UW-Milwaukee announced the hiring of Patrick Baldwin as head men’s basketball coach , filling the unexpected vacancy left by former coach Lavall Jordan, who was hired by Butler earlier this month. The men’s team has seen a carousel at the coaching position recently, with Balwin being the third head coach in as many years. Retaining Coach Jordan would have been preferred, but there’s not much UWM could have done to persuade him to stay and he left before his departure could have a more significant impact on the program.
Jordan was a stand-out at Butler University in the early 2000s that brought relevance back to their basketball program. Since then, Butler has appeared in two memorable National Championship games and seen alumni make names for themselves in the NBA. Once a conference foe, Butler has since left the Horizon league and joined the bigger, more prestigious Big East, where TV deals create huge revenue for schools. This leads to bigger contracts for coaches. Any reasonable person would have made the same decision Jordan did when he accepted the Butler coaching job. It’s frustrating that it happened so early in his tenure and after he led the team to a near NCAA tournament berth, but he would have been foolish to turn down such a great opportunity.
It is disappointing that we once again have to start from square one with Baldwin, but we really hadn’t progressed much past square one with Coach Jordan, either. Baldwin will be coaching players who former coaches Rob Jeter and Jordan recruited as well as trying to repair relationships with recruits that may be talking to a 3rd different UWM head coach. It is a less than desirable position. But it’s one that coach Jordan found himself in about 12 months ago, and he was able to lead the team to one win away from an NCAA tournament bid and parlay his Horizon league tournament success at UWM for a job in a power 5 conference. If Jordan could have that kind of success in the same scenario Baldwin finds himself in, why not him
The fact that there are no expectations is advantageous as well. The Panther men have been mired in mediocrity for the better part of the past decade, outside of an outlier season with an NCAA tournament appearance in 2014. As long as the team shows passion and improvement over the course of the next few seasons, Baldwin will have a long leash while he implements his system and culture.
The Panthers play in a mediocre, 1-bid conference and haven’t had a lot of success historically. It’s going to be hard to keep top coaching talent when bigger and better schools come calling. Hopefully UWM has found a long-term head coach who wants to be here and can guide the Panthers back to relevance in the Horizon league. We will miss Coach Jordan, but this is Patrick Baldwin’s team, for a year, at least.
This editorial was written by Marty LeMense based on the opinion of a JAMS 504 editorial board.