Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coach and Recruit Time

I hate to short-shift Brent Brekke like this, but Joe Battista (via Tony Barton and the Collegian) said more things to follow up other things he said, and I'd be pretty useless as a blogger if I didn't obsess over it in post form. Off we go.
“[Big Ten hockey's debut is] a year earlier than we originally thought,” Battista said. “So we are going to have to ratchet everything up. We will definitely have to hire the full staffs earlier than we had initially planned to. At the same time, it also means having more revenue coming in earlier because the arena will be built and ready for play.”

Hiring the staffs sooner will ease the transition from the current ACHA D-I club program to NCAA. Battista said it is necessary to have the staff, including the coaches, work hand-in-hand with the club teams, the ACHA Penn State Icers and Lady Icers, in their final seasons.

“The new coaches will have an opportunity to influence the systems the Icers will play next season to help the transition to the D-I team,” Battista said.
I'm not sure I understand why the timeline's changed - I mean, we were playing games in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 either way, weren't we? I'm probably reading entirely too much into this, but that points to one reason I was anti-Big Ten: the insular conference mentality that leads to competing with the conference at the expense of competing nationally. It's the same mentality that leads the football and basketball teams to their frequently-criticized out-of-conference schedules. I can't speak for everyone, but I'd rather be fourth in the Big Ten and make the NCAA tournament than be second in the Big Ten and miss it.

If the new timeline is ultimately the best way to do things, great. I guess my concern is the almost reflexive response to the Big Ten announcement - that it was seemingly the sole impetus for evaluating the timeline and ultimately changing it. In my opinion, 2013-2014 is actually pretty inconsequential. Ramp things up in the way that you think is best, even if it's the original plan, and being competitive with Wisconsin and Michigan will follow.

Yeah, we'd be in a conference regardless, but something tells me that if the conference was the CCHA, there would be a lot less emphasis on it.

Anyway, the intended point being made here is loud and clear to me: Icers will have the chance to play for the NCAA team. Otherwise, why would this matter? You could just recruit a full team and do everything separately, including the Bill Curry/Georgia State football model of acting like you're playing a season, just without the games. The buzz is that we'll have a recruiting class of 9-12 this year (I've heard closer to nine, although I forget where), and assuming the same next year, there could be a handful of openings. Who wants them?

Moving on to the coaching search:
Battista said the university received more than 100 resumes from qualified candidates on the men’s side, as well as 80 for the women’s position. Those numbers are now down to 15 per squad, and Battista said there is even more work to do, as the university will not be bringing 30 people in for formal interviews.

“We’re going to be in good shape,” Battista said. “We have not contacted everyone on this shorter list just yet, but I’ve been traveling, meeting with prospective coaching candidates at many clandestine locations.”

While Penn State has expressed interest in some candidates, Battista said the school refuses to be disruptive to coaches currently in-season.

Another factor in the decision could come from the choice of who will be Michigan State’s next head coach. The Spartans’ former coach, Rick Comley, retired at the end of the 2010-2011 season.

“They may be announcing theirs as early as next week,” Battista said. “The rumor mill is rampant, but all I’ve heard from my sources is they are leaning toward a Michigan State alum.”
George Gwozdecky, a former assistant for Sparty, went to Wisconsin. It's widely thought that MSU alumnus Danton Cole, formerly of Alabama-Huntsville, currently with the USA Hockey National Team Developmental Program, is the frontrunner, so that makes sense. In fact, Cole's Wikipedia page thinks he already got the job, so stay tuned on that one.

So we're down to 15 for the men and 15 for the women. "Clandestine locations." I always love that cloak-and-dagger stuff. I hope he met with Derek Schooley at the Dierks Bentley concert.

And finally, a quick note on recruiting:
The same pressure the new coaches face with less time to transition from club to D-I will also affect the current state of the Icers, with an influx of D-I recruits expected for next season.

Forward Jake Friedman and goaltender Tim Carr have already verbally committed to Penn State, with more signings to come. Both are considered NCAA-level prospects.

Battista said the recruits’ intentions are to play for the Icers in their final season before moving to the D-I team the following year. Under NCAA rules, the class will retain four years of eligibility to play once the move to D-I is made.

Icers assistant coach Josh Hand, who is handling recruiting, would not discuss the current state of the 2011 class, as they are all verbal commits.
I have a pretty high opinion of Hand, so there's no doubt in my mind that he's doing a great job. And it sounds like he has a few of the notorious "silent verbals" on board as well...

By the way, if you want to watch a video of Battista covering most of these topics so you can analyze the nuances of his gestures and facial expressions (even I won't go that far), be sure to check out Steve Penstone's post on VFTB yesterday.

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