Sup fools? I’ve been talking about writing this article for about two weeks now, but then every time I think to myself, “OK, there won’t be any new news for a while” something else pops up. In a normal off-season, the BBR churns out one, MAYBE two articles, but this is not your father’s off season. WITH THAT SAID, this beats the hell out of speculating over rape allegations, doesn’t it? Daytona is just a few weeks away, don’t rule that out yet either.
So, we looked at the new man-in-charge a few weeks ago, (If you forgot or didn’t care at the time, here it is again) but since then, there has been plenty of new shit to talk about. One of the main reasons I put off writing a “looking ahead” type of article is glaringly obvious…we don’t really know what the view looks like yet, and it sure as hell isn’t THAT much clearer on April 20th than it was on April 1st when Grant held his first presser. What we do know is that AG’s staff is now 100% in place as of the time of this writing. Let’s profile these boys first, shall we? Everyone you’re familiar with from Archie’s staff is gone, so all the faces will be fresh.
This is probably the strongest hire on the AG staff. Solomon can (barely) be remembered by some die-hard Flyers for being on BG’s staff during the forgettable season of 2007-08, in which the Flyers started 14-1, (including that unforgettable evening in the Arena when they poleaxed Pitt by 25) before shitting all the way down the stretch to go 8-8 in the conference and miss the dance.
Solomon is a UVA grad who got his start at the other UD (Delaware) in 1988 as a grad assistant. He then made stops at Bowling Green, Manhattan College and Richmond, before returning to UVA for a 4-year stint, then Clemson, and then finally Notre Dame. He held assistant coach or assistant AD positions at all these places until St Bonaventure came calling amid a recruiting scandal in 2003, to give him the head honcho job.
At Bonaventure, Solomon was given the herculean task of rebuilding a program that was all fucked up from a person named Jan (man) Van Breda Kolff. Long and short of it: this man named Jan played a JUCO transfer all season that was very clearly ineligible, and subsequently Jan, the AD, and the President were all fired from SBU. The NCAA put Bona on 3 years’ probation (1-year postseason ban) and Solomon had 3 fewer scholarships to work with in his first 3 years because of it (self-imposed). I mentioned all of this because while Solomon was fired in his fourth season with a 24-88 record, it is generally accepted around the A10 that he brought the program back to a competitive level when it could’ve been a Fordham-type for decades afterwards. (You can read about the scandal and the following lawsuit to Van Breda Kolff here, even though it really doesn’t have anything to do with the purpose of this article.)
That firing brought Solomon to UD with Gregory, but a year later Mike Brey came calling and he was back to Notre Dame, where he stayed put until just last year, when he joined John Thompson III at Georgetown. Since I doubt the stench of Georgetown basketball could properly soak through his suits in just one calendar year, I think this is a fine hire for Grant and one Flyers can be happy with.
Ok, I wrote a shit-ton about Solomon so let’s try to be more concise with the next few:
This one is a little more puzzling to me, and you can assume AG and Greer have some personal ties. As far as a player goes, Greer had a great run. He was the foundation of a handful of mediocre Pitt teams in the late 90s before Ben Howland really got them cooking, then had a 14-year stint in Europe playing ball before coming back to the states to join Donnie Jones’ staff at UCF.
You may remember, however, Jones was fired, after not doing a damn thing with UCF basketball in the 3 seasons after they joined the AAC. Summary: Greer brings a ton of playing experience, but very little coaching acumen. Jury should stay out on this one. We trusted in Archie, now we trust in Tony.
This is your classic boys club hire for Anthony Grant. While Kane was finishing up his master’s degree at VCU, he was on Grant’s staff when they began to see success in Richmond. From there, he followed AG to Bama, and then departed to Murray State when Grant got fired in Tuscaloosa. He has been in Murray, KY ever since, spending six seasons as an assistant for the Racers. The “get” here is that Kane is a master of the tape, and brings a heavy analytical presence to the staff in regards to game planning and player development. The only knock I can see is that he lost out on being Murray State’s head coach last year to one of the guys he joined the staff with. I have no insight into this, but a reason for speculation nonetheless. Kane should be a good asset in recruiting the Midwest as a mid-major, if nothing else.
