Batman and Robin, Holmes and Watson, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen … all famous duos, right?
What makes a duo great is their value as a whole, rather than the some of their parts. Great coaches in history have been quoted as saying they are only as good as their players. I’d argue they are only as good as their assistants.
Much of an assistant’s work is done behind the scenes, far from the spotlight of press conferences and speaking engagements. Assistants are the back bone of a program.
In Jerod Haase’s UAB staff, Rob Ehsan is the glue that holds the Blazer family together. Ehsan is Haase’s right hand man, and Haase has gone as far as to openly endorse him as UAB’s next head basketball coach. Haase trusts Rob Ehsan. We should too.
We all remember our twenties. Some memories are better than others. Most of us made mistake after mistake in a quest to find out “Who am I and what’s my purpose?”
Not Rob Ehsan. At the ripe age of 23, Rob Ehsan was spending his time mentoring under one of the greatest college basketball coaches ever, Gary Williams, at Maryland University. His position in the program would grow from a bottom of the barrel graduate assistant to one of Coach William’s most trusted assistant coaches. By the age of 26 Ehsan was coaching courtside in hallowed venues like Cameron Indoor and the Dean Smith Center. I dare say these experiences were a far cry for most 20-somethings.
Let’s circle back to the aforementioned saying that a coach is only as good as his players. There’s certainly some truth in that statement. In Rob Ehsan’s young coaching career he has without a doubt been around some great ones.
As a member of the Maryland staff Ehsan helped mentor and coach four second round or better NBA draft picks. Most notable, first round draft pick and 28th overall pick, Greivis Vasquez. Greivis, who is currently playing for the Milwaukee Bucks, took some time out of his busy schedule to talk with me on the phone about his close friend and former coach Rob Ehsan.
Rob is ready. When I was at Maryland he treated me like every other player despite me being a Bob Cousy Award winner and ACC player of the year. He gave every player his full attention. He respected us all and we respected him. Rob is young, but just look at the NBA. The Boston Celtics Brad Stevens is 36 years old. Basketball has become a global sport and it’s more about relationships these days. Rob works harder than any coach I’ve ever been around. You won’t find a guy who works harder and cares more.
During Ehsan’s time at UAB he has recruited at a level not done on the Southside in decades. Robert Brown, William Lee, and Chad Frazier are just a few of the program-changing players he’s helped bring in. Former Blazers who he didn’t even coach know his value.
I recently had the opportunity to catch up with one of his former players Fahro Alihodzic who is currently playing professional basketball in Greece. Alihodzic had this to say about his former coach.
When I was being recruited I was planning on going to Wake Forest or Oregon, which I had already set up visits with. Coach Ehsan was very persistent about me visiting UAB, which got me interested and led me to adding Birmingham when I visited schools coming from Europe. On my visits I went to Wake Forest first, then UAB. I canceled the remainder of my visits and committed to UAB the weekend of my visit. I trusted Coach Ehsan and his words. I will never regret the decision I made. He helped me on the court with my game, and helped me become a man off of it. All the players respect him. He has a personality like no other. UAB’s success is a result of his hard work, and he deserves to continue keeping this program at a high level.
The next UAB Men’s Head Basketball Coach won’t be decided by a blog post, a tweet, or a phone call. However, that does not mean our voices do not matter and will not be heard. We are a family and we are loud and proud. We don the Green and Gold and we’re proud of it. I encourage you all to let your voices be heard. Coach Ehsan, get comfortable. We’re not letting you leave the Magic City.