Russell Turner, Head Coach, UC Irvine Anteaters
Career Record: 118-89 (6 years), 1 NCAA Tournament appearance, 0-1 NCAA Tournament record
Accomplishments: Led UC-Irvine to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since joining Division I in 2015, in between conference titles in 2014 and 2016. Was named the Big West Conference Coach of the Year in 2014.
Before He Was A Head Coach: After playing collegiately at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, Turner served as an assistant coach at his alma mater for a year before joining Dave Odom's staff at Wake Forest for six years (this coincided with the Tim Duncan era at Wake.) He then went to Stanford as an assistant to Mike Montgomery for four years, before following Montgomery when he took the Golden State job. So, Turner has NBA experience in addition to working at two academic powerhouses.
Ties to Vanderbilt: None that we know of, but Turner is a native of Virginia.
Stylistic Tendencies: As usual, it's hard to separate "playing style" from "personnel," and in this case, Turner's had a 7'6" guy at his disposal in his last three years at Irvine. But still, five of Turner's six Irvine teams have ranked in the top 40 nationally in two-point percentage defense, and his last four teams have ranked in the top 25 nationally in effective field goal percentage defense. Defense is Turner's calling card, as his Irvine teams have been average offensively.
Would he come here? Turner would probably give Vanderbilt a lot of thought because it's a step up from UC-Irvine.
Thoughts: Turner's name has been coming up a lot in connection with the Vanderbilt job, and while that's not necessarily based on any solid facts, it makes sense on paper. He's got experience at a couple of academic schools (Wake and Stanford), he's well-recommended as an assistant, and his job performance at Irvine is just good enough to get his name on the radar screen. But while he's turned a perennial loser (Irvine had never made the tournament in 33 years in Division I before Turner got the job) into a team that's finished in Ken Pomeroy's top 100 the last three years, there's nothing that particularly stands out about his profile. Turner should be a fallback option if better candidates fall through, but there's something wrong if he's at the top of the list.