Despite Collegiate Homogeneity, SU Staff is Flush With Diverse Experience
One thing about being a college powerhouse is that every nuance, from playing time to player attitudes, and lately, coaching moves, is dissected liberally and bilaterally. After Adrian Autry was named as Rob Murphy’s successor on the Syracuse coaching staff, opinions rolled in from both sides of the fence. These weren’t arguments about Autry’s qualifications, but about whether the ideal coaching staff should be composed of personnel from different collegiate backgrounds or if the team is better off with a staff comprised exclusively of SU graduates.
There is logical rationale in both arguments. Including a relative outsider like Rob Murphy or Troy Weaver represented voices that may not be heard otherwise, and gave the school access to recruiting pipelines it may have found more challenging otherwise. Jim Boeheim cited Brendan Malone and Rick Pitino as success stories who started out as non-SU graduates. There is also a perceived challenge that having an all-SU staff fosters a homogeneity that will preclude a recruiter from relating their experience from what Syracuse has to offer a high-schooler.
Contrary to that is the opinion that having an all-Orange coaching staff emanates the precept that the team treats its own very well, and that everyone has either had the experience of playing for Jim Boeheim, or in Bernie Fine’s case, has been alongside him for nearly 40 years. Until Autry was hired, of the 345 D-I programs in the country, only Duke could present that angle. Also, Jim Boeheim can’t be the stodgy coach who attacks the media and is such a bear to play for if so many of his guys willingly come back to work for him, right? Well, maybe that perception can’t change, but it is interesting to see the national image of Boeheim as this stubborn, old-fashioned curmudgeon contrasted by the fact that former players still want to to be around him.
Despite the shared experience of playing for Boeheim, Adrian Autry, Mike Hopkins and Gerry McNamara, the most prominent SU staffers, all have their own little quirks about their backgrounds that make them unique. Autry played overseas for 11 years after graduating and also spent time as an AAU coach, so he knows how to approach the high school coaches that are the gatekeepers to all the talent. In addition, Autry worked under Seth Greenberg at Virginia Tech for three years, so he has some perspective that should be able to help SU gain an edge when competing against the ACC for recruits, a matchup that presents itself regularly. McNamara and Hopkins are SU lifers with championship experience – McNamara as a player and Hopkins as an assistant. It’s also worth noting that Hopkins made a long trek from California that you don’t often see in Syracuse as it sticks to its bread and butter of covering the Northeast.
While some may roll their eyes at Boeheim simply sticking with who’s familiar in his selection of assistants, the group of men he’s surrounded himself with each have gone through different experiences and I think the program will ultimately be more successful in the living room and on the court for it. I, for one, can’t wait to see how Adrian Autry’s arrival impacts the team.