Thursday, March 31, 2011

Recruiting Update and Thoughts on Coaching

D3 has been getting an increased amount of attention lately and I believe a lot of higher ranked players are considering it as an option. The past 2 days, has ran 2 articles about current high school seniors who have committed to play D3.

Colette Lewis talks to Jonathan Cypers about Amherst

Rhiannon Potkey talks to Warren Wood about CMS

I think Wood's article in particular touches on the best parts of D3. You can't be concerned about status and bragging to your friends about D1. Play a high level of tennis where you can be a top player and compete for a national title instead. Another note is that 5-star Johnny Wang has signed with Carnegie Mellon next year, joining Wood as the only 5-stars to be entering D3 this year. Wang will be a good addition to a team that's losing 2 key seniors.

On the coaching forefront, I was informed last night that Luther head coach Brian Huinker will be stepping down after 10 seasons as head coach. He will be going into consulting. Coaching is something that I probably don't give enough attention to. My view is that a bad coach can't destroy a talented team, but a good coach can make a huge difference. Huinker built a solid program at Luther and I would hope they go after a big name coach to replace him. At a school like Luther, I feel like you need a name that will catch the attention of junior players, because there's not much appeal academically or location-wise. Luther is most known for their NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in 2009 and could be a sought after job because the base is there to turn this into a consistent top 25 program. It's not necessarily a bad thing if you hire a coach who won't be there in 5 years because that probably means he took your program, made it better, and moved to bigger things. That's how college coaching works. In D3 tennis, coaches don't exactly get forced out if they don't win, although I find it distressing that there are academically good schools that could have great tennis teams and they just have coaches that don't care. Look at Case Western, that team has done a 360 in the past couple years and it's purely because of a coach. I think it's terrible that someone can just go to work and collect a paycheck and not care about winning when they are sitting on a goldmine. Just as a general trend the next couple years, I expect to see a lot of D3 coaching vacancies filled with D1 assistants. Other schools have to see Chris Garner at Amherst and think that may work for them. While I don't expect Luther to steal someone from Ohio State, I would expect them to potentially look at assistants in the bottom half of the Big 10 or possibly the MAC to try to fill their vacancy. I personally think that's their best bet and the alternative would be to go after a high level player who just finished college and wants to get into coaching. I'll be interested to see what they come up with, but the bottom line is as D3 gets better, the level of coaching also needs to improve.