Bradley University is reportedly considering hiring Ronald "Chin" Coleman to be the Braves' lead assistant basketball coach. Coleman was Tim Miles' first hire at Nebraska, hiring him to be the director of player development. Coleman previously was an assistant coach for Miles at Colorado State. More importantly, prior to Colorado State, Miles was the head coach of the Chicago Mac Irvin Fire AAU basketball team from 2005 until 2011. I've long felt that Coleman was Miles' most important hire at Nebraska, so I've been disturbed that Miles has been limited to an office position where he can't go out and recruit.
In recent years, I've become convinced that Nebraska's biggest basketball problem is the talent level. Barry Collier was awful at identifying and recruiting talent, and Doc Sadler wasn't much better. The problem is having assistant coaches who have the right contacts and can bring in the players necessary to compete in a major conference. With Tim Miles' initial hires, that doesn't appear to be changing.Chris Harriman hasn't done that in an eight year coaching career at Nova Southeastern University and Saint Louis University. Craig Smith hasn't done that in his time at Northern State, Mayville State, North Dakota State, and Colorado State. Ben Johnson hasn't done that in a brief career at Dayton, Texas-Pan American, and Northern Iowa. The sole major college experience of Miles' assistants? Johnson's four years playing at Northwestern and Minnesota.
Not saying that these guys aren't good assistant coaches and valuable members of the staff. But Nebraska needed at least one guy who has successfully recruited the caliber of player that Nebraska will need to compete in the Big Ten. The only guy Miles hired who has any relevant experience was "Chin" Coleman...and Coleman was put into a player development administrative position, where he can't go out on the road and recruit. Sure, he didn't recruit them to college, but he's made connections with players that Nebraska could only dream of. Coleman's bio at huskers.com describes him this way:
From 2005 to 2011, Coleman was the head coach of Chicago's AAU Mac Irvin Fire, developing the squad into one of the top AAU programs in the country. Coleman's team earned top-three overall finishes at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League in 2009-10. While coaching the Fire, Coleman developed some of the top prep players in the country, including four McDonald's All-Americans, four Illinois Players of the Year, and 15 players that participated in the NBA Players Association Top-100 camp and the LeBron James Skills Academy between 2007 and 2010.
That's the guy that Nebraska needs to be out there recruiting. He needs to be out there watching players and talking to them, talking to AAU coaches. But he's not. And it's become clear that Coleman is frustrated with his role at Nebraska. In June, he was a leading candidate to join the Illinois coaching staff. Now it sounds like he's leaving for Bradley.
I don't like being skeptical of Miles, but skeptical I am. He wasn't my top choice to take over for Sadler; my choice was John Groce. I was concerned when I learned that Illinois hired Groce for the same money that Nebraska is paying Miles. Maybe Groce would never have considered Nebraska; I don't know how hard Nebraska tried to get Groce. I was concerned when he didn't bring anybody onto his staff outside of Coleman who's been involved with the talent level that Nebraska is going to need to attract to Lincoln. And then, he stuck Coleman in a desk job.
Miles has created a buzz around Nebraska basketball. His initial signings have given Nebraska basketball fans reason to hope. But I'm not convinced that Miles' staff can maintain that momentum without the man that appears to have the best connections to the type of players Nebraska needs to attract.
Man, I hope I'm wrong on this and proven completely off base.