Earlier this week, Athlon Sports ran down the top 50 coaches in college basketball for 2015-16.
This isn’t necessarily the flip side of that argument, but these are the coaches who are facing the most pressure in this upcoming season.
The following article and more can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview magazine, available now.
Podcast: Who should be No. 1 in College Basketball in 2015-16?
Travis Ford, Oklahoma State
The good news: Ford has guided Oklahoma State to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last three seasons. The bad news: The Cowboys are 0–3 in the NCAAs and have had a losing record in the Big 12 in each of the past two seasons. Ford has recruited well and kept the Pokes relevant, but he has not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2009, his first season at the school.
Brian Gregory, Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets slumped to 3–15 in the ACC last season, giving Gregory a 19–51 mark in league games in his four seasons at Georgia Tech. Over the last 10 years (six at Dayton, four at Tech), Gregory has coached only one team that finished higher than seventh in its respective league. The Yellow Jackets need to show significant progress in 2015-16.
John Groce, Illinois
Other than a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2012-13, his first season at Illinois, there’s not much to like about Groce’s tenure at Illinois. The Illini are 24–30 in the Big Ten and have not finished higher than a tie for seventh place in the league standings. Last year, they missed the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season, something that hadn’t happened at Illinois since the early 1990s.
Barry Hinson, Southern Illinois
Hinson has been unable to restore order at Southern Illinois, the once-proud program that has not made the NCAA Tournament since 2007. The Salukis slumped to 12–21 overall and 4–14 in the Missouri Valley last year and are 19–35 in the league in Hinson’s three seasons.
Donnie Jones, UCF
Jones has survived NCAA sanctions — he was hit with a three-year show-cause order following an 2011 investigation — but the former Billy Donovan assistant won’t be around much longer if his program doesn’t make a move in the American Athletic Conference. UCF is 25–36 overall and 9–27 in league play in the last two seasons after making the move from Conference USA to the AAC.
Josh Pastner, Memphis
Pastner has compiled a gaudy record in six seasons at Memphis — 148–58 overall and 74–26 in league play (C-USA and AAC) — but his teams never seem to play up to their potential, and he has struggled in the postseason (2–4 in the NCAA Tournament). Roster upheaval has hit this program hard as well. This past offseason, Austin Nichols, the team’s best player and a Memphis native, transferred to Virginia.
Dave Rice, UNLV
Rice has done a phenomenal job attracting talent — he’s signed three top-10 classes in the last four years — but the Runnin’ Rebels continue to underachieve. They are 18–18 in the Mountain West the past two seasons and have yet to win an NCAA Tournament game on his watch, losing as a No. 6 seed in 2012 and a No. 5 in ’13.
Lorenzo Romar, Washington
Romar has done some good things at his alma mater — Washington advanced to the NCAA Tournament six times from 2004-11 and averaged 12.5 league wins from ’09-12 — but the Huskies went 5–13 in the Pac-12 last year and have not played in the NCAAs since 2011. To make matters worse, Nigel Williams-Goss, the Huskies’ leading scorer in ’14-15, transferred to in-state rival Gonzaga in April.
Bruce Weber, Kansas State
Weber is a respected head coach who has won a lot of games, but he never seems to be in good graces with his fan base. He enjoyed immediate success after taking over for the popular Frank Martin, tying for first in the Big 12 in 2012-13 with a 14–4 league mark. Since then, however, the Wildcats have regressed, to 10–8 in ’13-14 and 8–10 last season. And things don’t look promising moving forward; leading scorer Marcus Foster transferred, and Nino Williams and Thomas Gipson, the team’s two other double-figure scorers, graduated.
Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
Seton Hall is 30–60 in the Big East in Willard’s five seasons. The high-water mark in his tenure came in Year 2, when the Pirates went 21–13 overall and 8–10 in league play. There has been significant roster turnover of late, notably the loss of guards Jaren Sina (in the middle of last season) and Sterling Gibbs (in late April).