College hoop coaches with most to prove
by Nicole Auerbach and Eric Prisbell, USA TODAY Sports
This week, leading to the start of men’s college basketball season, USA TODAY Sports college basketball reporters Nicole Auerbach and Eric Prisbell will offer their predictions for 2012-13. Today’s focus: Coaches with the most to prove.
Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest
A 21-42 record over two seasons — including just five (!) ACC wins — isn’t going to endear you to your fan base. The Demon Deacons have a ways to go to get back among the elite teams in the conference, but will their fans be patient with Bzdelik if another losing season comes and goes?
Ben Howland, UCLA
In the wake of a scathing Sports Illustrated piece last season that painted the UCLA program as one lacking discipline, Howland faced a PR nightmare as well as a disappointing season. A cause of Howland’s problems
– Reeves Nelson — is no longer on the team, and Howland also added arguably the nation’s top recruiting class. But if Shabazz Muhammad is ruled ineligible to play and the Bruins don’t live up to their high expectations, Howland will be the target of a great deal of criticism.
Herb Sendek, Arizona State
During a down year in the Pac-12 last season, Sendek’s squad went 10-21, its worst record since his first season at Arizona State in 2006-07. Two of Sendek’s assistants left in the offseason, and he lost leading scorer Trent Lockett as a transfer to Marquette. But Sendek has experienced players and some transfers who can contribute, and he’ll need all of those pieces to try to get the Sun Devils back to the NCAA tournament, where they haven’t been since 2009.
Bruce Weber, Kansas State
Weber’s fall from grace at Illinois happened quickly, and the 2-12 record to close out last season sealed his fate. But Weber has landed in a pretty good spot in Manhattan, taking over a team with a deep roster that went 22-11 last season. Weber gets a fresh start, and a strong season at K-State will help the bitter end of his tenure at Illinois fade faster.
Travis Ford, Oklahoma State
Ford has been successful in Stillwater, reaching the NCAAs in his first two … [For more on Staff picks: College hoop coaches with most to prove, click here.]