Bryan: Well this is a bit more upbeat than the news we were discussing last week. Two weeks ago we were hoping our season would still be going at this time, but after a really rough 12 days, this is some welcome good news.
Joel: Totally agreed. Unless there’s a home run hire out there, I think continuity is hugely valuable. This situation is why Xavier made Steele Associate Head Coach and kept him around. It’s due diligence to see if Coach Wooden wants to come back from the dead or whatever, but if that door is shut, you go with the plan. With that said, my man needs to shore up the roster in a hurry.
Bryan: So far the only feedback from current players has been positive, so that is a step in the right direction. Hopefully he can keep our recruiting class intact and keep Curtis (who he was the lead recruiter for) on board for 2019. The other question is staff. The only place he has coached for the last 10 years just got gutted, so where does he go from here?
Brad: Brian Thornton? We need a coach to replace Pegues. I think this was the best choice available after keeping Coach Mack. The testimonials from players coming are a huge encouragement.
This point got twisted on Twitter a bit, but how crazy is it that UCLA’s coach reached out (and rumor has it Arizona’s did as well) and we passed? If you go back 20 years and tell an X fan that a time is coming that the coach at UCLA would leave for our job, you’d get laughed at. Then you can tell them that we weren’t interested and everyone agreed that was the right call. It’s more evidence of where we are as a program.
Bryan: What factor, if any, do you think Christopher’s conversations with recruits had? I think he didn’t have a hard decision to make, but he did really well to get it done before we were really behind the 8 ball as far as transfers go while also doing his due diligence.
Brad: If anything I think they just cemented what he already knew. Were you guys surprised to hear that we interviewed seven people for this job? Honestly, who could it have been? Kelsey, Steele, maybe Alford? Interest is one thing, seven interviews is really, really surprising.
Bryan: Izzo? Kerr? Auerbach? Beats me. I think the timing of Christopher’s interviews and Alford’s sudden lack of interest could point to him being one of them, but I am not convinced that there was even that much in that particular rumor.
Since today is Easter, which is a holiday where we celebrate a triumphant return, what former Xavier player or coach would you most like to see on staff? Doesn’t have to make sense, we are dreaming here.
Brad: I’ve already said I’d like to see Brian Thornton come back to work with the bigs. He has coaching experience, he has a Xavier connection, and he played a game that wasn’t predicated on athleticism. Beyond that, I’d like to see Dante come back to make sure we keep some attitude and I think everyone would like to see Stanley Burrell on staff.
Bryan: Stan is my hope as well. I hate when people drone on about intangibles, but his mentality and edge undeniably made his Xavier teams better. With the talent we are losing, I think it is going to be important to have that kind of leadership, and who better to instill it than the guy who best embodied it in a Xavier uniform?
Joel: I think retaining Mario has to be priority number one. He has been with the program longer than almost anyone on the basketball side of the things, and the value he brings goes way beyond just continuity.
Also, did Jeremy Growe die and nobody told me? He’s been DOBO for like a decade; he probably deserves consideration as an assistant under the same line of thinking that made hiring Steele such an obvious play.
Brad: Jeremy is alive and well. I’m also assuming he gets promoted. Yes, Mario is an absolute must-keep. I think his loss would be at least as damaging as Mack’s. I guess I’ve been working under the assumption that he was for sure back if Steele got the job.