Illinois Coaching Vacancy: Who’s the right fit?

Current Green Bay head coach Matt Bollant will be highly sought after in coaching circles everywhere, and potentially at Illinois. Credit: Matt Ryerson-US PRESSWIRE

Amidst all of the angst about what’s going on with Illinois AD Mike Thomas and his struggle to find a new men’s basketball coach, it seems that people have forgotten that there is this sport called women’s basketball that needs a new coach as well.

There is a list of candidates that seem to be prime candidates and great fits for Illini Nation.

Illinois background: During the Jolette Law era, they were 69-93 with two WNIT appearances. They graduate four seniors from this year's team but return four out of five starters for the 2012-13 season. Below I will list the potential candidates and why they would be the right fit for the job.

Candidates:

Curt Miller, Bowling Green: Has dominated the MAC conference like no other, has comprised an overall record of 258-92 (74%) and 135-41 (77%) in the MAC. Has been coaching the Midwestern university for the last 11 years which is essential for recruiting. In 2007, he led Bowling Green to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament; he’s the only coach in MAC history to lead a team to the Sweet 16. Miller has been named MAC coach of the year six times and just recently was named WBCA Regional Coach of the Year. Obviously is looking to move as he was finalist for the Northwestern job a few years ago and also was linked to the New Mexico and UCLA jobs last year.

What gives Miller an edge? Has won six MAC regular season titles and five MAC tournament championships, five NCAA appearances and third longest tenured staff in the country. Out of all the candidates, has a longer track record of success and the most experience.

Tricia Cullop, Toledo: Not only has she restored the Toledo program (which is amazing as Toledo is not the easiest place to recruit to) she has taken it to heights unseen, capped off with a WNIT championship last year. 96-40 (70.6%) record at Toledo with one regular season championship. Has strong Midwestern ties as she played at Purdue so she understands Big Ten basketball, was a coach at Evansville and turned that program around and now has done an exceptional job at Toledo. As someone who has interviewed many coaches, she by far stands out as she has amazing charisma. Cullop has a presence about her that draws people toward her, she has great leadership qualities. The only coach in the MAC to actually challenge Bowling Green’s success and dominance. As Indiana Fever Head Coach Lin Dunn said, “Tricia is one of the bright young coaches in our profession. She’s a great communicator, possesses a tremendous work ethic and a passion for the game, and she’s a winner.”

Cullop has said that she hasn't talked to anyone and had no comment on the issue, as reported by Fox Toledo.

Miller, Cullop on B1G schools' radars: foxtoledo.com

What gives Cullop an edge? Her Big Ten connection by playing at Purdue and building a winner at two Midwestern schools: Evansville in Illinois and Toledo.

Matt Bollant, Wisconsin-Green Bay: Has become one of the most sought after coaches in women’s basketball. Has built Wisconsin-Green Bay to the point where they are more successful than their in-state rival, Wisconsin. In his five years at the helm, Bollant has compiled an astonishing 148-19 (88.6%) record: 4 NCAA tournament appearances with a Sweet Sixteen showing in 2011, 5 Horizon League regular season titles, 4 Horizon League tournament titles, 4-time Horizon League Coach of the Year and also named Kay Yow National Coach of the Year in 2011. During his tenure he has guided his team to being ranked as high as ninth in the country. Was a finalist for the Wisconsin job last year.

What gives Bollant an edge? Name recognition, has built Wisconsin-Green Bay to a top 10 program nationally.

Kelly Bond, Texas A&M: As Gary Blair recently stated, “I don’t hire ‘yes’ people…I hire basketball coaches that can get the job done.” And as Associate Head Coach at Texas A&M, Bond has gotten it done. She is known in the basketball community as one of the elite recruiters in the country. She's brought in some of the top recruiting classes in the country: The number six class in 2009, number five in 2010, number three in 2011 and number two in 2012. Comes from the Gary Blair coaching tree and was very instrumental in their 2011 National Championship. Very strong ties to the Illinois community as she starred at Whitney Young High School in Chicago and played collegiately at Illinois -- this inevitably will help her with recruiting in Illinois. Most everyone knows in the basketball community that the one job that Bond would leave Texas A&M for would be Illinois.

What gives Bond an edge? She’s an alum of Illinois and has very strong ties to the Chicago area, which gives her an advantage in recruiting.

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