With the new season still a couple of months away and as we are forced to tolerate the quiet while eagerly anticipating whether or not Christmas will come early with a big 2012 recruiting class, let’s discuss a tale of two coaches and take a look at the state of the Friars.
Certainly Keno Davis’ brief and tumultuous tenure can be referred to as ‘the worst of times’. Apologies for bringing up the “K” word but think of it as therapy. You need closure and this is it. Not going to seep back through the gory details of the last three years and cause you to be reunited with your breakfast, lunch, dinner, beer, coffee…whatever you were enjoying before you decided to read this…but do want to focus on the primary reason for the Keno debacle, and how Fr. Shanley, Bob Driscoll and company proved they learned this valuable lesson by hiring Ed Cooley and building toward what they, and all of us in FRIARTOWN, hope will be ‘the best of times’.
The main issue with Davis is he did not understand what it took to lead a program. Nice guy and all, and some (OK one guy from Iowa) might even muster up an argument that Keno had a good offensive basketball mind, offered an entertaining brand (of offense) that could be attractive to players and that perhaps he could even coach a little (tougher one but entertain me here). However the trick in finding a good college head coach is to realize that actual coaching represents a minority portion of the role, especially for coaches at the high major D-1 level. Northwestern Head Coach Bill Carmody made reference to this point as he sat on the same stage as Coach Cooley on Monday’s ‘Katz Corner College Basketball Coaches Special’ with Andy Katz when Carmody estimated the coaching portion of the job to be about 30%.
In reality a Big East head coach is the CEO of the corporation that is his program. Meaning that in addition to his ‘on the floor’ responsibilities, he is responsible for establishing and executing the program’s brand and vision. He is a boss, not only of his players but of his staff, and managing people in and of itself can be a full time job. Further he is a fund raiser, strategic planner, salesman, mentor, parent, teacher, public relations manager and media personality……the list goes on and on.
Point being, it is plausible to believe that Keno presented enough of the ‘on the floor’ qualifications to receive consideration from PC, especially given the context during that search where candidates were turning down the job left and right, those involved with the search had to feel as though the walls were closing in. That said, grading on a 100 point scale, even if PC was extremely generous under pressure and gave Keno credit for the full 30 ‘on the floor’ points (30% of the job), that left the remaining and all important 70% where he could (should) have been graded at zero very easily! Davis operated a program as Head Coach for only one season. There was no track record of leadership, management experience, player/person development, academic oversight or ability to work with an administration. In short, no proof that Keno Davis was CEO material.
Ed Cooley, on the other hand, exemplifies a basketball program CEO. The ‘on the floor’ chops are there. In addition to his extensive assistant coaching resume, most notably at Boston College under Al Skinner, Cooley’s head coaching record in a tough league speaks for itself (92-69, increased win totals each year, back to back 20 win seasons). In terms of track record as a leader, Cooley held the head job at Fairfield for five years which is more than enough of a sample size to evaluate his ability to develop and guide a program. Not to mention he left the cupboard full at Fairfield, handing over an NCAA tournament caliber team with a cherry on top in newcomer and former Boston College and St. Andrews (RI) star, Rakim Sanders.
Cooley exudes charisma along with a buck stops here attitude, which is a huge plus on the recruiting, mentor and manager of people fronts…not too bad for fundraising either. He is a quote machine who pulls no punches which further adds to his appeal, persona and media friendliness. As far as vision and brand, Cooley started laying the groundwork on these in his introductory press conference and early remarks with talk about family, playing tough, being good students & citizens, selling out The Dunk and winning championships (focus machine anyone?).
None of us can predict what the end results will be but it is clear the PC brain trust acknowledged there were gross oversights and flaws in the process that brought us Keno Davis, gained the understanding that a true leader of people and a program was essential, decided to make a change and hired the right guy for the job.
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