Good riddance to Chun, and ideas for the next MBB coach

Jim Shaw, John Andrzejek should be at the top of WSU's list.

In today's newsletter ...

Do you appreciate what we do? Consider becoming a Premium Member! Your subscription helps make this a sustainable venture and also unlocks perks, such as a members-only discussion board in an exclusive Slack. Annual subscriptions are just at a little over $4 a month!

We have had a lot of vibrant discussion about [gestures at everything]. Craig and I share what we hear as things happen, including tidbits about the coaching search. We’d love it if you’d join us.

Folks, this is a long one. A lot is going on right now. Settle in.

Good riddance, Pat

When I began writing this newsletter about coaching options on Monday night, this was my opening paragraph:

Because I would expect Pat Chun to move quickly to replace Kyle Smith as head basketball coach at WSU, I guess I also have to move quickly to make my recommendations for who should succeed our beloved and departed leader.

These are exceedingly weird times in Pullman, for so many reasons, not the least of which is yesterday’s absolutely bizarre twist that necessitates a change in that introduction:

Folks … I just can’t even. Just a heads up: There are naughty words incoming.

I don’t actually have particular feelings about the impact this will have on WSU; I think Chun was a good and flawed athletics director who also is eminently replaceable. I don’t think his departure leaves WSU in a worse place than it already was, other than the timing being pretty bad when you’re trying to hire a men’s basketball coach. Competent ADs are not particularly difficult to find, and I trust Kirk Schulz to find one.

No, the anger stems from Chun spending seven months being a first-hand witness to literally every vile and truly evil thing that Washington did to Washington State and then deciding, “Yes, actually, I would like to go work with and for those folks!” He and everyone he has now left behind have been — and continue to be! — personally, actively, and repeatedly fucked over in a professional capacity by Washington president Ana Mari Cauce and the boosters who pushed for UW’s move to the Big Ten. And in less than a week, he decided, “Actually, yes, I’m ok with being on Team Fuck WSU, and I will be commencing the fucking over of them as soon as possible.”

How desperate and awful do you have to be in order to decide that?

Kirk Schulz’s cold statement on Chun’s departure says everything you need to know about how this is being received at French Ad:

Anyone who thinks that this might not be so bad somehow because Chun will be out here extending olive branches to Pullman because he worked there has paid no attention at all to anything related to the University of Washington in its entire history. He now works for the woman who blew up the Pac-12. From now on, he will only not fuck over WSU when UW has something to gain from it — the Apple Cup agreement being a great example.

Maybe this is always who Chun was. There are a lot of people in Bohler who are shedding precisely zero tears over his departure, and I can tell you that long before he made this move, I had been told by folks in the know that there were prominent coaches who had reached a point where they were … uh … not thrilled to be working for him. People often complain about their bosses, but the common message was that Chun did not make them feel valued, and for a place that really ought to be more like a family, that’s not a great endorsement.

He screwed up the response to Tyler Hilinski’s death in every possible way, and his unceremonious firing of June Daugherty was distasteful. He also hired Nick Rolovich, and if you want to blame that whole mess on Covid, fine — but everything we saw and have seen out of him led me to conclude that he would have been a problem at some point. It was a bad hire.1

Those things get papered over to a large degree because of the hires of Kyle Smith, Kamie Ethridge, and Jake Dickert. And those were really important! He deserves credit for that. But I want to make sure we’re not deitizing what he did in Pullman.

I think it says something about Chun’s career arc that for all the success we have perceived him having at WSU, it had led only to one report of being a finalist for another job (Northwestern) and ended with him jumping at a job where his boss is an absolute snake, he will be the third AD in less than a year because the previous two ran away, and his department is facing its own kind of financial shitshow.

It smacks of desperation. It’s reasonable to conclude that Chun was never as high on other schools’ search lists as we always assumed. There was some good, there was some bad, and he is replaceable — easier to replace than, say, a really good men’s basketball coach.

