Looks like Troy went within their own conference for their next head coach.
The Trojans will hire Western Kentucky assistant Phil Cunningham as their leading man, according to a report from CBSSports.com’s Jeff Goodman. A press conference is scheduled for Tuesday.
Cunningham spent this past season on staff at WKU after spending the previous 12 on Rick Stansbury’s staff at Mississippi State. The position will be his first as a Division I head coach. He previously served as a head coach at Sue Bennett College, a junior college/transitional NAIA school in his time there, for three years.
Cunningham and current Troy Athletic Director John Hartwell worked together at Georgia State, where Cunningham served as an assistant under Lefty Driesell.
Cunningham will be tasked with replacing Don Maestri, the only coach Troy has had in its time in Division I. Maestri served as the Trojans head coach in their time as Division II powerhouse, reaching the D-II national title game during the 1992-93 season. The team made the transition to Division I in 1993-94.
Maestri was 500-404 in his 31 seasons as head coach at Troy.
The hire is a solid one. Cunningham is a great recruiter — he brought Jarvis Varnado and Arnett Moultrie to Starkville, and also signed Monta Ellis before he opted for the NBA in 2005. He was on the WKU staff that won the Sun Belt Conference tournament title this season and recently fell 64-57 to no.1 seed Kansas in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Troy has had a spotty run in the Sun Belt recently. Cunningham could turn that around if he taps into his already solid recruiting and coaching connections. Troy finished 12-21 overall last season, 6-14 in the Sun Belt.
(Photo courtesy of WKU Athletics.)
Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 10 West Virginia at No. 6 Kansas, 7:00 p.m.
The last time these two teams got together, West Virginia actually knocked off Kansas in Morgantown. It was the third time in the last three seasons that WVU has beaten KU at home. So there’s some revenge at stake here. But there’s also the whole Big 12 title race, which West Virginia currently leads. If the Mountaineers win tonight, they’ll be up by two games on Kansas with the tie breaker and just seven games left to play. The Jayhawks regular season title streak could be over if that happens.
THIS ONE’S GOOD, TOO: No. 8 Michigan State at No. 18 Purdue, 7:00 p.m.
We think the Spartans are back to their early season form after wins over Maryland (at home), Northwestern, Rutgers and Michigan. If Michigan State really wants to prove something to the college basketball world, they will go into West Lafayette tonight and get a win. Denzel Valentine vs. Raphael Davis will be fun.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
- Pitt will pay a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game the Panthers could really use a win in. Pitt hasn’t been the most consistent team in the country and without adding a few quality wins they could be looking at the bubble.
- Duquesne will be paying a visit to No. 19 Dayton, who moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic 10 thanks to VCU’s loss on Saturday.
- Georgia is right there on the bubble, and they will have a chance to try and push themselves into a better spot when they play at No. 22 Kentucky tonight.
- Creighton probably has to win out to have a shot of making the NCAA tournament, and that includes tonight, when they host No. 5 Xavier.
- No. 7 Virginia will be hosting Virginia Tech, who picked off the Wahoos in Blacksburg earlier this year.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
- No. 1 Villanova at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
- No. 25 Wichita State at Drake, 8:00 p.m.
It’s Tuesday, which means that it is once again time for the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings.
And you’ll be shocked to find out that Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield is still No. 1 in those rankings. By a pretty wide margin.
The rest of the top 10?
They can be found here, at the CBT FaceBook page. Follow that page for the countdown: