Upon landing in Baton Rouge on the evening of March 21 after accepting an offer to become LSU’s basketball coach, Matt McMahon hit the ground running.
He hasn’t stopped with Friday marking the exact halfway point of his taking the job and LSU’s Nov. 9 season opener against Missouri-Kansas City — with 117 days in and 117 more to go until the first real game with his new team.
Yet, McMahon relished the opportunity to spend an hour of his time as a clinician at the Louisiana High School Coaches Association’s convention Wednesday.
He was more than happy to share parts of the offensive philosophy he employed during a highly-successful seven-year run at Murray State, a high mid-major program that has sent several coaches on to bigger schools.
But then, it was it was right back to work for McMahon.
After a whirlwind 3½ months in which he had to hire a staff, build a roster, hit the recruiting trail and line up a slate of nonconference opponents, there was no time to rest.
“We’ll rest next May,” McMahon joked with reporters after his presentation. “There was so much work that needed to be done. It’s been awesome … we’re having a lot of fun.”
The fun really started four weeks ago when his team began its summer program.
“Yeah, we’re halfway through our summer program, but I don’t have a ton to report on it,” McMahon said. “We’re going very slow. Building the team is the goal; it’s not necessarily about the Xs and Os right now.”
In other words, his team has to take a lot of baby steps before it can walk.
“It’s 13 new (scholarship) players, a bunch of new coaches,” McMahon said. “We’ve got to build those relationships, and it’s got to be genuine. There’s got to be a trust develop.
“I think we have talented individuals, but we’ve got to become a talented team. There’s a huge difference.”
In addition to laying the foundation for the program, McMahon and his staff have been extremely busy on the summertime recruiting circuit the past six weeks or so.
One more recruiting period is set to begin Wednesday and run through July 24 before a dead period takes effect until September. LSU has no commitments yet for the 2023 or 2024 classes.
“We’re really trying to do a good job catching up, so to speak, with the 2023 class,” McMahon said. “Then, hopefully, we’re getting ahead on 2024.”
While it’s important to start making inroads with those potential recruits, what’s happening right now is the biggest thing for McMahon and his staff.
“We’re really excited about the type of players we were able to bring in this spring and now we’re excited about the opportunity to build a team,” he said. “Right now, you think you have all this time, but November will be here before we know it. So we’ve got to take advantage of every day.”
McMahon said it’s so early in the process they’re still trying to learn each other’s names with only three players back from a year ago — guards Justice Williams and Adam Miller and forward Mwani Wilkinson.
“We’re just trying to get this foundation built; I don’t want the summer necessarily to be about players establishing what their role is going to be,” McMahon said. “I want it to be about them learning how we’re going to operate the program.
“It’s 13 new guys starting to get to know each other, so it’s a lot of relationships that need to be built there.”
Miller, of course, didn’t play a minute after suffering a knee injury in preseason practice.
McMahon said Miller hasn’t been cleared for live play, but has been engaged in noncontact drills.
“I love him, and I’m really excited because he can really shoot the basketball at an elite level,” McMahon said. “What’s impressed me more is he’s a really smart player. Great intellect. Great feel for the game of basketball.
“I’m excited for him to get back to live play here soon. He’s going to absolutely have a great opportunity to have a huge impact on this team.”