA’s best conference.

After all, sitting at an ugly 8-13 and 1-8 in conference, things have to get better. Don’t they?

Some note-worthy candidates include current Florida International head man and NBA Hall of Famer, Isiah Thomas and Kentucky assistant and former NBA player, Rod Strickland.

Thomas is an intruigeing candidate because of his ties to the Chicago area. Virtually everyone knows of Thomas’ rags to riches story about his coming up on the streets of the “Windy City” and thriving at Indiana University and with the Detroit Pistons. Having a coach that is easily able to mine the Chicago playgrounds for top recruits would bode well for the program.

Isiah has already done an exceptional job luring some top national recruits to play for FIU next season in spite of his questionable behavior in New York at the end of his tenure as Head Coach and GM.

And we all know that Isiah loves the spotlight, either as a player, coach, or GM. Getting an opportunity to coach in the prestigious Big East Conference and the possibility of having multiple games on television has to be enticing to the former 12 time NBA All Star.

He could provide excellent guidance and instruction to young players and would instantly have their respect because of his immense experience at the college and NBA levels. After all, not many NCAA coaches can boast of winning an NCAA and NBA titles along with an Olympic gold medal?

As John Calipari’s right hand man at Kentucky, Rod Strickland is learning from one of the best how to run an elite NCAA program and recruit the nation’s top high school players.

Strickland’s obvious ties are to DePaul University itself. As a former Blue Demon player from ’85-’88, he averaged more than 16 ppg and 4 assists before being selected as the #19 player in the ’88 NBA Draft. He played for 9 NBA teams in 8 seasons and was one of the 90’s best assist men, leading the league in assists per game in the ’97-’98 season.

As like most former point guards, Strickland has the make-up and pedigree to be an excellent head coach some day. He has succeeded as a player at the highest level and now as an assistant coach. He has to be given some credit in the development of Kentucky’s excellent back-court players like John Wall and Eric Bledsoe. Learning from the best(Calipari) certainly has helped Josh Pastner, who first mentored under Coach Cal before taking over in Memphis after Calipari’s move to Kentucky. But is he ready now?

DePaul has to get back on track as one of the elite programs it used to be. As a former alma mater for such NBA greats like the NBA’s original big man, George Mikan, former NBA greats Mark Aguirre and Ty Corbin, and even current players Quentin Richardson and Wilson Chandler, hopefully the university president makes an intelligent choice and selects the right man for the job.

Allen Moll is an avid NBA and College Basketball fan who watches and studies games religiously and coaches youth basketball in his native Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania.  Allen is a regular columnist for thehoopdoctors.com, Bleacherreport.com, UpperDeckblog.com, and his own site, Hoops Haven.

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