According to twitter, where everything is always true, Richard Pitino has completed his coaching staff with Seton Hall assistant coach Dan Mchale. Former Gopher player and Nebraska assistant Ben Johnson and former Florida International assistant Kimani Young were previously added to the staff. Steve “Zo” Goodson will be the director of basketball operations.
A youth movement is clearly afoot. All three assistant coaches are younger than 52 year old Vince Taylor, the youngest member of Tubby Smith’s staff that actually coached. While no one has been named the associate head coach, each of the assistants has a similar level of experience, so the exact job title may not matter.
There are two schools of thought in hiring assistant coaches. The first is to hire former head coaches, and the second is to hire future head coaches. Due to Pitino’s relative lack of experience, I would have preferred a crusty old guy on the end of the bench who has seen it all, but it is easy to see why he hired who he did.
Kimani Young opens a recruiting pipeline to the east coast. The adversity he has faced in his 37 years on the planet is not unlike what many college basketball players have gone through. Tubby Smith struggled to connect with players, which only hurt roster continuity. With Young on the staff, that should rarely happen.
Ben Johnson, who played point guard for the Gophers from 2002-2004 after two seasons at Northwestern, has been an assistant coach at Texas Pan-American, Northern Iowa, and Nebraska. He is well connected throughout the upper Midwest, and will undoubtedly be tasked with keeping the region’s best players at home.
Dan McHale, who previously coached at Iona, Louisville, and Seton Hall, was responsible for the Pirates’ game planning and scouting . While he is hardly crusty, he does appear to be the main X’s and O’s guy of the three assistants. He can recruit too, helping to lure top 150 recruit to Seton Hall after he decommitted from Northwestern.
Tubby Smith caught a lot of grief for refusing to make changes to his coaching staff, even when the need to do so seemed obvious. It is unlikely that Pitino will enjoy such staff continuity. Each of the assistant coaches will have plenty of job offers in the years to come.