- Pirate Matt97"> - Pirate Matt97">

Herrion Hire A Good Call By Heath

FAYETTEVILLE -<i> "He coaches a blue collar-type of play ... hard defense and playing hard at both ends. He really puts his whole heart into what he is doing. He had trouble recruiting guys who could get into school and stay in school, so we were always 'young.' Very personable guy with a Philly attitude. You will be pleased." <i>- Pirate Matt97

Only two possibilities after the next Arkansas basketball season:

1) The Razorbacks again fail to net an NCAA Tournament berth, costing fourth-year coach Stan Heath his job, or

2) Arkansas finally gets it going, wins some Southeastern Conference road games, knocks off a top-tenner or two and makes the Big Dance, allowing Heath to comfortably dig in here.

On Monday, Heath reached for a shovel.

That's when the most crucial assistant coaching hire in these parts in decades was announced.

Tuesday morning, we were introduced to Bill Herrion, a 47-year-old with a thick accent that belies his Massachusetts upbringing.

The game plan?

"We just want kids to play basketball the right way, to play ha-a-a-a-a-ah-h-hd," said Herrion, dressed in a light-blue shirt (that won't last long).

This move is hardly that simple. Herrion, fired after six seasons at East Carolina after an impressive stint at Drexel (three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths), finally gives Heath someone with serious head coaching experience (14 years) with whom he can toss theories back and forth. Someone who has been here and done that.

"People who really know me kind of know for about this last year and a half I've really thought hard about doing a change in my staff of adding a guy who has, you know, sat in that hot chair before," Heath said.

The vacancy opened when Rob Flaska took the head coaching job at Centenary last month. Although Heath and Herrion did not really know each other, this deal was done in less than three weeks.

Good move all around - particularly, as Heath pointed out, because it has the blessing of athletic director Frank Broyles - and it shifts Darren Sorenson back to director of basketball operations and likely moves Ronny Thompson to the point man on recruiting.

Though Heath stopped just short of calling Herrion his right-hand man, that's just what he'll be. Heath spoke of Herrion helping shore up the defense and rebounding and teaching the Hogs to finally figure how to bust a zone.

A self-described gym rat, Herrion will be in charge of player development, an area that also needed a boost.

"I think yall will love the guy. More heart in his left arm than most people have in their whole body. Lives, breathes and sleeps basketball." - pir8sportsfan

He won't key on particular positions. Instead, Herrion monitor all of them. On Tuesday, he already was rattling off the name of current Hogs, many of whom he had met. That afternoon, he worked with several players.

"I think Herrion did as much as anyone could have with what he had to work with, and probably got more out of them than we had a right to expect. If you have talent at Arkansas, it will be interesting." - Chesapeake Pirate

Herrion also will fill in for Heath when the 40-year-old head coach is on the road.

On the bench (so to speak), Herrion likely will play fire to Heath's ice.

"Just make sure you provide coach Herrion with a good supply of Arkansas Polo shirts because if sweating was an Olympic sport, he would have a gold medal. If you are looking for discipline, you found the right man." - pir8sportsfan

And Herrion likely will assume the role of new Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring: The enforcer.

"Bill Herrion is a super guy. Y'all will love him. And YES ... he can most certainly fill the role as a hard-nosed enforcer. The Hogs should also benefit from his Philly/NJ/NYC recruiting ties. Know that there will be plenty of Pirates out there pullin' for your Hogs now that Bill is on board in Fayetteville." - runner2929

Heath spoke of bringing his assistants closer, not exactly the strong suit of the guys in ties of late. Even mentioned a weekend retreat.

Sometimes it's not a bad idea to regroup before making a charge.

Herrion spoke reverently of the Hogs' storied past. He admitted he wants to again be a Division I head coach and also that to do so, this must work.

"I think if you look at the pieces coming back, it's ready to happen," Herrion said. "Once you've done those things (going to Final Fours and winning it all as the Hogs did in 1994), then obviously those expectations are always going to be there with the fans.

"And they should be."

Heath and Herrion talked several times before the Final Four and while in St. Louis. Herrion and wife Maureen flew here last week to take the tour.

"This was perfect," Herrion said.

May well be.

But you expect to hear all the right stuff from Heath and Herrion.

Read more into another post from an East Carolina Web site:

"Billy Herrion is tougher than a Waffle House pork chop. But he is very approachable and likable. He had a tough task here, lost one 6-9 guy to an auto injury, another 7 footer this year to academics before we could get him on the court and we did have a couple of transfers of guards prior to the season who had considerable experience.

"He didn't get many breaks: We usually got ACC officials who don't do ECU many favors anyway.

"Herrion won some very big games here. To the point where the kids were actually camped out for tickets in a mini tent city called Billville.

"He ain't going to take much guff. He'll take soft out of the equation. Tomorrow Starts Here."
- Island Pirate


Seems Heath picked a sharp, sturdy, reliable shovel.

So far, we dig him.

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