Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner hired his staff this week, adding Darryl LaBarrie, Eric Reveno and Tavaras Hardy. Pastner, as promised, took his time to make his hires, and it would appear it was worth the wait. Three thoughts about the staff.
Strong track records
Each coach has contributed to highly successful teams. While Reveno was an assistant at Stanford, the Cardinal went to the NCAA tournament each of his eight seasons. In that period, Stanford won 30 games three times, made the Final Four once, was ranked No. 1 in three different seasons and won the Pac-10 four times.
It bears mention that, prior to the hire of coach Mike Montgomery in 1986, Stanford was a non-competitive entity. In fact, when Stanford made the NCAA tournament in 1989 – when Reveno was a captain – it was the Cardinal’s first NCAA appearance since 1942.
Reveno was fired from Portland after this season, and the final numbers were grim. He was 140-178 over 10 seasons. However, he won 60 games in a three-year span in the third, fourth and fifth years of his tenure. There hadn’t been a comparable run of success at the school in about 30 years.
Hardy helped Northwestern to back-to-back 20-win seasons in 2009-10 and 2010-11. It doesn’t sound like much, but consider that Northwestern has never been to the NCAA tournament in school history, the only power-conference school that can make that claim. The Wildcats went to four consecutive NIT appearances, which, again, doesn’t sound like much, but Northwestern had made the NIT just three times before coach Bill Carmody was hired and later hired Hardy.
LaBarrie was on the staff of the Georgia State team that won the Sun Belt regular-season title in 2014 and then both the regular-season and tournament titles in 2015 on the way to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament. Georgia State had been to the NCAA tournament just twice in school history prior to that.
Not only have they won, but they’ve helped build winners at schools unaccustomed to winning. Tech is in a little different place, but Pastner and his staff will be taking over a program that has had two postseason appearances in the past nine years, albeit one this past season.
All three are graduates of elite academic institutions. Reveno earned an economics degree from Stanford. Hardy graduated from Northwestern with a degree in political science. LaBarrie received a management degree from Tech.
I’m not sure what it means, but all three have also had jobs outside of college basketball. LaBarrie coached at the high-school level in the Atlanta area and also with the Atlanta Celtics AAU team. After playing in Japan for four years, Reveno got his MBA from Stanford and then was president of a non-profit mentoring organization before getting hired at Stanford.
Hardy worked in wealth management for JPMorgan Chase. (Hardy also coached an AAU team, in Illinois.)
There’s not much ACC experience. There’s a lot to like about the staff. Reveno is a longtime head coach, opens up the West Coast as a recruiting territory and is a noted big-man coach. As a Tech grad, LaBarrie can give Pastner, the staff and the team guidance and be a connection point for former players. As have Reveno and LaBarrie, Hardy has demonstrated considerable recruiting acumen. He has recruited nationally and Chicago in particular. Among his recruits at Northwestern was JerShonn Cobb from Columbia High in DeKalb County.
However, LaBarrie, with his two years at Tech with Hewitt, has the only ACC coaching (or playing) experience of the three. Pastner, obviously, also hasn’t coached in the league. All of the players who were in the league when LaBarrie was at Tech (2009-2011) are gone, only five of the coaches remain the same – Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Clemson’s Brad Brownell, Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and North Carolina’s Roy Williams – and there's four new teams.
So there’s a lack of knowledge of style of play, the styles and patterns of opposing coaches, the referees who most frequently officiate ACC games and the players themselves. There’s a lot that can be learned from watching a lot of game video and asking colleagues, and the knowledge base can be built up quickly. But that’s different from having experienced it personally over the course of several years and built up knowledge accumulated from watching hundreds of games live or on video.
It’s hardly fatal. Tony Bennett did the same when he was hired at Virginia in 2009 and managed to overcome it. You can learn the league. Learning to become a great recruiter or developing a career’s worth of connections in Atlanta would seem more of a hill to climb.
Ultimately, there’s a lot to like about the staff.