With the program moving on from former Head Coach Tony Shaver, W&M Athletics’ leadership team has its work cut out for them.
It’s the delicate balance of taking the time to find and vet the right person, but making sure that you’re doing it quickly enough so that the rest of the team and your recruiting pipeline doesn’t completely fall apart.
With that being said, there are several candidates that have the potential to build on the program’s success, and even improve upon it moving forward; below, we outline three of those high-profile candidates. Let us know your thoughts, and roll Tribe roll!
John Thompson III
Alma Mater: Princeton
Connection to W&M: Current W&M Athletics Director Samantha Huge worked at Georgetown University (’06-’09) during Thompson III’s time with the Hoyas.
Princeton (2000-04) – Head Coach
Overall W/L: 68-42 (.618)
Conference W/L: 45-11 (.804)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2 out of 4 seasons (1 NIT appearance)
Georgetown (2004-17) – Head Coach
Overall W/L: 278-151 (.653)
Conference W/L: 131-94 (.580)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 8 out of 13 seasons (3 NIT appearances)
U.S. Men’s National Team Assistant Coach
W&M Sports Blog Take: John Thompson III has an incredibly strong track record; before falling out with Georgetown, he brought the program to 8 NCAA Tournaments and 3 NITs. His teams qualified for postseason play in 11 out of 13 total seasons — experience that W&M leadership is obviously looking for in its next coaching hire.
The direct connection to W&M is apparent, with W&M’s current AD Samantha Huge having worked with Thompson III at Georgetown during her tenure in Washington. This move would also be very similar to Huge’s recent hire of W&M football’s Mike London — as both London and Thompson III are slightly older, more experienced, and coming from “larger” program experiences.
We also like that Thompson III has experience recruiting to high-caliber academic institutions, having both played and coached at Princeton, before of course coaching at Georgetown.
Moving forward, Thompson III recently indicated that he’s ready to return to a Head Coaching role, but questions remain on how interested he’d be in coaching a smaller program such as W&M.
Alma Mater: Hampden-Sydney
Connection to W&M: Played under former W&M Head Coach Tony Shaver at Hampden-Sydney; Odom also spent seven years on Seth Greenberg’s staff at Virginia Tech.
Lenoir-Rhyne (2015-16) – Head Coach
Overall W/L: 21-10 (.667)
Conference W/L: 14-8 (.636)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1 of 1 D-II Tournament Appearance
UMBC (2016-Present) – Head Coach
Overall W/L: 67-36 (.650)
Conference W/L: 32-16 (.667)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 1 out of 3 seasons
W&M Sports Blog Take: Who could forget UMBC’s magical NCAA Tournament appearance last season — the first ever #16 seed to take down a #1 seed (yes, the victory came against UVA…#NeverForget). It’s almost surprising to us that Odom wasn’t snatched up by another program immediately following last season, but he remained with the Retrievers this year.
His team would again post a 20+ win season in the 2018-19 campaign (21-12, 11-5 AEC), before falling to Vermont in the conference’s championship game. As mentioned above, Odom actually played under former W&M Head Coach Tony Shaver at Hampden-Sydney, as Odom actually graduated as the school’s all-time leader in three-point field goals and 4th in assists.
Odom also coached under former Virginia Tech Head Coach Seth Greenberg while at Virginia Tech; it’s safe to say that Odom is comfortable with recruiting the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia area.
With that being said, we have questions about an Odom-like coach using W&M as a “stepping stone” to bigger things, but that’s unfortunately part of the deal now that Shaver is gone. Odom would also have to learn how to recruit high-caliber student athletes to W&M, which is something he likely isn’t used to given his prior experience; either way, this would be an exciting hire for the Tribe.
Alma Mater: Randolph-Macon
Connection to W&M: No direct connection (that we’re aware of).
Randolph-Macon (2009-15) – Head Coach
Overall W/L: 141-39 (.783)
Conference W/L: 77-19 (.802)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 6 out of 6 NCAA Division-III Tournament Appearances
Bucknell (2015-Present) – Head Coach
Overall W/L: 89-45 (.664)
Conference W/L: 58-14 (.806)
NCAA Tournament Appearances: 2 of 4 (1 NIT appearance)
W&M Sports Blog Take: You’d be hard-pressed to find another coach with a better upward trajectory than Bucknell’s Nathan Davis. Having first coached at his alma mater, Randolph-Macon, before making the jump to D-I hoops, Davis has brought immediate success wherever he’s gone.
Coaching in the Patriot League at Bucknell, a league that emphasizes academics above all else, Davis has turned the Bison into perennial contenders. The Bison qualified for the NIT in his first season at the helm, before ripping off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances after winning the Patriot League two years in a row.
And they nearly did it again: this season, the Bison finished 21-12 (13-5 Patriot), before falling in their conference championship to Colgate. Davis would have no problem making the adjustment to recruiting at W&M, given his success at an academically-oriented school such as Bucknell.
The only problem will be, can W&M contend with other big-time offers that Davis is likely to receive this offseason? Time will tell.
9 thoughts on “Men’s Basketball: 3 Potential Head Coach Candidates”
Lots of luck in getting any of them Where is the money going to come from? $1.7 million dollares are still owed to Tony Shaver. Most of the alumni I have talked to think Tony was unfairly treated. There are two types of coaches who may apply: either a “young gun,” who will be using this as a stepping stone, or some older coach looking to ease into retirement. Neither will be good for the program in my view. Instead, I say, let’s buy out Samantha Huge and bring back Tony.
Ryan Odom will not even answer the AD’s phone call after the way she treated Shaver. Odom lists his dad and Coach Shaver as the biggest influences on his coaching success.
John Thompson is the coach, unless he realizes there’s more money and better opportunities for winning to be had elsewhere.
As for Bucknell’s coach, winning in the Patriot League is nice, but that league has a level playing field. The CAA is quite different. W&M should have switched to the Patriot League five years ago when they had the chance.
How about Coach Shaver, any chance W&M could sign him? He’s been winning in the CAA for several years now, and he’d be good at coaching the returning players.
Laughable that you think Ryan Odom would even be interested in this position. The coaching world is a tight-knit fraternity, and many would believe Coach Shaver got canned unfairly. Odom has the upmost respect for Shaver, having played for him, and they scrimmage every year.
Also, UMBC is returning 4 seniors who play big roles for the team. Odom isn’t going anywhere unless VT or Wake is calling, and the latter is not happening this year.
I have given two names to consider – Joe Scott, now an asst at Georgia but was the head coach at USAFA when they went to the dance, Princeton and Denver and Phil Martell, now out at St. Joes.
Kyle Cieplicki from Vermont?
Rod Balanis, Associate Head Coach at Notre Dame? Williamsburg native and his Dad coached W&M in 70s.
This firing was VERY poor timing by the AD. She could have waited 1 year & not risked what potentially is the best material Tony had EVER had in his 16 years at W&M. Why not let Tony see Milon, Pierce, and Knight through their senior years? 2 top-notch freshmen guards (Audige & Owens) played a ton & with the skilled 7 footer from Wisconsin eligible, the AD may just have torched a rare chance for W&M to be in the NCAA tourney next year. EVERYONE knows, in this day & age, when coaches leave or are fired….players transfer! AD Huge has put all this at risk. If she wanted to fire Shaver AFTER next season, fine! Have at it! She could have done that with nearly ZERO risk. I don’t think this firing was well thought out. If both Audige & Pierce transfer, this program will suffer GREATLY. The dynamics of the team change tremendously.