The addition of Adrian Autry to Syracuse basketball means that the ‘Cuse is now an All-Orange coaching staff, and some wonder if that’s actually a bad thing. It’s definitely beneficial to have coaches that know the program and university inside and out. However, having an entire staff with Syracuse bloodlines might not be the formula needed to win it all.
An all SU-alumni staff may negatively impact coaching creativity, with no one willing to think outside the box. Outside of Autry, the rest of the staff has lived and breathed Orange basketball basically since they enrolled at Syracuse. Boeheim and Bernie Fine have been at SU for over three decades. Mike Hopkins jumped from a player to an SU coach in just two years. Essentially, everything within the program has been done the “Boeheim way.” Unfortunately for the Orange faithful, when it has mattered most, the team hasn’t delivered in recent years doing it that way.
An outside perspective is always good to have. When people come from the identical background and learn under the same basketball philosophy, it can be difficult to realize the flaws in the system. There are times during this past season when it was obvious that a change or tweak in the game plan was needed. Witness Louisville draining threes and cutting up the defense (which seems to happen every year against the Cardinals). Or Jeremy Hazell seamlessly rising over the smaller guards on the perimeter and scorching the Orange for 28 points (a switch out of the zone probably would have helped).
It’s never a bad thing to have multiple strategies when the going gets rough. But having an all SU-breed staff limits the numbers of options that can be used since everyone’s learned the same system.
Autry does come to SU with some outside coaching experience, having been at Virginia Tech for three years. But his experience is limited since he was an assistant coach for just one of those years. Red has been removed from Orange basketball for some time, but his roots are still with Syracuse. It would be wise for AA to approach his coaching duties at SU with an open mind. He should not fall into the notion of it’s the Orange way or the highway.
If Autry can add insights and suggestions on how to improve the team after taking a step back and looking at the team from a broader view, his impact will be huge. He needs to bring what he learned with the Hokies and add a different touch to Syracuse basketball. Adrian should not be afraid to challenge the conventional wisdom on the Hill and sprinkle in new ideas that he picked up from the Hokies or playing overseas.
Time will tell if this combination of coaches works out. Here in Orange nation, we are hoping for the best.
Posted: Dave Van Moffaert