ASU men’s basketball hires former NBA coaches

Newly hired assistant coach Larry Greer (right) addresses the media, as fellow new assistant Eric Musselman (left) looks on during their introductory press conference on Tuesday. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

ASU men’s basketball coach Herb Sendek looked to the NBA to fill two holes in his staff.

Eric Musselman and Larry Greer were hired as assistant coaches Tuesday. They are the first additions to Sendek’s staff since the spring 2008. They will replace Scott Pera and Lamont Smith, who took assistant coaching roles at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Washington.

Musselman spent two seasons as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors and a season as a Sacramento Kings coach. He coached the Los Angeles D-Fenders of the NBA Development League last season and earned Coach of the Year.

Musselman has also served as an assistant coach under Mike Fratello, Lon Kruger, Chuck Daly and Doc Rivers.

Despite his professional experience, Musselman said he’s had a great interest in coaching at the collegiate level for at least five years. He has never coached at this level and felt ASU was a good situation.

“A big reason I’m here is obviously coach Sendek and his reputation (for) being such a great ‘X’ and ‘O’ coach,” Musselman said. “I feel like I’m coming to learn and hopefully I can give back some as well.”

Greer joins Sendek after five seasons under Nate McMillan with the Portland Trail Blazers. Before that, Greer was a Houston Rockets advance scout for the two seasons under Jeff Van Gundy.

Sendek said Van Gundy and McMillan singled out Greer as perhaps the most respected guy for advance scouting and game preparation in the NBA.

Greer started his coaching career as an assistant at Brandeis University for the 1992 Eastern College Athletic Conference champions. Greer also worked at Boston College from 1992-94 as a part of the support staff.

“The relationship I had with Jeff Van Gundy and Nate McMillan and how they talk about coach Sendek made me want to be around him,” Greer said. “I had been thinking about going back to college with three young kids and I wanted them to be around a college atmosphere.”

Sendek and Athletic Director Steve Patterson strategically planned to seek NBA experienced coaches during their search.

With both of their NBA connections, Sendek said the attention the school received was humbling.

Sendek said the staff spent the entire Labor Day weekend chatting at the Weatherup Center about basketball.

“When you put this group together, you can see why we’re so excited to be sitting here today,” Sendek said. “And for me personally, it’s like a kid at Christmas time.”

Greer and Musselman’s lack of recruiting experience could pose a challenge for the Sun Devils, but their NBA experience will likely be an important factor when selling the program to recruits.

“For these guys, what they’re most attracted to is the NBA,” assistant coach Dedrique Taylor said. “So who (else would tell them) that experience than a former head coach and a long time NBA assistant?”

Patterson said he’s excited to reshape the department with two assistants with professional coaching experience. He enjoyed working with Sendek on finding guys two coaches that are great teachers with high energy.

“It’s something we had to get done in a very short period of time,” Patterson said. “I’m very pleased that after just a week’s worth of work. We have two people that are so well respected in the basketball community — both at the professional and at the college level — to join our program and really try to grow Sun Devil Athletics.”

 

Reach the reporter at mtesfats@asu.edu