Dick Jeradi, Philly.com (http://articles.philly.com/2016-03-25/sports/71786911_1_jay-wright-graduate-manager-patrick-chambers)
Adam Fisher was coached at Central Bucks East High by Derek Wright, Jay’s brother. His first work out of college was as a Villanova graduate manager, a job that took him to the 2009 Final Four. Thursday night in Louisville, Ky., Fisher will be on the sideline at the KFC Yum! Center when the Wildcats play Miami in a Sweet 16 game. He is in his first season as a Miami assistant coach.
“It’s been an incredible experience,” Fisher said. “We have such a great senior class . . . We’re just enjoying the ride they’re all taking us on.”
When the Hurricanes were on their way back home Sunday afternoon after winning two NCAA games in Providence, R.I. on Thursday and Saturday, Fisher kept asking the flight attendant for updates on Villanova-Iowa.
“Once I heard they were up 20, I said ‘I’m done watching any Iowa, it’s all Villanova,’ ” Fisher said.
Miami does its scouting and coaching differently than most staffs. Associate head coach Chris Caputo is in charge of the defense. Assistant coach Jamal Brunt is in charge of the offense. Fisher is the scouting director for every game.
“My job is to present the other team’s personnel, what they run and then run the scout team at practice and the scout video at night,” Fisher said.
Fisher, 32, got to this career stage by checking every basketball box along the way. He played for Brian Schiff’s Philadelphia Maccabi team the year it won a silver medal in Boca Raton, Fla. He was a defensive specialist who has wanted to be a coach for as long as he can remember.
He walked into the basketball office at Penn State not long after he got there out of high school and, providentially, a manager’s job had just opened. He was a manager for Jerry Dunn and then Ed DeChellis. He graduated in 2006 with a kinesiology degree after five seasons as a manager, three as head manager, including a final one as graduate manager.
While working at Villanova where he was assistant recruiting coordinator and in charge of film exchange with opponents, he got his master’s in education leadership. He also was right there at Ford Field in Detroit when the Wildcats played North Carolina in the Final Four.
When Patrick Chambers, Jay Wright’s top assistant at Villanova, got the head job at Boston University after that Final Four, Fisher, a Jamison, Pa. native, went with him as director of basketball operations.
When Chambers got the Penn State head job in 2011, Fisher went back to his alma mater as video coordinator and director of player development.
When Fisher heard Jim Larranaga had an ops director opening in 2013, he “spray painted a pair of shoes green and orange and overnighted it to him, with my résumé. On the box, it said ‘I’m two feet in to be a Hurricane.’ That got his attention and he called me. We spoke numerous times on the phone and he offered me the job.”
Fisher was also the director for the Jim Larranaga Basketball Camps, learning everything he could, yearning to be on the floor as an assistant coach.
When Miami assistant Michael Huger left last spring to take the head job at Bowling Green, Fisher was ready to go with him as an assistant. Larranaga persuaded him to stay as his ops director.
“I believed in Coach L,” Fisher said. “He has been incredible to me since the first day we met. I trusted him with my career path.”
When Billy Donovan took the Oklahoma City Thunder job last May, Florida hired Michael White from Louisiana Tech. Miami assistant Eric Konkol got the La. Tech job and Fisher got a phone call from Larranaga asking “would you like to be an assistant in the ACC?”
“I told him I wish I could sign over the phone,” Fisher remembered. “Coach Larranaga has been such a great mentor, an unbelievable person.”
Larranaga, Fisher said, “is an incredible teacher. I think he is a teacher first, a coach second. He relates so well to our players. He’s always teaching them about life.”
When Miami goes on road trips, it is not all team meals, film sessions and shootarounds. If there is an historic building in a city, the team will visit. When the Hurricanes were snowed in last year and a game at Boston College was postponed by a day, the team played baseball in the hotel ballroom.
Miami played for the NIT championship last year and beat eventual national champion Duke by 16 points at Cameron. The Hurricanes sold out this season at home, the first Miami team in any sport to do that. Now, the Sweet 16 against the school that gave Fisher his first post-college chance.
“Coach Wright has such a great team,” he said. “What he’s done at Villanova has been unbelievable. Every year, they’re a powerhouse. They’re extremely well coached. Their player development, you look at their guys from freshmen to senior, they get better every single year.”
Fisher’s parents, Neil and Judi, are “loving the ride,” according to their son. They came to the ACC Tournament in Washington, were there in Providence and will be in Louisville.
Fisher knew he wanted to coach by 10th or 11th grade. He had a couple of knee surgeries in 12th grade and helped to coach the middle school ninth grade team. Thursday night, he will be coaching in the Sweet 16.
Fisher lives in Coral Gables, Fla., just three miles from campus, an eight-minute ride to the office. Earlier this season, Larranaga gave him those green and gold shoes back. They now sit in the first-year assistant coach’s office as a reminder of the road he took to get there, with the head-coaching dream now a real possibility someday.