As the news broke on Sunday night that Missouri was going to hire Frank Haith as its next men’s basketball coach, it didn’t take long for the backlash to begin. Many fans took to social media outlets trying to figure out who Frank Haith was and how in the world their program went from wooing Purdue’s Matt Painter to winding up with Haith.
Haith comes to Missouri from Miami, where he never had a winning record in the ACC and took the Hurricanes to just one NCAA tournament. The resume doesn’t pop off the page to many, and even as Haith was formally announced as the new coach there was still plenty of disdain from the fans.
But Haith has put his own spin on the entire situation, flipping that backlash into what he calls a positive. He’s viewing it as a good sign that the program has a rabid fanbase that should help him in the long run. That’s a fine way to spin it, but Haith better win early on or he’s probably in for more of the same.
Frank Haith joined WHB in Kansas City with Kevin Kietzman to discuss standing in front of irritated fans at his press conference, if he feels like he has something to prove now, how much better his situation is at Missouri than it was at Miami, how he’ll try to keep current players in the program and his philosophy on releasing players.
What was the press conference like?:
“I had a lot of adrenaline going. … I was excited about the opportunity to really get a chance to be in front of people and give them a chance to get to know me as a person.”
Does he feel like he has something to prove to the fans?:
“If you’re a competitor, which I am, and you thrive on competition, which I do, there’s no question I’m excited about this opportunity. The fact that we have a fanbase, we share the same vision, the same passion. I didn’t view the backlash as being a negative, I viewed it as a positive because that tells me we’ve got some passionate fans.”
How much better is his situation now at Missouri rather than Miami?:“I was very fortunate to have the opportunity that I had there at Miami and there were some great things there, too, that we could sell. … We were creating our tradition at the University of Miami. Having the opportunity to coach in the Big XII … and see Missouri up close, I’ve seen it up close. I’ve been in this arena, up close, I’ve seen the passion and enthusiasm. … That right there helps me understand that you’ve got a rabid fanbase that’s excited about your program and you’ve got a home-court advantage.”
On re-recruiting those who are already in the program:
“That’s first and foremost, we’ve got to make sure the young men on this team right now are comfortable and want to be a part of this journey. … I feel good about where we’re at with this whole team. I know Lawrence and Kim have put their names in the draft and we’ve have talked to both of those young men and I do anticipate those guys coming back this season, too. I think they just want some feedback for the future.”
What does he do if a player comes and asks for a release?:
“We’ve got to find out why. We’ve got to have some dialogue first in terms of where we’re at and we’ve got to have some dialogue. … If, at the end of the day, that’s what they want to do, then I’m OK with that.”