As far as I can tell, Mount basketball head coach Robert Burke is close to officially naming the rest of his staff. What we already know is that Matt Henry, the former director of basketball operations at Georgetown, is on staff and has already been at work in the office. We also know that Sam Atupem is on staff in some form for the time being. On the camp brochures littered around the ARCC earlier this month, Atupem was listed as the contact person for sign-ups.
That leaves two positions remaining, which may have already been filled. It is possible that Burke already has his men and just has not taken the time to announce them, but allow me to speculate anyway.
There are two important items to consider and both point to June 1 as an important date. June 1, for one, is the date at which all of the staff from the Milan Brown era will no longer be on payroll at the Mount. Despite being formally announced as assistants as Holy Cross, not everyone from Brown's staff - Brion Dunlap, Kevin Robinson Jr. and Dan Engelstad - are off the books in Emmitsburg yet.
The second important tie to June 1, and one that has been mentioned here before, is the fact that it is the date when summer classes begin for undergraduate classes at Mount St. Mary's, and the date that Burke stated in his introductory press conference that he hoped to have named at least some of his staff to begin getting acclimated with the players. With Henry and Atupem already in place, he may have satisfied that goal in his mind and be in no rush to fill the final two positions. But I would still think that Burke is taking a "sooner the better" approach and will name his assistants very soon.
As recently as last week interviews were still being conducted to fill the final two spots. Additionally, some of the candidates, if not all, had been given game film from past Mount St. Mary's games and asked to scout both the Mount and the opponent for that game, then to send the scout back to Burke.
Now comes perhaps the most interesting information regarding the salary of these assistants. I will preface this information by saying that we do not know which two positions the remaining candidates are competing for (i.e. first assistant, second assistant, third assistant) because those positions may no longer exist at the Mount. What I mean is that the assistants may not be tiered - the three assistants under Burke could all be on the same level salary-wise.
There was either a clause in Burke's contract or a bit of finagling in the aftermath that granted him a pool of money - rumored to be a sum of $145,000 - $160,000 - that he will be allowed to split up as he chooses - in this case evenly - among his staff. The benefit I see to this is that he can offer three positions with respectable pay and have a relatively deeper staff as opposed to going strong for a proven first assistant, recruiting an up-and-comer for second and hoping to get lucky with a third (you know, in case a recent Duke point guard applies. Or something like that.)
Last I heard, which was before the holiday weekend, there were at least four candidates still fighting for the final two spots. Greg Paulus, of course, was still in the running. So was Duane Simpkins, an early-1990s player at Maryland and now three years into his head coaching job at St. Alban's High School in Washington D.C. A third nominee is Ahmad Dorsett, who is an assistant at Bowie State. And the final candidate of which I have knowledge is Harold Juluke, an assistant at Tulane.
Obviously I'm rooting for Paulus, but I don't know much about the remaining three candidates other than what I can find on the Internet. The only person who has been personally vouched for to me is Dorsett. I like the thoroughness that the process is undergoing and expect to see an announcement in the near future. If I hear anything I'll be sure to post it here.
I'm even less confident in our ability to retain Justin Burrell than I was before. In addition to the hear-say that has been passed along, there is this:
Burrell was granted a partial release from the Mount weeks ago. Essentially this means that he can re-open his recruiting under the standard rules for every other school in the nation, except for the Mount. Because of the partial, and not full, release, Burke and his staff can still contact Burrell as much as they want as if he is still signed with the team, but he's not.
Considering the Mount has full access to the one-time top-priority recruit turned prized-signee turned more-urgent-than-ever-top-priority-recruit and he still hasn't re-committed to the Mount is troubling. If he isn't announced to be back with the Mount soon (as in two weeks ago) I would expect a school in a conference that is a level above the NEC's tier (AKA the bottom tier) to scoop him up with a late scholarship opening. And if he does not get any offers he likes in the near future he could just as easily enroll in prep school and potentially boost his stock even higher next year.
Congrats to two Mount alumni on their recent marriages. Former Mount basketball player and current William & Mary assistant Jamion Christian was recently married in Hawaii while former Mount golfer turned head coach of the same team, Kevin Farrell, was married on campus Saturday and is spending his honeymoon in Puerto Rico this week.