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What UConn Needs In Its Next Men’s Basketball Coach

A list of desired qualities for UConn’s newest coaching vacancy.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

We’ve made a list of candidates already. This is more of what a ‘desireable attributes’ section would look like if there was a frank and honest job listing for the position.

Recruit the hell out of New York City, Boston, and the Northeast prep scene...

UConn has made its bread for years by getting great players out of the metro centers in NYC and Boston. Those and the New England/Tri-State prep powers need to continue to be the Huskies’ core recruiting base.

... and somewhere else as well.

Ollie and his staff seemed to have a particular interest in recruiting California and Georgia and then going after national recruits but didn’t seem to adjust the UConn recruiting strategy with the move to the AAC. Going more into the Chicago area, Texas or Florida could have really helped the Huskies given the geographic makeup of the conference. Ollie and co. didn’t seem too interested in expanding their horizons from the old Big East-era recruiting playbook. The new guy needs to realize the need to do so from the geographically isolated AAC outpost of Storrs, Connecticut.

A Known Tactician

Another one of the knocks on Ollie was that his team strategy and philosophy were doomed to fail given the recruiting circumstances. KO wanted to play the modern, spaced out, ‘positionless’ basketball that is en vogue in the NBA and upper echelons of NCAA, but UConn simply couldn’t put the kind of roster together to execute on it and Ollie never really adjusted. In our new reality, the next UConn head coach needs to be a bit more deliberate about using a certain style and scheme. It would also help to have a head coach more known for getting the best out of his assembled talent and making effective lineup decisions.

Innovator

The previous one kind of bleeds into this, but the new head coach needs to be willing to try new ideas, stuff that might not be accepted as ideals or norms in basketball strategy.

Playing the Game

Kevin Ollie was super quotable when he started but over the course of his tenure, his press conferences rarely contained any valuable insight or information. Ollie operated under the old-school assumption that interest in this program and attending games will last forever and that it’s not something that must be constantly earned. The new coach will need to be more in-tune with the marketing needs of the program and how to contribute to its success off the court.

Willing to Nest

We want someone to stay for a while, and not look at this job as a stepping stone. UConn is one of the highest-paying jobs in the country, and when you’re doing well it’s the best show in a state of over three million and the top program in New England. Kevin Ollie’s replacement needs to know that he can accomplish anything he wants to at UConn if successful. There aren’t more than a handful of jobs like that in the country.

***

This is, obviously, a big hire for David Benedict. Removing Ollie was a big decision, but now that he’s made it, he also really needs to hit on this hire. There is no room for error. Ideally, the new head coach hits all or most of the qualities on this list.