Over the next few days, we'll take a look at the possible candidates for the now vacant Boston College men's basketball head coaching job.
Next up, here's a look at current Harvard head coach Tommy Amaker.
Main Selling Point. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Tommy Amaker and the Harvard Crimson have pants'd the Eagles in consecutive seasons now. The former Seton Hall and Michigan coach has led the Harvard Crimson to a 20+ win season this year and a berth in the CIT.
Assistant, Duke (1988-1997)
Head Coach, Seton Hall (1997-2001)
Head Coach, Michigan (2001-2007)
Head Coach, Harvard (2007-present)
Tommy Amaker has had an interesting career as a college basketball coach. Amaker, a four year letterwinner and star point guard at Duke, got his coaching debut with Coach K. He joined Krzyzewski's staff as a graduate assistant in 1988 and was promoted to assistant coach a year later. During Amaker's time in Durham, Duke won two National Championships and made three other Final Four Appearances.
Amaker then went on to the top job at Seton Hall University, leading the Pirates to four postseason berths in his first four years with the program (one NCAA appearance and three NITs). In 2000, Amaker recruited Eddie Griffin, Andre Barrett, and Marcus Toney-El, a recruiting class that ESPN ranked the second best in the country.
After his time at Seton Hall, Amaker would go on to pick up the flaming wreckage from the Ed Martin booster scandal at Michigan. In his six seasons in Ann Arbor, Amaker compiled an admirable 108-84 record, including four trip to the NIT. In 2004, Amaker's 23-11 Michigan team won the NIT, and two years later, finished as NIT runner-up. Despite Amaker's moderate success at Michigan, his teams developed an "underachiever" label. Partly because he never got the Wolverines to the NCAA Tournament, Amaker was fired in 2007.
Less than a month later, Amaker had accepted the head coaching position at Harvard. In his third season at Harvard, the Crimson won the most games in program history (21) and made an appearance in the CIT.
How does Amaker stack up to Gene's three-pronged job qualifications?
Qualification 1: Exciting Brand of Basketball. Amaker runs a fast-paced offense built on a disciplined half-court defense. The Crimson ranked second in adjusted offensive efficiency in the Ivy League last year (behind only league champ Cornell) and third in adjusted defense. His fast-paced offense has produced highlight reel plays, including Jeremy Lin's two dunks on UConn earlier this year. Oh yeah, did I mention that Harvard has beaten BC twice in consecutive seasons in Conte Forum? The 2008 game, in particular, was Harvard's first-ever win over a Top 25 program (BC was ranked 17 at the time). If head-to-head victories can serve as a proxy for "exciting basketball," then clearly Amaker is a step up from Skinner, no?
Qualification 2: Relate to Student Body, Staff, Alumni, and Fans. This point was probably Amaker's undoing at Michigan. While he did an admirable job of picking up the pieces in the wake of the Ed Martin scandal, the Wolverine fan base soured on Amaker after failing to make the NCAA tournament in each of his six seasons in Ann Arbor. It may prove difficult for the BC fan base to rally behind a coach who has made just one NCAA tournament appearance in 13 full seasons as a head coach. I'd imagine you can only trade on your 1999-2000 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 accomplishment for so long before fans start asking, "What have you done for me lately?"
Qualification 3: Solid Recruiter. This is clearly Amaker's best qualification. He has proven to be a solid recruiter at multiple stops in his career, a head coaching quality the Eagles desperately need (see: 7 open scholarships in the Class of 2011).
His 2000 Seton Hall class of Eddie Griffin, Andre Barrett and Marcus Toney-El was ranked by ESPN as the #2 recruiting class in the country. Similarly, Amaker's 2008-09 recruiting class at Harvard was ranked #25 by ESPN, the first-ever Ivy League class to be ranked in the top 25. His recruiting tactics, however, haven't been without criticism. After Amaker hauled in his 2008-09 class at Harvard, The New York Times took a shot at Amaker's recruiting tactics, questioning whether they skirted or even violated NCAA rules. Amaker was ultimately cleared by Harvard and the Ivy League as they found no such violations.
I wouldn't necessarily say that Amaker knows how to recruit in New England (for example, look at Harvard's current roster), but he has proven to be a great recruiter and has coached both in New England and the ACC. So that's certainly a feather in Amaker's cap.
While he hasn't interviewed for the position yet, Amaker's name has been mentioned several times as a coach on BC's short list on possible candidates. GDF is shutting down the coaching search for the weekend (due to the holiday and the Final Four), but Amaker could interview with the Eagles as early as next week.
Thoughts? How about Tommy Amaker as the next head coach of the Eagles?