The idea of former Richmond assistant and Roanoke Valley native Mike McGuire "returning home" to become the head coach at Radford sounds like pretty close to a perfect fit to us. Then again, we've never played for or coached with or even hung out with the guy. Wonder what those people think.
- Coach McGuire and I started at Richmond the same year and I really couldn’t have asked for a better coach and mentor. He is a talented coach, but more importantly he is a great friend to have. A level-headed demeanor and a coaching style that always is thinking about the good of the player first, makes him a unique find. Players want to succeed for Coach McGuire when they play for him. They want to make him proud because he invests in their lives and creates a relationship that is more than just coach—player. He is a coach, a friend, a father figure and a mentor for young ladies during a pivotal time in their lives. My career at Richmond wouldn’t be filled with half the memories I have if he hadn’t been on staff. I thank him for all he did for me as a player and a person. He will be deeply missed by Richmond, but Radford should be thrilled to know they are receiving a very special person who just happens to be a darn good coach as well. - Richmond redshirt senior Rachael Bilney, who just a few weeks after her final college game is already the director of business development for the NBA Developmental League's Texas Legends (how cool is that!)
- Mike is an extremely hard worker with an eye for talent. Not the kind of talent that everyone sees, but the kind of under-the-radar talent that can turn a mid-major program around pretty quick. He's very organized in his thoughts of how he wants to build a program. He understands the X's and O's as well as anyone, but more importantly, he understands that the X's and O's are actually real people and he is great at motivating them and getting them to reach their potential. He is also very well-connected in the state of Virginia - and he is very well thought-of in the state. Coaches will have no problem sending players to play for him because he is honest and sincere in how he manages his team. - Kenny Edwards, Norfolk State assistant coach.
- Radford is getting a very respected, enthusiastic, organized, humble and winning coach in Mike McGuire. His thirst for knowledge in our game, as well as his low-key approach to teaching has been enjoyed by our players at Richmond the last five years. He is going to be missed at Richmond, but I certainly believe that Radford has made a perfect decision in bringing Mike home and they will reap the benefits right away. When Radford came open, the obvious choice to many including myself was Mike McGuire. - Michael Shafer, Richmond head coach
I am excited for Mike to land the head job at Radford, and truly believe he is going to build that program up. He remains as one of my favorite coaches I've played for because of his knowledge of the game and the belief he has in his players to be the best they can be. I look forward to seeing his career as a head coach develop at Radford while leading his new team to new depths. - Abby Redick of WNIT champion Drexel. Redick was part of back-to-back Virginia Group AA state championship teams coached by McGuire at Roanoke's Hidden Valley High School.
Evidently, Highlanders director of athletics Robert Lineburg reached the same conclusion, but not before an extensive vetting process. Lineburg said he received 76 applications for the position and personally conducted 17 interviews before zeroing in on McGuire.
"I feel extremely confident we hired a great one," Lineburg said. "We want someone who can teach, be a mentor, who can guide our student-athletes not just for four years, but be there for 'them for 40 years. I think we've got a guy who's a great fit for Radford."
To be fair, no AD is going to stand up there and say, "Well, we're really not sure about this guy, but...." Still, everything we've heard about McGuire over the past few years suggests this was a man that was about to be snapped up by some Division I program pretty soon. That the job he lands happens to be in his home area is a joyous turn over events McGuire struggled to put into words.
"My family's from the Roanoke area, my fiance's from the area and a lot of people in this area prepared me for this opportunity," he said. "Now that it's become a reality, it's emotional just to think about it."
Of course, what Highlanders fans really want to know is, "When are we going to catch and pass Liberty?" Now, McGuire's too smart to stand up on Day One and guarantee anything. But he made it clear he certainly believes Big South supremacy is possible at Radford.
"A lot of people don't realize how good a place this is," McGuire said. "The resources are in place to be successful, and we've got to get that message out there. Once we get potential recruits on campus and they see the growth, I think they're going to be impressed."
The new coach has plenty of work to do, though. McGuire inherits a roster heavy on guards but with just three players 6-0 or taller. While he said while he won't bring in players just to fill out the roster, McGuire intends to explore whatever viable post options might still be available for the 2013-14 season.
"We definitely need to address the size issue," he said.
In time, McGuire plans to to implement a playing style featuring tough man-to-man defense and a high-tempo offense. In the short term, though, he said he wants to adapt his approach to fit the current personnel.
"I want to put them in position to be successful first," he said.
What won't be adjusted, though, are what he called his five bullet points that will serve as the foundation for Radford basketball
- Program culture - "How we act, how we speak, how we prepare every day."
- Recruiting - "We're going to hire an aggressive staff and attack the Commonwealth of Virginia."
- Style of play - "We want to play a style that grabs recruits attention, something they want to be a part of, and excites the fans."
Community - We want to reach out, have a major role in helping and hopefully inspiring people.
We want this to be the community's basketball team."
It certainly won't hurt that the Highlanders have one of the community's own leading the way.