Can Darby Rich Fill the Enormous Shoes of John Reilly?
The most underrated member of the previous Texas Tech men's basketball staff was without a doubt Strength and Conditioning Coach John Reilly. The guy got a little bit of play on social media, but he was instrumental in the success of Texas Tech basketball by changing the bodies of not only the new freshmen but of transfers who had already spent several seasons at other D1 schools.
Texas Tech hasn't been out-athleteted in the last several years and that work shows up most consistently on the defensive end of the floor. You didn't see Texas Tech get bullied very often in the Reilly Era, if at all.
Yes, 'out-athleteted' is totally a word.
To me, besides Chris Beard, Reilly was the biggest loss for the Texas Tech basketball program this offseason. At least among the staff that went with him, including Ulrich Maligi and Bob Donewald. I'd even argue that Reilly, long-term, was more important than the players who have since left Texas Tech.
Enough about Reilly; he's in Austin now. New head coach Mark Adams has announced the hiring of Darby Rich to take over as the men's basketball strength and conditioning coach.
The question is, can Darby Rich do what John Reilly was able to do here at Texas Tech? If Rich's resume is any indication, the answer is an emphatic 'yes.'
Rich is a former college basketball player himself and has been in coaching since 1994. In that time, he's helped send nine teams to the NCAA Tournament and 14 players to the NBA.
Most recently, Rich was with Memphis, but worked with three other programs since 2002, with tenures at South Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas A&M. He's also worked with Hutchinson Community College, which won the National Title during his tenure.
"We think we have hired one of the best strength and condition coaches in the nation," Adams said on texastech.com. "Coach Rich comes highly recommended from people at the professional and college level and brings in a lot of experience that will help our program reach the next level. With his background of being a college player, college coach and working as a strength coach at high-level programs throughout the country we are excited to see the impact he makes for our program."
For Texas Tech's purposes his most important stops came at Texas A&M and Oklahoma. While with the Aggies Rich helped develop NBA stars Robert Williams, Khris Middleton, Danuel House, and Alex Caruso. The Aggies also won the SEC Championship and when to the Sweet 16 twice in his tenure.
During five seasons at Oklahoma, the Sooners churned out four NCAA tournament appearances and on a Big 12 Championship. Rich was instrumental in developing Blake Griffin into a star and the first overall draft pick in the 2009 NBA draft.
At South Carolina, the team immediately went to the NCAA tournament after a 14-season drought. The South Carolina job was Rich's first job at the D1 level with the title of strength and conditioning coach. He'd spent a few years interning with the Dallas Cowboys strength staff immediately prior to his time with the Gamecocks.
Dropping back several years to Rich's first job, it's no surprise that he got his start at the JUCO level. Something Coach Adams is obviously valuing, with Barrett Peery as his associate coach and KJ Allen as his first signee. Rich spent his JUCO days at Hutchinson, where he was both an assistant coach and the strength and conditioning coach. Hutchinson was 117-24 during his tenure and won the 1994 NJCAA national title.
So, every program has won when Darby Rich was involved. Except for the Dallas Cowboys.
A Brief History of Texas Tech Men's Basketball in the NCAA Tournament