With University of Portland hoops and San Jose State University (SJSU) basketball ranked similarly in the 2020-21 season (around 320ish overall) and each in similar long term quagmires, the Pilots nabbed a rising head coach sporting an aura of major mojo and tangible accomplishments.

John Canzano: “UP talked with 17 candidates, per AD Scott Leykam. Official interviews with four. (Shantay) Legans accepted the job today. It’s four years with an option in year No. 5.”

Below is Will Maupin writing about the Legans hire and the options available when teams at or around the Portland level are seeking a new head coach:

“From my perspective, having watched Legans’ teams fairly closely over the past few seasons, this is a great hire for the Pilots. He has a track record of success at the mid-major level, as both an assistant and head coach. His Eagles played a phenomenally fun style of basketball — against the slow-as-molasses Saint Mary’s Gaels, Eastern put up 75 points in a five point loss in Moraga.

After a five season run that put the Pilots firmly in the West Coast Conference cellar and saw the team become incapable of building rosters with much talent, a young, fun head coach is just what the doctor ordered to remedy the situation in the Rose City.

Bringing in a new head coach alone isn’t enough to change the situation in Portland. There needs to be a change in culture along with the change in coach. Based upon how quickly Legans went from coaching in the NCAA Tournament to taking the Portland job — less than 48 hours! — I have to believe he sees something good at Portland…

…To me, this is right up there with LMU’s hire of Stan Johnson, BYU’s hire of Mark Pope and Pacific’s hire of Damon Stoudamire as one of the best I’ve seen in my seasons covering the league. Not just because of the guy they hired, but because of the situation the program was in and the direction they chose to go from there.

Teams at this level have a few general options when making a hire.

…You can go out and get a free agent former high-level coach, as Santa Clara did with Herb Sendek, Pepperdine did with Lorenzo Romar, and LMU did with Mike Dunlap. The thing is, those former high-level coaches are free agents for a reason, whatever success they once had dried up at some point. Could they be good again? Absolutely. However, those three programs have achieved at essentially the same level as they had under their previous head coaches.

Or, you can go out and grab a young up and comer as LMU did with Johnson, BYU did with Pope, Pacific did with Stoudamire and Portland has done with Legans. All three took a program that was down, relative to the league or its own standards, and turned things around. Yeah, we’ve only got one year of Johnson so far, so it’s way too soon to know how it pans out, but the early returns are very strong…”

In the last iteration, SJSU hired an assistant but not necessarily an individual described as an up-and-comer.  He wasn’t in demand anywhere else. There was no talk, let alone concrete examples, about changing the culture. Even chatter of an exciting style of play was absent.

So does Legans-to-Portland increase pressure on the Spartan brain trust? The short answer is no.

That’s because:

  • the odds are favorable at least a few members of the Spartan hiring committee would likely mistake Legans for the latest lead on “The Bachelor.”
  • One of the major figures in the hiring process is said to be pushing for a soon-to-be 60-year-old as the program savior — afternoon naps now to be de rigueur.
  • How does a culture changer get hired when too many residents in the current culture are beset with delusions of grandeur regarding the viability for success in the men’s basketball program?
  • The last selection of a SJSU head basketball coach produced someone who finished 8-62 in Mountain West Conference play and with the same ‘experts’ in charge…
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