Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

April 14, 2011 Volume 32, No. 27

New MU basketball coach brings experience, recruiting prowess


IN THE SPOTLIGHT The Tiger faithful got their first chance to meet new mens’ basketball Coach Frank Haith last week at a press conference at Mizzou Arena’s Clinton Club. Haith, who coached at the University of Miami from 2004-2011, winning 20 games six times, said he understood the skepticism his hiring generated among some fans. “I want that as a positive,” he said. “I’m not mad. I get it.” Nicholas Benner photo


Haith had three 20-win seasons at Miami

As Frank Haith approached the podium in front of a packed house at Mizzou Arena’s Clinton Club last week, the new Missouri men’s head basketball coach was greeted with his first “M-I-Z, Z-O-U” chant.

“I’m already impressed,” said the former University of Miami coach. “Let’s go play a game.”

Haith, who rebuilt a stalled Hurricane program from 2004 to 2011, immediately addressed the fan criticism that had bubbled up.

“I want that as a positive,” he said of Tiger Nation’s passionate reaction. “I want to win. I want to cut down nets. I’m not mad — I get it.”

Haith spent seven seasons at the University of Miami overall, where he leaves the program as the winningest postseason coach in school history. Haith led the Hurricanes to the 2008 NCAA Tournament and he owns three of the school’s six 20-win seasons since the restart of the program in 1986.

He becomes the 17th men’s basketball coach at Mizzou, replacing Mike Anderson, who resigned March 23, 2011, to take the same position at the University of Arkansas.

“We’re very pleased to have such a well-rounded and respected man lead our basketball program into the future,” said MU Director of Athletics Mike Alden. “Frank has demonstrated throughout his career that he fits the criteria we were looking for. He’s graduated 21-of-22 of his players while at Miami. He is recognized as one of the top recruiters in the nation and his Midwest ties fit very well with what we’re needing right now.”

The new Tiger coach outlined his priorities as a leader — from academic success to X’s and O’s.

“The first thing I say when I go into a player’s home is that you don’t go to school to play basketball,” Haith said. “You go to school and play basketball.”

Haith, 46, brings wife Pam, son Corey, 17, and daughter Brianna, 6, from South Beach. He inherits a team that returns six seniors in 2011–12. Although Laurence Bowers and Kim English made themselves eligible for the NBA Draft, neither will hire an agent so they can return for their senior season if they are not drafted.

Haith led Miami to one of the most successful seasons in school history in 2007-08. One year removed from a 12-20 season, Haith’s crew won 23 games and qualified for the NCAA Tournament play. The Hurricanes topped Saint Mary’s, 78-64, in the first round and narrowly missed upsetting second-seeded Texas in the second round. The 23 wins by the club was just one shy of the school record.

Prior to his time in Miami, Haith was a well-versed assistant coach, serving several seasons in the Big 12 Conference at both Texas and Texas A&M. He was the associate head coach for Rick Barnes in 2003-04 and spent three total years on the UT staff from 2001-04. Haith is known his ability to recruit and mentor top-flight talent.

He has recruited six McDonald’s All-Americans in his 16 seasons as an assistant coach, starting with Rodney Rodgers in 1990 to Wake Forest. He also signed Jerald Brown at Texas A&M (1995) and helped Barnes and his staff sign four high school All-Americans at Texas.

During his three seasons at UT, the Longhorns won 73 games, advancing to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including the 2002 and 2004 Sweet 16 and 2003 Final Four. He was also named the 2004 National Recruiter of the Year by, a key distinction with Missouri having as many as nine scholarships available over the next two seasons.

“[Texas Coach] Rick Barnes is probably my best friend in the business, and the one thing he taught me is how to adapt based on your personnel,” Haith said.

Haith also worked his recruiting magic at Wake Forest in his home state of North Carolina. In addition to the Demon Deacons qualifying for four consecutive postseason berths he helped sign a top recruiting class for Coach Dave Odom’s program.

From the podium last week, Haith outlined his approach in a rapid-fire style: “I want player movement, I want ball movement, I want great spacing, I like playing inside out and I like getting easy buckets in transition.”

The players like his philosophy.

“Making adjustments is huge,” said said senior guard Marcus Denmon. “It’s a big part of coaching, and we may not have adjusted as much as we needed to in the past. With him saying that, it speaks volumes that he’s not one of those stubborn coaches that is just, ‘my way or the highway.’ He understands that he’s coming into a program where the players play a certain way and you have to adapt.”

Junior guard Michael Dixon said he sees similarities between Haith and Anderson.

“A lot of our guys are happy with that because we like the way we play,” he said. “But I don’t think a little more instruction would hurt us at all.”

Bowers said he was relieved the search is over.

“I was at home during spring break just wondering who we were going to get,” he said. “On the outside, people need to give him a chance. I really believe he’ll do a great job here.”

Senior guard Kim English, who nearly went to the traditional football university when he was recruited by Haith in high school, said he’s pleased with Haith’s selection.

“People have been getting on him about his record at Miami, but it’s Miami basketball,” english said. “It’s like Indiana football, or Kansas football. It doesn’t sound right.”

He listed a quality big man as a high priority, and he’s already begun blazing the recruiting trail.

“We need some size, and as soon as I was told that I was going to be the next head basketball coach here, we went to work on that,” Haith said.

    — Marcus Wilkins