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On Losing Paul Lusk

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Paul Lusk
Paul Lusk

It seems the biggest news I didn't touch on yesterday is that Paul Lusk, a seven year assistant coach with the men's program, has now left to take his first head coaching job. He will be taking over for Cuonzo Martin at Missouri State, thus further growing the Gene Keady coaching tree that now includes Martin, Matt Painter, Kevin Stallings, Steve Lavin, and Bruce Weber. Not to be a downer here, but as celebrated as this coaching tree is, it has just one Final Four (Weber).

Honestly, I didn't say much yesterday because I don't follow recruiting that well, so I don't know what effect this will have. I know the assistants do a lot of the recruiting legwork, but the head coach often gets a lot of the credit because he comes in as the closer of sorts. For example: When I covered the Zionsville-Hamilton Southeastern game this year it wasn't an assistant waiting in the hallway to talk to Gary Harris. It was Tom H-to-the-Izzo himself.

Lusk was more than an assistant, however. He was associate head coach, which is kind of a head-coach-in-waiting position, though he wasn't guaranteed the job like Painter when he held that title. I assume this means that Lusk handles all duties (including state funerals) when Painter is unavailable, and would take over in a game if Painter snapped and finally did what every coach in Division I has wanted to do at one time or another: punch out Jim Burr.

Lusk seems to have his ground to the ear in Illinois as far as recruiting goes. He is a Southern Illinois grad (and former player) with a master's from Missouri State, so he should have some success in the Valley. He is very familiar with the school and the Missouri Valley has kind of become the triple-A to the Big Ten in terms of coach training. It is good to see him get an opportunity to lead a program, and it is obvious that it is something he wanted to do.

So where does that leave Purdue? We have an opening now and, according to the news from earlier this week, Painter has the ability to make it rain like a Saudi prince when it comes to getting an assistant and giving him the tools to do his job. Jack Owens and Mike Jackson are staying on, but we'll probably want to get a guy that is a bit of a recruiting ace, especially if Owens or Jackson moves to Associate head coach.

Someone yesterday, on the Matt ten Dam Profile, mentioned that Pat Knight could take over as associate head coach. Wouldn't this open some type of tear in the space-time continuum? A Knight on the sidelines at Purdue? Why not just give a phone call to his dad and ask if he would like a Gene Keady at St. John's type of role within the Purdue program. On second thought, that might not be a good idea. As cool as it would be to have Bob Knight's basketball knowledge on staff, it would open more than a hole in the space-time continuum. It would destroy the universe as we know it and would likely even profoundly affect several other alternate universes.

So, dear reader, who should fill the vacancy? Do you want an ace recruiter, or a Jake Standfeford type of former player that was not super-talented, but so fundamentally sound he could teach and hone better skilled players?