Assistant coaches don't get enough credit in college basketball.
In a well-organized group, everyone does a little of everything, but when you think of the many duties a coaching staff - scouting and gameplanning, recruiting, actually coaching and running practice - juggles in-season, it's amazing to think that only four people handle it all, and the usual practice of giving the head coach the majority of credit seems even more unfair than at first.
Two years ago, Bobby Hurley's decision to bring on an uber-successful high school coach from the Detroit area has proven fruitful for all involved. In fourteen years Nate Oats has risen from a couple of D-III jobs to the top of the mountain in high school basketball, and this week had to make a choice between another assistant's role with Arizona State or a chance to lead his own program.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>While Oats had spot on Hurley's staff waiting for him at Arizona State, he told me Buffalo is where he and his family want to be</p>— Jon Scott (@JonTWCNews) <a href="https://twitter.com/JonTWCNews/status/586915811996106752">April 11, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Now Coach Oats needs to fill out his own staff, and just like Hurley before him, it's critically important that the first-time DI coach find the right mix of support and experience to work with him.
I took a quick poll of the rest of the Bull Run staff and two names rose to the top, driven by an already-strong connection to Buffalo.
We would like to see Assistant Coach Ben Wood remain on staff. The former Director of Basketball Operations was elevated to the coaching staff this season.
I'd love to see UB go hard after Wood. It might be a fools errand but he went from Assistant Coach to a player development offer at ASU. Not a step up.
Wood came to Buffalo through a Hurley connection at Rhode Island, but prior to the Rams worked with the UConn program for a number of years. It seemed at many times this season that Ben was the voice that could calm Hurley down on the sideline, and without knowing too much about Oats' demeanour as the top guy, that could be good to have around.
We'd also like, as improbable as it is, to bring back Turner Battle.
Although this one is kind of a stretch given his connections to Reggie Witherspoon, I think Battle could be a big asset to the coaching staff. He's familiar with the university and the program - invaluable tools out on the recruiting trail, he can sell the program. Another thing is he has experience coaching in the big dance, which can only help. The main issues with him coming are obviously the connections to Witherspoon, and another is how difficult could it be to pry him away from UAB?
In addition to John's concerns about an attachment to Witherspoon, Turner has already been an assistant at UB for some time. The continuity move of Oats' hire aside, Battle is I think right now in a sweet spot between "overqualified for a UB assistant" job and "just a little bit underqualified for the head job."
One further name I'd like to throw out there is Iowa State's Charlie Henry. Henry's followed a similar path to Wood, with just a year of assistant coaching under his belt after serving as Director of Player Development, but he's a former member of Oats' Romulus staff and someone with Power Five experience, however short.
The last two years have been a good time to be at Iowa State, and Henry would bring familiarity with a high-performing team that expects to not only make, but advance in the NCAA Tournament.