By some point tonight, I'm expecting Sean Miller to be hired (and Miller Time to be under way in College Park) or Kevin Anderson to have moved on to Target #2 (Jay Wright? Shaka Smart?). But expectations don't always come through. There's no telling when Miller's decision will come down. In fact, it may not even happen until tomorrow night. For those not good at math, that's...a long time. It'll be even longer if he has to go home and talk it over.
That's a lot of potential down-time. To keep people entertained while they destroy their F5 buttons on their keyboard, I figure we might as well talk about a few other burning questions related to the coaching search. Like: if Miller is hired, who will be his assistants in College Park?
This question is more interesting for Maryland than it might've been to many other fanbases in the same situation, mostly because Maryland already has a few top-notch assistants in place. Rob Ehsan is almost universally regarded as an up-and-comer in the coaching world; he's loved by Maryland's current players and his presence would be huge in retaining current members of the team. Bino Ranson, meanwhile, has ridiculous connections to Baltimore recruiting, played a crucial role in landing Nick Faust, and has been Maryland's lead recruiter for guys like Shaquille Cleare and the Harrison twins.
(N.B.: Bino used to coach at Xavier, like Miller, but the two never coached on the same staff. That X connection may help, but it isn't going to guarantee a spot for him.)
Keith Booth is still on the staff, too. He's been huge in the development of big men, but it's tough to quantify his contributions past that. Rarely do you hear about how good he is (like you do with Ehsan) and he's never reeled in big-time recruits. In fact, despite being brought in mainly to mend the Baltimore connection, no pipeline formed until Bino Ranson came along. For that reason, Booth would seem a longshot to be retained. Then again, you never know what might happen, and his knowledge of the University might help.
The problem, of course, is that most established coaches - like Miller - have their own guys. Guys they protect. Guys they like. With only three assistant coaching spots, these jobs are at a premium. And if he was to retain both Ehsan and Bino, there wouldn't be a lot of room for his own guys, whom he seems to rather like.
Like, for instance, Book Richardson. Richardson started out as the coach for NY Gauchos, a powerful AAU team in NYC. He joined Miller at Xavier, sort of as their own Ranson (in fact, he was Ranson's forerunner). He followed Miller to Arizona, too, which indicates mutual loyalty between the two. Richardson's AAU background means he's primarily a recruiter, and he's been the lead guy for players like Momo Jones, Kevin Parrom, and Sidiki Johnson. He's also well-liked by players and generally personable.
There appears to be quite some overlap between what Bino and Book bring the table. Gauchos are by far the premier NY AAU team (recent alumni include Jones, Kemba Walker, Doron Lamb, and Durand Scott), and Richardson's connections there - and everywhere else in NY hoops, for that matter - go deep. Just about as deep as Bino, now that I mention it. The only real differences are the locales in which they excel. Having both would probably result in an absurd amount of five-stars. But having two ace recruiters on the staff without serious experience or coaching chops is going to put a lot of pressure on Miller (recruiting-centric himself) and the other coach to handle the coaching. I'd prefer at least one more experienced Xs and Os guy, if possible.
The other "his guy" assistant is James Whitford, who spent four years at Xavier under Miller before following him to Tucson. Honestly, I'd be even more excited about Whitford joining the staff than Book (I'll get to that in a minute). First off, he has a more traditional background in coaching, having spent 11 years at Miami (OH) before joining Miller's Xavier staff. Secondly, despite his lack of AAU background, he's been a more productive recruiter than Book.
His first 'Zona commitment was four-star center Kyryl Natyazhko. About two months later, he landed a three-star guy named Derrick Williams, who turned out to be pretty good. And in 2012, he was the point man for Grant Jerrett, a five-star PF from Los Angeles, who's already verballed to the Wildcats.
Miller's third assistant used to be his little brother, Archie Miller, who was the mastermind of some of their bigger recent commitments. Miller was a rising star in the mold of Ehsan, but he recently took the Dayton job. That means that the elder Miller (ie, the one you care about) only has ties to two assistants (well, and Ralph Willard, but that ain't happening). Combine that with the two rising star assistants currently at Maryland, and you have four people in an all-out death match for three spots, with a guy like Keith Booth as a darkhorse.
Or, of course, it's possible that Miller would bring in someone else. But he's shown a preference in the past to work with younger, more recruiting-centric coaches, so maybe he'd be fine with a staff light on Xs and Os experience. Or, if he wanted an Xs and Os guy, maybe he'd go for a Joe Harrington-type half-assistant (think Gene Keady at St. John's).
Either way, there are more coaches than spots. Unless, of course, Richardson doesn't want to make the trip. He's expressed interest in the Arizona job, should it open. He won't come close to getting it, but that might indicate some kind of crack in the armor. It's a stretch, but maybe keep it in mind that he's looking to move up in the world of coaching, not exactly laterally.
It's almost impossible to pick between them, for what it's worth. No matter what, there will be at least one really good assistant either out of a job or left behind. Based solely on results, I might lean toward that being Richardson. His AAU background is incredibly encouraging, but he's never parlayed that into a legitimate star. Jones, Parrom, and Johnson are all good, but they aren't superstars. In one year, Bino has already landed a bigger recruit than any of those three (Faust) and has Maryland in amazing position with a five-star center. Maybe the desert and distance has something to do with that. Maybe NYC hasn't been putting out too many superstars lately. Either way, he seems more potential than productivity...for the moment. If he ends up on the staff, I'll certainly have no complaints.
The previous thousand words may all have been in vain if Miller turns down Maryland (or the other way around). If he does, we begin the process anew. If he ends up a Terrapin, though, who would you like to see making up his staff?