March Madness returns, and inevitably college hoops talk will consume bar rooms, office spaces, and university dormitories around the globe. This year, as dissected by Joseph Billiot in March Madness - Five Players Pelicans Fans Should Watch During the NCAA Tournament, there will be a depth of second round talent on display, many of whom would look great in Navy, Gold, Red, and White. However, arguably the most needed asset could don a three-piece Perlis seersucker (because, why not !?) suit and replace the post-game handshake-less Monty Williams. I've done some digging, and three candidates currently coaching college hoops could step right in and improve the squad immensely.
Sean Miller, University of Arizona
Arizona Wildcats head coach Sean Miller had moved around a bit (Pitt, N.C. State, Xavier) prior to putting down roots in Tucson to take over a middle of the "Pac" basketball team in 2009. Miller was able to strengthen the program to a respectable squad within only 2 years, with a Pac-10 title and Elite Eight birth in the 2010-11 season. Furthermore, Miller has a track record of molding individual players into NBA stars (i.e. Derrick Williams, an afterthought in the 2010 recruit class). Miller would bring a slight coaching style change, and not too drastic to where we'd need to burn the book and start anew. Miller's defensive mindedness would blend well with Monty's, but I feel that he'd further develop players like Quincy Pondexter and Dante Cunningham, two solid veterans who I feel Monty Williams has given too much free rein.
Rick Pitino, University of Louisville
Slick. Rick. Pitino, the University of Louisville Cardinals' head coach has had two very successful college head coaching positions, most recently winning the NCAA title in 2013, and formerly with the University of Kentucky in the late 1990's. However, two stops in the NBA proved fruitless (New York Knicks 1987-89 & Boston Celtics 1997-01), sending Pitino back to the college ranks. Those Knicks and Celtics teams never had the tools and pieces the current Pels squad exhibits, which makes all the difference. Pitino's teams love to shoot the three, so with guys like Luke Babbitt and Eric Gordon pulling the trigger, it could get exciting FAST. Opposed to Monty Williams, Rick Pitino is a more fiery guy, constantly pacing and emotionally forthcoming on the sidelines. Similar to New Orleans in the recent past, Rick Pitino is in need of an NBA redemption story, and the Pelicans could provide just that.
Tony Bennett, University of Virginia
Coach Bennett of the University of Virginia has thin ties to the Pelicans. Drafted as a point guard out of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Tony Bennett was a Charlotte Hornet for 3 years from 1992-1995. Had he lasted a few more years, he may have been playing backup to Baron Davis in the Hive. Since Bennett is the only NCAA tournament coach of the three with a professional playing career, he may be best suited to lead a team of pros to the evasive promised land. Since taking over the Virginia Cavaliers in 2009, he has amassed a 135-63 record, earning two consecutive ACC titles in 2013-14 & 2014-15 in a conference boasting historically acclaimed powerhouses North Carolina and Duke.
Tony Bennett is also a fantastic singer and world renown Las Vegas stage performer. Tony Bennett has done well with unheralded talent, and given his upward trajectory each year, would be a very smart man to step up to the big leagues as a young rising star coach in the making.
Didn't make the tournament, but did make the cut:
John Beilein, University of Michigan
John Beilein has literally almost been coaching as long as Monty Williams has been alive... That has to count for something right? With an overall win percentage of just over 62% after 37 years, the current head coach of the Michigan Wolverines has immense basketball wisdom, none of which learned directly from Gregg Popovich.
Billy Donovan, University of Florida
The University of Florida head coach has seen a dip recently, but his overall record and accolades are impressive. Winning two NCAA championships in 2006 & 2007, the Billy Donovan coached Florida Gators have been a pillar to be measured by in the SEC and over NCAA landscape. Fun fact: Billy Donovan played floor general for Rick Pitino at Providence and with the Knicks. Wouldn't that be a sweet package deal to somehow get both Billy and Rick, and have them them front office AND coaching duties?! Yeah, I wouldn't think so either.
If it's any consolation, i'd still feel VERY confident in throwing down a crispy five-r on Monty in a game of horse. That's enough for me to hope he stays at the helm... #DontFireMonty