Painter Would Be an Excellent Choice

With reports emerging Monday that Mizzou was preparing a meeting with Purdue coach Matt Painter and perhaps offering him the opportunity to take over for Mike Anderson, inevitable comparisons are going to be made between the two.

When one coach leaves on his own to take a new job, his old school generally goes into scramble mode to find his replacement. Thanks to Anderson’s dalliances with Georgia and Oregon, and to an extent Alabama and Memphis over the last two years, Mizzou athletics director Mike Alden has had plenty of opportunity to put together a game plan.

Clearly, he looked at the landscape and saw an underpaid Purdue coach who has done great things in the Big 10. When I suggested on “The Fast Lane” that Painter is a better coach than Anderson, I got several dismissive texts suggesting that I’m a “homer” and that Painter isn’t in CMA’s class.

The numbers favor my argument. In 2005-06, Painter took over a program that had gone 17-14 and then 7-21 in Gene Keady’s last two years. After a 9-19 first season, Painter has taken his team to the NCAA Tournament five consecutive years. Purdue hasn’t lost a first-round game under Painter. They advanced to the Sweet Sixteen twice, and the second round three other times. In those years, Purdue has gone 127-45 (.738), including a 63-25 mark in Big-10 play.

Anderson took over a Mizzou club that had gone 16-17 and then 12-16. He led the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament in his last three years, including that memorable run to the Elite Eight in 2009. In the last two years though, Anderson’s clubs went 23-11, bowing out of the tournament after one game. His final record at Missouri was 111-57 (.661), 43-37 in the Big 12 before heading south.

While Anderson’s teams finished sixth, 10th, third, and fifth twice in the Big 12 during his five years at Mizzou, Painter’s clubs finished fourth, second three times and first in the corresponding years in the Big 10.

For those that want a coach that will recruit St. Louis, Painter did a better job of that as an assistant and then as head coach at SIU-Carbondale than Mizzou has done in the last decade. That isn’t a big deal to me. I’d rather win with a guy from Memphis than lose with a guy from Florissant. But it is, understandably, a big deal for many.

Anderson did a great job at Mizzou and left the program in much better shape than when he arrived. I thank him for his efforts and wish him well at Arkansas. But, I’m not so sure that Missouri’s basketball program won’t be even better off if they get Painter as their new head coach.