Missouri’s coaching search is finally over, as the Tigers announced on Monday afternoon that they had hired Kim Anderson to replace Frank Haith.
Anderson is a Missouri alum and spent the past 12 seasons as the head coach at Central Missouri, a Division II school that he led to three Final Fours and the 2014 national title.
“I’m honored and humbled to have the opportunity to return to Mizzou and lead a program that our family is so vested in,” Anderson said in a statement released by the university on Monday. “When we took over in Warrensburg 12 years ago, we faced an uphill battle. We had support, we had a winning history and great campus leadership, but the program had lost its identity. I see that same opportunity here at Missouri.”
Anderson has never been a head coach at the Division I level, but he has spent decades as an assistant at high-major programs, having worked on staff at Missouri for 11 years in two stints and spending seven years at Baylor under Gene Iba. He also worked for the Big 12 conference for two years.
Anderson is a son of Missouri, through and through. He holds two degrees from the University, played there, coached there and spent the last 12 seasons at another school in the state. He’s also, at 58, the oldest coach in the SEC despite being a Division I rookie. That doesn’t mean that this hire can’t be successful — all you need to do is look at Bo Ryan to realize that this method can turn a program into a consistent winner — but that doesn’t mean that the Tigers handled it all that well.
Haith left for Tulsa on April 18th. That’s a week and a half ago. Missouri could have made this hire on that day.
What did they do instead?
Waited until the day after a very important live period — the only one that coaches will get to go on the road to evaluate during the spring — to hire a guy that they could have had the second that Tulsa called Haith. Oh, and they spent a reported $42,500 to do it.
I get it. They paid the money and took the time to try and find a guy that would make a splash. They would have been dumb not to take a swing at Gregg Marshall or Mike White or any of those other young coaches that have been tagged with ‘hot’ label. But regardless of who they hired, Missouri was foolish to wait until the day after the live period to make this hire.
The key for Anderson is going to be hiring a staff that can land him players. The most important person to keep on staff is Tim Fuller, although there were rumors earlier during the Coaching Carousel that he was looking at leaving the program.
He’s also going to want to keep the young core of this team together. Wes Clark, Johnathan Williams III, Torren Jones, Shane Rector. Those are talented pieces that can be leaned on in the future. Keep them around.
But the bottom line is that he can coach. Just about every coach I’ve talked to about Anderson raves about him, and it’s not an unprecedented move to hire a guy that’s had success outside Division I. Ask Wisconsin about Bo Ryan. That’s worked pretty well. John Beilein had a stop at Canisius and Richmond, but he’s not a bad coach, is he?
He’ll need to get guys into the program — doesn’t matter how well you coach them if your guys are just overmatched from a talent perspective — but if he does, there are a lot of people that think this hire will be successful.