Sunday, July 4, 2004

Dow: Bungled coach search hurts OSU's stature

College basketball insider

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After the shock of Jim O'Brien's firing by Ohio State June 8 blew over, questions centered on who would be the Buckeyes' new coach.

Certainly athletics director Andy Geiger would make a reasonably quick hire, because no AD in his right mind willingly would go into July without a head basketball coach. Right?

So college basketball pundits thought. Geiger and his bungled search are lowering the stature of the Ohio State job by the hour. Here it is, Independence Day, nearly a month later, and there is no clear answer as to who the coach is or when one will be hired.

For those who care, and one would assume Geiger would be included in that group, the July evaluation period begins Thursday. Some people - mainly college basketball coaches, media, fans and especially the recruits - think it's a pretty important month to have a coach under contract.

In other words, get it over with already! Big-time names such as Xavier's Thad Matta and Marquette's Tom Crean already have caused enough embarrassment to the OSU program by publicly removing themselves from the search (although rumors persist that Crean is still interested). Geiger eliminated Texas Tech's Bob Knight, who had the biggest OSU boosters calling Geiger on his behalf, trying desperately to get the Ohio State alumnus back in the state to close out his career.

Instead, Geiger spent last week acting as though he were searching for an academic adviser, interviewing candidates from Rice, Vanderbilt and Penn.

Willis Wilson, Kevin Stallings and Fran Dunphy are all fine candidates. Reportedly, one of them, or possibly L.A. Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons will be offered the job (maybe? hopefully?) this week.

When Geiger came back from his ill-timed 10-day vacation in mid-June, OSU backers didn't want more foot-dragging over mid-level candidates. They wanted Knight, Matta or Crean. After all this nonsensical waiting, they'd probably take tarnished former Baylor coach Dave Bliss if it meant having someone in a gym by Thursday.

As bad as it looks, Geiger still can save his own reputation if Crean is actually still interested in the job. Of course, Geiger would have to offer it to him, which would make far too much sense to jive with this search.

MYLES HEADED WEST: Former Xavier center Anthony Myles will play for the New York Knicks in the NBA summer league in Long Beach, Calif. Myles will practice for four days with the Knicks in New York through Friday and begin playing in the summer league Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers and former Xavier teammate Lionel Chalmers. The Knicks and Spurs, who have Xavier's Romain Sato, play each other July 16.

Myles isn't so much of an NBA prospect at this point as he is for high-level European leagues, which send scouts aplenty to the NBA summer sessions.

WALESKOWSKI PLAYING: Dayton's Keith Waleskowski is working out as a free agent with the Detroit Pistons and will spend July 12-24 in Salt Lake City playing at the Utah Jazz's rookie camp.



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