|Posted on March 22, 2017 at 6:20 PM|
Article by Dan Tortora
The departure of longtime assistant coach and recruiter Mike Hopkins from the Syracuse Orange men's basketball program has inevitably opened up a seat on the sideline next to fellow assistant coaches/recruiters Adrian Autry and Gerry McNamara.
Meaning, head coach Jim Boeheim has a job opening to fill.
Hopkins had been working with centers, so the question arises on whether or not the assistant coach-to-be-named would need to have experience coaching up big men. When we spoke on this exact subkect, Boeheim replied, "Mike [Hopkins] worked with guards for his whole career and then he switched to big men. I worked with guards and then I switched to big men, so you can do that. You don't have to have a center work with big guys. The best guy that even worked with big men was Pete Newell. He was a guard in college and he's known as the best big man coach of all time."
"It's getting them to do the drills, it's being emotional, it's being a good teacher," Boeheim added. "Any coach that's good can teach that."
Concering if McNamara and Autry would remain coaching the guards and forwards, respectively, Boeheim offered, "Gerry [McNamara] works with the guards and he was a guard and it's easier for him. Adrian [Autry] works with forwards because that's what he's always worked with but Adrian could work with centers."
"I would never take Gerry away from the guards because he brings a certain perspective there that makes him a great coach there, probably as good as anybody in the country at that position, Then, I think Adrian is at forward," Boeheim went on to say.
"So ideally we would like to get somebody to work with the big guys. We have two great recruiters. We probably don't need a great recruiter but we'll try to find somebody that can recruit, but we could find somebody that's just good with big men, too."
On the topic of adding a coach to the mix that can recruit, Boeheim expressed, "My experience is if you're a good person and you're good with people, you can recruit. Gerry [McNamara] had no experience and he's a very good recruiter."
With all of this having been stated, below is a look at Syracuse men's basketball alumni that could be a fit for the job vacancy on the staff, along with what they as well as others have been saying in connection with the program's history:
"I appreciate it," said Blackwell on hearing that his name has been brought up by fellow Syracuse men's basketball alumni, "I appreciate the words that they're saying" in regards to their belief that he would fit in well as a member of the Orange staff.
"All I can do is continue to work and fight for that chance," Blackwell went on to say. "That'd be great. We'll see."
On if he received the call from Boeheim, Blackwell offered, "I mean, that would be great. What else can I say? This is what I've worked for. I love Liverpool, obviously, but everyone knows and I've said it on record, that if I got that chance, i wouldn't turn it down."
"So it'd be great," Blackwell stated on if he was offered the Syracuse assistant coaching opportunity. "It'd be a dream come true."
As far as coaching big men and his comfort level with that, Blackwell shared, "I've worked with guards, I've worked with forwards, i've worked with bigs. When I coached overseas, I was the only coach, didn't have an assistant, and I worked out all the guys, so I've had a lot of experience at all levels working with different position players. So, it wouldn't matter with me either way. It'd be fine."
Concering if the role of the big man has changed in his mind, Blackwell expressed, "It's just the way the game has changed. It's just the evolution of the game. Bigger guys are stepping out, shooting it, have more skills. Kevin Durant's 6'10", he can play the 2-guard, 2-, 3-man, so the game has evolved so much."
When you do get big men, obviously, it's a rare commodity, but it's just the way it is," Blackwell added. "Right now, the big guys can sail out and shoot, open up the floor. That's just how it is. You learn to deal with it and you work with it, and you go from there."
"if you get a big guy that strictly stays on the block, then you work with that as well, so it depends on what you get."
When it comes to recruiting for Syracuse if he were to get the opportunity, Blackwell replied, "Like Boeheim said, it's about relationships. It's about knowing people, being able to connect with people on all levels, and I've been able to do that wherever I was going. whether it's recruiting players that played for me overseas or recruiting players at IMG, I'm more than capable."
Roosevelt Bouie, Jr.:
On if he is interested in the assistant coach position at Syracuse, Bouie said, "First of all, I am a Syracuse alum and fan of Syracuse. There are few things in this world that I would do at the drop of a hat, and one of them would be to the service of my university, and that's for the love of the game, for the love of the university."
"That would be a privilege and an honor," Bouie added, "But that's not my call."
Bouie echoed his previous statement when he shared, "There are few things in this world that I would drop everything to go handle and first of all being that of my university, so that would be a privilege and an honor, but they got their business to handle and I'll be supporting them whenever and wherever."
The former big man for Syracuse was with Boeheim for his first and his 100th-career victory, and in recent times, has not been far from the program, living in Rochester and keeping in touch with Hopkins. "I talked to Mike Hopkins during the summer and we would always sit down, pad and paper, and we would talk about big man stuff. and he would say to me, 'I know how I think a big guy should play but I'll always be a guard teaching a big man to play so what are the details about things I should look into doing?'"
"We'd talk a half-hour, 40 minutes, a couple times a year," Bouie went on to say about his conversations with Hopkins while Hopkins was an assistant at Syracuse.
"I remember once with Rakeem Christmas...[Hopkins said] 'Rakeem is dominant at the basket. He's really strong, but he has a tendency to stand up too much'", Bouie recalled. "So I made the comment to him, I said, 'You know what a quick fix would be? When he's playing one-on-one in practice is every time he posts up to get position, make him slap both hands on the floor before he calls for the ball.'"
Bouie continued, "To slap both hands on the floor you have to widen your stance and bend your knees, so you're not telling him get low, get a better stance. You're accomplishing that by making him slap the floor, and once he slaps the floor and calls for the ball, if you look at what position he's in, he's in perfect balance, strong position to receive the ball."
On the passion lasting to today, Bouie offered, "It's fun for me because it's something I did for a long time."
"Syracuse has been good to me, going there, playing there," he added.
Terrence Roberts on Louis Orr and Roosevelt Bouie, Jr.:
Roberts zeroed in on the "Louie & Bouie Show" for the Syracuse alumni he would consider for the assistant coach vacancy. "If had my choice, I would try to get coach [Louis] Orr in there," said Roberts.
"He's a big man coach," Roberts went on to say. "I feel like they really need that at this point. Not only is he a good coach, he was a good head coach in my opinion, and I feel like to have him there would be good for their bigs, would be good for recruiting."
"I've always been a fan of Louie Orr."
When asked about the potential of Bouie in the position, Roberts replied, "Rosie was a mentor for me at Syracuse. He always taught me a lot of things when I was there. As far as having a big guy, a big presence in there, I feel like he would also be a great guy to have around."
He has a lot of wisdom when it comes to the game," Roberts added, speaking on Bouie. "He has a lot of wisdom when it comes to post play."
Historically-speaking, "He's a Syracuse legend, so I feel like that would be a great thing for the program as well," Roberts expressed.
No matter what, "I just really feel like we need to get somebody in there that is big man related," Roberts shared.
"We had a lot of guard coaches and forward coaches lately, but we've kind of been lacking at the center position."
"Not saying that Hop (Mike Hopkins) and Red (Adrian "Red" Autry) and GMac (Gery McNamara) and Eric [Devendorf] and those guys weren't doing their job with the big guys, but I just feel like having a big guy there that played the position would help the program."
All quotes in this article are direct responses from JIm Boeheim, Ryan Blackwell, Roosevelt Bouie, Jr., and Terrence Roberts from questions posted by Dan Tortora to be aired shared on "Wake Up Call with Dan Tortora" and throughout Dan Tortora Broadcast Media, LLC.