View Full Version : miles simon on tommy

05-27-2014, 06:02 AM
Ultimate college coaching staffs
By Miles Simon
ESPN Insider

When putting together the ideal staff for a college basketball team, in particular in the West region, there are few factors I take into consideration. The head coach must be well-versed with his X's and O's, be able to prepare for games and make adjustments on the fly. He must also be relentless on the recruiting trail and able to develop those recruits once he gets them to put on the uniform.

In terms of assistants, they must be grinders. That includes building relationships with recruits, their families and coaches, and staying late to make sure a scouting report for the next game is on point. They can't miss any of the little details involved. The assistant coaches also are a go-between for the players when something comes up in life or in the classroom, so you need a staff that stays connected once the players are on campus. Assistants who can also develop players individually through skill work is a major asset.

Head coach: Sean Miller, Arizona Wildcats
Miller has only been out west for five seasons, but he's had an immediate impact since taking over in Tucson. He brought Arizona back to national prominence in just his second season, winning the league and leading the Wildcats to the Elite Eight in 2013-14. He's a strong X's and O's coach who is very detailed-oriented in both his daily practice and game planning. His calling card is on the defensive side of the floor.

Miller also has been dominant on the recruiting trail. Arizona has had four consecutive top-10 classes, and he has brought in the likes of Aaron Gordon, Brandon Ashley, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson. One of Miller's strengths as a recruiter is that he is a great closer. He really gets to know the recruits and their families, and when he sets his sights on a player he wants, he's almost certainly getting it done.

Lastly, he makes guys better. Miller, for example, helped Derrick Williams go from a solid high school player to the No. 2 overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft. Solomon Hill by his senior year became one of the most versatile forwards in the nation and parlayed that into a first-round selection. Those are the easy ones to pick out, but Miller's development of Kyle Fogg -- a lightly recruited guy out of high school -- ended in Fogg earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors and a professional contract. That's a true testament to making players better.

Assistant coach: Justin Hutson, San Diego State Aztecs
Hutson just finished his sixth year at San Diego State. He previously coached two years at UNLV, where he really helped bolster the recruiting efforts for the Rebels. He has all of the qualities a head man would look for in an assistant. The first is that he has a great eye for talent. He was instrumental in getting current San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard to put on an Aztecs uniform. After everyone in the Pac-10 at the time whiffed on Leonard, he was able to reel him in and help develop him into a first-round pick. Along with Leonard, he has helped to bring in the likes of Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley.

Hutson has a great disposition that really connects with the recruits. On top of the recruiting aspect, Hutson is essentially the defensive coordinator for head coach Steve Fisher. He oversaw a defense in 2013-14 that ranked No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense at 57 points per game allowed and eighth in field-goal percentage defense at 38.6 percent. Hutson has all the makings of a future head coach.

Assistant coach: Tommy Lloyd, Gonzaga Bulldogs
Lloyd is the coach in waiting for Gonzaga, and for good reason: He just finished his 13th season as an assistant with Mark Few and has quietly become one of the best in the business. Lloyd goes about his recruiting without much fanfare. The Zags aren't necessarily bringing in McDonald's All Americans every year, but they never seem to be lacking for talent and he's a big reason why.

Lloyd has tremendous international connections and he utilizes them to the fullest. He's been able to bring in high-level recruits such as Ronny Turiaf, Kevin Pangos, Elias Harris and Przemek Karnowski to play for Few. Lloyd is also very sharp when it comes to game-planning. He knows what Few wants and is able to prepare the Zags appropriately. Few leans on him a lot and has helped to prepare Lloyd for his next step of being a head coach.

Assistant coach: Mark Pope, BYU Cougars
Pope just finished his fourth season as a Division I assistant coach, with the past three being at BYU. He brings instant credibility in recruiting as he was a national champion at Kentucky under Rick Pitino and played six seasons in the NBA.

He has been instrumental on the player development side for coach Dave Rose. Pope helped turn Brandon Davies into an NBA player and did great work with freshman Eric Mika this past year. He's the guy you always see on the floor helping players get better before and after practice, whether it's Tyler Haws or Mika.

05-27-2014, 08:47 PM
A most interesting post. I think everyone recognizes Tommy's key roll in Gonzaga's success. I think GU is very lucky to have him, but one wonders will he wait. Few isn't exactly old as coaches go, so he could be a GU for some number of years. Will Tommy wait or be happy with his backup position. It just seems that mentally he must be looking at the clock and be wondering when. I hope he is happy in his roll, but this is something I have often wondered about as he is so important.

05-28-2014, 04:41 AM
Been to one Zags event last year with Tommy as the featured speaker - Impressive. My overall takeaway was that he likes GU/Spokane just fine and will be here awhile. But, one has to wonder what sort of offer a GOOD assistant coach like Tommy may eventually get (or be getting). I'd like to see Tommy as GU's head coach someday. Few's doing a great job and hasn't left yet - nor do I think he'll leave any time soon. Both Tommy and Few seem like the type of folks who like to stick around in one place for a while - raise a family, etc. Both get plenty of travel in their jobs. Spokane's not a shabby place. Uprooting a family and moving away from friends .... Tommy could very well be getting offers and he's simply turned them down. If Tommy is from Spokane (I don't know where he's from) that could be the reason he's sticking around.

05-28-2014, 07:31 AM

05-28-2014, 07:44 AM
the job offers he most assuredly receives on a weekly(daily?) basis must be insane!

i'm sure Few treats him well and ensures he's well compensated on every level, not to mention the intrinsic value for Tommy.

hope he sticks around a long, long time.

blessed to have him on staff.

05-28-2014, 09:37 AM
the job offers he most assuredly receives on a weekly(daily?) basis must be insane!

i'm sure Few treats him well and ensures he's well compensated on every level, not to mention the intrinsic value for Tommy.

hope he sticks around a long, long time.

blessed to have him on staff.

Certainly agree with the last three statements, though I wonder if the offers are insane or just easy to look away from, for now. I have no idea what he is paid - I would think it is likely at least as much as 1/3 what Few makes which puts Tommy in terrific company with CFOs, Orthodontists and mafia enforcers, what I wonder is if it is enough that he would near take a pay cut by going to a mid level "mid-major" (yes, we all hate the term but it works here). And not that pay means everything but I do think it makes a difference in terms of risk/reward in decision making.

I also think that the age of coaches' children plays a role in what decisions they make. For example, I don't see Few taking an offer to coach Detroit Pistons while his kids are still in school. I don't know anything about Tommy's family life - and don't really want to know, it's his business - but I do think those things play a big role in decisions to take on the head coaching job at UTEP or DePaul.

05-28-2014, 12:52 PM
I'm thinking Tommy is the most important all around coach in this program. We'd be in big trouble if he left.

05-29-2014, 05:25 AM
I'm thinking Tommy is the most important all around coach in this program. We'd be in big trouble if he left.
I'm not sure I'd agree with the "most" part but I'll certainly agree with the sentiment from which the "most" came from. I think we can owe a lot to Few for having and keeping Tommy around - not to mention the entire Zag mens BB program. Things are the way they are at GU and Few has to be a big reason for that. I'm not privy to any insider knowledge - just a Spokane resident and GU alum. I'm proud of the entire MBB program and admire what the entire MBB team has done - especially in that the MBB program just keeps getting better. I think we owe a lot of that to the consistency of staff, GU's overall atmosphere and Spokane in general. IMHO Few and Tommy make an excellent coaching matchup. I'm also confident that if either were to leave GU that the powers-that-be at GU would find admirable replacements.