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Columbia Missourian

Missouri coach Frank Haith finds success after leaving Miami's basketball program

By Zach Miller
February 8, 2012 | 9:26 p.m. CST

Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith is also an engineer — a basketball engineer.

Mike Summey, the director of men's basketball operations at the University of Miami, uses that term to describe Haith because Haith "takes what he has and gets the most out of it."


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Haith is doing more with less than maybe any coach in the country. He has only seven active scholarship players, just two of whom play the forward position, yet his team is ranked No. 4 in the country.

When Haith took the Missouri job last April, most fans had never heard of him. A lackluster 129-101 record in seven years at Miami didn't have fans very excited, but optimists pointed to Haith's strong reputation as a recruiter. He recruited six McDonald's All-Americans during his career before coming to Missouri.

But recruiting has had nothing to do with Haith's success this season. His predecessor Mike Anderson recruited all seven of Haith's active scholarship players. With those players, Haith has won 22 of his first 24 games. Last year's team was 18-6 at the same point in the season under Anderson.

"I can tell you this," Summey said. "No one in the country wins without great players. Coach Haith, as great a recruiter as he is, doesn't get enough credit for taking what he's been given and getting the most out of it."

Haith received little credit for what he was able to do at Miami. But maybe he deserved more.

Miami is a football school that doesn't match Missouri when it comes to basketball facilities and fan passion. Missouri had an average attendance of 11,112 at home games last season, while Miami averaged just 4,763.

The Miami basketball program has also lagged behind other programs since being shut down from 1971 to 1985 because of low attendance and financial difficulties.

"As they brought the program back, there were a lot of lean years," Summey said. "During the time Coach Haith was here, I saw great growth and development in the program."

Haith's record at Miami was actually better than that of Leonard Hamilton, who was inducted into the Miami Sports Hall of Fame after going 144-147 in 10 seasons.

This season, like Missouri, Miami (14-7) is finding success with a new coach. Haith was replaced by coach Jim Larranaga, who took George Mason University to the NCAA Final Four in 2006. After a mediocre start, Miami has won four games in a row, including a 78-74 win at then-No. 7 Duke on Sunday.

Miami senior Malcolm Grant said he received a congratulatory text from Haith on Sunday night and that he also sent one to Haith after Missouri's win against Kansas on Saturday.

Grant said he isn't at all surprised by Haith's success at Missouri.

"Coach Haith went with his plan," Grant said. "He went with his plan, and those guys did a great job buying into it. I'm really happy for him. He deserves it."

Missouri plays No. 6 Baylor (21-3, 8-3) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena. The Bears lost 68-54 to Kansas on Wednesday in Waco, Texas, leaving the Tigers and Jayhawks tied atop the Big 12 standings at 9-2.

Summey said he doesn't expect Haith's luck to run out this season.

"He's a great tournament coach," Summey said. "You'll see."