John Brannen worked his way up the coaching ranks over a course of several different assistant coaching jobs. His start was at Charleston from 1999-2000 then Eastern Kentucky from 2000-2003. Then he went to the A-10 with St. Bonaventure from 2003-2006 and VCU from 2006-2009. Further, he moved to Alabama as an assistant from 2009-2015 along with taking over as interim head coach in 2015. The big opportunity came as a head coach for Northern Kentucky from 2015-2019. He accumulated a record of 81-51 and made three straight NCAA tournament appearances.
He now has a great opportunity to have a great start with Jarron Cumberland returning for his senior season. He has the ability to be an All-American player and have the entire offense run through him. His cousin Jaevin Cumberland is joining Cincinnati as a graduate transfer from Oakland. This will give Cincinnati a very good shooting backcourt along with a high-level recruit in Zach Harvey joining the perimeter. Keith Williams and Trevor Moore will be two more impactful players on the perimeter for Cincinnati allowing them to play essentially four guards and one big. Tre Scott will be the most crucial piece as he’s the only big with true experience and gives really good versatility. Brannen has a very solid team coming back and a roster that fits his up-tempo and his four out and one in concepts.
There is a great advantage that Brannen has not had to move as he has made this coaching change. The proximity of Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati are within nine miles of each other. It is very beneficial that he knows the area very well and will make recruiting in the region much easier. The quick transition for Brannen and his staff will be very beneficial for the program to maximize its current roster. Brannen is primed to have really good recruiting success with the ties he has created during his time at Northern Kentucky.
Mick Cronin left Cincinnati after a very successful run over the past for 13 years. He left a culture of pure toughness, hard work and intensity. Brannen must now make the culture his own to fit his style. This is never easy to follow a very successful coach and recreate the identity of a program. Furthermore, this team has the ability to succeed very quickly. Brannen must slowly implement his culture to create the best fit for his team now and future teams. A culture of a team is as important as anything for a team as it is their identity and what they stand for.
The ability to stay at the top of the American is going to be key for Cincinnati in the coming years. There must be continued to success to match Houston and Memphis who are capable of having very good teams each season. Also, Witchita State, UCF, USF and Temple are all very solid programs who are only going to continue to improve. Therefore, Cincinnati cannot afford to fall back to the middle of American in order to sustain recruiting success. The competition in the American is very good and the margin of error is small to remain at the top. Remaining atop the American in the present is a very important goal for future success.
John Brannen is a very experienced coach who has the style to create high scoring offense on a consistent basis. He should have the ability to get off to a great first season at Cincinnati. The current core of the roster is very good with the two Cumberlands, Scott, Harvey, Williams and Moore. Further, his quick transition only having to travel nine more miles to work will help in the acceleration of the development of the program. The culture change to Cincinnati will be key he needs to replace the identity of the great success from Mick Cronin. Continued success in the American will be key to build long term hope for John Brannen. Now, can John Brannen be the right coach to follow Mick Cronin?
Images Courtesy of, Basketball Society, Las Vegas Sun
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