Andy Greer Embraces Assistant Coach Role With USA Basketball
Greer will serve under head coach Mike Fratello on Men’s AmeriCup Team staff
When it comes to assistant coaching positions, it is a game of musical chairs.
Head coaches are fired, a replacement is found, and that coach brings in assistants who are either proven or are intriguing up-and-comers.
For the first time in his coaching career, Andy Greer lost out on that game of musical chairs last summer. But his loss is USA Basketball’s gain.
Greer is part of Mike Fratello’s staff for the USA Basketball Men’s AmeriCup Qualifying Team taking part in two qualifying games this month. Othella Harrington is the other assistant as the U.S. begins the qualification process for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The U.S. faces Puerto Rico in San Juan on Feb. 20 and then again at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C. (for ) on Feb. 23, the first of three competition windows for the FIBA AmeriCup qualifying tournament.
“There weren't that many jobs open at my level (this past offseason),” said Greer, who has spent 18 seasons in the NBA and was last on the Minnesota Timberwolves staff in 2018-19. “In this profession, it happens. I have been very lucky that up until this year, for 36 years, I've had a paycheck. But it's been really good for me, to be honest. USA Basketball has filled my role in coaching a little bit. And then I have two daughters who play college basketball, and I've been able to go watch them play a lot so far this year.”
Greer, Fratello and Harrington will have their work cut out for them. Coaching a group of G League players, they will only have a few days together before a scrimmage and then their first game against Puerto Rico.
“We got a group of guys that are going to practice for five days and then go out and play a game against a national team that's been together for years,” said Greer, who also coached collegiately for 18 years. “So certainly we're going to be at a disadvantage that way. But you know, Jeff Van Gundy definitely did a great job with this in the past and you know, we're just going to try and do the best we can to represent the country well and win.”
Greer has watched other coaches and how they approach these tight competition windows. Last summer, he was a scout on Gregg Popovich’s staff that coached the USA World Cup team that qualified for this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. The USA World Cup team scrimmaged against a group of players coached by Van Gundy, who was in charge of the last AmeriCup team.
“The one thing he does really well is he gets down to business right away,” Greer said of Van Gundy, who he served under with the New York Knicks. “When you only have a few days, it's not like you could put in a lot of drill work. It's more like the organization of how you're going to play, and then what he does so well is stress the things that are important to win and win now. Because in this type of tournament, you're playing two games and that's it. You don't have time to develop anybody.”
The coaches already seem to be developing a good camaraderie as they prepare for this competition window.
“I didn't know Coach (Fratello) before we've gotten together,” Greer said. “I've always admired the work he's done. He's done a great job coaching in the league, and I've really admired the way his teams played. (At a recent staff meeting in Cleveland, he was) so organized and so detailed. It's going to be great for me to just learn from him over the next 10 days when we start practice.”
Greer primarily has been an assistant coach in his 36 seasons. He was the head coach collegiately at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy from 1993-97 and half a season at Northern Illinois as the interim coach in 2000-01. Being an assistant is a role he embraces.
“In my playing days, I went from being the best player on my high school team and then when I played in college, I was probably the worst player on my college team,” said Greer, who played at the State University of New York-Brockport. “But what it does is, you're a part of a team and if the team is successful, everybody benefits. I really enjoyed, in my playing days, being part of a team, and it's carried over to my coaching career to be able to be part of a group that's competing together and be the best we can be.”