ESPN's Andy Katz: Donnie Tyndall 'solid' hire for UT Vols

ESPN's Andy Katz: Donnie Tyndall 'solid' hire for UT Vols

April 23rd, 2014 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Donnie Tyndall, right, is introduced as Tennessee men's basketball coach by athletic director Dave Hart during a news conference Tuesday in Knoxville. The former Southern Mississippi coach succeeds Cuonzo Martin, who resigned last week to take the coaching job at California.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

ESPN senior college basketball writer Andy Katz on Tuesday joined "Press Row" on ESPN 105.1 The Zone to discuss Tennessee's hiring of Donnie Tyndall from Southern Miss.

Q: What was your general reaction to the hiring of Tyndall, and what grade would you give it?

A: "It's solid, so I would say a B or a B-plus. Donnie certainly has A potential and has done well at Morehead State and Southern Miss. He's not a brand name that people would know much nationally, but a lot of these hires aren't like that. They need a fit, and I think he fits it. He knows the South and the SEC area. He can recruit well, and he can coach.

"They had a great guy and certainly a very good coach in Cuonzo Martin, so I think it's a good hire for a program that was knocked back a little by Martin's decision to leave for Cal. I think they were able to salvage what potentially could have been a bad situation."

Q: Tennessee has been through two contrasting styles and personalities with Bruce Pearl and Cuonzo Martin. Where does Tyndall fit in?

A: "Out of those two he would lean more to Pearl. He's not as flamboyant, but he's certainly more of an extrovert than Martin was. He's a character in his own way, and I think everyone in Tennessee will warm to him pretty quickly. He will blend in with the Tennessee community really well, and he won't try to suck up much oxygen.

"At Tennessee, men's basketball has often been third behind football and women's basketball, and it now has a chance to be second."

Q: What is the national view of the Tennessee job?

A: "I would say top five in the SEC. It's going to be behind Kentucky and Florida, but you can argue it's in that next group with Arkansas and Missouri."

Q: What is Coach Tyndall's brand of play like?

A: "He can adapt. He coached Kenneth Faried [at Morehead State], so he had a big man who was mobile at that point. He didn't always have that at Southern Miss, and I wouldn't say he is locked into one way to coach. He can alter to his personnel.

"He may not be as full-court as Bruce, but I don't think he's going to be as much of a half-court coach as we saw with Martin."

Q: Coach Tyndall had NCAA violations while he was at Morehead State. Did it surprise you that Tennessee after the Pearl situation brought in a guy who has a history with the NCAA?

A: "No, because it wasn't overly egregious to the point that he had a show-cause or anything like that. I hate to say this, but it's difficult right now to find someone who doesn't have some sort of skeleton in his closet at some level. I never thought it would be a deterrent for him getting this job."

Q: Looking back, what was your take on the past few weeks with the Pearl petition and Martin's run to the Sweet 16?

A: "I thought it showed a lot of impatience from those fans who may have been in the minority and weren't pleased, and I'm glad they didn't overreact to that because there was no way he deserved to be let go even before his run to the Sweet 16. I do think that the fit, for whatever reason, wasn't working. That doesn't mean it wasn't going to work going forward, but I think for all parties that this will wind up being a better situation."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.