This afternoon marks the start of the first live recruiting period for college basketball in the month of July. The next three weeks features three separate live periods where the only focus in the game is recruiting. With many high profile targets, Jordan needs to make progress this month and lay the foundation down for a program changing recruiting class. In recognizing the opportunity in front of him, he decided to make a change with his coaching staff.
Eddie Jordan has shuffled Rutgers' staff heading into the critical July period. He'll have one new face on the trail: http://t.co/UaTuzjDmxg— Jerry Carino (@NJHoopsHaven) July 7, 2015
Jerry Carino broke the news that Mike O'Koren, Jordan's longtime assistant from his NBA days and this past season at Rutgers, is being moved to an advisory/special assistant's role. Per Carino, his focus will be strategy and player development moving forward. Jordan is promoting Dalip Bhatia from director of operations to his third recruiting assistant, replacing O'Koren. Bhatia adds youth and energy to a veteran recruiting staff with current assistants Van Macon and Greg "Shoes" Vetrone. Corky McMullen replaces Bhatia as director of operations, promoted from his role as director of player services.
This is a solid decision from Jordan and the sign of a strong leader. In his first season as head coach at Rutgers, there was dissension amongst the staff and Jordan fired David Cox and did not renew the contract of Kyle Triggs. He replaced them with O'Koren, his friend with a ton of experience, and Vetrone, a top recruiter. Jordan realizes how critical this next year is, both with results on the court and with this recruiting class. He essentially has maximized his assets with these moves. O'Koren serves the team best with his knowledge of the game and ability to teach the big men while taking him out of a recruiting role, in which he had no experience before this past year. He can focus on his strengths and allow Jordan to add a new presence with recruiting, which was O'Koren's weak point.
Bhatia was previously director of operations and a recruiting assistant at St. Peters from 2008-2013 before coming to Rutgers. During his time with the Peacocks, they won the MAAC in 2011 and made the NCAA Tournament. The teams he was a part of at St. Peter's were strong defensively, so he should be a fit with Eddie Jordan's style of play. This article saluted his hiring back in 2013 by Rutgers, stating Bhatia's "passion is unrivaled" and compared him to Brad Stevens, former Butler coach and current head coach of the Boston Celtics. Bhatia is also a class of 2005 graduate of Rutgers, another positive that he can sell on the recruiting trail. He also made history when he became the first Indian assistant in college basketball at St. Peter's. At 32 years old, Bhatia has a great opportunity to be a key contributor to Jordan's staff.
Eddie Jordan proved again he is not going to be passive in his attempt to restore glory at Rutgers. He made a logical and timely decision that gives the staff new energy as they head into this critical three week recruiting stretch. Only time will tell if this move is beneficial, but on paper it makes a lot of sense. This weekend, stay tuned for updates on the first live recruiting period and Rutgers current top targets for the class of 2016.