Okay, the San Jose State University (SJSU) 2020-21 season concluded with a 111-80 loss to Wyoming in the first round of the Mountain West Conference (MWC) tournament. Victories came against Fresno Pacific and Benedictine in non-league play plus a pair of successes against Air Force and one versus New Mexico, the two teams that finished below the Spartans in league.
Coach Jean Prioleau’s four-year MWC record of 8-62 (1-17, 1-17, 3-15 and the latest, 3-13) resulted in his recent dismissal.
It’s seems a near impossible task to determine must-have hiring prerequisites for whoever becomes the new San Jose State University head coach as none of the hires throughout the past decades have been successful, but hope springs eternal.
We’ll lead with this statement about a different program from a recent Adam Zagoria tweet but one applicable to SJSU hoops: “If Fordham continues to hire traditionally, then they’re going to traditionally suck,” one local coach said.”
Strong words, yes. But the Spartan hiring authorities need to at least attempt something different, not for the sake of being different but due to the need to overcome the multiple factors that have kept the program mired in mediocrity (or worse) for seemingly forever.
Those elements being:
- too many ‘buddy of the AD selections’ for head coach
- the recruiting of far too many leftover talents (those not being sought by other quality programs/conference competitors)
- zero presence in the Nor Cal and So Cal high school basketball scenes
- emphasis always upon a current year budget gap rather than long term thinking of building a viable program
- low coaching salaries
- last place (by far) annual program budgets
- no development of serious donors, either million dollar givers or 50 people who can give $10K
- head coach not held accountable for non-league schedules that provide games no basketball fan would ever want to watch
- not practicing where the team plays games
- no plan/commitment for fan outreach in order to build a permanent fan base
Seriously offering interview questions for those head coach candidates selected for interviews:
- the first question to pose is ‘why would you be successful where all others have failed?’
- what is the overall culture you want to develop, why and how will you implement it?
- what will be the skill sets/abilities of your assistants?
- what will you implement to improve recruiting and why will that work?
- what will you do to better retain players once they arrive on campus?
- what style will you play offensively and defensively, and why?
- what are the steps you will take to create program credibility in the community?
- what are the steps you will take to sell the program internally (to students and professionals on campus)?
- in the first month after being hired, what will you have accomplished in building the desired relationships with local and regional HS and JC coaches as well as the better travel teams in northern/southern California?
Offering hiring suggestions:
- hire a head coach who would create an immediate buzz — someone already successful who would generate a ‘how did they get him?’ response
- hire a head coach who “gets” why SJSU basketball has been a very long term failure and offers specific remedies, not bromides
- hire a head coach who is a proven recruiter at the college level, someone who can immediately generate responses to his outreach
- hire a head coach who has experience with the volatile nature of rosters, especially nowadays when transferring is at startling levels
- hire a head coach who is going to employ something ‘different’ on offense and defense, at least at times, using distinctive styles of play that teams don’t often face
- hire a head coach who has roots in and resides in and around the extremely expensive Bay Area
A new hire should exhibit successful experience with at least a majority of these “commandments” or the result will again be more of the same old, same old.
File this under who comes most prepared should receive extra consideration. When Rick Croy interviewed at SJSU a couple of coaching openings ago, he distributed a 20-page outline of his coaching strengths and accomplishments that also included endorsements/references from a who’s who of Bay Area basketball figures and pages detailing his plans for student development, personal development, recruiting, leadership, coaching, fundraising and community/campus relations.