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Micah Shrewsberry leaves Penn State Basketball

Who replaces him and how does this affect the rest of the conference?

Penn State v Texas Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

After just two seasons at the helm of Penn State Nittany Lions basketball, Micah Shrewsberry has left to take over the Notre Dame job.

While it sounds like Penn State’s athletic department made every attempt to keep him, Shrewsberry made the decision to return to his native state. Indiana is where he grew up, played high school and college ball, and he’s spent 13 seasons as an assistant or head coach at five different schools in the state. While Penn State could have matched pay and facilities with Notre Dame, South Bend is closer to Shrewsberry’s recruiting connections, is home, and in an ACC that has seen massive coaching turnover in the last few years Notre Dame will have more of an opportunity to establish themselves in the conference pecking order.

How does this affect the rest of the Big Ten?

Penn State v Texas Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

At Penn State, Shrewsberry went 14-17 in his first season before going 23-14 in year two. Despite not having a Big Ten ready center on the roster, Shrewsberry was able to maximize the talent that he did have. The Nittany Lions returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2011 to end the Big Ten’s longest tournament drought (congratulations Nebraska Cornhuskers, you now have the longest drought). Penn State also achieved their first NCAA tournament victory since 2001 before falling to the Texas juggernaut in the Round of 32 by just five points.

With Penn State starting over at the head coaching position, it’s natural to expect they probably take at least a half step back on any program momentum they had gained from this year’s accomplishments. While that is probably true, that doesn’t mean that their Big Ten competition suddenly finds things easier for them because now Notre Dame has revitalized their basketball program.

Over half of the Big Ten conference recruits the state of Indiana for basketball at least somewhat. They have had different levels of success in doing so (especially in recent years), but an improved Notre Dame basketball program makes recruiting Indiana that much harder. Shrewsberry taking over Notre Dame means that players like Luke Goode (Illinois), Tony Perkins (Iowa), Brooks Barnhizer (Northwestern), and Connor Essegian (Wisconsin) are less likely to go out of state.

While Ohio State and Michigan don’t currently have any Hoosiers on their roster, let’s not forget that some important players on Matta’s and Beilein’s top teams (Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Mitch McGary, Zak Irvin) all came from Indiana. Tom Izzo also has a long history of plucking talent out of Indiana. For in-state rivals Purdue and Indiana, Shrewsberry at Notre Dame gives them a significant threat in their backyard.

Only Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska, and Minnesota are truly happy to see Micah Shrewsberry leave the conference.

Replacement Candidates

Adam Fisher (current associate HC at PSU) - Fisher is a Penn State alum and has earned his spot as the associate head coach of the Nittany Lions. Known as a good recruiter, Fisher helped Miami (FL) develop NBA draft picks in back to back years. In addition to his eight years in Coral Gables, Fishers spent time at Boston University as an assistant and was a graduate manager for three seasons at Villanova under Jay Wright. Although he’s the pick of the current players, most of those players are graduating or going pro, while the rest are inexperienced underclassmen. Keeping Fisher doesn’t make sense for the incoming recruiting class either. Braeden Shrewsberry will likely follow his father and Logan Imes is an Indiana native and AAU teammate of Braeden. The big knock against Fisher is that he’s never been a head coach anywhere. That worked with Shrewsberry, but he also had spent time in the NBA and had Brad Stevens openly lobbying for him to get the position.

Matt Langel (Colgate HC) - Langel has been the Colgate head coach for 12 years. During that time, he’s taken them from 2-12 in Patriot League play his first season to a perennial contender for the conference’s auto bid. In the past five seasons, Langel has won the conference regular season 4 times. The other season was the COVID season in which the Patriot League split the conference into divisions, and Colgate won their division. The Raiders have also been responsible for four of the last five auto-bids from the Patriot League. In addition to his obvious coaching chops, Langel played at Penn and spent time as an assistant coach at both Penn and Temple. His ties to the Philly area would be beneficial for recruiting. The knock on Langel however is his level of recruiting. Although he’s steadily built Colgate’s program and was one of the top recruiters for Fran Dunphy at Temple, the highest level he’s been a part of is the Atlantic Ten. Langel would likely need a couple of assistants capable of lighting up the recruiting trail and would need to pull in transfers to rebuild the roster. Langel and keeping Fisher might be ideal, but Fisher could take a head coaching position elsewhere if not given the head job in State College.

