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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Column: The search is on

UC Davis is on the prowl.

Wednesday morning, Athletic Director Greg Warzecka announced that Gary Stewart would no longer coach the men’s basketball team. Stewart will stick around as a member of the athletic department until June 30, presumably when Stewart’s contract with UC Davis expires.

This was a highly popular move and one even endorsed by The Aggie. The reasons for why Stewart needed to go have been stated and don’t need repeating. The focus is now on a replacement.

Warzecka stated the “nationwide” search is on and that he would like a replacement named by June.

In all seriousness, the men’s basketball team needs a young, experienced head coach. The replacement should have leading experience in Division I, preferably on the West Coast so they can have an “in” on the California recruiting scene.

Scott Garson, assistant coach at UCLA, or Gregg Gottlieb, assistant at Cal, would be good fits. Both fit the basic criteria I listed above.

However, here are a couple out-of-the-box possibilities that could maybe, but definitely won’t work leading the Aggies.

Phil Jackson – Yes, that Phil Jackson. The Zen Master himself. His contract with the Los Angeles Lakers expires at the end of this season and he hasn’t explicitly said he wants to come back. He’s arguably the greatest NBA coach ever as he boasts an unparalleled 11 NBA Championships. Sure, some people say he only wins because he usually has a loaded roster (Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neil). Regardless, it is still Phil Jackson. If Warzecka can some how lure him to UC Davis, awesome things could happen.

Bruce Pearl – Sure, he might have just been fired from his previous post at Tennessee for lying to the NCAA while under investigation for recruiting violations, but he’s a proven winner. He’ll probably get UC Davis to the top of the Big West Conference and into the NCAA Tournament, only to have all those wins taken away in a recruiting scandal, but how awesome will those years be when the men’s basketball team wins for a change?

Don Nelson – The saying goes, the best offense is a good defense. For Don Nelson, the NBA’s winningest coach, it goes the other way. If the Aggies wrangle in Nelly, we’ll have the best offense this side of the Yolo Bypass. We’ll probably have the worst defense too, but it’s always more fun to lose 110-109 than 45-43.

Brad Stephens – Depending on tonight’s results (by the way, I’m predicting Butler to win 77-74), the Bulldogs’ head coach could have accomplished all he could at Butler. Why not take his talents to another Mid-Major program and build it up from scratch? Stephens is the prototype Mid-Major coach, leading Butler to two straight NCAA title game appearances and UC Davis would definitely welcome his tremendous talents.

Sandy Simpson – The school’s best basketball coach switching over to the men’s side and dominating? I like the sound of that. His 2-1-2 zone defense has shut down opposing squad’s offenses, partly due to the Aggies being vocal while on the court. And let’s face it, how would you feel if five tall men scream while on defense?

Bruce Bochy – Come on, the Pavilion could definitely use some magic inside.

Got any other ideas of who should coach the men’s basketball team? Think any of the candidates listed above could lead the Aggies to the Big Dance? Email JASON ALPERT at sports@theaggie.org and let him know your thoughts.



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