The New Guy

New Arkansas basketball assistant Bill Herrion, a former head coach at Drexel and East Carolina, shares his excitiment about his new job as he meets with the media a day after joining the Razorback staff.

For those fans who were hoping that the University of Arkansas' basketball team who would hire a basketball version of new football assistant Reggie Herring, it looks like you've got you're wish.

Razorback head basketball coach Stan Heath introduce new hire Bill Herrion to the media on Tuesday morning and said that the pair look from the same cloth.

"Yes, there are certainly some similarities," Heath said after the event. "He's tough, hard-nosed and has that intensity that we were looking for. I'm sure the fans will love him."

Herrion accepts the job as an Arkansas assistant and numerically fills the spot by Rob Flaska, who took the head coaching job at Centenary two weeks ago.

A former highly successful Drexel head coach and six-year assistant to Mike Jarvis at Boston and George Washington, Herrion is just two months removed from being the head coach at East Carolina, where his last team finished 9-19.

"I wanted to add a guy who has been in that hot seat before," Heath said. "I'm very excited about Bill. I think he will add a lot to our program. The thing that caught me is his energy and enthusiasm, as well as the fact that he's a good coach. He also has a passion for being in the gym and working with players."

Herrion, 167-71 at Drexel and 237-169 overall in his 14-year head coaching career, said he looks forward the challenge.

"I'm pleased to be here and very excited about this opportunity," Herrion said. "When you look in the media guide and look at the tradition, history and success of Arkansas, it's unbelievable. What Stan was looking for was something that was very appealing to me.

"I've been around the game of basketball since I was five," Herrion continued. "All I know is coaching. If I was going to make a move to be an assistant coach, I wanted to do it at a high level. Stan has gone from nine wins to 12 and to 18 and probably on the bubble to making the NCAA Tournament. If you look at the pieces coming back, I think we're very close. I'm rejuvenated and ready to go."

Herrion fit the bill that Heath was looking for and joined three other guys in the SEC alone who used to be head coaches and now are assistants with vast experience.

"He was looking for a veteran, experienced guy," Herrion said. "We had three or four conversations prior to the Final Four. I made some calls to some people I know who know Stan. Coaches are starting to hire former head coaches that have experience. There's Larry Shyatt at Florida, David Hobbs at Kentucky and Scott Edgar just went to Tennessee.

"When this happens at my age, you're kind of at a crossroads," Herrion continued. "Do you go and bang your head against the wall as a lower-level Division I head coach or do you do this? This is perfect."

Herrion, a 1981 graduate of Merrimack College whose brother Tom is the head coach at the College of Charleston, talked about how he didn't play at a big school so he had to work for everything and so have his kids.

"I'm a gym rat," Herrion said. "I love being on the floor teaching and working with kids. My teams had a reputation for playing very hard and competing. We had to because we weren't the most talented. I've seen some of the players here. There is talent here. We're ready to take the next step."

Heath said Tuesday that Herrion, Ronny Thompson and Oronde Taliaferro would be the three assistant coaches with Thompson additionally taking over as recruiting coordinator and Darren Sorenson returning to the position of Director of Basketball Operations.

"His resume and credentials speak for themselves," Heath said. "I'm more focused on roles and responsibilities than titles. We've talked more about chemistry on the staff and the team. He will play an important role, especially on defense and with player development. Bill has the latitude to look at things in our program, and I want his opinions and thoughts. Then I will either accept them or not."

Herrion certainly brings a tough, defensive mindset to the table.

"Defense wins championships. I've always been a firm believer of that. In looking at Arkansas' stats from last year, it looks like they played good defense. I love man-to-man defense. As coaches, we all want to get better offensively and score more points."

The UA head coach said that he could see immediate benefits from the hiring of Herrion.

"The one thing that was a change for me, coming from Kent to here, was the pull on your time and the pull on what you have to do," Heath said. "There are things that need to be done and things I don't mind doing, but for instance, I am all day long down in Dallas at a Razorback Club.

"Just to have a guy like Bill who is here and with the guys, I will know things are getting handled, that there is a point person if workouts need to get done, if there are some things that need to be handled administratively," Heath said. "He's going to have a probably bigger role than he even thinks."

Herrion won't focus on recruiting at the expense of his on-court duties according to Heath.

"One of the things that he won't be - although he will be involved with it - but probably won't be his main thing is to be a recruiting coordinator or a guy who is out recruiting a whole lot," Heath added. "That won't be his top area because I feel like I have got some other guys in that area that are very strong."

It's clear both men have the same goal for next season, Heath's fourth at Arkansas and one in which going to the Big Dance will be expected.

"I don't see any reason why we can't be successful and be in the NCAA Tournament next year," Heath said. "The adversity (close games) we went through will not do anything but make us better. We should now understand what it takes to win."

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