By Roy & Harv Schmidt
There is something about the Purdue basketball coaching hierarchy that jumps out at us immediately. It is the number of assistant coaches who worked under Gene Keady, including Kevin Stallings, Steve Lavin, Bruce Weber, and Matt Painter, who have gone on to become successful head coaches. That is why we are betting that Cuonzo Martin, who was recently hired as the new head men's basketball coach at Missouri State, stands a good chance of being the next name that can be added to this list.
Besides the fact that all of the above names are quality coaches, there is one other thing that they all have in common. They all conduct themselves with the utmost class and integrity. Martin is no exception, and when you combine that with the high degree of exuberance and passion that he has for his job, we believe that Missouri State made an absolutely great hire.
Martin was an all-state player at East St. Louis Lincoln and started on two of their three consecutive state championship teams during the 80s. He is a no-nonsense type of guy, and is a testament to what can be achieved as the result of hard work.
Not only that, but Martin has paid his dues, having served as an assistant at Purdue for the past eight seasons. During that time, he has proven himself to be a coach that players respect and look up to. Matt Painter and everyone else who has worked with Martin at Purdue will be the first ones to say that Martin has been instrumental with respect to player development and helping those players reach their maximum potential. Martin has also shown that he can recruit, as along with Painter he was the driving force behind landing a stellar 2007 recruiting class at Purdue which included E'twaun Moore, Robbie Hummel and Scott Martin, who of course were all vital ingredients on this past season's Purdue squad which reached the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Recruiting-wise, Martin has strong connections in the St. Louis area and can be expected to recruit that area extremely hard. However, look for him to also be a strong recruiting force in other parts of the midwest as well, especially in Illinois and Indiana, where he has built strong relationships as well. All of which should be more than enough to keep Missouri State competitive in the Missouri Valley Conference year in and year out.
There is also no doubt in our mind that Martin will immediately endear himself to the Missouri State fan base. He has already said that he believes that Missouri State is the best coaching job in the Missouri Valley and has acknowledged that the school has a great core group of fans.
Perhaps the most telling thing about Martin being hired at Missouri State is that he was the only candidate invited on campus for an interview and his hiring was immediately approved by the Board Of Governors. In fact, Martin met or exceeded every one of the board's criteria when it came to the things that they were looking for in a new head coach. There is no doubt something to be said about that.
Just like all of his predecessors before him at Purdue, Martin is someone who truly gets it. For that reason, as well as all of the others that we have listed throughout this blog, we believe that Missouri State hit a home run when they decided to hire him as their next head men's basketball coach.