by Bob Gaughan, Buffalo Sports Page
UB made it official by naming Jim Whitesell their 14th head coach in school history. In naming Whitesell the head coach the Bulls are going with a person that is known to the program. Whitesell has been associate head coach under Nate Oats for four seasons. Whitesell has head coaching experience. For seven seasons he was head coach at Loyola-Chicago. He has been a head coach at the Division II and Division III level as well.
One thing that anyone around the program the last four years will tell you is that Whitesell is an extremely hard worker. The Bulls have had great game plans for opposing teams under Nate Oats and those game plans in a large way were a tribute to Whitesell’s endless hours of looking at tape.
One just needs to talk to Whitesell for a few minutes to find he has a high basketball IQ. In many ways this is the same way the Bulls moved after Bobby Hurley left.
The Bulls decided to stay in-house and give the job to Nate Oats. The Bulls can only hope that this decision works out as well.
When Nate Oats was hired there were no questions about his ability to recruit but there were questions about his coaching. Oats obviously answered all of those questions. Whitesell has no questions in my eyes about his ability to coach. In terms of coaching and game planning this hire is A+. The question that Whitesell will have to answer is his ability to recruit? Whitesell was the lead recruiter in the process that brought CJ Massinburg to UB. Oats leaving and taking assistant coach Bryan Hodgson with him leaves a void when it comes to recruiting.
Job one will be filling in his assistant coaches. It is a must that one of those coaches is a master recruiter. It will be very interesting to see whom Whitesell surrounds himself with.
10 Days After Oats Retires
The fact it took 10 days to hire Whitesell after Nate Oats left tells you that Athletic Director Mark Alnutt looked at all options. It would have been easy to name Whitesell the head coach 10 days ago. They didn’t do that. We may never know who all of the other coaches that were interviewed and considered.
Popular With Players
This hire I feel will be popular with the current players. In all of the time I’ve been around the program I’ve never heard someone have a bad word to say about Whitesell. He is a great guy that we can say with certainty. It will be interesting to see if Whitesell can get some of the recruits that de-committed to UB to re-sign. If not there are holes to fill.
Whitesell will need to work fast. He needs to work fast in hiring and recruiting. It won’t take long. News I expect will come very fast.
The Bulls are coming off their most successful four years as a Division I program going 96-43. That success alone should help a little when it comes to recruiting. Some may say this was the safe hire, a decision to keep the continuity. Time will tell if just like last time if the safe hire is again the correct hire.