Andre LaFleur may have left Jim Calhoun's coaching staff after 10 seasons to take an associate coaching gig in Providence earlier this week, but his departure doesn't leave a gaping hole among the Huskies' assistants. Kevin Ollie, the man some think will ultimately replace Calhoun, is still there, as is longtime coach, George Blaney.
It just means that Director of Basketball Administration Glen Miller (a job previously held by LaFleur) will be promoted to assistant. So the staff carries on uninterrupted.
But as the Hartford Courant's Mike Anthony writes, there is still a very important job to be filled.
The director of basketball administration is a multifaceted role that mixes basketball duties such as film breakdown and game-planning with the handling of compliance issues, travel logistics and a multitude of other duties. It is, as the title suggests, largely administrative, and the person in that role is the go-between for the program and other university departments and alumni.
Miller, 49, a former UConn assistant and head coach at Brown and Penn, was the perfect fit, satisfying all needs on all fronts. He had the basketball experience to appeal to Calhoun, the administrative experience to satisfy athletic director Jeff Hathaway and the general knowledge of the inner-workings of a program that are vital now that UConn has entered a period of probation as part of self-imposed and NCAA-imposed sanctions for recruiting violations.
That point can't be overstated; X's and O's are one thing, but all the behind-the-scenes administrative duties are arguably more important. Because without someone who can be trusted to handle the minutiae the position demands, the day-to-day operation of the program breaks down.
Another issue: the director of administration can't recruit players. That wasn't a concern when the team was fully staffed, but UConn just lost its best recruiter to another Big East school. Obviously, Ollie, Blaney and Miller will pick up the slack but recruiting isn't like teaching the drop step. It requires both patience and doggedness, an ability to connect with players and talk to parents -- all qualities LaFleur possessed. Miller has experience as both an assistant and an head coach at the Division I level so he's familiar with what recruiting entails. Now it's just a matter of getting out there and doing it (and doing it well).
As for potential replacements for the director of administration job, Anthony writes that "Names that have been floated as potential replacements in previous years, like before Miller and [Beau] Archibald were hired, and again recently, are former UConn players Ricky Moore (now an assistant at Dartmouth) and Kevin Freeman."
There's no reason to think that the Huskies won't continue to be a well-coached team. However, if UConn struggles to recruit top-notch players going forward, all the coaching in the world won't matter. At some point you need the players to carry the team when the coaching breaks down. Look no further than Kemba Walker for evidence of that.