We're one day into the Ken Bone era, and while there's no reason to panic (yet), we are saying goodbye to at least two of the former Bennett assistants.
Vince Grippi found out, via the magic of the text message, that Ron Sanchez will be following Bennett to Virginia. Even though, of course, he won't be an actual assistant on Tony's staff. One still has to wonder if he'll be paid higher. This coupled with the announcement that Matt Woodley won't be sticking around Pullman, leaves Ben Johnson as the only assistant remaining.
I've always been a fan of Johnson, and he would've been my pick for head coach successor if Tony hadn't been a jerk and actually hung around for 2-3 more years. He's actually the most senior of Dick and Tony's assistants, with five full seasons in Pullman. He's also a key reason for the Australia/New Zealand pipeline we've been able to take advantage of for the past few years.
If we lose Ben, we may be saying goodbye to more than a few future Aussie recruits. It could spark a player exodus, especially if they aren't fans of Bone's coaching style from the get-go. At this pont, we have to hope no news is good news, and that Johnson is in the fold for a job next year, and we're ironing out the details. Problem is, he should be able to land a job fairly quickling coaching Down Under, as was the speculation when Tony first left.
This is the underlying problem with the way Tony ditched WSU - Gonzaga used their line of succession to keep its program's momentum going. Dan Monson replaced Dan Fitzgerald, Mark Few replaced Dan Monson, and the chain was never broken. Tony left town without a clear successor, and so we did the only logical thing: looked elsewhere. But when you do that, you run the risk of losing players. And we have great players.
I'm debating in my head whether or not it matters. No one cares that Dick Bennett lost Lance Den Boer, because Dick Bennett ended up making us competitive. In the end we didn't even really care that much about Akognon's transfer, because the next year we went to the tourney for the first time in over a decade. I guess you could say the same here, if we lose a player or two, assuming Bone is successful. But if Bone isn't successful, he will always have resentment from us Coug fans that wanted to see our full group of freshmen stick around.
It's natural that there could be some turnover on the roster. How much depends on what happens in the next few weeks. If Johnson stays in Pullman, we can breathe a little easier.
If not Johnson, we have to hold out hope for player development/operations director Mike Heideman or operations assistant Ronnie Wideman sticking around.
Or, perhaps a more outside the box idea: Graduate Assistant Daven Harmeling.