Brad Huse's hot seat

2013-02-18T19:13:00Z 2013-02-19T00:01:11Z Brad Huse's hot seatGreg Rachac The Billings Gazette

After six-plus seasons, more losses than wins and no tangible improvement in the final year of his contract, you can't hide from the question any longer:

Does Brad Huse deserve more time to build the Montana State basketball program?

Huse is currently in the final year of a three-year contract extension he signed in 2010. In seven seasons on the job at MSU, Huse's record is 90-114 overall, a winning percentage of just .441. His record in the Big Sky Conference is a not-much-better 52-60 (.464). In the postseason, Huse is 2-6.

This year the Cats are struggling again. MSU is 10-14 overall and 7-9 in the league. Mired in a four-game losing streak, the Bobcats are fighting for their lives just to simply make the league tourney. And a near 40-point loss to last-place Idaho State last week was a major eye-opener.

The Bobcats had a breakthrough under Huse in 2009 when they came out of nowhere to nearly win the league tournament. The Cats beat Montana and Weber State to get to the title game, but eventually lost to Portland State by two points in a thriller. At that point you thought they were ready to take off.

But the Cats are 50-63 (.442) overall and 0-3 in league tournament games since then.

In recent years, MSU has taken the "quick fix" approach, signing several junior college players with the hope of turning things around in a hurry. But it hasn't really paid off. Huse, a strong family man who beat cancer a decade ago, won more than 180 games as a coach at the NAIA level. One time he guided Jamestown College (N.D.) on a major postseason run. But that success did not repeat itself in Bozeman.

Honestly, the bottom line is that the program has been mediocre at best under Huse. The program hasn't had many problems off the court, it's just that the Bobcats, who regularly competed at the top of the conference during the previous tenure of all-time wins leader Mick Durham, hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 1996. That was 17 years ago.

These are things athletic director Peter Fields must take into account before he eventually goes public with the decision of whether to retain Huse or start fresh with a new coach.

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Greg Rachac

Sportswriter for The Billings Gazette covering Montana and Montana State athletics in addition to various high school sports.

Slim Kimmel

Online sports editor for The Billings Gazette.

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