Syracuse moved quickly to replace Mike Hopkins, naming Allen Griffin as an assistant coach Thursday. Griffin played for Syracuse 1997-2001 and has spent the last five seasons on the bench at Dayton as an assistant to Archie Miller, who is now the head coach at Indiana. So, Syracuse has hired another former player. The Orange have had every coaching role filled by a former player since 2011, when Bernie Fine left the school. Is it a good thing that every coach not only played at Syracuse, but played under Jim Boeheim?
The Good: Recruiting and Familiarity
Syracuse basketball seems to have a family feel about it. Once an Orange, always an Orange. This can be spun as a positive thing in the recruitment of high school players. “Come to Syracuse, Be a part of this incredible family, where we always take care of our own.” That is certainly something that the Orange can use.lure in recruits. All three of Boeheim’s assistants can talk to recruits about what it is like to play under the Hall-of-Famer and explain why they returned to their college.
Mike Hopkins’ role was to work closely with the big men and Allen will slide right into that role. While Allen did not play in the exclusive 2-3 zone era, he is, presumably, very familiar with the way that Boeheim likes to run his team, both on offense and defense. One would think that hiring someone who is familiar with the Syracuse way will make the transition easier and it will help players like Taurean Thompson prepare for their sophomore season. Who knows? Maybe a new voice will help Thompson improve his defense, which was a glaring weakness during his freshman season.
The Bad: Lack of Diversity
Syracuse is about to enter its seventh straight season of having only former players on the staff, which means that there really isn’t a variety in opinions and experiences. It has to be said that Griffin did spend five years learning under Archie MIller, which hopefully will provide him with some different perspectives than what he learned at Syracuse. However, all three assistant coaches played their college basketball under Boeheim and likely have similar opinions, ideas and strategies. While this may help them all get along, it is a recipe for stagnation. It is unlikely that someone on the staff will bring a completely new idea or strategy to the table. It is like if there is one political party. There would certainly be less fighting but there would be no one to challenge to status quo, and therefore progress is less likely to be made.
Only time will tell if Griffin will be successful at Syracuse, but if one is hoping for a new perspective on the coaching staff, you will likely have to wait until Boeheim retires before Syracuse extends the radius of their coaching search.