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Coach search: Purdue’s Shrewsberry great candidate

Photo by Purdue Athletics: Micah Shrewsberry

Micah Shrewsberry would be a terrific hire for Penn State. Everything about his resume says so, and I have every reason to believe he would be interested in the Nittany Lion job once the program conducts a national search after this season.

Shrewsberry is the associate head coach at Purdue, and the Boilermakers will host Penn State and interim coach Jim Ferry on Sunday afternoon.

This is the 44-year-old Shrewsberry’s resume:

  • Assistant at Butler from 2008-11 under Brad Stevens, when the team made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA title game
  • Assistant at Purdue from 2011-13 under Matt Painter
  • Assistant with the Boston Celtics from 2013-19 under Stevens
  • Associate head coach at Purdue from 2019 to now under Painter

That is impressive.

Shrewsberry checks so many boxes. He’s been a high-level college assistant in the Big Ten. He’s been an NBA assistant for several years. He’s worked extensively with one of the best coaches in the world in Stevens. He’s worked extensively with one of the best coaches in college basketball in Painter.

He’s the offensive coordinator at Purdue and worked with great young offensive players with the Celtics, so he knows the importance of scoring and shooting the 3 in the modern game.

There are many people following the Penn State situation who believe the school would like to hire a minority candidate. That would make a lot of sense given how things transpired with former head coach Patrick Chambers, who used the word “noose” with a Black player, Rasir Bolton, who subsequently transferred.

Stevens has lobbied for Shrewsberry getting jobs in the past and would be expected to do the same if Penn State is interested. Shrewsberry previously interviewed for the head coaching job at UMass and also at St. Joseph’s.

There is no reason for Penn State to not be interested in this candidate.

“He’s really good,” Stevens said of Shrewsberry upon his return to Purdue in 2019. “And he’s a great communicator. He knows how to get things communicated quickly and succinctly. I thought his transition (to the NBA) was smoother than mine.”

Will Penn State’s job open up after this season?

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As I’ve written several times, if Ferry can somehow get PSU into the NCAA Tournament, I not only believe he would deserve to get the full-time job but also that the school would hire him. There’s just no way a program like Penn State, with so few NCAA Tournament appearances in its history, could justify not hiring Ferry if he does an incredible job of taking the Lions dancing.

A win Sunday would help that cause, no doubt. Penn State is on the bubble right now, despite being 3-4 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten, and currently is on the outside looking in, according to Joe Lunardi. But a road win against a good Purdue team would strengthen PSU’s resume.

Still, the Lions are very much a long shot to make the tournament. They’re already 0-3 in the Big Ten and still have a ton of tough games coming up. If PSU doesn’t make it — and especially if the team struggles down the stretch — then the school certainly will feel like it needs to go out and hire the best possible candidate.

That gets me back to Shrewsberry, who might be as good of a candidate as Penn State can expect to find given its financial situation. The school might pay $1 million to the next coach but probably not much more, so luring a great young head coach away from somewhere else really isn’t feasible, because that coach will be able to get more money at a better basketball school.

I know Penn State fans want some exciting name or established head coach, and there’s a good chance many PSU fans haven’t heard of Shrewsberry. But that’s just how it often goes when it comes to assistant coaches — they do tremendous work without getting a lot of notoriety.

If Penn State goes the assistant route for its next coach, it won’t find many candidates better than Shrewsberry.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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