Thursday, March 20, 2014
Why I don't want Tommy Amaker at BC
Even before the media started speculating, I knew Tommy Amaker was a leading candidate to replace Steve Donahue. That always gave me pause. Amaker may come to BC and do very well, but he's not who I want. I feel we know enough about Amaker to question if he would ever lead BC to an ACC Championship or Final Four.
The transition from the Ivy League to a major conference is very difficult. BC just learned that with Steve Donahue. Do we really want to replace him with another coach from the Ivy League? Everyone knows about the difference in recruiting at the two levels, but I also think the intensity of the league competition is much different, as is the expectation level. Aside from Donahue, other Ivy coaches who made the jump have either struggled or plateaued as perennial NIT teams (Carmody at Northwestern and Robinson at Oregon State). The biggest Ivy successes are Fran Dunphy at Temple and John Thompson III at Georgetown. And neither of those situations are comparable to Amaker taking over BC (given Dunphy and Thompson's prior connection to their respective programs).
I keep reading that Amaker had to rebuild Michigan. That's not really the case. He had a full scholarship allotment while with the Wolverines. The postseason bans he inherited didn't impact his first team (which was under .500) and probably kept his second team out of the NIT. That's it. The rest of the time, he had no sanctions or obstacles. Yet in his final four seasons in Ann Arbor, he never made the Tournament and never finished over .500 in Big Ten play. I know he's a different coach now and supposedly learned, but he couldn't win big at Michigan. That should be a big red flag. Michigan has so many things that BC does not (national following, highly appealing to recruits, the ability to recruit anyone) and the best Amaker could do was 8-8 in conference and NIT bids.
Amaker is a good recruiter and recruiting is how he is winning at Harvard. He just has better players than most of his competition. We need a good recruiter and we need an infusion of talent. But we also need someone who can develop the talent and out scheme the other teams. You can't just out recruit your opponents in the ACC. There is too much parity and elite talent throughout the conference.
I've been wrong about plenty of coaches before. (I was the one who thought Donahue had a tournament team this year.) Amaker may be great once he leaves Harvard. And I do think he will recruit well wherever he goes. But I think this time around BC can find a great recruiter who is also a great coach.