This year, more than most years, it seems like we saw quite a few high-profile coaching changes. Most of these programs-in-transition started off with victories under their respective new coaches as the college basketball season opens this weekend.
Brad Stevens, the darling of Butler, left for the NBA to try and become the darling of the Boston Celtics. Both UCLA and USC canned their head coaches in respective attempts to recapture some Pac-12 glory. Even some Big Ten programs turned away from the status quo.
Let's take a look to see how most of the big name coaching changes fared in their first game.
The Butler Bulldogs will probably be in good hands under new coach Brandon Miller, who took over for Stevens after he made the jump to the NBA in July. Not much changed for Butler in its first game. Miller is aware of the system in place and he knows that everyone buys into it.
Still, it was an impressive performance in the 89-58 win over the Lamar Cardinals on Saturday. Butler is without last year's leaders Rotnei Clarke and Andrew Smith, who both graduated. They are also missing Roosevelt Jones, who will miss the year with a broken left wrist. Still, no one missed a beat, and it looks like this transition is officially in good hands.
The 88 points are the highest scoring total for the Bulldogs in a season opener since 2000.
According to the Daily Gopher, Richard Pitino might be using the Minnesota Golden Gophers as a stepping stone to eventually taking over for his father at Louisville. For that to happen, of course, he will need success, so getting his first career coaching win against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks stands as a good start.
The win helped offset the other pitfalls of coaching that the young Pitino learned about early on Friday. Before the game, star in-state recruit Reid Travis spurned Minnesota for Stanford, and the Golden Gophers suspended Maurice Walker six games for violating team policy.
Pitino still has the famous last name, but the job at Minnesota is a tough environment. Tubby Smith was fired despite leading Minnesota to the NCAA Tournament last season.
Lobos head coach Craig Neal might have hopped into one of the more enviable jobs in the country. After Steve Alford signed an extension, then decided he wanted to coach at UCLA, Neal stepped in to take over a 2013 NCAA Tournament team that returns all of its key players.
New Mexico has one game under its belt so far, but if the final score is any indication, the Lobos will be in perfect hands. With a preseason AP ranking of No. 23, New Mexico scored 88 points in a win over Alabama A&M to open the season. That is a higher point total than all but one game last season for the Lobos, when they scored 91 points against Colorado State.
The Lobos schedule eases Neal in before a very rough December rolls in. New Mexico stays at home for all of December, but they take on the Cincinnati Bearcats, Kansas Jayhawks and Marquette Golden Eagles during the month.
Chris Collins secured his first win as a head coach when the Northwestern Wildcats defeated the Eastern Illinois Panthers, 72-55, on Saturday. The former Duke assistant made sure everyone was aware of his sideline presence, spending as much time coaching as he did clapping his hands like a Northwestern fan.
The Wildcats looked good, but as Big Ten Powerhouse pointed out, they are pretty much the same team Bill Carmody had last season. That team didn't make the NCAA Tournament. The transition of coaching styles might also create a steep learning curve.
Collins' style of play likely won't give NU the same advantages. Duke guys are averse to zones, so Collins will likely ask guys like Dave Sobolewski, Tre Demps, and Kale Abrahamson to defend opposing players straight up. This will end in pain. And his offense won't be as methodically grinding as the Princeton, and won't lead to untalented players getting easy buckets.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights needed the type of first game that new coach Eddie Jordan provided to wash away the scandalous taste left by the previous regime. Rutgers topped Florida A&M, 92-84, on Friday as Jordan unveiled an offense that lets the players run, and run hard.
Kadeem Jack had a career high 30 points as the Scarlet Knights sprinted down court, taking quick shots and charging out on the fast break. As On the Banks details in their game recap, the Jordan-era of Rutgers basketball should be very fun, and that is exactly what the troubled athletic program needs.
There were a lot of empty seats in Pauley Pavilion as the Bruins Nation adapts to a post-Ben Howland lifestyle. If the season opener is any indication, things might still be a bit bumpy out of the gates for UCLA this season.
The Bruins had a nice easy going game scheduled against Drexel on Saturday, but it turned out to be much more of a test as UCLA eventually won, 72-67. Bruins Nation was plenty critical of coach Steve Alford, attacking his decisions in the waning minutes and how his son played 20 minutes of rather unimpressive basketball.
Bruins looked sloppy and poorly coached in the closing mins as we were trying to give the game away. But Drexel was just worse. Ugly stuff ... all around.
Out of all the big, high-profile coaches to start at a new school, only Andy Enfield saw a loss to start the season. The USC Trojans lost on the road to the Utah State Aggies, 78-65, on Friday night. According to Conquest Chronicles, losing the first game isn't anything unusual for new USC coaches, with only one of the last six new hires winning their first game with the Trojans.
The USC administration brought Enfield from Florida Gulf Coast after they, and the rest of the nation, watched "Dunk City" capture the hearts of March Madness viewers. With the Trojans in full rebuilding mode, it might be some time before Enfield is able to shift USC into a scoring team. Offense wasn't the team's forte under old coach Kevin O'Neill, emphasized by the 2011-12 season when the Trojans averaged just 52.6 points a game.