About a week before Michigan caught the attention of the college basketball world with unexpected victories against North Carolina and Gonzaga at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, Wolverines assistant coach Phil Martelli was just as concerned about the casinos there as he was about Basketball games.
Michigan’s new head coach, Juwan Howard, who had never trained in college before this season, was preparing for his team’s first trip. Martelli, who has been dealing with college athletes as the head coach at St. Joseph's in Philadelphia for the past 24 years, wanted to know what the team's rules are when players enter the arcades of the resort where they are located stop them.
"I am not sure if the question came to his mind at all, since he is used to dealing with adult men in the NBA," said Martelli about Howard, who was the Miami Heat assistant before he took the job in Ann Arbor started. Howard ultimately decided that no players, regardless of age, should be allowed to enter the casino floors.
"He thanked me for making him aware of this," said Martelli. "It's his program, so he doesn't have to listen to me. But I feel heard and that's very important. That's one reason why I wanted to come here."
Martelli is one of the wise men of college basketball, the successful former head coach who now sits on the right of relatively inexperienced current head coaches and helps them navigate College Hoops Hill.
Howard's setting in Michigan was part of his own trend: a series of settings in which sports directors went back in time to their university and turned to a successful player to try to revive that old magic.
Penny Hardaway, an all-star guardian of Orlando Magic, took over Memphis in 2018. Aaron McKie took over Temple in 2019 after 13 seasons in the N.B.A. and assistant to Fran Dunphy for several years. Patrick Ewing, the great Knicks, returned to Georgetown three years ago to lead the Hoyas with a resume similar to Howard, who was a member of the Fab Five recruiting class in Michigan in the early 1990s.
Nobody doubts the N.B.A. Veterans but college basketball, with its massive N.C.A.A. Rule book and academic requirements represent a management challenge that differs from the N.B.A. Game. Some of these new hires brought along experienced university coaches to make the transition easier for them.
Ewing hired Louis Orr, who played with Ewing on the Knicks in the mid-1980s. As a trainer, Orr Seton Hall led to two N.C.A.A. Tournament appearances in five seasons. McKie has both Monté Ross, a former head coach in Delaware, and Mark Macon, who served as head coach in Binghamton and was one of Temple's best players. Vanderbilt's new trainer, the former N.B.A. All-Star Jerry Stackhouse hired former Colorado coach Ricardo Patton as a special assistant.
The roles for these assistant coaches vary depending on the program. Sometimes they are asked to have a cooler head in intense situations. During a recent game against Duke in Madison Square Garden, his old stamp site, Ewing was about to argue with the referees over what he thought was a phantom foul. It was his former teammate Orr who came before Ewing and kept the peace.
"Louis Orr was an integral part of our program and our success," said Ewing. “All of my assistants have been active in university sports for many years, while my background is more in the N.B.A. So I can lean on them to learn about college play, such as recruiting, even though we have more N.B.A. operate. "
"So he was an important part of our family, even if he was wearing the orange," added Ewing, referring to Orr's college days with rival Syracuse.
In Michigan, Martelli was important to the team because he was familiar with the logistics of a program.
He was perhaps the most successful coach in St. Joseph history when he was dismissed at the end of last season after 24 years on the team. Because of his personality, he had offers to go on TV, but he felt that he wasn't done coaching. Realizing that his phone would not ring on his own, he started asking friends about assistant appearances at the Power 5 conferences.
Howard was hired in Michigan in May after John Beilein launched the N.B.A. had left and became the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The news circulated in coaching circles that Howard was looking for an experienced hand to help him. Kentucky coach John Calipari turned to Martelli to measure his interest, and Martelli took the opportunity.
"I just couldn't imagine being on TV and calling a game between Villanova and St. Johns, watching a great game and then going home alone," said Martelli. “I needed the amusement that comes from winning or the despair of losing. I had to be part of a team. "
The results for the employees who recall glorious days are inconsistent. For every Fred Hoiberg who, after an N.B.A. Career and led the Cyclones to four N.C.A.A. In tournaments in five seasons there is a Clyde Drexler, whose two-year stay in Houston worsened the program.
Chris Mullin stepped down as head coach at St. John after last season, although he was able to bring his alma mater back to the NCA. Tournament after three years of absence. He had Mitch Richmond, one of his teammates at the Golden State Warriors, from the famous Run T.M.C. Days with Tim Hardaway. However, he was criticized for his laissez-fair approach to leading the team.
McKie got Temple off to a decent start. Hardaway has Memphis despite losing the nation's top-rated recruit Forward James Wiseman, who completed the program before completing a 12-game N.C.A.A. Suspension because his family received $ 11,500 from Hardaway for the move in 2017. (Wiseman was in high school at the time and Hardaway was a high school coach.)
Ewings Hoyas sometimes looked talented. even though they are only nine fellows. Four players said they wanted to switch, including three who agreed to stay away from a student who claimed to have been threatened and robbed. The players admitted they had not committed misconduct in a civil proceeding, and the police closed the investigation without arrest.
The hiring of experienced assistant coaches follows a template created by Hoiberg in the US state of Iowa. An example that sports directors point out when asked if hiring former stars as an assistant coach is a good idea.
Undeniably the most popular player in the history of Iowa State basketball. Hoiberg worked in the front office of the Minnesota Timberwolves after ten years of N.B.A. tenure. Career and had never trained on one level when Iowa State administrators handed him the keys to the program in 2010.
He brought in Bobby Lutz, who had just been fired as head coach at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and led the 49ers to five N.C.A.A. Tournament appearances to show him the ropes of the first season. And although family problems forced Lutz to leave the program after only one season, Hoiberg Lutz named the most important job he had made at the beginning of his coaching career.
Hoiberg left Iowa after five years for an unfortunate turn as head coach of the Chicago Bulls. Last spring, when he was hired as head coach in Nebraska, was one of the first calls to Lutz who now arrived serving as a special assistant for Hoiberg.
"With his experience, he knew how we wanted to play and what we could do to enable our boys to succeed," said Hoiberg. "Then and now I lean a lot on him because there are a lot of things that a man with his experience can offer our employees and our team. He was great in his role."