Rodney Terry (interim Texas HC) - Terry stepped in when Chris Beard was fired from the Longhorns midseason and has done a remarkable job by winning the Big 12 tournament and reaching the Elite 8. While I’m of the opinion that Texas will hire Terry, there are reasons for concern even if Texas ends up passing. Although his overall coaching record is 184-163, Terry didn’t exactly light it up at Fresno State or UTEP. He left both jobs voluntarily (jumping from Fresno State to UTEP and UTEP to an assistant’s role at Texas), but only made the NCAA tournament once in his ten seasons prior to this one. Terry also hasn’t coached east of the Mississippi since 2002 when he was an assistant at UNC Wilmington. His recruiting connections to the area that Penn State draws recruits from are negligible.

Ryan Odom (Utah State HC) - Odom is the former coach of UMBC and the reason I’m not even more despondent about college basketball right now than I am. After winning the America East tournament in 2018 and regular season in 2021, Odom took over the Utah State job and got them to an auto bid in year two. Odom would be more of a sure thing as he’s taken two programs to the NCAA tournament and recruited at a higher level (Mountain West) than several of the other names on this list.

Pat Kelsey (Charleston HC) - Kelsey spent 10 years as the head coach at Winthrop before moving on to Charleston for the 2022 season. His teams play a fast up tempo style, and he won the Big South regular season four times, Big South tournament three times, and swept the Colonial regular season and tournament this season while going 31-4. The Cincinnati native played at Xavier and if Sean Miller wasn’t still under 55, I’d peg him as the next Xavier head coach. There are some rumblings that Kelsey could be Penn State’s top target and while I think he will listen, I don’t know that he will ultimately make the move.

Kelsey is making $1.1 million a year which is more than your typical mid-major head coach. He also previously turned down the UMass job (after verbally accepting it) and doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to move up the coaching ranks. I could see him being patient and waiting for the right opportunity, rather than taking the first one. Part of what doesn’t make Penn State the right opportunity for Kelsey is his recruiting base. Kelsey is a good recruiter (Charleston has two top 200 recruits in the 2023 class), but he’s spent most of his career in the Carolinas (assistant at Wake Forest, head coach at Winthrop and Charleston) outside of a few years under Chris Mack at Xavier.

Dusty May (Florida Atlantic HC) - The next Indiana head coach. May can coach, but as an Indiana alumni, I don’t see Penn State taking this one. Mike Woodson is 65 years old. Sure he could coach for another decade, but he could also decide to retire whenever. I don’t think Penn State wants to lose two coaches in a row to the state of Indiana. Of course if they want to hire May and not give him any resources to compete so as to crater his career, I wouldn’t object.

Mitch Henderson (Princeton HC) - Henderson has led the Princeton Tigers for 12 seasons now. During that time, he’s finished outside the top 3 of the Ivy just once (2018) and won the conference regular season three times in addition to his two Ivy tournament championships. Henderson is a Princeton native and was a long time Bill Carmody assistant at Northwestern. While he has some familiarity with the Big Ten, going from recruiting at the no-athletic scholarship Ivy the last 12 years to the B1G would be a big leap.

Bob Richey (Furman HC) - Richey has been at Furman for six seasons and finally got over the top and helped Furman make their first tournament appearance since 1980 this season. During his tenure, Furman became ranked for the first time ever in 2019 and he’s kept the Paladins near the top of the SoCon. Negatives against Richey are that he’s spent his entire coaching career in South Carolina (assistant at Charleston Southern and Furman) and doesn’t have the experience recruiting at a high-major school.

Mike Rhoades (VCU HC) - In his six years at VCU, Rhoades has taken the Rams to the tournament three times. He also spent three seasons as the head man at Rice. Rhoades is also a Pennsylvania native and played his college ball at Lebanon Valley College. Rhoades reportedly met with Penn State on Sunday and may have an eye of both a salary boost and a higher likelihood of making the NCAA tournament after the Atlantic 10 got just one bid this season. There is some chatter that Rhoades may be getting offered the job.

BoilerUp89: If Penn State can lure Kelsey, that’s a great hire. If not, I like Langel or Odom. I understand the reasoning for fans and players to want Fisher, but with the roster needing a complete rebuild anyway I don’t see enough to justify hiring a first time head coach that isn’t obviously ready for the opportunity like Shrewsberry was.

MNW: I’m hearing good things about the San Jose State head coach. Great energy, builds programs in shitty outposts...

RU in VA: What’s Turgeon up to? I could see him being successful and looking for a redemption story. He can recruit the DMV and would be instantly familiar, or well, those are also negatives too