football

Focus changes when stepping down to step up

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DannyManningearnedhisfirstheadcoachingopportunityinpartbecauseofhisworkdevelopingformertop-50prospectsMarcusMorris,MarkieffMorrisandThomasRobinsonintoAll-AmericaforwardsatKansas.
Buthe'sunlikelytogetthechancetocoachthosetypesofrecruitsatTulsaveryoften.
It'sthesametransitionthatfacesanyonemakingthechangefromassistantcoachatanationalpowertoheadcoachofamid-majorprogram.Manning'ssuccessatTulsawilldependlargelyonhowhehandlestherecruitingchallengesthatcomewithhisnewassignment.
"Fromarecruitingstandpoint,you'regoingtohavetohaveabiggerpoolandthenfigureoutexactlywhatkindofplayeryoucanactuallygetthatcanhelpyouattainahighlevelofsuccess,"saidMarshallcoachTomHerrion,aformerassistantonJamieDixon'sstaffatPittsburgh."It'snotgoingtobeaseasyasatKansasoratPitt.Nowyou'vegottobeevenmoreresourcefulintheevaluationprocess."
ThedifferenceisapparentfromalookattherosterManningleftbehindandtheoneheinheritsatTulsa.
AlthoughtheKansasteamthatjustreachedthenationalchampionshipgamewasconsideredanoverachieverthatdidn'thavequiteasmuchtalentasusual,theJayhawksstillfeaturedfourtop-40recruitsandseventop-100prospects.Andthatdoesn'tevenincludetheMorristwinsorJoshSelby-formertop-50recruitsfromthelastfiveyearswhochosetoleaveschoolearly.
Tulsa's2011-12teamdidn'tincludeanytop-150recruits.
Manning'ssituationisn'tunique,asmanyfirst-yearheadcoachesatmid-majorsareformerassistantsfornationalpowers.PerhapsnobodyunderstandsManning'ssituationasmuchasTimJankovich,whoworkedalongsideManningonBillSelf'sstaffatKansasbeforetakingoverIllinoisState'sprogramin2007.
Gonewerethedayswhenhewasrecruitingprimarilytop-50andtop-100prospects.Buteventhoughhehadtobroadenhishorizonsinthatrespect,Jankovichadjustedbythinkinglocallyinsteadofnationally.
"Therearealotofverygoodplayersinourarea,soourthinkingwaslet'srecruitinsideout-let'sdothebestjobwecanlocallyandthenstatewideandthesurroundingstates,"Jankovichsaid."That'sbasicallytheoppositeofwhatrecruiting'slikeatKansas.AtKansasit'snational.Ourfocusnarrowedtowherewe'dtrytoputmostofourconcentrationonourstateandthesurroundingstates."
Manningmightwanttofollowasimilarstrategy.
ThestateofOklahomahastwojuniorsrankedamongthenation'stop150recruitsintheirclass:TulsaBookerT.WashingtonshootingguardJuwanParker(No.104)andEdmondMemorialpointguardJordanWoodard(No.122).OklahomaCityDouglassguardStevieClarkalsocouldeventuallymoveintotherankingsonthestrengthofhishugejuniorseason.
IfManningcan'tfindenoughtalentinOklahoma,heshouldfindplentyofhelpjustoutsidethestate'sborders.
"ThetalentinthestateofOklahomaisnotbad,"Rivals.comnationalrecruitinganalystEricBossisaid."Tulsahastraditionallybeenaprettydecentbasketballcity.Ithinkwhatyou'llseeisthere'sgoingtobeaheavyfocusonstateofTexasbecauseofproximityandtherearesomanyplayersinthestateofTexas.TulsahasforawhilebeendoingwellwiththestateofTexas,andIthinkthat'sdefinitelygoingtobeafocusforthestaffgoingforward."
Thelocationofaschoolanditsproximitytotalentundoubtedlyplayamajorroleintherecruitingsuccessofanymid-majorcoach.Buthispowersofpersuasionareevenmoreimportant.
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Whenyou'reatKansasorSyracuseorNorthCarolina,youcansellthehistoryandstarpowerofyourprogram.Whenyou'reataschoolwithoutthatkindoftradition,youmustbeabletosellyourself.
