Why fix what’s not broken?
That’s the method Fred Hoiberg used when he went about assembling his staff at Nebraska. Outside of Armon Gates, who was retained from the Tim Miles era, Hoiberg filled the rest of his staff with coaches he had worked with previously at Iowa State.
Matt Abdelmassih was the first domino to fall, then when things fell through with another candidate Hoiberg turned to Doc Sadler to fill his third active coaching position. The final member of his staff was another familiar face in coaching veteran Bobby Lutz, who Hoiberg hired as a special assistant to the head coach.
“I’m thrilled to be on this staff, and primarily it’s being with Coach Hoiberg again after Iowa State and Windy City, but the entire staff — I’ve known Matty, we were together at Iowa State and I’ve coached against Doc and actually recruited one of his players, didn’t get him, but recruited him years ago when he was a junior college coach,” Lutz said. “This staff, I humbly would say is going to be one of the better staffs. It’s got everything that you need and now it’s a matter of getting the players in here to do the things that we know Fred’s system is capable of, and that is to win at a very high level.”
Lutz said he has had some full-time coaching opportunities presented to him, but he’s turned them down.
“At this point in my life, I was looking for the right situation and with the right people,” Lutz said. “This is the one. Fred primarily, but Nebraska has had good team but not success over along period of time and not NCAA Tournament success. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to be a part of that with Fred leading us.”
Lutz will not be allowed to hit the road to recruit like a normal assistant under NCAA rules, but he’ll still have plenty of basketball as well as administrative responsibilities in his current position.
“As far as my duties as a special assistant, I’ll be doing a lot of film work, watching film of everybody: our players, our opponents, I’m watching NBA games right now to try to pick up some ideas for our team for Fred’s offensive system. Doing other administrative things. I’ll basically be doing everything the NCAA rules allow me to do and I’m happy with that.”
Hoiberg has a lot of trust in Lutz as a basketball mind and the two share a common view of the game. Lutz said Hoiberg is a bit of a film nerd as he’s constantly watching tape of other teams looking for things to pick up and add to his own playbook. Lutz will do something very similar for Nebraska, trying to learn everything he can through film study.
“He and I are so alike on the court, the way we see the game,” Lutz said. “That’s why he hired me the first time when he was a first-time head coach at Iowa State. We actually implemented a lot of the things we ran, he ran at Iowa State in his first year. We’ve continued to talk through the years.”
Hoiberg said on Sports Nightly on Thursday night that he wanted to bring on someone with head coaching experience when he took over at Iowa State considering he lacked that experience himself, and coming off a 12-year tenure at Charlotte, Lutz fit the bill. That the two hit it off so well made it a no-brainer.
Lutz spent just one season with Hoiberg in Ames, 2010-11, but said he would never have left if it were not for some family health problems. His father had a heart attack and his mother had Alzheimer’s, so Lutz had to return to his home state of North Carolina to take care of them. Fortunately, a job opened up at North Carolina State and Lutz was able to find a landing spot close enough to home to take care of his family while still getting to stay in the game. He called that job a “gift from God.”
“If that hadn’t been the case, I would have never left Fred because we clicked on every level — as I said, on the court, but also off the court,” Lutz said. “He’s the kind of human being, wether I was a basketball coach or a stock broker or in business at a restaurant, I would want to be on his team, I would want to be working with him because he’s that type of individual. Through the years, we stayed in touch, we talked on the phone, we talked basketball any time we were together. We just have a lot of things in common.
“He’s a special guy and he’s going to continue to win and build a program the right way. Selfishly at this point in my life, I want to be with someone like that that I know I’m going to have a lot of fun with, we’re going to work hard, but we’re going to see the results on the court but also off the court — when our guys graduate they’re going to go on and contribute in whatever field they choose to do.”
Bobby Lutz may not draw the same salary as the other three assistants and he may not have the same responsibilities, but he will still make a big impact as Fred Hoiberg looks to build the Nebraska basketball program into a winner.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.