Why Adam Harrington At UMass Simply Can’t Fail

Why Adam Harrington At UMass Simply Can’t Fail

Quinn McCarron, aka UMass Reindeer

First of all, let me say that I am indeed a crazy person, so you might read this and imagine Charlie from it’s always sunny in the mailroom when he is pointing at crazy scribblings and a scattered connection of papers and dots while I ramble on about Pepe Silvia. While yes, that is entirely possible, I could also be Brad Pitt playing Billy Beane in Moneyball, and damit, I’d rather be Brad Pitt than Charlie Day. Now weird preface out of the way; let’s get into why Adam Harrington would be a home run, and he should at the very least get a call during this whole process.

Many readers outside of beautiful western Massachusetts might not know who Adam Harrington is. Harrington is a current assistant for the Brooklyn Nets; he works as a shooting coach and coaches the summer league team. That doesn’t jump off the paper, right? I bet people outside UMass are wildly confused about why his name would even come up when talking about a head coaching job. Harrington’s story is powerful; he grew up in a small town in western Massachusetts and was a fantastic basketball player. Folks who were around when Harrington was playing high school talk about it like they were watching Lebron in high school. He was recruited to go to UMass, but he wasn’t sought after heavily enough, which many saw as a crime, and he went to NC State. It is worth noting that his sister and father both went to UMass. After NC State, he transferred to Auburn, where he had a promising playing career. Eventually, he found his way onto an NBA roster after going undrafted. He bounced around a few teams and played overseas in Europe. Then tragedy struck his family, and his sister sadly passed away from cancer.

Harrington stopped his playing career in Europe to come back home and open up a foundation called the “The Jill E. Harrington Hanzalik Memorial Fund.” The fund’s mission is “to provide financial assistance, mentoring and opportunities for young people pursuing an interest in sports, music, and the arts.” Harrington also started coaching and has worked with numerous NBA players. Harrington helped Kevin Durant develop a Dirk Nowitzki fadeaway jumper which helped Durant become even more of a problem to guard for opposing defenses. He has stuck with Durant to the present day and is currently a Nets assistant coach and coaches the Nets summer league team. He has continued to grow his foundation that has raised over $700,000, and is well regarded by players.

Harrington is a fantastic story, but you need more than that to coach in the A-10, so let us jump into some objections.


The number one reason UMass fans have shot down the talk of Harrington is his lack of coaching experience. It is a reasonable complaint since I think the notion around the fan base is that UMass should hire someone with a lot of experience and proven success at a similar level to the A-10. McCall was a young coach, and who a lot of people would’ve considered a risky hire to then double down and hire someone with even less experience seems downright insane. The critical difference, I think, is that Harrington is a former professional player who has a wealth of knowledge about the sport. Harrington would be a fantastic player development coach, and he can use that when recruiting. His connections to the NBA would also be the best in the A-10; he can tell a kid he can get to the league and mean it. In terms of Xs and Os, I think that’s where you find assistants to help. Harrington needs the right staff around him, but I don’t like dismissing him because of his lack of experience. He has played basketball for eight years; he learned from legendary coaches and players and has taught legendary players. He also wants to coach and is well versed in basketball to create an offense.


UMass fans are tired of mediocrity, and most want next year to be an instant change and believe it can be done thanks to the transfer portal. Next year is my senior year, and I want nothing more than for UMass to be competitive, but with no incoming recruits, is it really possible? UMass attacked the transfer portal this year and got some key pieces, but it didn’t result in wins. UMass does have a great backcourt led by Fernandes and Weeks, but UMass has maybe one big man in Dibaji Walker who only plays the 4. I don’t know if any coach that UMass is after will land a big man who could be a difference-maker in the A-10. That is precisely why we need to turn to Harrington since I genuinely think he would be able to recruit. He would strengthen the already great UMass offense. The team shoots 37% from three right now, and bringing in a shooting coach will increase that number. If Harrington can go out and find a serviceable big man and teach whoever that would be some shooting tips, the already scary UMass offense just became terrifying. 


This is the biggest question mark for me. Harrington has an excellent job for the Nets and enjoys life in New York; why would he want to come to UMass? The first answer would be a pay increase compared to his salary in Brooklyn. Harrington also has family ties to UMass. His father went there, and his late sister also graduated from the sports management program here. In an interview for the NBA coaches association, “We (his family) adopted the philosophy that wherever we are, that’s home” I may be reading into that too much. Still, Harrington seems to be saying he doesn’t mind moving around and gets that’s part of the business. UMass would be an excellent opportunity for Harrington, and I truly believe he could build something special in Amherst.


For me, I would love to see UMass go in a new direction with someone who can build a culture at UMass. Carvel was a perfect example of a guy who created a culture of player development in college hockey; the difference is the pool is way smaller in hockey, and finding a diamond is just a little easier. College basketball has a million coaches to look at, so finding the perfect hire means you need to look in harder-to-reach places. Call it a gut feeling, but I believe just hearing Harrington speak is that he can be that guy. He knows the region, knows basketball, has all the tools to be a great recruiter, and has connections throughout the basketball world. Harrington also played in Europe. I’m sure he has a network there too. I refuse to believe a guy that no one speaks badly off will not have the tools, resources, and connections to get it done at UMass. I can not see it failing. I know the risk and how it will look people will call us idiots out the gate if it isn’t an instant smash hit but screw the noise; it is time to do something different in Amherst. People disagree with this take on Harrington and want something safer, and I can’t help but feel like that it is a losing mentality; there are 351 division one basketball teams; if you don’t have unlimited money to spend, you have to think differently, or you are doomed for mediocrity. 

There’s my case for Harrington, a guy I didn’t know existed till 3 days ago. At the end of the day, I’ll support anyone UMass hires and still be there in a reindeer sweatshirt in the same spot for my final season as a student. I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in on what direction UMass should head when hiring its next head coach. 

Twitter: @UMassReindeer