Dave Sittler: Scott Sutton's biggest assist of his career
BY DAVE SITTLER World Sports Columnist
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
6/29/11 at 4:17 AM
Go to Dave Sittler's BlogOriginal Print Headline: Scott Sutton's biggest assist to date
ORAL ROBERTS basketball coach Scott Sutton's reputation as a college player was always one of being a "team player."
He looked to make the extra pass to set someone up for a better shot. He'd take on any offensive or defensive role demanded of him at Oklahoma State by his father, legendary coach Eddie Sutton.
Sutton's unselfish attitude is reflected in the statistics he compiled over two seasons at OSU. Those numbers helped the Cowboys made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances during his Pokes career.
Primarily the "sixth man," Sutton had more career assists (181) than points (167). He was a "glue guy," one of those invaluable players whose leadership kept his peers together during the tough times. Plus he had a knack for making his teammates better through his guidance and unselfish play.
So it wasn't even a mild surprise Monday when Sutton made what may be the biggest assist of his athletic life. It came when he named his older brother, Sean Sutton, to fill the vacant full-time assistant's job on ORU's staff.
This opportunity provides Sean a huge assist as he attempts to navigate the critical next step toward restoring his reputation and jump-starting his dormant coaching career.
Sean has displayed iron-willed resolve in his battle to defeat drug addiction. He willingly goes anywhere at any time to share his personal story to both educate and hopefully prevent others from the insidious addiction to pain and sleep medication.
It takes a lot of courage to publicly bare your soul the way Sean has ever since he successfully completed a long, demanding stint in drug rehabilitation.
He needed someone with a similar fortitude to give him a second chance at getting his once-promising coaching career back on track.
While Sean had some other potential opportunities, it was Scott who came through when his big brother needed an assist to prove to doubters that he's a changed man.
What hasn't changed in this man is his basketball intellect. Sean still has all the knowledge he started accumulating as a boy while sitting on the bench next to his father while Eddie transformed Arkansas hoops from a joke to a national powerhouse.
Perhaps it was a mistake that Sean replaced his father at OSU. But it certainly didn't look like it when the Cowboys bolted to a 16-2 start in his rookie season as a head coach.
There's no need to rehash the question of the justification behind OSU forcing his resignation after just two seasons. As the saying goes: "Don't look back, because we're not going that way."
No, the Sutton brothers look to the future and what should be a win-win situation for them, their families, ORU's program and the fans.
We've seen several brother acts in these parts. There was the Bob and Mike Stoops football duo at Oklahoma. And the Doug and Dave Wojcik basketball combination at Tulsa.
But the most relevant situation in this case is at Wagner College, where Danny Hurley is the head coach and his older brother Bobby is his top assistant.
The Hurley boys also have a legendary coach for a father. Bob Hurley Sr., who built a powerhouse at St. Anthony's in Jersey City, N.J., is one of only three high school coaches in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Like Sean with Scott, Bobby was once better known than Danny, who played at Seton Hall. A former Duke All-American point guard, Bobby needed a chance when Danny asked him to help rebuild the Wagner program.
After dabbling and failing in horse racing, Bobby was looking for a way to get back in the game he loved. His little brother was there to assist him.
The result was the Hurley boys combining their hoops knowledge and recruiting skills so well last season that Danny had the best turnaround (from five to 13 wins) of any of the 54 Division I first-year coaches.
ORU doesn't need to rebuild like Wagner. Scott has built a solid foundation over 12 seasons, including three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.
The next step is advancing past the first round of the Big Dance. Sean took OSU to the Elite Eight as the Pokes' point guard, and helped Eddie's teams advance to two Final Fours as his top assistant.
That March Madness experience, along with his high hoops IQ when it comes to X's and O's, makes Sean a valuable asset at ORU.
And ORU offers Sean the chance to sharpen his skills as a full-time coach. He can recruit and coach the players, things he wasn't allowed to do last season as executive adviser to the ORU staff.
Another major plus is that Sean will restart his coaching career without having to move his family.
Sean and his remarkably supportive wife, Trena, still have three sons to raise.
So a new chapter awaits Team Sutton and its long hoops history. Scott's assist of unwavering loyalty and Sean's relentless determination to succeed makes this team's comeback story a family affair with all sorts of exciting possibilities for a happy ending.