Let’s Speculate! Potential Green Bay head basketball coach candidates
Welcome to Let’s Speculate! on Coaches Database, where we go through programs that are or may soon be looking for a new head coach and speculate who they may hire next.
Today’s program is Green Bay, coached by Will Ryan for the last 2+ seasons (fired on Tuesday).
- Freddie Owens – Green Bay interim head coach
- We start with the man who has the job right now, former assistant coach Freddie Owens. The Milwaukee-native and former Badger player has never been a head coach before but has the opportunity to try out for the gig through the rest of the season. Things can’t get any worse, so he doesn’t have anything to lose. Owens has been in the game for nearly two decades and has paid his dues as an assistant across the country.
- Brian Barone – SIU Edwardsville head coach
- Barone has done a fantastic job making the SIUE program relevant the Ohio Valley, as the Cougars currently sit atop the standings and are on pace for their best-ever Division I season (they have yet to finish above .500 since moving up in 2008). Barone is the son of former college coach Tony Barone and as such moved around a bit growing up, but spent much of his childhood in the Midwest. He played at Marquette and later spent a year on staff there, and later on worked for former teammate Brian Wardle at Green Bay as an assistant coach for four years and associate head coach for one. Passed over for the GB job in 2015, he eventually got his shot in 2019 down in Edwardsville and has made it count.
- Donte’ Jackson – Grambling State head coach
- Jackson in a Milwaukee-native who spent a season playing at UW-Milwaukee before transferring to D-II Central State in Ohio. CSU would later become his first head coaching job and he’s now in his sixth year at Grambling and thirteenth overall as a collegiate head coach. He led the Tigers to a SWAC title in his first year and while they have been middle of the pack the last few seasons, Jackson’s name certainly deserves to be added to the list.
- Saul Phillips – Northern State (D-II) head coach
- A prominent member of the Bo Ryan coaching tree with twelve years of D-I head coaching experience, Phillips is in his fourth season at D-II Northern State and has already won two NSIC titles. He was a smash success at North Dakota State, going to two NCAA Tournaments and two CBIs in seven years, but was unable to make things work in his five years at Ohio (though he did have two 20+ wins seasons). The 50-year-old Phillips has plenty of coaching left ahead of him and would surely make the move back to D-I if the right opportunity came along. As a Wisconsin-native and UW-Platteville alum, the Green Bay job might be just that.
- JR Blount – Iowa State assistant coach
- Blount is a rising star assistant currently working under T.J. Otzelberger at Iowa State, a program that has turned many heads this year and is trending towards being serious contender in March. The two-time Wisconsin Player of the Year at Dominican HS in Milwaukee played his college ball at Loyola (IL) and later started his coaching career at UW-Stevens Point, where he was part of the 2010 D-III National Championship team. He has quickly risen through the ranks after stints at Drake and Colorado State and has helped with the miraculous turnaround in Ames over the last year and a half. It won’t be long before Blount gets a head coaching job and Green Bay would be wise to consider him right now.
- Joe Krabbenhoft – Wisconsin associate head coach
- Another power conference assistant with ties to the state is Krabbenhoft, recently promoted to associate head coach under Greg Gard at alma mater Wisconsin. After a brief pro career, the former Badger returned to Madison to be video coordinator under his former coach at Bo Ryan. He then spent three years as an assistant coach at South Dakota State before coming back to UW for his current stint on Gard’s staff. This would be his first head coaching job, but the 35-year-old has been part of a lot great teams as both a player and assistant and carries name recognition in the area.
- Kent Dernbach – UW-La Crosse (D-III) head coach
- Dernbach is in his sixth year at La Crosse, having led the program to two D-III NCAA Tournaments (the program only had been to one before his arrival) and got them their first-ever NCAA victory. It may not seem like a lot, but the reality is that he is doing things that no previous coach has been able to do. The Wisconsin-native previously worked at UW-Stevens Point but also had two stints at the D-I level at George Mason (2007-09) and Northern Illinois (2009-11).
- Jeff Gard – UW-Platteville (D-III) head coach
- This is not a suggestion based on name only, as Jeff happens to be the younger brother of Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard. His qualifications as a head coach in the state merit inclusion on this list, with over 220 wins leading his alma mater UW-Platteville for the last 13+ seasons. The Pioneers have made the last four D-III NCAA Tournaments and have won three WIAC titles under Gard’s leadership. Again, D-III to D-I can be a tough leap but having such an experienced head coach could work out well for Green Bay.