As far as candidates, Bryan Blair is a name that has popped up immediately; he was Chun’s top guy for a while and has been the AD at Toledo for a couple of years. Anne McCoy, the senior deputy AD at WSU should also get a look. And Mike Marlow, a WSU alumnus who was Bill Moos’ top deputy AD has been at Northern Arizona for a while. I suspect they’ll all get a look, along with some names we laypeople can’t think of.

Back to the basketball coaching search

Ok, well … no AD to lead the hiring. I haven’t seen anything definitive, but usually in these cases the president designates a deputy AD to lead the search, and the president gets more involved in the final decision than normal. I’d assume McCoy will take the lead.

Whoever it is, I’m going to recommend that they do something to replace Kyle Smith that I normally think is a bad idea: Hire from within the “family” with the main goal of keeping as much of this year’s team together as possible.

This is usually a short-sighted plan that has the potential to cripple a program for years down the road — someone in our members-only Slack brought up the name Bill Doba, and that’s not a bad example. Doba had put in his time, never gotten a head coach gig, and was elevated when Mike Price left. He was beloved by players and fans alike. And the immediate results looked great! But the program descended into chaos, eventually leading to severe scholarship reductions, which in turn crippled Paul Wulff’s efforts, eventually resulting in the worst stretch in program history.

Obviously, that’s an extreme case. But it does show the risks of hiring a familiar face from within, rather than conducting an exhaustive search to make sure that you find the right guy to lead you long term.

The issue here, though, is that you don’t have the luxury of thinking long term. Nobody even knows what conference we’ll be playing in two years from now! Something that was at least a factor in Smith deciding to leave. Which is why it makes the most sense to just think about the next two years, and give yourself the best possible chance to win as many games as you can over that span to remain as attractive as possible to any potential future conference partner.

That means hiring someone with whom the players already have a relationship — and might be willing to stay and play for. Maybe they don’t stay. Maybe they all go portaling anyway, and it doesn’t matter. But I think you have to at least try to make it a place they’d like to remain, and I think that means keeping as many of the folks who helped them achieve such high levels of success this season as you can.

Because actually, there’s one advantage of Smith going to Stanford: Unless something has changed there, our players can’t just follow him. Stanford is exceedingly difficult for transfers — so difficult that they’ve added almost none over these past few years.

Maybe keeping most of the staff together turns out badly in two or three years. Oh well! If it fails, it was likely for a modest investment. Given the going rate for Mountain West coaches (and I think that’s likely what we’re offering at this point), you’re probably looking at like a four-year deal at $700,000 or $800,000 per. It’s not going to cripple anything if it doesn’t work out.

But the short-term upside is worth the long-term risk.

Family options

Jim Shaw

Associate Head Coach, WSU

PROS: Highly experienced, endorsed by former players, college head coaching experience.
CONS: Would be a first-time D-I head coach at an advanced age, seems to love playing zone defense2

Shaw is the most obvious move here, having occupied the chair next to Smith for the last five years. He’s a familiar face and a familiar voice.

Shaw is a deeply experienced coach, which is what caused Smith to reach out and hire him in the first place after not having worked together before. He is credited as WSU’s defensive coordinator, leading the Cougs to a trio of top 30 finishes in adjusted defensive efficiency at You saw for yourselves the transformation of WSU’s defense this year in to a dominant unit as it adapted to its ultra-long personnel.

He’s the only coach on WSU’s current staff who has any head coaching experience. When Smith hired him, Shaw was wrapping up a wildly successful four-year run as the head coach of his alma mater, Division II Western Oregon. Per his bio, he led the Wolves to No. 1 rankings three times — the first times in school history — making the national semifinals once and the national championship game once. Obviously, he can coach.

Prior to that, he spent a couple of years with Randy Bennett as an assistant at Saint Mary’s, which came on the heels of a long stint in Seattle as an assistant to Lorenzo Romar during the Washington Huskies’ most successful years. He also spent some time with Kelvin Sampson in Oklahoma.

