Sports

Hurricane fans should relax, give Haith time to turn program around

Many people believe that the University of Miami’s men’s basketball program took the cheap route when it hired Frank Haith.
While that may be true, Hurricane fans should give Haith a chance.
Most people thought that Bobby Gonzalez, the head coach at Manhattan, was going to get the job after a strong interview with Paul Dee about two weeks ago. In the end, the school decided to go with Haith, who was probably a little cheaper, but also more qualified.
I don’t care that Haith has never been a head coach. He has been the associate head coach of a Texas team that went to the Final Four in 2003 and advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2002 and 2004. He also was an assistant at ACC-powerhouse Wake Forest.
Haith is a great recruiter. He has recruited six McDonald’s All-Americans and has coached six players that have gone to the NBA. The University of Miami, the last time I counted, only had two players in the NBA, so that would definitely be an upgrade. Haith was also responsible for bringing the top recruiting class in the country to Texas this year.
Now let’s compare that to Gonzalez. Gonzalez was an assistant at Virginia before getting the job at Manhattan, so both Gonzalez and Haith have ACC experience. I know what you are thinking, that Gonzalez did a great job at Manhattan, but think about this issue honestly. Before the Jaspers upset Florida in the NCAA Tournament this past season, how many people knew who he was?
Gonzalez’s squad has made an incredible turnaround and I do not want to take anything away from his accomplishments, but other than this season’s upset of Florida, what kind of results did he get? He was more obscure than Haith before he beat Florida and all of a sudden became the hottest coaching prospect in the country. The parallel to Perry Clark at Tulane keeps jumping out at me, and ultimately, would turn me away.
So we are left with Haith, who has been a great recruiter at Texas and has been the top assistant of one of only five teams to get to the Sweet 16 in each of the last three seasons. Is that so bad?
Some say Haith is unproven, but that just makes me urge fans to give him a chance. Every great coach had to start someplace. Remember, at one time John Wooden was an unproven coach too.
To those who say he is a bad hire, I don’t see it. I do not see anything in Haith’s past that will make me automatically assume that he will fail. I am not saying that Haith will do an outstanding job; I am simply saying that we should all give him a chance and at least wait to evaluate him until we see how the team does over the next few seasons.
Haith did come cheap, but do not think that he is not qualified or not a good basketball coach because of the money. The school got value for its money. If you could save money and get a product that was pretty much the same as a more expensive one, which one would you buy? His credentials are formidable. The guy can recruit and has been a part of winning programs at Wake Forest and Texas.
I happen to think Haith may be the right man to turn the men’s basketball program around over the next few seasons. I know, you are still unconvinced, so here is what you need to do. Print out this column and save it someplace, so that in a few years, when I have graduated and the Hurricanes are making a run in the NCAA Tournament, you can dig it out and remember that someone was urging people to give Haith a chance.
Haith is a good hire for the University of Miami, in a financial sense and in what he can do for this program. Just wait and see.

Darren Grossman can be contacted at d.grossman@umiami.edu.

April 16, 2004

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.