Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A New Head Man In This Slice Of Paradise

With Barry "Slice" Rohrssen's dismissal from Manhattan, a revolving door of candidates have emerged in Riverdale. (Photo courtesy of New York Daily News)

A school in the northwest Bronx that has gone to six NCAA Tournaments out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference looking for its 23rd head coach to join a list that includes such luminaries as Steve Lappas, Fran Fraschilla and Bobby Gonzalez. In short, this brief description outlines Manhattan College and its search for a new sideline general to replace the departed Barry Rohrssen, dismissed after five years as the successor to Gonzalez when the charismatic upstate New York native left for Seton Hall. The list of candidates to replace Rohrssen, known to basketball insiders as "Slice" has been discussed extensively; (more on that later) and will be showcased here with the names of some possible candidates.

1) Norm Roberts - The former St. John's coach turned SNY analyst has a pick of mid-major jobs in the area after his year off from the bench. Roberts is also in the mix at Fairfield now that Ed Cooley will be introduced at Providence tomorrow; and despite his lack of interest in the position, is also a candidate at Monmouth. Having coached at New York City's marquee program for six years, Roberts knows the terrain; and the level of talent he can bring into the MAAC fits right in with his defensive-oriented system that features a rotation of ten or eleven men offensively. Roberts can also be trusted to run a clean program without taking any shortcuts.

2) Steve Masiello - Rick Pitino's disciple at Louisville was among the first names to be mentioned when Rohrssen's departure became public information. Masiello has not been a head coach at the collegiate level, but other Pitino assistants such as Mick Cronin and Kevin Willard were in the same boat before getting their big break at Murray State and Iona, respectively. Pitino has also been known to sing the praises of his deputies about as well as Donald Trump is known to negotiate real estate deals.

3) Bob Cimmino - A real dark horse in this race, Cimmino would come to Riverdale from nearby Mount Vernon High School in Westchester County. Cimmino also does not possess a collegiate track record, but neither did Danny Hurley before he was hired at Wagner this past spring; and Hurley took a team expected to finish at the bottom of the Northeast Conference and led them to a 9-9 record in the NEC and a conference tournament appearance. Cimmino has also coached stars the likes of Detroit Pistons guard Ben Gordon, as well as Rutgers forward Jonathan Mitchell and West Virginia's Kevin Jones when they were prep standouts; so he would undoubtedly be able to attract elite talent if offered the job.

4) Darren Savino - Mick Cronin's top assistant at Cincinnati was exactly that at Rutgers before jumping ship in the wake of Fred Hill's resignation. Savino is a recruiter by reputation and a fixture on the AAU scene, an important aspect of New York recruiting. Savino has been hyped as someone who knows almost everyone in AAU, which could open up the city for Manhattan to compete with Steve Lavin and St. John's to keep local talent within the 718 area code.

5) Tony Chiles - Steve Lavin's first hire on his dream team at St. John's has gained stature after serving on the Johnnies' miracle run to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. Chiles has experience at Riverdale as an assistant under Fran Fraschilla in the mid-1990s, and knows the MAAC exceptionally well with his tenure at both Manhattan and Iona. The Columbia graduate also knows New York recruiting intimately, a big plus for a mid-major in this area.

6) Mike Dunlap - Chiles' colleague and fellow Lavin deputy is the X and O mind that guided the Red Storm's return to glory, and has silently been targeted for head coaching gigs across the country. Keep this in mind, Jaspers fans: If Dunlap were hired today and introduced tomorrow, he would already be reviewing game film on Thursday morning, and would bring immediate success into Draddy Gym; not to mention his notorious motivation techniques that include his baseball bat, a tactic recounted by my friend and colleague Dan Martin of JohnnyJungle.com, who I'm proud to say has also done a wonderful job as one of the men that succeeded me as WSJU Radio's sports director.

7) John Dunne - Very rarely do you see someone take a position within their own conference, but Dunne is under consideration after guiding a resurgence at St. Peter's that resulted in the Peacocks winning the MAAC Tournament as a No. 4 seed before falling to Purdue in the NCAA Tournament. A former Seton Hall assistant, Dunne would be a strong recruiter in both his native New Jersey and the greater New York area as well. Dunne is also a former Jasper assistant, having served under John Leonard in 1998-99 before Gonzalez took over the helm of the Jaspers.

8) Steve Pikiell - Another dark horse who would come to Manhattan off a down year at Stony Brook, but his sub-.500 finish included an appearance in the America East championship game against Boston University. In other words, think Tom Pecora getting the job at Fordham following a lackluster season at Hofstra. The only difference is Manhattan is regarded to be a step up from Exit 62 off the Long Island Expressway.

9) Jim Ferry - One of the longest shots on the board, and I can tell you this personally having covered Ferry through my firsthand work in the Northeast Conference. The reigning NEC coach of the year, Ferry has silently built a reputable program in nine years at Long Island University and capped it off with the Blackbirds' first conference title since the days of Richie Parker and Charles Jones back when I was approaching my eleventh birthday in 1997. Aside from losing guards David Hicks and Kyle Johnson to graduation, Ferry has the core of his team coming back at LIU next year; and probably would not be interested in starting over.

10) Al Skinner - Another pipe dream, Skinner has a successful pedigree at both Rhode Island and Boston College; and was rumored to be a candidate for the St. John's position last year before Steve Lavin emerged from the woodwork and rode into Queens on a white chariot. Skinner's personality and lackadaisical recruiting could come back to hurt him if offered another shot in Division I, however; and after hiring one of the better recruiters in the country in Rohrssen, Manhattan athletic director Bob Byrnes would likely want to keep that characteristic prominent in his next choice.

If you come up with any other candidates, please let us know either by adding a comment or chiming in via Twitter, using the #mcmbbcoachingsummit hashtag created by myself and my two biggest fans; Manhattan College alum and hoops enthusiast Dave Rochford, along with his younger brother Quinn.

No comments:

Post a Comment