Shaw has definitely been around, and — in theory — that should serve him (and us) well as we navigate what will be a chaotic time.

John Andrzejek

Assistant Coach, Florida

PROS: Superlative recruiter, existing relationships with the majority of the roster, rising star in the coaching ranks
CONS: No head coaching experience, still very young

If Shaw is the safe hire, Andrzejek is the swing for the fences. He’s still just a hair over 30 and lacks the experience that would normally get him a look for this job, but (again) these are not normal circumstances — and he brings a number of interesting qualities to the job that just might make him a home run hire.

While Andrzejek spent this year in Gainsville, he spent the previous four years in Pullman and had been with Smith off and on since he was a student manager at Columbia, where he famously earned his undergraduate degree in 2 ½ years. While at WSU, he helped land some of the most talented players to ever don the Crimson and Gray. Specializing in international recruiting, Andrzejek was the lead recruiter on players such as Andrej Jakimovski, Efe Abogidi, Mouhamed Gueye and Rueben Chinyelu, but also Michael Flowers and DJ Rodman domestically.

He is a tireless worker who sinks himself into his job, keeping the weirdest hours imaginable and traveling to far-flung places  to build relationships that might unearth just one (1) hidden gem. Andrzejek is regularly up in the middle of the night, our time, contacting recruits around the globe. And his frequent flier status must be insane, as he’s attended FIBA tournaments in places such as Madacascar. Last summer, he was in Europe for a FIBA tournament at which there were literally zero other U.S. college basketball coaches scouting players. He’s not a slick salesman — he is just so, so good at building deep relationships, which will continue to pay off for years to come.

I have long believed that international recruiting is the linchpin for WSU basketball; I advocated for that after Ken Bone was fired, and I advocated for it again after his replacement, Ernie Kent, also was fired — both of whom paid no mind to international recruits. And the success of both the men’s and women’s programs with international players over the past five years has done absolutely nothing to disprove my point: If you’re WSU, you better hire someone who can tap into diverse talent pools, because you’re not going to win enough recruiting battles at home to amass the kind of talent necessary to be successful.

That was during the best of times as a Pac-12 school. How much more so will that be true over the next couple of years — and beyond?

It would be a mistake to think of Andrzejek as merely a recruiter, though. He’s got a brilliant analytical mind, and he has a penchant for approaching the game with both his eyes and with data — and you all know how much we love analytics around here. He was originally hired in 2019 to be WSU’s “director of analytics” and not a full-fledged coaching assistant on staff. That changed over his first few months, and he has done nothing but prove it to be a great decision ever since. When Florida poaches you, that says a lot.

He also loves Pullman. It was hard for him to leave — even for what was an obvious career advancement. That shouldn’t be overlooked.

Is he actually ready to lead a program? Who knows. But, again: Hiring Andrzejek — who has relationships with many of these players that goes back to their pre-college days — gives you a chance to keep it together, he’d be cheap, and if it doesn’t work out, you’re probably in no worse spot than you would have been otherwise.

Family adjacent

Mike Magpayo

Head Coach, UC Riverside

PROS: Head coach experience, connected to some current WSU assistants
CONS: No connections to WSU’s players, moderately successful at UCR

Magpayo is a former Smith assistant who could also be on the radar. Hiring him might be a little bit like splitting the baby — he doesn’t have any direct connection to the roster, but you get a guy with four years of Division I head coaching experience who has connections to some of WSU’s current staffers.

Would retaining some assistants under an unfamiliar head coach convince enough guys to stay to make it worth trying this route? I’m unsure.

Magpayo’s performance at UCR also isn’t the sort of stuff that makes him a slam dunk selection. He has elevated the program above its historical performance; from 2006 to 2020, UCR averaged 269th in the kenpom rankings, but in Magpayo’s four seasons, they’ve averaged 160th. That includes the program’s highest-ever ranking of 106 in his first season, the truncated 2021 campaign. But UCR hasn’t punched way above its weight under him.

