Fourth in an occasional series.
You know the deal by now. Today's contestant is long-time message board darling Gregg Marshall.
Marshall is approximately 48 years old (can't find his DOB online?) and in his 4th season as head coach of Witchita State, following 9 years as the head man at Winthrop.
Important Questions, In Rough Order Of Importance:
1. Has he coached teams that have won a national title, made multiple deep NCAA tournament runs, and/or consistently been highly ranked?
2. Has he built a program from the ground up?
Yes. As best I can tell, Winthrop had zero history and a terrible program even by Big South standards before Marshall took over. He promptly won the league in his first season and won the NCAAs 7 of his 9 years there, never posting a losing record either overall or in conference.
Notably, they've gone right back into the crapper without Marshall, so it's pretty fair to attribute the success to him.
3. Has he substantially improved the program from when he took over?
Witchita State was doing very well under Mark Turgeon before he left for Texas A&M, except that Turgeon has a losing conference record in his last season. They dipped further to 11-20 overall in Marshall's first year, but by year 3 they made the NIT and this year they look like a possible at-large team. So I would say yes here in that Witchita State was momentarily struggling when he took over and righted the ship.
4. Has he succeeded at more than one head coaching job?
Yes, see above.
5. Does he have significant high-major experience as either a head coach or an assistant?
No, and here's red flag number 1. All of his assistant coaching experience was at smaller schools.
6. Is his team one of the best in its conference right now?
Yes. Currently second in the always competitive MVC, and Ken Pom ranks them as the best team in the conference.
7. Do his teams actually play, what is this thing called, "defense"?
Marshal has a teaching video on his "50 Gap Defense": http://www.syskos.com/product/231/mantomandefense
"Marshall’s philosophy is keep people on the perimeter and force contested jump shots."
In this interview, he says: "I was having a hard time recruiting guards who could keep the ball in front of them, which is why I decided to use the same type of defensive philosophy that is used by guys like Dick Bennett and Tubby Smith."
Guards having a hard time keeping the ball in front of them? Coach do we have some of those for you!!!!
Currently 90th in the Ken Pom ratings, not too impressive overall but that does rank second in conference. Insane defensive rebounding numbers (3rd in the nation); not good at forcing TOs. During his time at Witchita State the defensive rebounding numbers have been consistently awesome, even on his bad first couple of teams, and the TO rate has been better in the past (early on they struggled with eFG% defense).
His last three Winthrop teams were all top 80 in the Ken Pom defense numbers; defensive rebounding was again a theme.
His teams also get on the offensive glass as well. So, rebounding. Yay.
8. Any indication that he can recruit McDonald’s All-American-type players?
None whatsoever. Granted, Winthrop and Witchita State.
9. Does he run the Princeton offense?
The offensive numbers do look a little Princeton-y at Winthrop: Lots of 3s, slow tempo. Offensive rebounding was way better than you'd expect from the P.O.
Fewer 3s at WSU but the tempo remains slow. If you want breakneck basketball, he's probably not your guy. His offenses are generally very effective though.
10. Does he have any connection to NC State, North Carolina, or the ACC?
Born in South Carolina, coached at Randolph Macon, College of Charleston, Belmont Abbey, and Winthrop. He's certainly familiar with the area.
11. Any other random red flags or positives?
Two possible red flags. First, he took the C of C job while at Winthrop only to back out a few days later. Second, there have been consistent message board rumors that the guy is kind of an ass, though of course other people dispute that (yay anonymity).
Would he be better than Sid?
Would he be better than Herb?
80% chance yes. Potentially WAY better than Herb. 20% chance he crashes spectacularly.
I think the pros and cons with Marshall are pretty easy to see. The big Pro is his absolutely stellar record at Winthrop, which came out of nowhere, and he looks to be on his way to duplicating that at WSU. He's experienced, the right age, and as ready for this job as he'll ever be. He's not from far away and I suspect he'd "get it" in the way we all want our coach to "get it." I expect he would come in raising hell from day one.
Downsides are also apparent: No experience at this level, no clue how he'd recruit, and its possible that he blows up in a Dave Leitao-esque manner.
Would he take the job if offered?
No question, yes.
How would I feel if he were hired?
I would be pumped, but then again I've had a man crush on this guy for a long time. I remember watching Winthrop almost upset some big name school several years ago in the NCAAs and thinking that this guy was the anti-Herb. I think he'll be an absolute stud when (not if) he gets a major college shot.
How would the fan base as a whole feel if he were hired?
He'd be a little polarizing at first; just look at the message boards. You already have some guys who love Marshall and some who are very skeptical. I suspect that he'd "win the press conference" and you could sell the casual fan on this guy pretty easily IF he has some success within his first 2 years.