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What the Dan Engelstad Hire Says About the NCAA Landscape

Dan Engelstad

Syracuse basketball has already found a new assistant coach to replace Gerry McNamara: Dan Engelstad. After serving as the head coach for Mount St. Mary’s for six seasons, Engelstad may not have seemed like the obvious hire, but the choice says a lot about SU as a program and the state of the NCAA as a whole.

Head Coaching Experience Matters

Before bringing in Dan Engelstad, the Orange didn’t have much head coaching experience. Autry’s only season at the helm of a program at any level has been at Syracuse. Assistant coaches Allen Griffin and Brenden Straughn have also never been head coaches.

Engelstad, on the other hand, has 11 years of head coaching on his resume. Five of them were spent at DIII Southern Vermont, while the past six have been at Mount St. Mary’s. Engelstad didn’t see a crazy amount of success with the Mountaineers outside of a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2021. In all but one of his seasons with Mount St. Mary’s, his squad had a sub-.500 record.

This move shows that experience may matter more than pure wins and losses.

Coaching Hires Need To Come With a Transfer

While nothing is guaranteed, one immediately obvious benefit of hiring Dan Engelstad is the likely addition of guard Dakota Laffew. The senior, who spent four years under Engelstad at Mount St. Mary’s, just entered the transfer portal. Laffew led the Mountaineers with 17.6 points per game last season, and was also named to the All-MAAC First Team.

Hiring Engelstad is a pretty good way to lure Laffew to the Orange, given that they worked together for four seasons. Given the fact that he’s already named SU among his top six options, it seems like the strategy has worked.

With the transfer portal such a valuable part of college basketball now, it would seem silly to bring in an assistant that doesn’t have a valuable player tagging along.

Syracuse Wants to Dominate the DMV

Dan Engelstad was born in Maryland, played college basketball in the state, and has coached there too. That’s by far where his recruiting ties are the strongest. His new colleague, Brenden Straughn, also has most of his connections in Maryland, with some in Virginia as well. And of course, Syracuse’s head coach Adrian Autry is also a DMV specialist, given the fact that he started his coaching career in the area.

The Orange already do well in the northeastern region of the country, but are clearly working towards developing another stronghold down the coast as well.

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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