In case you missed it, Coach Avery Johnson got his first win at Alabama in his introduction press conference on Wednesday. You can see the replay on ESPN3.
So, what is next for Coach Johnson and the Crimson Tide men's basketball program besides picking out a new sofa/bed for his office?
As reported on Monday, there is one week left until Hoops NSD (April 15). The retention of assistant Antoine "The Red Sneaker Assassin" Pettway is a good step in the task of acquiring a few more signatures. Pettway has all the Crimson Tide blood running through his veins and as well as the priceless relationships with high school and AAU coaches around the region. Johnson and Pettway are tentatively set to visit with former Tide commit Dazon Ingram on Thursday, the first allowable day per recruiting rules. For a report on potential targets, click here. The recruiting schedule:
Thursday, April 9 at noon: Recruiting period reopens
Friday, April 10: Evaluation Period (for certified events only such as AAU tournaments)
Monday, April 13: Dead Period
Wednesday, April 15: National Signing Day
Friday, April 17: Recruiting Period reopens
Thursday, April 23: Quiet Period thru July 5
Wednesday, May 20: Final Signing Date
HIRING ASSISTANTS AND STAFF
The most important personnel move at this point will be selecting a Head Assistant Coach. This hire could come within the next 24 hours.
AL.com bandied out the name of former Alabama center Roy Rogers as a possible candidate. He is currently an assistant with the playoff-bound Washington Wizards. Personally, I'd be surprised if he quit that job to take a pay cut at the Capstone. In addition, I think Pettway has the "Bama-connection" covered. The Head Assistant should be more of an experienced X's and O's type and a developer of talent.
One name worth mentioning is P.J. Carlesimo. The former Seton Hall head coach was Johnson's assistant with the Brooklyn Nets from 2012-2013. Carlesimo did great things with the Pirates including a Big Dance runner-up in 1989, Elite 8 in 1991, and a Sweet 16 in 1992. After leaving the Hall, he coached the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors until he was fired in 1999. He served as an assistant under Gregg Popovich at San Antonio from 2002-2007. He also assisted at Seattle/OKC and Toronto until landing with the Nets. Despite a strange incident with former Tide star Latrell Sprewell, he would be an asset to the program.
Another former Johnson assistant is Mario Elie. You may remember him best from his days with the Houston Rockets and this play (with a nice assist by Big Shot Rob). Elie, who grew up in New York City, could help with recruiting that fertile ground. In order for this program to ascend to great heights, Bama will need to recruit outside of the region like Duke does.
There has also been mention of former Bama player and current UGA assistant Phillip Pearson. However at this point in his career, I am not sure if he would be willing to make a lateral move from Georgia back to Alabama.
Another important hire will be the Director of Basketball Operations.
Johnson, along with Pettway's help, will take time to meet with each individual player currently on the roster and define their future roles with the team. It is awkward for players when they go through coaching changes. Sometimes philosophies and/or personalities don't quite jibe between players and the new coach. From this potential development, there could be transfers. However, after seeing Johnson's press conference, I cannot imagine anyone on the current roster not wanting to stick around. From Johnson's standpoint, he will need all nine of those warm bodies to return.
After all the dust settles, another new and unfamiliar task for Johnson will be setting up a schedule for 2015-2016. Bama has played Wichita four times in the last five seasons (once in the NIT final, once in a holiday invitational, home-and-home). Although it would be an intriguing match-up next season, one wonders if that relationship has been soured.
Home-and-home series with the Shockers, UCLA, and Xavier have concluded leaving an open slate for the future. Although, Johnson's alma mater Southern University might get a call.
UPDATE: It has been reported that former walk-on Dakota Slaughter, who earned a scholarship, has another year of eligibility remaining. However, he was honored on Senior Day leading me to believe he will move on with his life.
UPDATE 2: Johnson has offered a scholarship to rising junior Nick King who is transferring from Memphis. The former 4-star small forward was ranked among the top 50 coming out of high school in 2013. He is 6-7/220 and averaged 7.2 ppg and 4.8 rpg this past season. He would have to sit out next season.