It might be mid-July but that doesn’t mean we’re not thinking about college basketball. We recently broke down 12 coaching hires from the offseason that you may have missed — did you know that Tubby Smith is embarking on his seventh Division I job? — and now we’re examining which hires will have the biggest impacts.

A common thread among the schools listed below is that they’re either a once-successful program that has recently fallen on hard times or a school whose new head coach has had more success at his previous stops than his new team has had in recent years, suggesting a brighter future ahead.

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Here are five coaching hires from the offseason that will have the biggest impacts.

Dan Hurley, UConn

Geoff Burke | USA TODAY Sports Images

A N.J. native, Dan Hurley played at Seton Hall before coaching at Wagner, Rhode Island and now UConn.

Hurley was one of the hotter coaching commodities in the offseason and now he’s tasked with reviving a UConn program that has slowly faded since winning the national championship in 2014. The Huskies’ regular season win total in AAC play has dropped by two in each of the last two seasons, and UConn’s 14 wins in 2018 was the school’s lowest win total since 1987.

Hurley is a basketball lifer in the Northeast, where he has been a head coach at Wagner and Rhode Island, an assistant coach at Rutgers, a player at Seton Hall, and a native of Jersey City, New Jersey. There might be only a handful of coaches who know the region better. It only took Hurley two years to lead Wagner to a 25-6 record and he’s most recently coming off of back-to-back 25-plus win seasons and NCAA tournament appearances at Rhode Island.

RELATED: Hurley joins March Madness 365 podcast

Cincinnati, Houston and Wichita State were the torchbearers of the AAC last season but UConn has a more accomplished past than any of the other 11 schools in the conference. That was one of the selling points for Hurley. “I knew deep down inside, I wanted just one more job in coaching,” Hurley said at his introductory press conference, according to the Hartford Courant. “A place where Final Fours and national championships are a distinct possibility. I had to make one more move to put myself in that position, and this was that move.”

The importance of fit cannot be overstated, and Dan Hurley to UConn seems like the right fit.

Mike Davis, Detroit

Mike Davis has nine NCAA tournament appearances in his career.

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Mike Davis has nine NCAA tournament appearances in his career.

Detroit hiring Mike Davis from Texas Southern may not have made many national headlines, but in the traditionally one-bid SWAC, Davis led Texas Southern to a regular season title and/or the NCAA tournament in each of his six seasons there. That’s all you can ask for in a non-power conference — to have a shot at making the NCAA tournament every year.

While the Horizon League hasn’t sent multiple teams to the NCAA tournament since 2009, five different schools have earned the Horizon’s automatic bid in the last five years — Wright State, Northern Kentucky, Green Bay, Valparaiso and Milwaukee — suggesting there’s year-to-year parity within the conference. Detroit has made the NCAA tournament just six times in school history and only once since the turn of the century, so a veteran coach like Davis, whose teams have made nine NCAA tournament appearances, could conceivably lead the Titans into their most successful era ever. How many newly-hired coaches realistically have that opportunity?

Tom Crean, Georgia

Tom Crean takes over at Georgia after spending a year at ESPN.

Geoff Burke | USA TODAY Sports Images

Tom Crean takes over at Georgia after spending a year at ESPN.

Let’s compare Tom Crean’s teams at Marquette and Indiana to Georgia’s basketball program since Crean was first hired in Milwaukee prior to the 1999-2000 season:

  • Marquette/Indiana: Nine NCAA tournament appearances, 11 NCAA tournament wins, three regular season championships
  • Georgia: Five NCAA tournament appearances, zero NCAA tournament wins (one win in 2002 was vacated), one regular season championship

 

Even if you just take the average of all of Crean’s seasons as a head coach — 19.7 wins, one NCAA tournament appearance every two years, roughly one NCAA tournament win per appearance, one regular season championship every six years — that would an improvement for a Bulldogs program that owns just four 20-win seasons in the last 16. If Crean can replicate a year similar to Marquette’s 2003 season (27 wins and a Final Four) or Indiana’s 2013 campaign (29 wins and a No. 1 seed), well, that’d be cause for celebration in Athens, where the basketball team has averaged just 12.5 wins annually in its 113-year history and has never won more than 24 games in a season.

Crean’s teams have ranked in the top 10 in adjusted offensive efficiency five times, so Bulldog fans can expect a high-scoring brand of basketball in the coming years.

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