NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ed Conroy and Jerry Stackhouse first crossed paths in the early 1990s. The latter was an All-American recruit coming out of Oak Hill Academy (Virginia) and the former was an assistant coach at North Carolina State.
Stackhouse would go on to star for North Carolina while Conroy would continue a long career in coaching which included stints as the head coach at Tulane and The Citadel. But the two remained in contact through the years – so much so that Stackhouse would bring his young children to Charleston, South Carolina, to attend Conroy’s summer camps at The Citadel.
When Stackhouse, now entering his third season as the head coach at Vanderbilt, approached Conroy about joining forces with the Commodores for the 2021-22 season, the veteran couldn’t turn down the offer.
“Just the respect I have for him and the job that I know he’s going to do at Vanderbilt,” Conroy said about the chance to come to Nashville. “Then the respect for Vanderbilt as an institution and then a chance to get back into the Southeast. I’ve been in the SEC once before and love the league and I know how exciting this challenge and opportunity is.”
Having spent the past five seasons at Minnesota as an assistant coach and then associate head coach, Conroy didn’t just join Stackhouse’s staff because of a preexisting friendship. He said he has seen first-hand how fierce of a competitor the former NBA All-Star is and knows that competitive spirit is driving the head coach to conquer the SEC.
Conroy also understands Stackhouse won’t take any shortcuts in his efforts to get to the top of the mountain.
“I know how strong his convictions are to building things right and building a program the right way and playing the game the way it is supposed to be played,” he said. “That was something I was able to witness first hand. When he would come in the summer and play with our guys he would talk to them about spacing and sharing the ball and all those things while trying to pass on that wisdom that he was gaining from being a long-time vet in the NBA and being around the game at a high level like he had.
“I know that he’s going to do it with a sense of urgency but also a touch of patience to make sure he builds a strong foundation and gets something that can really last here at Vanderbilt.”
In 2003, Conroy joined the staff at Tennessee so he recalled how tough games were as the visiting team inside Memorial Gymnasium. With hopes of the COVID-19 pandemic subsided come November he said a big excitement for him will be for the Commodores to experience the energy and enthusiasm from the home crowd.
But until then he’ll focus on making Vandy the best it can be in 2021-2022. With a wealth of knowledge and more than 30 years of coaching under his belt, Conroy will be a valuable resource for the Dores.
“I think coach believes like I do that’s about serving these guys that are in our program and providing a value to them,” he said. “Hopefully with the different experiences that I’ve had that I can find places where I can add some value as well to the young men that are in our program.”
— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com.
Follow him @MrChadBishop.