Even though we are in the midst of final four week, current events have mandated a quick recess to discuss Barry Hinson and Danny Manning leaving the program for next year:
First, as to Hinson. Hinson had a bit of an up and down tenure at Missouri State, but was also a victim of circumstance as well. His 2000 and 2006 teams were left out of the NCAA tournament field despite RPIs in the mid 30s and mid 20s. And this was back when the RPI meant something. Hinson made the NIT 4 times in his 9 years at Missouri State, though he didn't make an NCAA tournament appearance. His teams did have the best APR in the conference as well.
Obviously I am rooting for him to do well, and I think he will. For one, he is going to a league he is familiar with and a situation where he will be taking over a Southern Illinois program that has a lot of recent success. He's had the opportunity to work with perhaps the best college basketball coach in the world and has done an unbelievably good job as Director of Basketball Operations.
The more interesting, and perhaps more troubling, move is Manning's. It's not officially official yet, but it looks like Manning will agree to take over as Tulsa's head coach. From his perspective, this is probably a good fit. A lot of legendary coaches (Bill Self, Tubby Smith) have gotten their start (or close to it) at Tulsa, and it's an area with which he is familiar, so he'll be able to have name recognition with local recruits. He didn't recruit much at Kansas, to the best of my knowledge, so we'll see how much that changes now that he's a head man. He certainly would have a good sales pitch given how well he has developed big men recently. Tulsa is in a good recruiting area, and this will be a very good opportunity to get his feet wet before moving on to a BCS job in a few years. Also, I wonder about his chances at being the (or an) eventual successor for Bill Self. He's only 45, so he presumably won't be very old when Self moves on, but if Kansas isn't married to having a former player and/or longterm assistant there will probably be bigger names out there clamoring for the head job. (plus Jeff Boschee is off to a hot start as both a high school head coach and college assistant).
That leads us to how Manning's departure affects the program. On a pessimistic note, he no doubt had a big hand in developing Aldrich, the Morris twins, Robinson, etc. Recruits look at Kansas and while they acknowledge Self's hand in it all, Manning has gotten more and more public praise for his role in developing big men. While I don't think that this means big men recruits will suddenly stop coming to Kansas, I do think that it will take a bit more work to get them there.
On the flip side, Manning wasn't a factor in landing the contributors to the national championship team, and it was other assistants who went on the recruiting trips. Also, this is Bill Self's program, and he is the face of the team. His word obviously carries a lot of pull with recruits and it will continue to do so. Not to mention, assistants getting promoted to head coaching jobs elsewhere is a mark of a talented staff and a good head coach, and there's no question that talented assistants (and talented recruiters) will be lining up to work with Bill Self.
I trust both will do well in their new jobs, and both will be a challenge to replace, but as long as Bill Self is at the helm I feel confident in Kansas's ability to keep racking up wins.