3 NCAA Coaches Who Had a Difficult Season

Published 01/18/2024, 1:55 PM EST

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Basketball resonates with life. While there is glory, there are also coaches who have to face the brunt of humiliation due to their team’s poor performances.

Here are three coaches who have found the limelight but for the wrong reasons. Though they have tried their best, the results have not been favorable.

Tom Izzo, Michigan State Spartans

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“The system might get me… But the system may not get me,” said the Michigan State Spartans head coach Tom Izzo on a call as per journalist Matt Norlander. As per Norlander Izzo isn’t retiring this year but will make a surprise call for her fans in the coming years. The Spartans have suffered a lot this season. They have a horrendous 10-7 tally and are ranked at the 11th place in the Big Ten. Four of their most crucial losses have come against the Wisconsin Badgers, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, the Northwestern Wildcats and the Illinois Fighting Illini.

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Though their top four players have performed decently where the Spartans lack is getting a fifth fighting player for themselves. Their alpha guard Tyson Walker has surely contributed his part basketing an average of 19.9 points per game but the difference between him and the next best point scorer is too large to be considered good for the team. Another point worth noting is that they don’t have a good defense. This has led to extremely poor rebounds. None of his top four players have a decent rebound stat. This has made things all the more difficult. And then comes Izzo’s brush with the system.

Their guard Pierre Brooks transferred to the Butler Bulldogs and that has left a hole that cannot be recovered in this season. Brooks wasn’t given much game time with the Spartans but with the Bulldogs after getting the right amount of game time has proved his worth.

He has become a crucial part of the Bulldogs, basketing a whopping 16.4 points per game. Going by his performances, he could have easily played the second fiddle this season.

Kenny Payne, Louisville Cardinals

The Louisville Cardinals head coach Kenny Payne is having another disappointing season this year. In his first season, he could only have a paltry four wins. This year the record is better but not significant enough to make any changes this season. They have won only a singular conference game till now against the Miami Hurricanes and have lost the other five.

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Even going by this season’s record of 6-11, Payne is under scrutiny. A lot of fans have already recommended firing him. What the Cardinals lack is a high-scoring alpha this season. While their guard Skyy Clark has tried his best, he hasn’t been the top-notch high scorer that the team would have wanted. His ceiling has been low. This has resulted in a lot of problems for Payne and his men.

Another point to note is that they have lacked a formidable defense this year. All their games have been good scoring and the Cardinals have found it difficult to defend. Their long-term rivals the Kentucky Wildcats defeated the team by a humiliating 76-95 tally. This has reinforced the fact that Payne is having difficulties in managing the team and executing their strategies. 

Perhaps all they need this season is to experiment for the next year and better their performances. They need to form a close bond between their players and try their best to perform defensively. Additionally, they might also go to their locker room and try different offensive strategies such that at least one of their player averages above 15 points per game. 

Juwan Howard, Michigan Wolverines

Another name that unfortunately pops up in this list is that of the Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard. Howard’s campaign has been particularly difficult both for his team’s on-court performances and his anger issues. Howard also had a health issue and underwent heart surgery in September. He was on the sidelines for a lot of games. In the meantime associate head coach Phil Martelli served in his position. 

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Howard then returned in his full capacity as a head coach before the contest against the Eastern Michigan. The drama did not end here as the Wolverines won the game but then lost the next five. During their match against the Penn State, Howard tried Martelli who is a Pennsylvania resident as the head coach. Despite a calculated thinking the Wolverines lost that game.

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Overall, the Wolverines have an abysmal 7-10 record and are ranked at the eleventh spot in the Big Ten. They have a competitive alpha and second fiddle. Their third player in the form of forward Terrance Williams II is also appropriate for the team, but other than their points average dropped below double digits. They have found it difficult to have a decent fourth and fifth player.

Even in their conference, they have won just 2 and lost 4 matches. This only points to coming doom for the team. Howard should now try to keep away from controversies are much as possible and try to build a solid team for the future.

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Hopefully, these coaches will be stronger in the next season.

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Written by:

Ritvan Pande

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“Monks don’t retire to mountains for Nirvana, they go there in search of the lost script”. That was me as an engineer looking for a place where my ‘ikigai’ of doing things could be realized. The feeling became fierce when I watched the legendary trio of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman creating commotion.
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Edited by:

Bilal Handoo