UMass needs to move quickly in coaching search

The basketball season is over at the University of Massachusetts, but the search for a new basketball coach to replace Derek Kellogg is and should be moving with a sense of urgency.

As legendary UCLA coach John Wooden said, "Be quick, but don't hurry.''

UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said last week that he hoped and expected to have a new coach by the end of the month, which is a quick two weeks.

There will be no shortage of candidates.

UMass plays in a solid multi bid league (the Atlantic 10), it has superb facilities and a roster which is capable of competing in the upper tier of the A10.

The job will no doubt be filled with someone from the mid major category or someone who is familiar with the A10.

Bamford needs to do his home work--he is using a search group led by Eddie Fogler to help--and quickly come up with a list of four or five candidates. Hopefully, the vetting process will let Bamford know whether there is a mutual interest in UMass.

In looking at potential candidates and matching UMass's needs and assets, I would include the followiing group of coaches:

Billy Coen, Northeastern, Joe Dooley, Florida Gulf Coast, Mark Schmidt, St. Bonaventure and Pat Skerry from Towson State. I would also inquire whether Al Skinner would be interested in coming back to his alma mater. A few other candidates might emerge, but this group fits all of UMass's needs. Former Dayton and Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory also fits into that category.

Skinner has won at the A10, ACC and Big East level. Coen has pedigree as Skinner's assistant and has done remarkable things with very little assets at Northeastern, Dooley has Jersey roots, good pedigree and has made Florida Gulf Coast a perennial player in the NCAA tournament, Skerry has New England roots and has done many of the same things that Coen accomplished at Northeastern and Schmidt is one of the better coaches in the A10, although raiding a coach from teams in his own league may cause some people to squirm.

The good news for UMass and Bamford is that the Minutemen should come out of this with a coach who can revive the basketball program quickly.