Other names to consider

This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list of other guys who might be on WSU’s radar. What I think we can be sure of is that whoever we are targeting, it’s not going to be someone who is a sitting Power 6 coach. Which means this isn’t the kind of job where it’s easy to identify candidates, and, frankly, I just don’t know what I don’t know about guys until I start digging. Smith was mentioned as a candidate in 2019 and I was like, “oh, that’s neat.” Then he got hired, I started digging, and suddenly I was like, “whoa, this guy rules.”

But we are obligated to speculate, so speculate we shall.

Chris Victor

Head Coach, Seattle U

Victor is no stranger to difficult situations. Heading into the 2021-22 basketball season, Victor was the associate head coach to Jim Hayford at Seattle U. Shortly before the season, Seattle put Hayford on administrative leave after he was accused of using a racial slur. Victor coached the first game, a win over Alcorn State. A day later, Hayford resigned and Victor was named the interim coach.

Good luck?

A few months later, the Redhawks finished tied for first place in the WAC and Victor was the league’s coach of the year. Seattle finished the season with its highest kenpom rating in its 13 seasons since returning to Division I (139). Not bad!

Since then, he has taken the Redhawks to heights not achieved by his two predecessors. He’s 3-for-3 at getting Seattle into the kenpom 100s (a 141 ranking last year and a 114 ranking today, which will be the program’s highest ever); over Hayford and Cameron Dollar’s 12 combined seasons, they had three such years total.

Victor is clearly resourceful, and he appears to be a hell of a defensive coach. His three years in charge at Seattle are his only three years as a Division I head coach; prior to that, he was Hayford’s associate head coach for four years at Seattle after being on Hayford’s staff for two years at Eastern Washington. He did have junior college experience before landing in Seattle.

David Riley

Head Coach, Eastern Washington

The tail end of Hayford’s tenure which transitioned to Shantay Legans tenure which transitioned to Riley’s tenure have the been the best at EWU since the days of Ray Giacoletti in the early 2000s. And Riley has been there for all of it.

In his three years as head coach — and in the previous 10 as an assistant — Riley has shown a keen eye for talent and excellent coaching acumen. We know this, because his Eagles have been a ridiculous thorn in our own side for the last three seasons, beating the Cougs in 2022 and 2023. His teams score and score and score, ranking in the top 100 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency the last two years. They play just above average defense, though, relative to their peers.

Some will discount Riley because he hasn’t won enough in the Big Sky tournament to get to the NCAAs. I think that would be foolish. Amassing a 31-5 record over the last two years in league play should speak much, much louder than the failure to win a bunch of weird coin flip games in a tournament that is designed to foster chaos.

Matt Logie

Head Coach, Montana State

He’s been the head coach at MSU for one (1) season. He has no other Division I head coaching experience. But maybe he’s just a really damn good coach? He was wildly successful in four seasons at Division II Point Loma (82-23) after being wildly successful in eight seasons at Division III Whitworth in Spokane (194-35).

He got the Bobcats back to the NCAAs this year for the third straight season with a defense-forward approach, but the regular season results were uninspiring: Just 9-9 in the Big Sky. They certainly got hot at the right time, but the overall kenpom rank of 224 was the lowest for MSU since 2019.

If he’s really just that good of a coach, poaching a guy like that after one season could look brilliant. It also could go up in absolute flames.

Who’s your pick? Who else should WSU be looking at? Upgrade your membership and weigh in.


1 Nick Rolovich also has maintained that Chun is a duplicitous back stabber.

2 Longtime readers/listeners know this might actually be a disqualifying factor if Craig and I were doing the hiring.

Questions or feedback? Leave a comment below or hit us up at [email protected].

If you like what you read, please share it with someone who you also think would like it by clicking one of those social share buttons!

Subscribe to keep reading

This content is free, but you must be subscribed to Podcast Vs. Everyone to continue reading.

I consent to receive newsletters via email. Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Already a subscriber?Sign In.Not now

Join the conversation

or to participate.