Big 12 welcomes half-dozen new coaches

Friday, October 20th 2006, 11:16 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Greg McDermott figures he has bragging rights. In only seven months, he has a longer tenure than five other Big 12 coaches.

``I am the dean of the new coaches in the Big 12,'' McDermott said Thursday at the Big 12's media day for men's basketball. ``I was first.''

When McDermott signed on at Iowa State in late March, it started a run on new coaches in the conference. Within a week, Bob Huggins was hired at Kansas State and Mike Anderson came to Missouri. After a brief lull, Jeff Capel was named the new coach at Oklahoma in April and Sean Sutton took over at Oklahoma State after his father retired in May.

Doc Sadler was the last of the Big 12's half-dozen new coaches to arrive, replacing Barry Collier in August.

It's the most significant turnover among conference coaches since the Big 12 began competition in 1996.

``Any time there's change, I think that kind of creates enthusiasm,'' said Huggins, who is back in basketball after a year away. ``I think people get enthusiastic about change for whatever reason, just probably the newness of the situation.''

The Big 12 jobs came open for a variety of reasons. Kansas State's Jim Wooldridge and Iowa State's Wayne Morgan were both fired, and Quin Snyder resigned from Missouri. Eddie Sutton retired from Oklahoma State, Kelvin Sampson left Oklahoma to coach at Indiana and Barry Collier went to Butler to become athletic director instead of returning to Nebraska.

``I really think things will change for the better. I really do,'' Kansas coach Bill Self said. ``You look at the background of all the guys that have been hired, they have all made an impact on the game not only regionally but nationally. I am excited about our league.''

Sean Sutton is the only newcomer who hasn't been a head coach before, although he did take over for his father for 10 games after a car accident in February and also filled in for him on one game earlier in the season. He's also the only one who's back at the same school.

``It is a little bit different for me, I think, because I have been part of the program for so long and the players that I am coaching this year, I coached last year,'' he said.

Colorado coach Ricardo Patton, who has now spent longer in the Big 12 than any other coach, said he doesn't expect the new arrivals to change what they've been doing now that they're in new locations. And he doesn't necessarily expect a big change in the style of basketball in the Big 12, even though half of the teams have new leaders.

``Maybe we will have to make some adjustments, but quite frankly I think the biggest adjustment will be when we play a Missouri team because that will be a little bit different than any other style of play,'' Patton said.

If Anderson's attacking ``40 Minutes of Hell'' style, which he's carried from his days as an Arkansas assistant through his head coaching career at Alabama-Birmingham, presents the biggest wrinkle, Oklahoma State may change the least. Sean Sutton said he'd keep about ``90 percent'' of his father's systems in place.

``I think every coach brings with him something that's a little different than the previous coach,'' Texas Tech coach Bob Knight said. ``But basketball is a game that has some constant denominators in it: the quality of the defense, the effectiveness of the offense. And those things really never change.''

The conference's preseason coaches poll placed most of the teams with new bosses toward the bottom of the rankings. Sutton's Cowboys garnered the most expectations with a third-place vote, behind unanimous favorite Kansas and Texas A&M.

Huggins' Wildcats were picked fifth, with the rest of the new coaches in order from eighth to 11th _ Missouri, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa State.

But the high hopes at Kansas and Texas A&M are perhaps based just as much on their players. Each landed two players on the preseason all-conference team, and the Jayhawks' Brandon Rush and Julian Wright shared preseason player of the year honors.

``When I came into the league nine years ago, there were 11 new coaches as far as I was concerned,'' Texas coach Rick Barnes said. ``I don't think you worry about it like that.

``By the time we get to conference play, we will have enough tape and film of people that we will know what they are trying to do. ... You are going to worry more about the players than the coaches.''