We caught up with USF men's basketball coach Stan Heath about his new coaching staff -- we'll have Q&As up shortly with assistants Eric Skeeters and Jeremy Cox -- and the difficult challenge of choosing those assistants.
GA: You had a chance to remold your staff a bit in making these two hires. How did it come together?
SH: It was really tough, and hard because I have a really good coach right here in Tommy Tonelli, a guy who in a lot of ways could do a great job as well and will in the future. It made me evaluate some of the things we need to do as a staff to do better, for this season, for our team, for our future. I wanted someone who at the end of the day was very effective and productive and would bring something to our program that would make us better. I feel like I found that.
GA: You said your first priority was finding recruiters, someone who could raise the level of talent on your roster to help compete at a higher level in the Big East. You've already talked about Skeeters, but talk about Cox, who you've known since he was at Arkansas-Fort Smith and you were at Arkansas.
SH: We just hit it off from Day One. When I was coach at Arkansas, right away, he was coming to practices, just sitting around after we'd get done with practice and just talk basketball. He's a gymrat guy who loves the game, loves to look at all phases, whether it's recruiting, scouting, film or player development. We just developed a relationship over time where I felt really comfortable with him.
GA: He's been a head coach as well, so you get some X's and O's in addition to the recruiting he's shown at Texas A&M and Kentucky in the last few years.
SH: That's where I thought he had a little of an edge over most of the candidates. They all had some exceptional traits as well. He just brought a little bit of everything: former head coach, has recruited at a really high level, a guy I felt Billy (Gillispie) put in position to handle a lot of responsibilities, so he could make a smooth transition here as well. Also, in the back of my mind, having a guy with some junior college ties is a good plus for us, to be able to go into that area. That's an area that can help us.
GA: Have you figured out how the roles will be for the three assistants, how they'll work together?
SH: I think what will happen on our staff is we'll have a little more balance. Dan (Hipsher) was a right-hand man to me in a lot of ways, but more in scouting, player development, in being a guy I could bounce things off. I think I have that within my staff, but I think the recruiting will spread out a lot more. I think we have a little more of a younger staff, so we'll connect a little more with players, be more interactive with the guys. I see some plusses the new staff brings to the table, but we'll go through a transition phase. Hopefully it won't last very long because we need to hit the ground running. I like in the short amount of time the vibe, the interaction the guys have had with each other.
GA: Will one assistant handle certain positions -- one with the guards, one with the bigs?
SH: Reggie (Hanson) will stay in that role with the bigs. That won't change. I think Eric will do a lot more with the guards, and I think what's probably going to happen is Jeremy will oversee that area, so if one guy's gone, he'll take the bigs, if another guy's gone, he'll take the guards. I'll have him in a role where he'll make sure we're all working on the same things, so there's consistency there.
GA: Freshman guard Mike Burwell is already in school and working out with returning players. Will you have all your incoming players in school when the second half of summer classes starts in two weeks?
SH: Everybody's coming in. Everybody has been admitted, fully done. Jarrid (Famous) is finishing up a couple of classes at school, and once he's done with that, he'll be completely done, in time for him to be here for Summer B.