Slight Title Change Hides Expanded Role for WVU’s Josh Eilert
By Kevin Kinder
The title change was a minimal one, but not reflective of the new duties and greater responsibilities in store for Josh Eilert, who was named the Director of Basketball Operations for WVU earlier this week.
Previously, Eilert was the Coordinator of Basketball Operations, so other than a bit of semantics there didn’t appear to be a great deal of change. A conversation with Eilert, however, reveals there’s much more behind the move.
“From the way we used to have it Billy Hahn was the operations guy. I had my hands in there a little bit, working with him, but now I am taking it on full time,” said Eilert. “Scheduling, day to day operations, travel, and all the things that go with that, I’ll be responsible for.”
‘Scheduling’ isn’t just travel slates, either. Eilert will be front and center on helping make up West Virginia’s game slate.
“I’ll be the lead man on that, but of course all that goes through [head coach Bob] Huggins and [Athletic Director] Shane Lyons,” the 10-year WVU veteran explained. “Making schedules is just like a business relationship. You do it with the people you trust, and the people you know and can work with. You go to the guys you can help some, especially for the buy-in games, but the first thing you do is you want to make sure it helps West Virginia. You schedule for the fans, and to the RPI, and to make it up so that you can have success and not over-schedule.”
Eilert has learned the ins and outs of that process well, and is also taking into account the recent tweaks announced by the NCAA in terms of giving more weight to road wins over quality opponents. WVU will obviously get several chances at those in Big 12 play, but Eilert noted that he is plumbing the depths of those changes to see how it will affect the selection process, and keep an eye on that in helping determine West Virginia’s non-conference opponents.
“I don’t see us going downhill in any form or fashion,” said Eilert. “We’ve talked about the new changes. You have to evolve as they come through with the new criteria. Huggins was on the committee that helped formulate those changes, so we have a good idea of what they entail.”
Eilert will also be taking oversight of the managers, and will elevate to oversee the video department, where new Assistant Director of Basketball Operations James Long will now have direct control. He’s already laying the framework for that transition.
“I did video for ten years, and I want to make sure we don’t take a step back,” Eilert said of his top goal in that area. “We’ve already had several conversations between coaches and support staff, and I have complete confidence in James Long. He’s such a hard worker, and he wants to be good at everything he does. He’s already certified on the video operations, and he’s been taking steps to learn everything he needs to.”
Part of the transition involves a review of all aspects of support operations. Take for example, the scouting report. Using feedback from players, as well as the experience of Long, Eilert and the coaches are reviewing the benefits of every aspect of the program.
“There are always things we question,” Eilert said of the off-season review. “For instance, we have a five to six page scouting report for each game, but sometimes our turnaround between games is just two days. How can we simplify that? We have a 30-minute film session and distribute it. Are we getting value out of that? We review everything and will make changes if we find a better way.
The final move in the shuffle involves Jay Kuntz, who has been around nearly as long as Eilert. Entering his tenth year at WVU, Kuntz will move into Hahn’s former role as assistant to the head coach, which involves helping manage Huggins’ busy schedule as well as continuing to work with the players at community events. It’s a widely-varying role that requires a lot of energy.
“The demands on Coach Huggins’ time are crazy,” Eilert noted. “Having someone like Jay there is invaluable. He’ll work with him to organize the logistics of day-to day-operations, and he’ll still work in the player development role, taking guys out into the community and helping them.”
Put it all together, and Eilert’s slight title adjustment adds up to a great deal more responsibility. It’s something he welcomes as he enters his 11th season with Huggins at West Virginia, and one that he emphasizes he is very thankful for.
“I really appreciate Coach Huggins having the faith in me to take on this role,” said Eilert, who also filled in as an assistant coach while Ron Everhart was sidelined following back surgery last year. “He’s the best coach to work for, and I want to do the best job possible for him and for WVU.”