At long last, Siena has hired former Mount St. Mary’s basketball coach Jamion Christian. The Siena coaching search has truly been a dramatic saga. Initially it appeared Division II head coach Pat Beilein of Le Moyne would be the leading candidate for the job. Following that rumor, Siena had announced it was hiring a searching firm to help find candidates. Another crazy aspect was when the rumor surfaced that Siena had offered the position to Rick Pitino — something the college denies.
Following that announcement, it appeared Albany head coach Will Brown and Christian were the two leading candidates. One week ago, a report prematurely surfaced that Christian would be the next coach, when in fact he had not officially been offered the position yet.
It all became official on Tuesday.
Christian coached at Mount St. Mary’s for the past six seasons, where he accumulated a record of 101-95, including two NEC Tournament championships and trips to the NCAA Tournament. While his overall coaching record may not stick out on paper as amazing, it is important to understand he had great success relative to the situation he was coaching in.
As a member of the NEC, Mount St. Mary’s is something of a revolving door, with star players transferring up at any opportunity. Christian has demonstrated a great ability to identify under-the-radar talent and develop it. His hallmark team at The Mount was his 2017 squad, which won the NEC Tournament and regular season. This team landed a spot as a 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament and led eventual national champion Villanova for the first 18 minutes of the game.
Ifs are meaningless in sports, but one could only imagine how good Christian’s team would have been last year if the stars from 2017 — Miles Wilson, Elijah Long and Mawdo Sallah — had not all decided to transfer.
It may take some time for Christian to get Siena back on a consistent track of success in the MAAC, which is a step up in competitiveness from the NEC. Christian is well known for his uptempo style of coaching known as “Mayhem” and if he can recruit the right players to fit that system at Siena, expect the Saints to be a top-half MAAC team on a consistent basis within a few seasons.
In this situation, Siena’s gain is Mount St. Mary’s’ loss. The Mount losses a coach who not only built a great basketball program but also a coach who integrated his program greatly within the community of the school, which led to student support. So the question is, where does The Mount go from here? It is already May, and it does not have a men’s head basketball coach.
This would put any program in a predicament. The Mount is in a unique situation currently as every single player on the roster is only a freshman or sophomore.
We reached out to some NEC experts to compile a list of possible candidates for the Mount St. Mary’s job.
Graham Bousley and Will Holland
College basketball freelancer Kyle McFadden tweeted that The Mount would be looking to keep things in house and the top two leading candidates are assistants Graham Bousley and Will Holland. Considering The Mount’s youth, this seems to be the most logical move. This late in the game, a bunch of de-commits or transfers could be devastating.
Holland graduated from The Mount in 2010, where he had a successful career as a player. Holland proceeded to briefly play professionally in Europe, then coached as an assistant at St. Francis PA for three years before returning to Emmitsburg.
Similar to Holland, Bousley just finished his second season on staff. Bousley graduated from Wisconsin in 2012 where he served as a the head student manager. He then went to Rice, where he served as director of basketball operations for two years.
Kevin Sweeney, lead writer at cbbcentral.com, brought up Warren’s name. Currently the associate head coach at UMass, Warren has also served as an assistant at Maryland. Warren is an alumnus of The Mount, were he was a player and then assistant coach for the legendary Jim Phelan.
A Few More..
Finally, NEC insider Ryan Peters offered a few interesting names, the first being Ben Wilkins, who had been the associate head coach at Mount St. Mary’s and now is a member of Army’s staff. The second name was Jack Perri, the former LIU coach who has had success in the NEC in the past. Finally, current D-III Southern Vermont head coach Dan Engelstad who served as an assistant at The Mount.