Adrian Autry - all of those names listed here had..."/> Adrian Autry - all of those names listed here had..."/>

Syracuse Orange: Why the ‘Cuse alumni coaching tree works for me

Syracuse Orange (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse Orange (Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports) /

Kayla Treanor, Felisha Legette-Jack, Gary Gait and Adrian Autry – all of those names listed here had successful careers as players for the Syracuse Orange. All are currently head coaches for ‘Cuse athletics teams. Three of the four have won and been successful as coaches with only Coach Autry not having yet coached a game.

When discussions of a possible retirement loomed for Syracuse Orange basketball head coach Jim Boeheim, many speculated who would be the choice. Yours truly even mentioned why I thought Gerry McNamara was worth an interview when the time eventually came to pass.

Many wanted big names from other programs to be considered. But in the end, the succession plan was for Coach Autry to take over and I fully support the decision.

So why is the Syracuse Orange looking so frequently at its alumni base to lead programs? Is it an appeal to the alumni base to maintain interest? Nah! Most alumni I know while they appreciate the accomplishments of the past want their athletic teams to win. I also don’t think it’s a “hometown discount,” hoping Syracuse University can save money on contracts.

If you look at the coaches who have been hired, they’re not coming off the street from nothing. Kayla Treanor was an assistant coach at BC when they won the championship and is active with US women’s lacrosse so she knows the game very well. Currently, Coach Treanor has the Syracuse Orange women’s lacrosse team undefeated and number one in the country so I guess that paid off.

I’m all for the Syracuse Orange alumni coaching tree.

Coach Felisha Legette-Jack has coached women’s basketball for years before finding her stride in Buffalo and leading them to postseason success. She’s also a “players coach” of sorts who will push her players but also support them unequivocally and could attract recruits with that mentality combined with winning. Coach Legette-Jack is the first Syracuse Orange women’s basketball head coach to win a postseason game in her first season so I think that’s paid off as well.

Coach Gary Gait started at Syracuse coaching the women’s lacrosse team successfully after being an assistant at Maryland and then transitioning to the men’s program two years ago when Coach John Desko retired. Some might question his success but not me.

I’m calling my shot right now that they’re currently winning but next season will be the season many Syracuse Orange fans have been waiting for as the younger talent on the team matures and plays together more. They’re currently 6-4, so it’s not like they’re losing but I still think Gait is the right hire.

So what about Coach Autry? Why does he get the job? Well, I know the answer and it’s not just legacy but the learning tree. Athletic director John Wildhack likely feels confident based on other successes in hiring an alum with proper coaching experience who learned from one of best to ever coach, and if he says he’s ready, he’s ready.

Plus one only has to look at his recruiting connections alone to see he’s capable of attracting top players looking to transfer or be recruited (see JJ Starling’s quick portal commitment to the Orange and Autry’s immediate work on the recruiting trail after being named head coach).

And if Jim Boeheim, who knows basketball better than I ever will, says Autry is ready to coach, I believe him. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side…sometimes a touch of Orange grass can still grow and be successful.

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