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Column: Familiar name would be nice fit for coaching vacancy

March 28, 2014

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No officials from Marquette University, my alma mater, have asked for my opinion since basketball coach Buzz Williams left for the browner pastures of Virginia Tech. And really, why should they? Don’t forget, they have access to my transcript.

Then again, I’ve never been one to wait to be asked for my opinion, so I’ll offer it here.

I’ve grown weary of relentless self-promoters, so insecure as to need to be reminded constantly of their greatness. I also have had it up to here with guys who for so long have had their backsides kissed that they start to believe what’s best for the coach should be best for everyone within a million miles in every direction.

I’m in the mood for a man with such a deep knowledge of and feel for the game of basketball that he carries no insecurities, a coach who sees plays developing sooner than everyone else in the building, a basketball mind so brilliant he sees no need to stroke the egos of others so that they in turn talk him up as a coaching superstar, rising star, future star, take your pick.

I want a guy who can walk into a living room with a confident presence, stare everyone he talks to in the eye and communicate directly.

I’m in the mood for a coach who is so sure of what he’s looking at during a game that he maintains his composure through tough moments and forever has his mind looking forward to the next play.

If that guy just so happens to be one of the greatest college basketball players ever, well, that doesn’t hurt either.

When you read a sentence that doesn’t fit Danny Manning, just stop me. Of this much I am confident: You haven’t read one yet.

Manning’s Tulsa team finished in a four-way tie for first place in Conference USA and won the conference tourney to earn the school’s first NCAA Tournament bid since 2003. Six of the team’s seven leading scorers were sophomores. That’s impressive.

Williams was among the nation’s 10 highest-paid college basketball coaches this past season. Marquette’s basketball budget reportedly ranks second only to Duke. Chicago and Milwaukee are nearby fertile recruiting grounds and the school shares an arena that’s a short walk from campus with the Milwaukee Bucks. Given all those resources, Manning could thrive.

As long as deputy athletic director Mike Broeker has a heavy hand in the decision, I’m confident Marquette will land an excellent basketball coach and a good fit.

From my viewpoint, Manning would be both for the Jesuit university that in 1981 granted me a sympathy degree, for which I am eternally grateful.

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