It's been rumored for a couple of weeks now, ever since he was spotted on campus as finals were endings, but it's now official. Steve Merfeld has been hired to fill the vacant men's basketball assistant coaching position. The news actually broke Wednesday, with the official announcement coming a day later.
So what does this move mean for Bradley basketball? Well, it's a very good move that is going to help the team a lot, especially considering the miriad of changes which I talked about in a recent post. Merfeld has a TON of coaching experience, including the last five seasons as the head coach at Evansville. There is no doubt that his experience and knowlege are going to be a great asset this upcoming year. One of the things that really sticks out immediately is the fact that he already has a great knowledge of the other teams in the MVC and, obviously, a lot of insight on Evansville. The Braves now essentially have the luxury of two head coaches game planning next year. A definite advantage.
Of course, with this comes the obvious concern of the power struggle. Merfeld has been a head coach at a Div. I school for the past 10 years, how is he going to handle answering to someone else all of a sudden? It's a valid question, and one that bears watching, but in the end I don't think Jim Les would have given him the job if this was of any concern. Nor do I believe Merfeld would have taken the job if he felt it was an issue.
Merfeld might not be the type of recruiter that some people were hoping would be hired, but I don't think he needs to be. Eric Buescher has done an outstanding job of recruiting and I expect Alvin Brooks will do a nice job on the recruiting front as well. Fact is, Merfeld doesn't need to be a recruiter at all. With his wealth of coaching experience, he can focus on game preperations and helping to run practices. He's also a perfect fit to be the main man at practices when Coach Les has to deal with other responsibilities. This looks like a great fit to me.
The only concern I have with the hire is that I doubt Merfeld wants to remain an assistant for very long. I can't imagine him staying on the staff for more than a couple of years. At some point in the not so distant future, there's sure to be a lower level Div. I school in need of a head coach and Merfeld is still a pretty good one. Chances are he'll land another head coaching gig again sooner or later. Until then though, it's good to have a coach of his caliber on the staff. He can only help.
A few other bits and pieces from the past couple of days:
> Marcellus Sommerville will be participating in the Alumni game tomorow afternoon. Cellus is fresh off his first professional season in the French Pro Leagues, where he helped his team reach the semifinals of the playoffs.
> Junior pitcher Eitan Barbalat was named a second-team Academic All-American. A great accomplishment.
> Bradley physics professor Dr. Friem passed away yesterday. Anyone who had him in class knows he was a great professor and a really funny guy. He was also a huge basketball fan and supporter. He'll surely be missed.