Busting Brackets

MAAC Basketball sees coaching changes for the 2024-25 season

Despite the fact that we still tend to college basketball as an "amateur" sport, the reality sets in at the end of every season that the NCAA is a business and coaches who can't take care of their businesses quickly find themselves unemployed come every April. Every conference in Division One basketball wants to send schools to postseason tournaments and every college or university wants a shot at playing in these same tournaments. Schools with losing records are perpetually fighting a losing battle in terms of television revenue and recruiting wars with other institutions. At the end of the day, winning or losing falls upon the shoulders of the head coach who's a professional hired by their respective schools to do one thing - win. If you win, you get to stay and build up a program. If you lose, it's time to move on and update your resume while looking for another source of employment.
Manhattan v Mount St Mary's
Manhattan v Mount St Mary's / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

In case you are wondering about the basketball coaching profession, yes, it is a revolving door. If you win, you get to stay put and try and build up a program somewhere. If you lose, it's time to pack your bags and call a moving company because college hoops is an unforgiving business. Winning coaches are heralded as sports heroes or heroines and losing coaches are driven out of town - sometimes with fanfare, sometimes in the middle of the night.

All NCAA Division One basketball conferences experience this annual phenomenon at the end of every college season and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) certainly isn't immune to annual coaching changes. Siena College has already moved on to Gerry McNamara as he builds the cornerstones of a competitive season next year. Both the Canisius and Mount Saint Mary's mens' programs can add to the MAAC coaching carousel as well since these respective schools had less-than-stellar seasons in 2023-24 and have already moved on to greener coaching pastures.

Canisius vice president and Athletic Director Bill Maher recently announced that long-time head men's coach Reggie Witherspoon would not be returning for the 24-25 campaign. Witherspoon stayed in Buffalo for the past eight seasons and garnered 108 wins while at Canisius including a share of the 2017-18 MAAC championship but in a profession that works in the here and now, a disappointing 14-18 regular season spelled doom for Witherspoon's tenure at Canisius.

Enter new head coach Jim Christian who becomes the 25th head coach in Canisius men's basketball history. With two decades of Division One basketball coaching experience including many years in the Mid-American Conference (MAC), Christian seems to be a great fit to help lift Canisius out of mediocrity. Christian also brings a key element to the table with an NCAA tournament berth in 2022-23 while at Kent State, along with an NIT bid as the Boston College head coach in the 2017-18 postseason.

To be successful as a head basketball coach in modern college hoops, a winning season does not guarantee success anymore; postseason tournament bids are the measure of true success in the age of television revenue and for Jim Christian to translate success to Canisius means a reversal of fortunes this season in both the regular season and in the MAAC conference tournament as well.

Additional changes in the MAAC are coming as well at Mount Saint Mary's said farewell to head coach Dan Englestad at the end of last season. Despite a 2021 NCAA tournament bid, Englestad fell victim to the "what have you done for me lately" coaching analysis. Donny Lind has been hired at the Mount as the 23rd head coach in school basketball history and he certainly brings a wealth of experience to the Mount, including a stint as an assistant from 2013-16. Lind arrives from UNC Greensboro and prior to that had a stop at Radford University which also included a First Four NCAA tournament appearance in 2018.

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The Lind hiring quickly signals a need for success at Mount Saint Mary's this upcoming season and Donny Lind may be the coach to bring back the success the Mount had back in their Northeast Conference days.