Note: This is entirely irrelevant if Mike Brennan doesn't take a head coaching job this offseason.
With Princeton coach Sydney Johnson moving to Fairfield and Georgetown Assistant Mike Brennan rumored to replace him, that brought up a long discussion of who might replace Brennan if he does move on. This got me thinking about what has been missing the past couple years (aside from postseason wins amirite?) and where the team needs to improve going forward. If Brennan does take the Princeton job (or any other head coaching job), the next assistant coaching hire is certainly a chance to improve and change the direction of the program.
This seems like a good place to mention that I am firmly in the Pro-JTIII camp. I do believe some changes need to be made and Coach has to get better and I also recognize that he should not have a permanent free pass. However, assuming that he is willing to adapt and work to improve going forward (something I believe he'll do) I still remain convinced that he is the right coach for the program at this point.
In the discussion earlier this week, coaches with significant recruiting chops seemed to get the most support round these parts (aside from the former player wishlist) and I certainly agree that we need to continually be improving on the recruiting front. Bringing in talented players yearly certainly gives us a better chance at competing in the Big East and making runs in the tournament and we need to start winning recruiting battles against our Big East brethren.
That said, Robert Kirby has only had one year under his belt as a GU assistant and I really think he'll be a serious asset to our recruiting efforts once he has more time. Plus, our class for 2011 is basically all set and 2012 is off to a pretty solid start too so a new recruiting heavy assistant won't really be filling an immediate void (though we obviously can't fall behind in the recruiting game). This is why I think any change in assistant coaching ranks this year needs to focus on the defensive side of the ball (as opposed to recruiting or offensive tactics).
We can argue about JTIII's offensive system all we want, but the fact remains that he's the head coach, he has a system and the system has worked more often than it hasn't. Coach has also shown a willingness to alter the system (albeit not vastly) over the years and I think he'll continue to do that. This is all to say that, we're in pretty good shape on the offensive side of the ball, the shooting slump at the end of the season aside. This brings me to my point about a defense-minded assistant.
It's pretty clear our defense needs work. This is obviously partially driven by the last few tournament exits we've had, but it's more that that. Our defense this past season was inconsistent at best, but when it was on, we were near impossible to beat. Between remembering the defense of the Green-Hibbert years (and the obvious successes there) and reading Sleepy and Bashful recounting the defense during the John Thompson Jr. years, I think that is a key element of what has been missing the past couple years.
Obviously, a new assistant isn't going to fix everything, but if we have an assistant who has significant defensive chops and who's role is to solely focus on defense (a la Rob Burke), that leaves JTIII to focus on the offense and adapting it to work for the players he has. It also gives renewed focus to the defensive side of the floor and given the way the team played this season after the week off in January (when they spent the week working on defense), the commitment to and focus on defense are two of the key elements to playing effective defense (and almost as important as the scheme in place).
Anyway, this went on a lot longer than I intended and is mostly based in gut feelings (also known as bullshit) and very much in the "what-I-see-on-the-court" camp (as opposed to any solid statistical analysis), but I thought it was worth seeing what y'all thought and certainly worth a discussion.