Name: Ryan Odom
Current job: Head Coach, Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)
Previous jobs: Head Coach Lenoir-Rhyne, Interim HC Charlotte, Assistant Charlotte, Assistant Virginia Tech, Assistant American, Assistant UNC Asheville, Assistant Furman
Career head coaching record (conference record): 67-36 (32-16)
NCAA Tournament Appearances (record): 1 (1-1)
Evidence of recruiting skills: Unknown, but he did find some solid players with height in his three season; he has not been credited with high-level recruiting wins.
Items of interest: The son of longtime South Carolina coach Dave Odom, Ryan Odom’s UMBC team beat Virginia to become the first #16 seed to defeat a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Odom was a candidate for the Virginia Tech coaching search. He also played for former William & Mary coach Tony Shaver as an undergrad. His son plays for Oak Hill.
On court: In three years, Ryan Odom’s teams have been decent on defense, forcing turnovers (top-50 nationally) and getting defensive rebounds. Playing at a moderate pace, the Retrievers get three-pointers on offense but had struggles this season. They played a lot of zone this year, and turned on the jets late, winning 12 of their last 16 to make a run to the America East title game.
Why he’d be a good fit: This would be a bet on smarts and upside. When he was hired, the first question was “who?” and the second comment was “oh, the search firm got one of their guys in.”
But on the court, Odom turned a flailing team from seven wins to 21. He’s won 25 games and then 21 in the two seasons after that. The competition isn’t the ACC, Big East or even the CAA; but the coaches know each other and scheme well.
In the huddles, Odom appears smart and composed. His team defeated the Vermont machine AND Virginia’s pack line defense before falling to Kansas State in a competitive game. There is some coaching skill there; the x & o’s/ ability to react should carry (think Kevin Willard), but the recruiting is a question mark.
But smart, young and hungry, and with some experience in a number of schools could yield some dividends on the court with the returnees... and in a year with some good assistants.
Why it wouldn’t work: It might be a bit early for Odom to make the leap, though he does have solid assistant experience. He doesn’t have years of having an eye for talent like someone like Robert Morris’ Andy Toole, whose players get poached to bigger conferences every season.
This could be a hard sell, though the 16-over-1 notoriety could calm some of the “who?” talk.
Still, one can see Odom being painted as an outsider and neophyte, disconnected from the New York scene. Like so many coaches in the past in both New York and Chicago (and LA and Georgia), some coach will go on record as saying “I don’t know who he is, they should have hired [INSERT NAME]”.
What’s getting in the way: Inexperience, lack of New York connections.
Final word: It’s important to remember the world isn’t made up just of Bobby Hurley, Rick Pitino, and Tim Cluess. There are a number of solid and experienced head coaches who, given some creativity and a solid staff, could run with the St. John’s job for years and make the team an annual visitor to the postseason.
Probably will not happen... unless current negotiations take a turn.