Memphis Head Coach Penny Hardaway (Photo: Addie James, 247Sports)
The common sentiment is that head coach Penny Hardaway needs a strong X’s-and-O’s presence beside him on the bench — which he does — but the first time college coach has – in our opinion – a much more pressing hire to make. Coach Hardaway needs to zero in and close a strong Director of Basketball Operations – also known as the DOBO – with quickness.
Memphis’ 2017-2018 basketball roster is currently in limbo. Outside of David Nickelberry – who announced his intentions to transfer earlier this week – the players eligible to return for next season are currently evaluating their role for 2018-2019 team while trying to maintain their eligibility in the classroom.
In addition, Hardaway and assistant coach Tony Madlock are two men handling the job of 10, give or take. An experienced and seasoned DOBO can take much of that burden off of the coaching duo and allow them to focus on the main things – recruiting, media and filling out the remaining staff spots. From a foundational perspective, the DOBO sets a program in the right direction.
It’s not a position where you stash a fourth assistant coach who doesn’t understand the job or hasn’t worked in operations before. Memphis needs an experienced and organized person to head their support staff if a first time coach like Hardaway is going to be able to organize his program quickly.
There was a chance former director of Basketball Operations Zo Goodson was going to stick around to stay on Hardaway’s staff, but sources have told GoTigers247 that it is no longer likely to happen. Assistant coach Tony Madlock said he expects the staff to be completed by the April evaluation period. Hardaway and Madlock will be conducting interviews in San Antonio at the Final Four this weekend.
“They’re very important, not just for a first time head coach, but for anybody," Madlock said. "They’re very important positions. Anyone from player development to operations guy to video guy to full time staff. They’re all very important positions. I know Penny is taking it very seriously. He’s looking at some really good candidates. We’re looking forward to the day he says “we’re going with this guy and this guy” so we can move forward."
A DOBO is in charge of implementing everything the head coach wants to do. If they plan to be a pressing team, that is implemented by the DOBO over the summer through workouts. Players need to be in shape to run up and down the floor if a head coach so chooses, so workouts need to be scheduled in the right way around classes.
Summer camps are a good time to get acquainted with younger players and coaches. Those are scheduled and put together by the DOBO and support staff. The teams are put together, while the games and camps are scheduled over the course of a year. That – too – falls on the DOBO.
"The director of ops position is as important as an assistant coach in college basketball today," a ConferenceUSA head coach told GoTigers247 on the condition of anonymity. "The importance of being organize and efficient when it comes to scheduling, practice schedules, summer camp, and video work is vital to the success of any college basketball program."
Other duties can include travel scheduling, planning and execution, practice time, official and unofficial visitors, overseeing Grad Assistants and managers, assisting in scouting, overseeing and maintaining facilities, managing tickets for home and away games, booster and community relations, overseeing the budget, housing and academics. If the DOBO isn’t organized, the program is going to be unorganized. In other words, if the DOBO is not at his best, the program cannot run at maximum capacity.
Communication is key at this position. The DOBO is constantly communicating with compliance, advisors, players and coaches so everyone is on the same page about the academic status of the players and APR of the program. They also aid in following NCAA rules on the recruiting trail, something that will prove key to Coach Hardaway as he learns the NCAA Rulebook.
“There’s no doubt that the ops position plays a massively critical role within a program," an ACC head coach told GoTigers247 on the condition of anonymity. "It’s the administrative foundation of everything you do. Everything – academics, schedules, recruiting, finances, you name it – must be documented and communicated. That all starts with and goes through the director of basketball operations. I would almost go as far as saying that the grind work that is done from that spot helps win games just as much as a coaching position does.”
The college assistants and head coaches set to shine on the big stage in the future are currently grinding it out behind the scenes. With the staff currently in San Antonio, TX for the Final Four, hopefully the right one gets the opportunity to rub elbows with Hardaway and that he – who desperately needs that backstage help – closes quickly.