clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Does Jay Wright need a staff overhaul?

When Steve Lavin took his first collegiate coaching job, he was an assistant coach at Purdue, to Gene Keady. When he re-emerged as a college coach at St. John's he added a veteran assistant to his staff: Gene Keady.

It isn't unheard of for an older former head coach to skip retirement to stay involved with the game and work as an assistant. In fact, though the daily stresses of the job at the highest level can ultimately get the best of most aging coaches, the love of the game will keep many of them from leaving it behind altogether.

VUhoops has seen some comments lately calling for the addition of a veteran or "X's and O's" assistant to Jay Wright's coaching staff. The addition of Gene Keady is cited as a reason for Coach Lavin's success this season as well. With a young staff otherwise, would Jay Wright benefit from a change to it's composition?

Steve Lavin left UCLA circled with questions on his interest in coaching the X's and O's of basketball. Whether those questions were answered with the construction of his staff remains open for debate, but thus far, his St. Johns team has performed well under his regime, scoring it's fair share of notable upsets and putting together a record that likely has them locked in for a trip to the NCAA tournament next month.

Villanova has also locked up a trip to the NCAA tournament this season, and was widely considered a lock from early in the season, but a late-season struggle has forced Wildcat fans to compare their lofty expectations with the reality of life in the Big East this season.

Jay Wright will be making his 7th NCAA tournament appearance this season and has a particularly good NCAA tournament record (12-7 at Villanova), that includes a trip to the Elite Eight as well as the fourth Final Four appearance in school history.

Jay Wright has a somewhat extensive coaching tree at this point in his career -- more than a few of his former assistants have taken head coaching jobs at other colleges or assistant positions in the NBA. That fact illustrates one of two things; either Coach Wright develops his assistants into candidates for those jobs, or he has been very successful at hiring coaches.

While less-established coaches are often encouraged to look to add a veteran or two to their bench to help them grow into the role of a well-rounded head coach, it is rare that a successful and established coach with a coaching tree of his own would be asked to do the same.

Furthermore, the most likely result of the addition of a veteran assistant would be better inbound plays. Jay Wright has shown a willingness to run plays off the inbounds pass on certain occasions (remember the end of the Cincy and BC games in 2005-06?). If a veteran assistant were to draw up some new plays to run in those situations, Wright would surely use them during game situations.

The offensive and defensive schemes, however, seem unlikely to change. Coach Wright is committed to his offensive and defensive philosophies and anyone who believes that a sage old coach will change his mind and goad him into running some backdoor cuts or consistently play the ball through the high post would be sorely disappointed by the result of such a hire.

Jay Wright's teams have averaged a top-25 ranking for offensive efficiency since 2004/2005. Defensively, Jay Wright's teams have generally been strong as well -- a poor performance in one season last year is no means to sound the alarm that Wright can't coach defense anymore.

In short, Jay Wright is unlikely to hire a veteran or "X's and O's" assistant any time soon. Even if he were, it is unlikely that such an assistant would make a significant difference in Villanova's game-planning. With Jay Wright you have to take the good with the bad and hope that his players make good decisions on the court.

If he were to supplement his staff with a veteran former head coach, who would you want him to hire? Larry Brown has been looking to get involved somewhere again, and seems to love the Villanova program, but he is likely looking for a head coaching gig. Meanwhile, Rollie Massimino is still at it, coaching Northwood in the NAIA down in Florida, but has not indicated any real willingness to play second-fiddle to his former assistant like Gene Keady has done.