Random coaching search musings

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      • #140776

        Ute Fan

        Some things on my mind now that we’re a couple full days into our search:

        It’s interesting to hear others in the PAC-12 media and fans of other teams talk about Utah. Many are dismissive and give off that Larry Scott-ish “You’re lucky with what you get” vibe saying the Utah HC gig is like 9th best in the conference. On the other hand, we fans like to think we’re the third best acknowledging that we’re not UCLA (by a country mile) or Arizona, and, lately, Oregon. What’s the truth? I’m not sure. I do think we’re a top half gig —- we are not full of pomp to expect more success than we’ve seen in the last 5-15 years.

        As for HC, I’m REALLY vacillating on what we actually need:

        X’s and O’s
        One part of me says what we need is exactly what Alex Jensen is: a coach’s coach. An old school X’s and O’s guy. A true student of the game. The kind of guy who dreams about ways to break down an opponent’s star player. A guy who can take decent recruits and have them playing as a whole to compete agains blue-chip opponents. If that’s really what we want, Alex IS that guy, and Harlan just needs to show up at his front door with a blank check and not leave until Jensen is our coach. “But what about recruiting!!!?” That’s what you assemble a staff for. Hire a staff that has in spades what you lack as a HC.

        Player’s coach
        The other side of this is that maybe we don’t need a mad scientist. What we need is a personality. A mini celebrity. A guy who 4-star player’s love and want to go to war with. I’m not saying he’s the only guy, but in this mold the one I keep thinking is an Earl Watson. EW comes right from the place where we NEED to grab a foothold: LA. He IS an LA guy. LA loves him. I have no idea if he can coach, but I can guarantee that he can get into ANY living room in SoCal and make a pitch that will get guys to come here. That’s what we’re missing. We need that figurehead who can shew talent to the U. Then you can have a whole staff of mini mad scientists to figure out the X’s and O’s. But this time we’ll be planning with a bench full of talent!!

        In either case, whether you go for the mad scientist that may not be the recruiting draw or the rock star who may not have the whiteboard cred, you need that expert mind one seat over. This is where I actually think in may not be a bad idea to hang on to Tommy Connor. Especially if we go the Player’s Coach route. Connor may seem like a bad idea as a holdover now, but I assure you he’s a great coach and STILL very valuable to the U. I think we’re dumb to let this guy walk.

        And just for conversation’s sake I think we may want our new coach to take a close look at Chris Burgess. He might be a redundant piece if we land Jensen, but think of how a once blue-chip, California raised, Duke attending, Ute alum would help a guy like Earl.

        Also, don’t forget that Phil Cullen is an assistant with the Spurs. He doesn’t have quite the same pedigree as Burgess, but he’s a smart guy who “gets” Ute basketball and is up and coming.

        Last of all, yes, you probably find some way to keep Martinez’s dad on staff for a couple more years. The tradeoff is worth it.

      • #140780

        Ute Fan

        Good post.

      • #140784

        Ute Fan


        Interesting post. If Alex is the head coach he won’t retain Tommy Connor. From a strategy/x’s and o’s standpoint they are equals or Alex is superior. I respect Tommy in that space but he is not a good recruiter nor is he a relationship guy – at least he’s done neither of those well on this staff.

        If Alex is hired I hope he’ll go after two guys on the Y staff – Burgess and Cody Fueger. Both are Utes – Burgess as a player and Fueger as a staffer to Majerus. Fueger’s brilliant and Burgess is an all around coach – terrific at player development, strategy and relationship building.

        By the way, an interesting side story:

        When Larry was filling out the staff we all know that Tommy Connor was one of his first calls. Chris Hill recommended he bring in Tommy or Donny and he got Tommy. As they began considering coaches for the other positions, they contacted Alex who was coaching with Rick at St. Louis. Alex interviewed with them and most likely would have taken the assistant job. Instead, they offered him a grad assistant post which he turned down. Rick did not want to lose Alex at the time but he couldn’t believe he wasn’t offered one of the coaching spots.

        I imagine Alex is a long shot but I sure hope Harlan does everything he can to hire him.

      • #140807

        Ute Fan

        No candidate has everything that needs to be included in the staff. The HC must consider what he is short on. I expect every candidate will be set on X’s and O’s. Recruiting is so big in college. Building a team in the NBA is more like a purchasing department, in college it is more like a sales department. Recruiting is a key skill needed throughout the staff. Next recruiting benefits from someone with experience and relationships in the HC in the key recruiting areas. The staff needs to cover Utah and So Cal very well. I have no idea who has been focused on international players in the past or how that is handled. If the HC is focused on X’s and O’s and is going to hold players accountable, it is very important to have a coach like Daniels that provides the kinder and gentle side of the coaching staff. Hopefully there are enough staff positions to cover the key needs of the new coach as well as positions to cover transition needs. I hope our road to better includes as many as possible of our players in rotation as well as the two planning to come in. I also hope someone is currently retained to keep track of the current players in the here and now and helping them understand there will be change but the change will be awesome.

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