"Everyrecruitisdifferentinwhathe'slookingfor,butIwouldsaythatallthingsbeingequal,youdohavetosellyourselfalittlemorethanyoudoifyouhaveanationallyrecognizednamebehindyou,"Jankovich.
That'swhereManning'snamerecognitionshouldhelphim,nomatterhowmuchhetriestodownplayit.
"Totellyouthetruth,thekidsthatwe'rerecruitingnow,theydon'tknowanythingaboutwaybackwhen,whenguysmyagewereplaying,"Manningsaidathisintroductorypressconference.
Manningwascollegebasketball'smostoutstandingplayerin1988,theyearheledKansastoanationaltitle.HewastheNo.1overallpickinthedraftthatyear.HewentontoplayforsevendifferentteamsinanNBAcareerthatincludedtwoall-starselections.
"Eveniftheplayershe'srecruitingdon'tknowhim,mostoftheparentscertainlywillandmostofthecoacheswill,"Jankovichsaid."Eveniftheyhaven'tbeenpayingattention,it'saprettyeasyselltosay,'Look,thisismybasketballbackground.'Ifanyone'swillingtolistentothat,itcertainlywouldbeatremendousadvantage.Ithinkitwillservehimwell."
AlthoughManning'snamerecognitionwillhelp,itcanonlycarryhimsofar.TulsastillisunlikelytogetthetypesofprospectsKansassignsonaroutinebasis.Heisgoingtoneedtofindthepotentialcontributorswhosailedundertheradarforonereasonoranother.
Everyyear,thereareguysquitecapableofproducingincollegewhogetoverlookedbyhighmajorprogramsbecausethey'reundersizedfortheirpositionortheydidn'tplayinthehigher-profileAAUevents.Afewyearslater,thoseguysaremakingmajorimpactsformid-majorprograms.Theformerhigh-majorassistantswhodevelopintosuccessfulmid-majorheadcoachesaretheoneswhofindthoseguys.
"Youhavetotrustyourownbasketballinstinctsandevaluations,"saidNewMexicoStatecoachMarvinMenzies,aformerLouisvilleassistant."They'realloutthere.Nooneslipsthroughthecracks.Youjusthavetoworkhardandmakesureyou'rebeingthoroughonyourbackgroundcheckwiththekidsandwiththebasketballevaluationaswell."
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ClickHeretoviewthisLink.Justabouteverymid-majorcoachcanpointtoaspecificexampleathisschool.
HerrioncitesDennisTinnon,a6-foot-8forwardfromKansasCity(Kan.)CommunityCollegewhosignedwithMarshallafteralsoreceivingoffersfromthelikesofJacksonvilleStateandOralRoberts.Tinnoncompiled10.2pointsand10reboundspergamethisseason,makinghimoneofonly21playersnationwidetoaverageadouble-double.
Menziesmentionsthetimehereceivedacallsuggestingthathetakealookatanundersized,under-recruitedforwardwithahigh-octanemotorandagym-ratmentality.Menzieswatchedtheplayerandwasimpressedenoughtoofferhimascholarship.
TherecruitinquestionwasWendellMcKines,a6-6forwardwholedtheAggiestotheNCAAtournamentthisseasonandendedhiscollegecareerasjustthesecondplayerinschoolhistorytoamassatleast1,000pointsand1,000rebounds.
"Hewasaperfectexampleofthat,"Menziessaid."AlotofthehighmajorspassedonWendellbecausehewasn't6-9.Hewasonly6-6.Veryathletic,verybouncy,didn'tshootitwell.Hisskillsetwasn'ttotallydevelopedatthatpointoutofhighschool.Hewasintriguingtoalotofthoseschools,butattheendofthedaytheywantedamorefinishedproduct,whereatthemid-majorlevel,ifyou'reconfidentinyourabilitytodevelopakid,you'vegottoprojectalittlemoredowntheline."
Aslongashe'satTulsa,ManningmaynotgetachancetocoachanyonequitelikeRobinsonortheMorristwins.
Butifhe'sfortunate,hejustmightfindhisownversionofWendellMcKines.
SteveMegargeeisthenationalcollegecolumnistforRivals.com.Hecanbereachedatsmegargee@rivals.com,andyoucanclickheretofollowhimonTwitter.
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