One of the better stories during the early part of the college basketball season has been the resurgence of SMU behind legendary 73-year-old head coach Larry Brown. Many scoffed at the notion that Brown — who hadn’t coached in the college game for more than two decades — could turn around a program that had so little going for it.
Following SMU’s big home win over UConn to re-open the renovated Moody Coliseum over the weekend, Brown spoke with Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News and provided some interesting insights on the rebuilding efforts at SMU.
When Brown took over the basketball program at SMU prior to last season, he wasn’t expecting the lack of support from local fans that he was initially facing.
“I didn’t realize the amount of apathy. People didn’t come to the games and didn’t seem excited about who we played,” Brown said to Rubin.
The UConn game was a big step in that equation as the Mustangs hosted their first sellout since 2001.
But maybe even more interesting is Brown comparing his rebuilding model to that of former Georgetown coach John Thompson. Brown sees similarities in the job at SMU to the job Thompson had rebuilding Georgetown when Thompson took over the Hoyas in 1972.
“I look at what he did at Georgetown and thought [sic] I know I am not John Thompson, I see there’s potential for the same thing here,” Brown said to Rubin. “We’ve got a good city. It’s a fine school in an improving (conference). There’s a lot of talent in the area.”
Brown has SMU playing pretty good ball at the moment and at 11-3, SMU is in position to potentially make its first NCAA Tournament since 1993. The win over UConn was the program’s first win over a ranked opponent since 2003.
Brown has some talented transfers like point guard Nic Moore and big man Markus Kennedy at his disposal this season and he’s also recruiting McDonald’s All-Americans like freshman Keith Frazier and current high school senior Emmanuel Mudiay.
It’s hard to say how long Brown will stay to see through the rebuilding effort due to his age and his reputation as a job jumper, but he’s certainly off to a good start at SMU and has the Mustangs in good position going forward.