When Zach Spiker moved on from the Army basketball program after the season to take the job at Drexel the Black Knights were left with two routes in which they could approach the hiring of a new head coach. The first of these would be to go outside the program, picking up either a retread from another school or going after an assistant coach that is seen as up and coming. The other option was to stay closer to home and promote from within. That is exactly what the athletic department did when naming Jimmy Allen as Army’s new head coach.
The continuity here makes sense. Army was good last year under Spiker, so there was no need to blow up the whole coaching staff and system and bring in someone new. This was not a hire because the previous coach was fired, it was one because that coach moved on to what he saw as a better opportunity. With that in mind, and especially considering the unique situations that a coach has to deal with at Army (recruiting, service, etc) hiring from within had to be the way to go.
The appointment makes even more sense when you consider the ties Allen and his family have to the Academy. Allen’s father graduated from West Point in 1067, before later taking up a job on the faculty as a chemistry instructor.
"I fell in love with the game of basketball as a basketball camper here, and I've been a fan ever since," Allen said. "How many head coaches get to say that they were actually a camper at the school they get to be a head coach at?"
It is worth noting however that it will be difficult for Allen to jump right in and have the same success Spiker had in his last season with the Black Knights. Spiker was able to start five seniors for most of the season, only departing from that starting roster when injuries intervened.
Army still holds the distinction of being one of the five schools that have been in the top tier of college basketball since it was former before the 1948-49 season and has yet to make an NCAA Tournament trip. While breaking that streak may be unlikely this fall, though Holy Cross qualified with a losing record proving anything is possible, this hire is one that on paper looks like keeping the Black Knights headed in the right direction.