Saint Mary’s hired former Washington assistant Jim Shaw to become the special assistant to Gaels coach Randy Bennett.
“Jim Shaw has had a tremendous amount of success as a basketball coach and I am looking forward to having his experience and professionalism help our program,” Bennett said in a statement released by Saint Mary’s. “I’ve known Jim for a long time. He has worked for some great coaches and helped every team he worked with achieve some of those programs’ best seasons. We are fortunate to have him on our basketball staff.”
Shaw and Bennett had been on the same staff at Saint Louis under Washington coach Lorenzo Romar.
Shaw spent nine seasons with the Huskies before Romar chose not to renew his contract in June.
During his time at Washington, the Huskies won two conference regular season titles, three Pac-10 Tournament championships and made five NCAA tournament appearances. Shaw was instrumental in the Huskies’ success. He coordinated the recruiting efforts and took charge of scheduling.
Had a chance to connect with Shaw after he was released. He talked about his time at Washington, his favorite games and players. He talked about his recruiting philosophy. He touched on the head injury he suffered last year that forced him to miss the team’s overseas exhibition trip. He said he was surprised by the firing and the timing suggests the staff changes came suddenly.
Here’s the Q&A.
(What will you remember at UW?) “Probably being able to have a level of success that this place has never had. This place has never had the type of success that we were able to achieve. Over a nine-year period you have five championships and four consecutive titles. Over 10 NBA players. Some of the things done that way obviously are going to be things history is going to be very kind to. The only school left of the Mississippi that’s produced more NBA players is UCLA. We’ve won more conference championships than any other time in school history. We won more games in the last nine years than any time in Washington history. We won more games over the last five years than any school in the conference. There’s not one thing basketball wise that’s being done that the school has ever been close to doing.”
(Is there a game you’ll remember most?) “That’s a great question. I remember beating Arizona State here when Jon Brockman was a senior. That was a pretty significant game. I think that was my favorite team when Jon was a senior. That team was the one that kind of really propelled that run of four straight championships. That win against (James) Harden and (Jeff) Pendergraph kind of really put the cement in being able to win that first regular-season championship.”
(Of the players you worked with who improved the most?) “That’s another great question. I got to think out loud before I pin down an answer. These are all guys in the running. Quincy (Pondexter) is in the running for sure. Isaiah (Thomas) was so good as a freshman that he isn’t in the running. JD (Justin Dentmon) made that monster jump his senior year. Jon was so good early that he’s not in the running. I would say Quincy Pondexter’s and Justin Dentmon’s jump between there junior and senior years were probably the two most impressive things to me.”
(I know you’re an outstanding recruiter. Give me a story about a prospect you recruited to Washington.) “Well I think the most talented guy I ever recruited here was Terrence Ross. I just think he was the most talented guy. He just didn’t have anything missing talent wise. Just such a dynamic talent in so many different ways.”
(Is there an art to recruiting?) “Different guys have different things. With Matthew (Bryan-Amaning), we started recruiting him out of the warm-up line because he didn’t really play. He was so good in warm-ups we started recruiting him because they had such a talented-laden team. There’s a certain art form to it. I think you have to in my opinion recruit guys that you can win with that you have a chance to get. If you recruit guys you can’t win with, then that doesn’t make any sense. And if you recruit guys that you have no chance of getting, then that doesn’t make any sense. So if you answer the question, ‘OK, Percy Allen. Can we win with Percy Allen? Yes. Do we have a chance to get him? Yes. Then you only have to answer one more question and that’s is he going to screw up our program? If the answer to that is no, then you’re off in running. I believe in simplifying it. If you simplify things, then you’re able to target more accurately and the process works a lot easier. If you recruit guys you can’t win with or guys you can’t get, then you end up wasting too much time. Or if you recruit guys that screw up the program, you end up wasting too much time. My goal was always as an assistant to never get a boss fired. And that’s hard to do. It’s hard to be consistent for a long time and to be able to say I never got my boss fired. And I can say that. I’ve been an assistant coach for 25 years and I’ve never ever got my boss fired.”
(I know you’re the first UW coach to see C.J. Wilcox. Talk about his recruitment.) “C.J. was an evaluation recruit because he wasn’t someone that was on our radar. We weren’t recruiting him at the time that I went to the event in Houston. We had a list of guys that we were recruiting and he was not on that list. You got 50 names on the list of players that you’re going to watch and he was not one of those 50. In going to that event, we came back and he was a huge priority in my opinion because he had a package of speed and he had a unique skill in his ability to shoot. And so what made his story in my opinion a little bit different than others is that promise to go to place. It’s like going on a date with Sally and coming back with Jane. Sally might not be very happy, but Jane is.”
(I know you got a one-that-got away story. Can you tell it to me?) “Absolutely by far, by a millions mile far it’s Terrence Jones. One hundred percent. I put in a tremendous amount of time. The story with Terrence Jones and Terrence Ross, I was with Cameron Dollar at Highline Community College and those guys weren’t even in high school yet. When I got hired here, I told Lorenzo this is going to sound a little but funny but you’ll have to trust me that we’re going to become a major player with every guy that comes out of Portland. I just have a lot of friends on the northeast side. … We have a lot friends there that are going to try and help us. Dollar and I were down there and you just knew those two kids were going to players at an early age. When they were seventh graders you knew they were going to be really, really good. I said to Cam, it would be fun to coach two guys like that one day. He said yeah. I said I can’t guarantee we’re going to get them, but we’re going to be close. You watch we’re going to be so close on those two guys. And close doesn’t count in anything, but on that one we were beyond close because you always kind of know the pulse of the thing. The night before that thing went down, I didn’t say anything. I was playing it like I didn’t know, but I thought it was coming our way. You have enough things going on down there. You know kind of what’s up. I would have been surprised, not shock, I would have been surprised if had put our cap on. And once they do that and then it gets away, you’re allowed to call that the one that got away. No doubt that’s the hardest one by far because that was always my plan for that team to have Isaiah Thomas, Terrence Ross, Terrence Jones, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Justin Holiday and C.J. Wilcox.”
(Have you come to grips about why your tenure at Washington came to an end?) “You know what, Coach just decided he wanted to change dynamics.”
(Is it that simple? After nine years, it’s time to go in a new direction?) “You know what, there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. So therefore, I was surprised. I was disappointed. I was all the things you can be. When I played I always felt it was my job to please the coach and not his job to please me. And the same thing as an assistant coach. I always said it’s my job and my goal to make sure that my boss did not get fired, but I knew I didn’t have any control whether he did that to me. Over the last year, I figured it’s all happened. I’ve been sick for 4-6 months. I got let go of my job. So nothing else can happen. That kind of about covers it.”
(How is your health?) “I’m doing pretty good. Whenever you had a head injury there’s two things that can trigger some symptoms. In my case it’s very common and they’re temporary. You can have a massive overload of anxiety or stress. Or a massive case of fatigue where you don’t sleep for a couple of days. So anything like this will trigger a temporary symptom. As long as they’re the same symptom and not anything new, they don’t view it as anything to worry about. That can be ongoing for 10 years after a major head injury.”