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February 10, 2009
First-year coaches finding early success
Indiana and New Jersey Tech didn't have much in common until this season.
Indiana is long on tradition but short on talent. NJIT has no tradition whatsoever.
Still, both programs felt a sense of relief in the past month. Indiana beat Iowa 68-60 last Wednesday for only its sixth win overall and its first Big Ten win of the season. On Jan. 21, NJIT beat Bryant for its first victory in 51 games.
Not all new coaches stepped into the rebuilding jobs Crean and Engles have undertaken, but all have their challenges.
Of the 44 programs that changed coaches before the season, only five are in the latest Rivals.com projected field of 65. Nine first-year coaches reached the NCAA tournament last season, and it was six in 2007.
Here's a look at the top new coaches of 2008-09 so far:
ELITE EIGHT OF NEW COACHES
Buzz Williams, Marquette
Darrin Horn, South Carolina
Trent Johnson, LSU
Mike Montgomery, California
Replaced: Jay John, fired
For now, Robinson remains best known for being the President's brother-in-law. Perhaps one day he also will be the first coach to take Oregon State to the NCAA tournament since 1990. That won't happen this season, but the Beavers still have made a remarkable turnaround. After going 0-18 in the league last season, Oregon State is 4-7 this season. A former Ivy League star at Princeton, Robinson brought his version of Pete Carril's offense to Corvallis. And he obviously can name-drop better than anyone in the conference.
Keno Davis, Providence
Ken McDonald, Western Kentucky
Jim Christian, TCU
David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.