Hiring assistants

There are many different strategies for hiring assistants, and we’ve seen many of them put to use around here in recent years.

U of L coach Rick Pitino has had so many of his assistants picked for head-coaching jobs that he now has an “on deck” circle for assistants. He generally has a idea of who he’d like to go with, and why.

I find it amusing that people are pointing to Walter McCarty’s lack of coaching experience as a concern. They forget, Reggie Theus had no formal head-coaching experience when he came, only some work with an AAU program.

And look what Theus did. Two years as a U of L assistant, Final Four. Went to New Mexico State and turned that program totally around. Now, just four years after Pitino hired a former NBA player with “no experience,” Theus is coaching in the NBA.

What Theus did have more experience with that McCarty is dealing with the media. He had been a studio analyst and actor.

What McCarty has that Theus didn’t is a name that resonates more with today’s players. I think, after watching Derrick Caracter progress once he brought Ellis Myles onto the strength staff last season, Pitino thinks he may be onto something. Today’s players just don’t listen to older guys as much as they do younger guys who have been where they want to go. If you get that mix, it might be the ideal situation.

As for UK’s situation, I’ve gotten lots of questions as to why new coach Billy Gillispie might be taking so much time in hiring a third assistant. One reason that coaches often use is that they know who the hire will be, but don’t want to make it official, because if the guy isn’t hired, he can basically recruit without limits. If that is the case with UK, they’ve done the best job I’ve ever seen at keeping it quiet.

Regardless, in both cases, I see no cause for concern. Pitino’s judgment in assistants at U of L has been beyond question. Every assistant he has hired at U of L has gone on to take a head coaching job. The one Pitino assistant who hasn’t, Vince Taylor, was a holdover from Denny Crum’s staff, went on to a player development job in the NBA before joining Tubby Smith’s staff at Minnesota.

At UK, Gillispie’s recruiting efforts show for don’t indicate that he’s really missing that third assistant too badly. Maybe he figures if he does the work of five guys, he doesn’t need another one. In any event, he seems to be getting along fine.


5 thoughts on “Hiring assistants

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