LOGAN – John Hartwell wants to make the right decision, and he wants to make it soon.
Just days after announcing that Tim Duryea was let go as USU’s head basketball coach, USU’s athletic director said he has a list of candidates to replace Duryea. He hopes to have made a hire sometime around the Final Four.
“Two weeks from Friday or Saturday is the target,” Hartwell said. “This is a huge, huge hire for Utah State… We’ve got to make sure that we get this right.”
He made it clear that it is a nationwide search and listed the qualities he is looking for. He wants someone who has knowledge of how to be successful in Utah, someone who excites the team, students and fans and is a proven recruiter.
More important than just being a good recruiter, Hartwell said, is being able to develop players.
“We are not going to be the Tar Heels,” he said. “Roy Williams, how can he not help be successful when he’s got four or five McDonald’s All-Americans every year. That pipeline is not coming to Logan, Utah, so we’ve got to do a good job of taking those guys who are really, really strong high school players and projecting them, saying ‘Hey. Over a period of time how can this young man develop into being a strong Mountain West player, and even more important than that, on an individual basis we’ve got to say how is he going to plug into the team concept that we have?’”
He didn’t give any names, but Hartwell said current candidates include head coaches currently competing in the NCAA tournament, the NIT tournament and former college-level coaches currently in the NBA.
“You guys would be blown away by the people who have expressed interest in our job,” he said.
The reason for Duryea’s firing, according to Hartwell, was more than just wins and losses. Hartwell said it had nothing to do with who Duryea is as a person or his character, but about a combination of factors. One was the apathy of the fan base. Hartwell said attendance was down 37 percent over the last four years, which has cost the university.
“When you factor in both the actual ticket sales of that and a lot of those seats that are side court that have a donation component to it, you are talking well over a half a million dollars a year,” he said.
It wasn’t just the casual fans that stopped attending, Hartwell said. There were long time season tickets holders who stopped purchasing tickets.
“When you have a mass exodus, obviously it’s a cause for analyzing the program,” Hartwell said, “and at the end of the day, when we looked at all the factors, we made the decision to make a change.”
The wins and losses did factor into the decision. Hartwell specifically mentioned the back-to-back losses against San Jose State and Air Force.
“When you look at the proud, proud history and successful history of Utah State basketball, it is not about finishing middle of the pack or lower third or upper echelon of the lower third,” he said. “It’s about competing for championships and competing to play postseason.”
Competing for championships and making the NCAA tournament or NIT are expectations for whoever is chosen as the next head coach.
“There is no reason why Utah State is not one of the top 100 basketball programs in the country,” Hartwell said.
The full interview with Hartwell can be heard at this <a href=”https://www.kvnutalk.com/3-14-2018-3/” target=”_blank”>link</a>.