When you enter VMI's Cameron Hall you'll immediately respect that you're in a building steeped with tradition. VMI is a unique place and so is it's basketball program. For big games the Keydets willd have their corps of cadets pounding their class rings on one side and their enthusiastic alumni base cheering on the other. Cameron Hall is quite the environment and it's also one of those places that has you looking up into the rafters at banners signaling the Keydets rich history.
With all that being said, VMI has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1977 when they made it to the Sweet 16 a year after going all the way to the Elite Eight by knocking off Tennessee and DePaul. The Keydets have knocked on the door of postseason success in the Big South but have never been able to fully break through; most of their success came in their Southern Conference days, a conference that VMI will re-join in July.
Despite the Keydets' NCAA drought, current head coach Duggar Baucom has taken VMI from a 25-plus year stretch of ineptitude to a recognizable brand and a brand that wins games, as well post more points than anyone in the country. Baucom has found guys that other Division I schools passed up and turns them into scoring machines in his system; we're talking about the likes of Reggie Williams, Stan Okoye, the Holmes twins, D.J. Covington, and now QJ Peterson.
Baucom's frantic offensive system have made the Keydets a recognizable product and a winning team. Baucom is 140-139 at VMI, a unique place to recruit and get buy-in from kids given it's military ties. Baucom also has his team on the cusp of the CIT Championship game as the Keydets will host Yale in Cameron Hall on Tuesday night at 7 PM in a game that can be seen on CBS Sports Network. With the level of success the Keydets have had under Baucom, is it time that he takes his offensive show elsewhere?
Baucom is a Charlotte native and has heavy ties to that area after spending time as an assistant at Davidson, Mars Hill, Western Carolina, and some other regional schools. He was also the head coach at Tennessee-based Tusculum, a Division II school where he was 37-19 in two years. Last year Baucom flirted with Furman and their opening that was eventually filled by Neko Medved. It now seems like the chance of Baucom leaving again is rising now that Bobby Lutz has taken his name out of the hat for the Appalachian State gig. Can Baucom's product be successful in the Sun Belt at a struggling basketball school? Or is Baucom better off staying at VMI where he can try to recapture the Keydets ancient success in the SoCon?
It's a tough question, and not one for which I have a good answer.