Assistants impress

April 8, 2013 6:00 AMComments Off

Column by Taylor Soule

Taylor Soule-w200-h200A lot about Ray Giacoletti has captured interest on campus, in Des Moines and in Iowa.

As Drake fans discuss his impressive resume (six consecutive NCAA berths at Gonzaga, a Sweet 16 appearance at Utah) and struggle to pronounce his name (JACK-o-let-ee), Giacoletti has drawn two new assistant coaches to the program.

You know, the other men on the bench who coach the players, the men who too seldom catch fans’ interest. The new Drake men’s basketball assistant coaches are worth a column, thanks to their diverse resumes.

Thus far, Giacoletti has taken the care to select long-time basketball coaches from diverse basketball backgrounds, a move that contrasts the previous staff. As his vows from the March 28 press conference — draw more Iowa players, win the rebound war and score easy baskets — echo across campus, the metro area and the state, Giacoletti has taken a step forward in his two newest hires, Jeff Rutter and Bill Walker.

Giacoletti named Jeff Rutter assistant coach this past Thursday. Rutter comes to Drake from Iowa State, where he spent seven seasons, four as an assistant coach and the last three as the Cyclones’ director of basketball operations.

Before his tenure at Iowa State, Rutter worked for three seasons as an assistant coach at Northern Iowa under head coach Greg McDermott.

Expect Rutter to play a pivotal role in Giacoletti’s vow to draw more players from Iowa. He knows the regional basketball scene, thanks to coaching jobs at North Dakota State, Wisconsin-Parkside, UNI and Iowa State.

Plus, Rutter can help Missouri Valley Conference newcomer Giacoletti learn the league’s ins and outs.

Giacoletti named a second basketball veteran to his staff on this past Friday, in Bill Walker. Walker returns to the NCAA scene from Texas A&M, where in just four years as an assistant coach from 2008-2011, he helped develop three — yes, three — NBA players in the Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan, the Detroit Pistons’ Khris Middleton and the New Orleans Hornets’ Donald Sloan.

The three players mark just the start of Walker’s NBA success, though. He spent the last two seasons as a scout for the Hornets.

Those experiences and more add up to 25 years of basketball knowledge across the NCAA and NBA. Clearly, Walker has a knack to develop players, a knack Drake desperately needs.

Expect Walker to draw some big names to Drake, too. He knows just what to look for in a player, thanks to two seasons as an NBA scout.

In the NCAA scene, most notably, Walker earned acclaim at Minnesota when he drew Big Ten Freshman of the Year and eventual NBA pick Kris Humphries to the Gophers’ squad. He spent nine years at Minnesota before heading to Texas A&M.

Clearly, Giacoletti owns a plethora of column-worthy basketball contacts. Expect more notable hires as Giacoletti builds his Bulldog staff.

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