UPDATE: It is official...
Welcome to Happy Valley, @CoachRhoades— Penn State Men’s Basketball (@PennStateMBB) March 29, 2023
A proven winner and a Pennsylvania native, we are thrilled to officially announce Mike Rhoades as the next Peter and Ann Tombros Endowed Men's Basketball Head Coach → https://t.co/3RCbWQfzvD#WeAre pic.twitter.com/EyxBCCskYR
According to multiple reports — most notably, from Nate Bauer of BWI — Penn State basketball will officially have its new basketball coach this afternoon in Pennsylvania native and former VCU and Rice head coach Mike Rhoades. The Board of Trustees compensation committee is set to meet at 4:00, with Rhoades’ hire expected to reach approval.
The Penn State Board of Trustees compensation subcommittee will meet at 4 pm today to review and assumably approve the contract offered to Mike Rhoades.— David Jones (@djoneshoop) March 29, 2023
Rhoades is originally from Mahanoy City, PA, a coal region town in Schuylkill County. While he didn’t attend Marian (only the smartest and handsomest people do, so we won’t hold that against him), he was one of the state’s best players for Mahanoy Area, scoring 1,740 points in his high school career before playing for Pat Flannery at Lebanon Valley.
After college, Rhoades took an assistant coaching job with Division III school Randolph-Macon, and was named the head coach in 1999 at just 25 years old. He spent 10 years as the lead man at Randolph-Macon before being hired as an assistant coach by Shaka Smart at VCU, spending 5 years with the program and seeing the Rams make the Final Four in 2011.
Rhoades left VCU for a head coaching job of his own, being named the head coach of Rice in March 2014. The Rice basketball program is, in a word, bad. They haven’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1970, and in the two years prior to Rhoades’ arrival, were 12-49. It took a bit of time for Rhoades to steady the ship, but after a 24-40 record in his first two seasons, the Owls went 23-12 in year three — the second-most wins in a season ever for Rice.
Rhoades parlayed his success at Rice into the head job at VCU, with Will Wade departing for LSU. Over the last six seasons, Rhoades has kept the Ram Train rolling, going 129-61 and reaching the NCAA tournament three times.
As discussed here on Monday morning, Rhoades popped up as a serious candidate over the weekend due to a David Jones report and some suspicious State College/Richmond flight activity. While it appeared that the two sides hit a bit of a snag as of Monday evening — Jones alluded to the fact that NIL, again, might be a bit of a hold up — a resolution was obviously found.
In Rhoades, Penn State is getting a defensive-minded head coach. Like Shaka Smart, Rhoades’ teams play an aggressive brand of defense known for their ability to generate turnovers. This past season, VCU ranked 6th in the country for Forced TO%, and were ranked 17th for adjusted defensive efficiency.
Offensively, Rhoades teams generally don’t shoot the three well, nor do they take a ton of long range shots. Instead, everything is predicated about either:
- Getting a shot around the rim (45.6% of attempts come around the rim, which is in the 97th percentile)
- Getting to the free throw line (41.6% free throw rate, good for 11th in the country)
So it goes without saying, but some *very* different philosophies from Shrewsberry.