Hertz was brought over from Illinois, mainly because he worked with Grant at Florida. Hertz’s title was “Assistant to the Head Coach” at U of I, and will resume the same title at UD. Basically, all this means is that Hertz is the internal guy. He doesn’t go on recruiting or scouting trips, but acts as liaison between the coach and the administration, as well as helping the coach with hard stuff like budgeting, scheduling, planning and getting Anthony’s coffee in the morning. He’s the guy who does the dirty work without the recognition. Every great man in this world had a lesser man holding his clipboard in the background, that’s Darren.
Ok, so that’s that, I just gave you everything you need to know about the new suits who will be occupying chairs on the bench for UD this upcoming season. Let’s get to some player news!
McKinley Wright and Naz Carter have been granted their release from UD, don’t hold your breath on either coming back. Without digging into what motivates the decisions of two 17/18-year olds, I can say that it was truly a shame to see Wright walk out the door, because the point guard position was as good as his going into camp this summer, and would’ve been for the foreseeable future. You can’t fault the kid for reopening his options, but very few programs at the UD-level and above can give him starting minutes from day one. I will be interested to see where they both land. Carter has one more year to hang out if he so chooses, and all signs point to him going the prep school route before getting into college ball.
With that said, I saved the big, big news for last: John Crosby will be transferring from the old U of D.
Couple things. Yes, Crosby was absolutely a turnover machine last year, posting 69 assists (nice john!) compared to 59 turnovers. I don’t care if you’re playing for Dayton, Delaware, or Bethune-Cookman, that is just not going to get it done on this level as a starter, or even a back-up for that matter. To say this is an addition by subtraction is just flat-out realistic. No one was truly excited at the prospect of John handling the point next year, that discussion is now moot.
On the flip side, while UD may not have been a fit for JC, and while AG might not have been his cup of tea as far as a coach is concerned, I’m simply not buying it. Something stinks about this from top to bottom. Here you have a guy who drastically struggled to play his position last year, magically being handed the keys to the driver’s seat, through no real action or merit of his own. FROM A TRULY BASKETBALL STANDPOINT there is no rational explanation as to why John felt walking out the door was his best move. The list of respectable D1 programs where he could start at PG next year is shorter than my fingernails. I think he was given the old James Cripe and kindly asked to leave before things got messy. Of course, this scenario is also slightly implausible given the fact that UD is now left with ZERO, yes zero, point guards on the roster. If I’m a gambling man, I would say AG has a few fellows in mind that will be able to contribute next year. Either that or conversations with McKinley Wright have been going well, who knows, only time will tell.
Couple other house-keeping items since we haven’t caught up in a while:
Dayton scheduled a home/home with Auburn for the next two seasons. Auburn’s program is absolute trash, but it appears Bruce Pearl is starting to make some headway as far as recruiting and winning are concerned. While this is a wholly unflattering series, it will be a top 100 RPI game at worst, and best case scenario Bruce keeps the train rolling and takes Auburn to a dance in the next 2 years. Since Auburn is also at the Charleston tournament over thanksgiving, the possibility exists that we could see them twice next season. WOO WIEE! The bottom-dwellers of the SEC just keep coming up to Dayton to take their medicine.
Offseason injuries are a-plenty. In the most important off-season of his short basketball-playing-life, Sam Miller has broken his ankle and will be out for a while. Damn shame. Ryan Mikesell apparently needs a “procedure”, whatever the hell that means. Josh Cunningham is still having nightmares about his dunk in Tuscaloosa. Trey Landers is hurt too, I think. Assume everyone is hurt.
At the time of this writing, two of the five commits have chosen to stay at UD, and the entire roster with the exception of the aforementioned John Crosby, will also be staying. I would deem that a win thus far for Anthony Grant. There have been bumps and bruises to get to this point, but all in all that is nothing to be sad about. Losing recruits and existing players is simply a part of this process, and credit AG for keeping it mostly intact.
The whereabouts of Matej Svoboda are still unknown. If anyone in Czechia (yes, that’s what it’s called now) knows anything about this man, please call the Blackburn Review hotline.
As we begin to know more about potential transfers and new commitments to UD, I will update the blog, but until that time, I just supplied you with everything you need to know about Dayton basketball for the time being.