When Missouri tips-off their 2012 NCAA Tournament campaign against Norfolk State this afternoon, they will be one of the favorites to earn a trip to the Final Four.
Arguably the most exciting team to watch on a consistent basis, the Tigers have overcome issues of height to make opponents adjust to their quick and tactful approach on both ends of the court.
The pieces for this season to be successful have been in place for a few years now and, because of that, some are calling into question the validity of first-year head coach Frank Haith.
Depending on how you look at it, Haith is either really lucky or really good at quickly melding a group of players into a team.
Should he be lauded for taking a team that was 23-11 a year ago and going 30-4 without their starting center? Or is Haith simply a product of perfect timing?
Remember, this is someone who was deemed a mediocre head coach during his time spent on the bench of the Miami Hurricanes, a job he fled just before a sizable scandal was made public, and this fuels the growing number of people who see right through Haith and question everything about him.
I’m here to tell you there’s another side to that story, and it’s sickening. Because when I see Frank Haith, I don’t see a coach who turned around anything at Missouri. I see the luckiest person in his profession, and not just because he inherited a roster with seven seniors that literally any competent coach could have taken to the NCAA tournament. No, much more impressive than anything Haith did on the court this year is the way he spent six months floating above the chaos his regime left behind at Miami.
I’d say that’s fair.
What a number of people confidently say only to friends and colleagues, Wolken has confidently stepped up and actually publicized his frustration.
He goes on to describe Haith as someone who pulled an “all-time con job” in the way he left Coral Gables and let others suffer consequences from the mess; a mess that likely cost the Miami Hurricanes a trip to the NCAA Tournament this season due to a number of player suspensions.
The Tigers style of play coupled with what appears to be a good group likable players, makes them a favorite for just about everyone that doesn’t chant “Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk”. With that, it will be very interesting to see if the Haith Hate grows as a national spotlight fixates itself on the program. The head coach has already had to deflect questions from the media while in Omaha, and reporters are likely to remain persistent if Haith keeps having to take the podium before and after Missouri’s tournament games.
The dichotomy of the love we have for the Tiger players with the potential dislike we have for their head coach could turn in to a fascinating story angle. As the country learns more about Haith, perhaps the over-arching sentiment becomes more negative, and suddenly we’ve cast Haith as the bad guy
A bad guy coaching a potentially great team.
Follow Nick Fasulo on Twitter @billyedelinSBN.