Does Hiring Will Conroy make sense?

With TJ Otzelberger leaving Washington’s basketball staff for a return to Iowa State, the Huskies lost their best recruiter. Otz was a pit bull when it came to recruiting. Names being thrown around for his replacement like Ken Bone, Curtis Allen, and Bill Grier. While they are all very good coaches and each would be a fantastic hires, is there a name out there that could bring something different?

Will Conroy would definitely bring something different. But does hiring Will make sense?

On the surface, to most, it just doesn’t. You don’t hire an assistant coach at the Pac-12 level who’s never coached before. Perhaps you bring them in as a Graduate Assistant and let them learn on the job.

But hiring a guy who’s never coached Division-1 hoops before? You don’t do that unless you dig a little deeper and see that Conroy is exactly what Washington needs.

Will Conroy is one of the most beloved players to ever play at UW, ever. When it comes to passion for his alma mater, nobody has more than Will.

How many remember his final game at Hec Ed? With Washington up and the game well in hand, Lorenzo Romar systematically substituted his starters out one by one.

When it came time for Will to leave the floor for the final time, he looked over at the fans he had the biggest connection with - the Dawg Pack. They went nuts. Will acknowledged them and took a step toward the bench. He abruptly turned around, went out to center court, got down on his knees and kissed the W.

That passion has been missing for a while now. We’ve seen it in spurts with guys like Jon Brockman and Isaiah Thomas, but that hometown love and feeling for the 206 has been missing for a few years. Where’s the local talent? Where’s the hometown pride and support?

Will May have been one of the toughest players ever to play at Washington. He grew up with some of the best basketball players to ever come out of this city. He has personal relationships with them all.

With that being said, Will wasn’t blessed with the athletic ability of a Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, or Jamal Crawford. But he battled those guys toe to toe, every day - whether at UW or any basketball court in the city.

What Conroy lacked in athletic ability, he made up for with determination, toughness and desire. Will made the best of every tool he had and maximized it. And he never backed down an inch to anybody, anywhere, for anything.

I’m sure some of you are saying there’s lots of guys like that. That’s not enough to be a good coach. Will is different. He’s tough. He’s outspoken. He’s fiery. He’s passionate. He works hard, and he’s connected.

Connected? What does that have to do with being a basketball coach? More on that in a bit.

After missing the NCAA Tournament the past four years, Romar is under more pressure to make it next season than he has in his tenure at Washington. Some say he’s lost his edge. Some say he’s become too nice. Some say his teams are soft and play as if they’re entitled. Many say the toughness left with Cameron Dollar.

There are those in the Seattle Basketball community who feel a disconnect with the Huskies’ program.

Hiring Will Conroy would bring immediate respect. He would also earn the endorsement of the Seattle Basketball community. He’s part of it. He’s put in his time. He has that respect.

The passion Will has for his hometown is contagious. His connection to the local kids is better than anybody’s. He would bring back the pride of playing for your hometown school in front of your family. Garfield, Franklin, Rainier Beach, as well as Seattle’s best AAU programs, would all welcome Will with open arms.

The timing couldn’t be better. There is a new wave of talented basketball players in the city of Seattle waiting in the wings, some of them enrolling at Washington this fall. Continuing to keep the top players home is a must.

The downside to hiring Will Conroy? That’s easy: He’s never coached before. His personality is huge. He’s tough. He’s no nonsense. And if he’s hired, he’ll have to be reigned in.

I’m sure he would be tough and demanding as hell. Nobody would outwork Will. Nobody did when he was at Washington. Nobody will take losses harder than Will.

I don’t know of anybody who could bring the intangibles to this program like Will Conroy. And it’s obvious the program needs to be shaken up. And it still be done in a positive way.

A former Seattle SuperSonic and Portland Trailblazer general manager once said when commenting on his basketball team down south, “I’d rather have 12 guys I have to hose down than 12 guys I have to wake up.”

There are tough guys, and there are fake tough guys. Will Conroy is a tough guy. He still carries that edge, he still carries that passion. It’s right on his sleeve for everybody to see. He carries with him today what Lorenzo Romar’s teams so desperately need - an edge.

Conroy just may be the perfect fit for a situation where nothing is truly ideal. And I can promise you this; Romar would never have to wake up Will Conroy.

He may be just what this program needs.


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