Thursday, April 27, 2006

Spinelli to Wichita???

According to the Lincoln Journal-Star and the Omaha World-Herald, Husker assistant basketball coach Scott Spinelli is leaving the Huskers for a lateral move to Wichita State. Which raises the following question: WTF???

Is Wichita State a better program than Nebraska? Not likely; while the Shockers did make the Sweet 16, the MVC is still a mid-major conference.

So why this move? Looking around, there are two theories which probably explain it:
  • Barry Collier was almost fired this spring, and probably doesn't have much job security.
  • WSU coach Mark Turgeon is a hot commodity as a head coach and Spinelli could be positioning himself as Turgeon's successor.
But still, this looks bad for Husker hoops. A lot of people credit Spinelli's work in recruiting as a reason why Collier was retained. Spinelli's departure will not only hurt Collier's recruiting momentum, but will also increase the perception that Collier is on his last legs at Nebraska.

This can't be good.


torear said...

Not if, is. Wichita State had more success recently on the court, has a lot more history and tradition of success (more NCAA appereances, this year's Sweet 16, a few Regional Final apperances and a Final Four in the 60s) and has significantly more fan support. Within the last few years, WSU completely gutted the Roundhouse and completely redone it. They sell out nearly every game down there and have one of the better game atmospheres in the Midwest.

That said, I've always thought Spinelli's mystique was far overblown by the same sort of recruitnik mentality you rail against in football. If you use the recruiting rankings as a measure of success, the classes Spinelli brought in to Nebraska and the classes Altman and Fish brought into Creighton grade out similarly (except this year, in which Creighton's grades out better). If you use the measure of actual player development and how it translated into the on-the-court success, again that's not even a contest. Spinelli's a good coach, and you have to give him credit for being able to recruit even halfway decent prospects to the trainwreck in Lincoln, but the "recruiting god" moniker was always spin.

What makes this significant, however, is it's another nail in the coffin of this supposed canyon gap between the Big XII or MVC. Turgeon signed a 10 year extension and turned down a lucrative offer from Oklahoma this season so, unless the KU job opens up any time soon, he's not likely to leave, so Spinelli's far from an heir-apparant. Add to this the departure of Rankin to be an assistant coach at Dayton (the only other NU assistant who had significant recruiting success of recent).

The current rationalization is "Well, Collier's likely to get fired at the end of the year, so what's it matter?" Really? Like he was supposed to be fired at the end of the past two years?

Carl said...

It may be a case of upward mobility.
Collier is either going succeed here (and stay as head coach) or fail here in which his assistants won't have a really shot at the job.

In WSU Turgeon will likely head to bigger and better things and his assistants stand to move into his place.

I don't see Nebraska basketball as being a good place for an assistant who has designs on being a head coach sooner rather than later.

torear said...

Turgeon signed a 10 year extension this offseason after turning down an Oklahoma offer of over $1 million (after Altman didn't let talk even get off the ground).

The only way I can see Turgeon going anywhere anytime soon is if the Kansas job opens (which he'd get on his knees and beg for), but I don't see that happening any time soon either.

I'll agree, though, that Nebraska isn't a good launching pad for assistants with head coach aspirations. Although, it's not like Spinelli is an heir apparant in Wichita.

Husker Mike said...

Maybe Spinelli is not going to inherit the WSU job, but the lower level D-1 schools (like Northern Colorado) will look towards assistants in leagues like the MVC and Big XII for head coaches.

I'm not aware of the recruiting rankings of either Creighton or Nebraska; the only way I know what the Rivals ranking is in football is because you can't miss it. I do think Spinelli improved the athletes coming to Nebraska; Maric and McCray were simply more talented than the other players Nebraska has had. Has Creighton been recruiting better players? I don't know about that, though I do know that Creighton's players have been better coached.

torear said...

I agree that Spinelli will likely continue to be looking for head coaching opportunities.

Maric and McCray are better athletes than Collier had been recruiting, but they were still rated 3 stars by most services. Significantly better than what NU had been getting, but there's still a distinct gap between the players Nebraska is after and the players Kansas, the Oklahoma schools and Texas are after.

For the most part the past few years, in terms of recruiting rankings, Creighton and Nebraska's classes have graded out similar, both coming up with average player rankings in the 3 star range.

This year, Creighton has letters of intent from forward Kenny Lawson from San Diego (3 stars in Scout, considered one of the top west coast big men), guard Isaac Miles (top 150 player in Scout, was being pursued by Missouri and about half the Big XII when he committed), and just recently guard D'Angalo Jackson from Wisconsin (only a two star in Scout's last rankings, but an all-state selection in Wisconsin even after missing a decent amount of time due to injury).

Forward Ty Morrison, who was Quin Snyder's top recruit before he was fired, took an official visit to CU and verbally committed, yet he did take his last official visit to Gonzaga in the past week. He's seems to be still leaning towards us, but we don't have him signed yet. Into the future, Antoine Young at Bel West is a four star recruit for 2008.

While Creighton's generally been getting more development out of their kids, we did make a concerted effort to upgrade our recruiting. That's why Brian Fish joined our staff about the same time Spinelli came to Lincoln. Both him and Darren Devries have very good reputations as recruiters.