MHERST — Before University of Massachusetts men's basketball coach Bruiser Flint fills out his coaching staff, he wants to be sure how many spots he'll have to fill.
UMass associate coach Geoff Arnold expects to know within the next few days whether he will be hired as coach at the University of Hartford, which would leave Flint's staff with two vacancies. Assistant Tony Barbee has already left to join John Calipari's staff at Memphis.
Flint said Tuesday night that he expects to delay filling Barbee's position until he knows if Arnold's spot will also be open. That could be determined by the end of this week.
Flint also said he has interviewed "about five people" so far, but wouldn't divulge their names. He did acknowledge that one was former Cathedral High School and UMass guard Derek Kellogg, who is an assistant at Youngstown State and has also coached at George Mason.
While Flint is waiting on Arnold's status, Arnold appears to be waiting on Connecticut assistant Karl Hobbs, who is considered the front-runner for the Hartford job. But Hobbs was also scheduled to interview for the job at American University this week, and his name has also cropped up regarding the opening at Houston, where Clyde Drexler has stepped down after two years.
Arnold knows that Hobbs, who could also return to UConn in hopes of landing a better job down the future, is very popular in the state of Connecticut. But Arnold remained hopeful that he might get his head-coaching break.
"All I know is that they haven't told me no yet," he said.
Hiring anyone before Arnold's status is resolved appears impractical. Some candidates (possibly including Kellogg), might seem like strong nominees to fill out a staff, but would not necessarily be viewed as strongly for the chief assistant's job held by Arnold.
Finding a strong recruiter also appears to be important, since Barbee's contributions included a strong and growing recruiting profile.
Flint attended the Final Four in Indianapolis, and has also been active on the recruiting circuit. The signing period for high school and junior-college players is next week, and three new recruits — guards Anthony Anderson and Jarrett Kearse, and forward Jackie Rogers — are expected to follow through on verbal commitments and officially join the program.
They would join early signees Raheim Lamb and Jameel Pugh as the newest Minutemen.
MHERST — Geoff Arnold sat in his office yesterday, wearing a University of Massachusetts men's basketball sweater and knowing he won't have to discard it yet.
The UMass associate coach was told yesterday that he would not be named the coach at Hartford, a decision he said disappointed but did not devastate him.
"It seemed like a good fit, a school the right size and so forth," said Arnold, who will instead return for his fifth season at UMass. Previously, he had been an assistant at St. Joseph's, his alma mater.
"It was a good experience to go through the process, and I think I did all I could," Arnold said. He went through four sets of interviews at Hartford and, as late as Tuesday night, believed he had a good chance at the job because the discussion had gone as far as the salary stage.
Larry Harrison, an assistant at DePaul, has been hired at Hartford, and was scheduled to be introduced at a news conference on campus this afternoon. He succeeds Paul Brazeau, who resigned last month after eight seasons with the Hawks.
Arnold said he had believed he was the front-runner after Connecticut assistant Karl Hobbs took his name out of consideration last week.
With Arnold back, UMass coach Bruiser Flint is now expected to fill the opening on the Minutemen staff created when assistant Tony Barbee went to Memphis. Flint had said he would wait on the hiring until knowing whether he'd be filling one spot or two.
Arnold's return could hurt the chances of former Cathedral High School and UMass guard Derek Kellogg, a Youngstown State assistant who interviewed with the Minutemen. With Flint seeking an experienced recruiter, Kellogg was viewed as a strong candidate for the second of two open spots, but not necessarily to fill a single opening.