Southeast has a hoop opening, who should they target?

With today’s announcement that Southeast Missouri State is in the market for a new men’s basketball coach after firing five-year coach Rick Ray, there will unquestionably be excitement from the Redhawk fan base for better things ahead. However, not to be a cynic, but this is a university that has employed five coaches during its NCAA Division I era and none has achieved much success. Ray was just the latest in a line of under-producing coaches to make residence in Cape Girardeau. So forgive me if I am going to take a “wait and see” approach to the next guy.

“My main objective,” Southeast athletic director Brady Barke said Tuesday after meeting with the Redhawk student-athletes to discuss the situation, “who can we identify who can come in and have an opportunity to help our student-athletes realize success.”

Barke said he had a list of candidates in mind, each of whom are currently busy.

“Everyone that I have an interest in,” Barke said, “is still coaching college basketball (today).”

It would be fascinating to view Barke’s list, but here are a number of candidates that would certainly be viable candidates based on their history.

Northwest Missouri State men's basketball coach Ben McCollum

Ben McCollum, Northwest Missouri State head coach

Barke has won the ‘Coaching search lottery.’ He has an opening and it just so happens that the nation’s most successful NCAA Division II coach works IN MISSOURI!

McCollum has 11 years head coaching experience and has led his program to NCAA championships in 2017 and 2019.

His team is currently 28-1 and ranked No. 1 in the nation.

McCollum has a 269-76 career record (77.9 percent).

Any list Barke has needs to have this guy atop it.

Stan Gouard, UIndy, head coach

The veteran NCAA D2 coach has led the Greyhounds for 12 years and has a 227-116 record (66.1 percent). His current team is 23-5 (15-5 in league) and is vying for the program's seventh NCAA Tournament bid in Gouard's 12 seasons.

This season was the ninth time Gouard's tenure his team has won at least 19 games and he has led UIndy to NCAA D1 wins over Valparaiso and Tennessee.

He has been a finalist for D1 jobs earlier in his UIndy tenure and there are people in OVC very familiar with him and feel positive about him.

Gouard is currently the leading candidate for the head job at IUPUI, per national coaching sites.

Will Bailey, St. Louis assistant

You’re taking a bigger risk by hiring an assistant, as opposed to a head coach, but ask Austin Peay if they think they made a mistake in hiring Matt Figger, who had never been a head coach.

The Billikens have won 12, 17, 23 and 21 (so far) games with Bailey on the sidelines.

The Chicago native has 16 years of NCAA Division I coaching experience and may be able to secure the commitment of Redhawk signed recruit Ramean Hinton (Curie Ill.) High School).

Michael Lewis, UCLA assistant

On the surface, asking a guy to come to Cape Girardeau from Westwood might be a stretch, but upon further research, Lewis makes a lot of sense.

The former Indiana University guard (under Bob Knight) spent six years in the OVC at Eastern Illinois, where he was named as one of the “Top 5” assistant coaches in the league by Foxsports.com in 2010.

He helped the Panthers win 19 games, which was the third-most in program’s NCAA Division I history.

He has had successful stints at Butler (108 wins in 5 years, three NCAA Tournaments), Nebraska (41 wins in final two seasons in Lincoln), and now is part of a staff that has the Bruins on the brink of a Pac-12 championship in its first season with the program.

Lewis is the most positive coach you’ll ever encounter. If Barke gives him a 10-minute phone interview, he’ll discover that.

Shane Nichols, Murray State, assistant

Nichols has been part of the highly-successful Racers staff for five seasons. He coached NBA rookie sensation Ja Morant (How would that resonate with recuits?).

Also, he spent three seasons working under current Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich, who no one in Cape Giradeau knows from Adam, but he is one of the most respected and successful coaches in the country at any level.

He also worked under Mike Young at Wofford, who also is a phenomenal coach.

The guy knows how to win in the OVC. He would simply have to adjust his mentality from having the league’s second-best budget to middle-of-the-pack funds.

Jeff Boschee, Missouri Southern, head coach

The former Kansas player has spent a decade at the Joplin school (six as head coach). In his time leading the program, Missouri Southern has won 122 games and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16.

In his decade with the program, Boschee has helped the program to five NCAA Tournament berths.

Mark Downey, Northeastern State University, head coach

The veteran head coach has made a number of stops at the NCAA Division II level and won at them all.

At Independence Community College he won 50 games in two years and was the NJCAA Region VI Coach of the Year.

Downey spent four years at Arkansas Tech and led the program to the No. 1 ranking in the country.

At his alma mater, Charleston University, he led the program to a national ranking and 26 wins in 2012.

His Charleston team beat the No. 1-ranked team in the country (West Liberty), which ultimately had just one loss that season.

He served one year at West Alabama and won the most games in program history, including a pair of NCAA Division I victories over Abilene Christian and The Citadel.

At Northeastern State, the program had won 13 games in the two seasons combined prior to his arrival and Downey led the program to 14 wins in his first season.

This year, his team is 18-10.

Downey has a 244-148 overall record, with four NCAA Division II Tournament appearances, and has been named Coach of the Year six times.

Keith Pickens, Southeast Missouri State, assistant

The second-year assistant was critical in recruiting Vashon High School guard Phillip Russell in the heralded 2020 Redhawk recruiting class.

He served as interim coach for two OVC games in February due to Ray suffering an illness and Southeast, which only had five NCAA Division I wins all season, won both of them.

He has the backing of the current Redhawk players.

Brian Kloman, Winthrop assistant

In his six seasons at Winthrop, Kloman has helped the program win 126 games, including this season’s 21-10 mark and a first-place standing at 15-3 in the Big South Conference.

He spent two seasons in the OVC as an assistant with the Tennessee Tech program and has also spent time with the North Carolina Central program.

Kloman has also worked at small-school programs including Pikeville, Daniel Webster, and Pfeiffer.

Sean Dwyer, Cincinnati, assistant

He spent four seasons in administrative roles at Alabama under current Dayton coach Anthony Grant before serving as an assistant with the highly-successful Northern Kentucky program for the past four seasons.

He is in his first season at Cincinnati and the Bearcats are currently 18-10 (11-5 in the AAC, third place).

“There is no doubt in my mind,” Barke said, “that this is a program that can be a successful program in this conference perennially.

“I’m sure there will be no shortage of interest from people who are looking to be able to come in and help us bring that to fruition.”

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