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Baron's firing at URI could attract locals

Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell directs his team

Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell directs his team from the sidelines during the first half of an NIT opening round game. (Mar. 17, 2010) Photo Credit: AP

The yearly coaching carousel in college basketball is about to get started again. It won’t be the blood bath two years ago when nearly two dozen coaches from the NY Tri-state area got fired or quit, but there is always some movement.

Jim Baron was fired by Rhode Island and former Hofstra assistant Tom Parotta was relieved of his duties by Canisius on Sunday.

No one in Stony Brook, Downtown Brooklyn or New Rochelle wants to hear this, but Baron’s firing could present an opportunity for Steve Pikiell, Jim Ferry or Tim Cluess to move on.

Rhode Island plays in the Atlantic-10, a multi-bid conference that has history. A third-place finish in the A-10 and 20 wins usually equals an NCAA at-large bid. You can’t say the same for the America East, Northeast Conference or the MAAC. In fact, of those three conferences, only the MAAC has ever received an at-large bid. And that hasn’t happened since 1996.

Now for the downside of the Rhode Island job: Finances. In addition to announcing that the remainder of Baron’s contract won’t be paid by school funds, the university announced last season its FCS football program would move from the CAA to the NEC.

It makes you wonder what type of money they’d be willing to pay a new basketball coach.

Here’s a breakdown of each situation:

Stony Brook: Steve Pikiell went 4-24 in his first season. Stony Brook has won two of the last three America East championships and will host Vermont in the conference tournament final next Saturday at 11:00 a.m. The Seawolves have also finished with a winning record in three of the last four seasons and has finished above .500 in the conference the last four seasons. Stony Brook will lose Bryan Dougher, Dallis Joyner, Al Rapier and Danny Carter to graduation, but returns many other talented players including Tommy Brenton, Dave Coley, Anthony Jackson and Marcus Rouse. Stony Brook will enter next season as one of the pre-season favorites to win the America East.

LIU: Jim Ferry has built LIU into a perennial power in the NEC. The Blackbirds have won the last two regular season titles, will host Robert Morris in the NEC tournament final on Wednesday and returns four starters and two key bench players next season. Should Ferry leave? It certainly wouldn’t be a lateral move. You can win at Rhode Island. In fact, the Rams have surpassed Providence as the best college basketball program in that state. But the Blackbirds play in front of a strong fan base and is an attractive destination for any recruit who likes the big city. What’s better than playing in front of a NYC backdrop?

Iona: Tim Cluess wins everywhere he goes. Be it at St. Mary’s high school, Suffolk CC-East, C.W. Post or Iona, Cluess is a winner. Iona has suffered consecutive heart-breaking losses in the MAAC tournament, but that shouldn’t take away from what Cluess has done or his ability to win. Iona might be the best job in the MAAC. It has NCAA history and a pipeline to the rich talent pool in New York City. That said, Iona to Rhode Island is a step up. If the money is right (and Cluess has never been a money guy), it would be a hard job to turn down.
 

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