There were days this past winter when Bruiser Flint was snowbound in his Philadelphia home, watching television and keeping to himself.
That’s when he knew.
Following his dismissal as Drexel’s coach after 15 years leading the Dragons’ program, Flint wanted to weigh his options. Did he want to return to coaching, or did he want to try something else.
So he traveled the country, found work as a television analyst and took time to reflect. That’s all Flint required to recognize he belonged back on the sidelines.
But he wasn’t going to take just any job. Indiana, however, offered Flint a unique opportunity.
“My whole thing was: I want to work for Archie (Miller),” Flint said. “I think he can get it done, and why not get it done at one of the best places you possibly can get it done.”
That’s how the Hoosiers landed a basketball lifer and widely-respected coach on Miller’s Indiana staff.
Flint, a four-time Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year, had been a head coach for 20 consecutive seasons, with stops at Massachusetts (1996 to 2001) and Drexel (2001 to 2016), until he was ousted following a 6-25 season in March 2016.
At that point, Flint wanted a break.
He wanted to step away, travel and view the game of basketball through a different lens. That’s what he did.
Flint moved around the country visiting NBA and college practices. Sometimes, because of all the colleges condensed in the Philadelphia area, he didn’t have to go far.
He visited friend and mentor John Calipari at Kentucky, took in practices at Cincinnati and Indiana, too.
The practice he watched at IU, Flint told The Philadelphia Daily News in February, was the best one he saw.
“Last year when I came to practice, I thought it was great detail — as detailed a practice as I’ve ever been around,” Flint said. “I went to a lot of practices last year. But like I said, being around the (IU) guys, you see they have really great enthusiasm and they really work hard.”
When the Hoosiers reconvene for preseason practice later this fall, they’ll learn that Flint’s coaching philosophies are an extension of Miller’s. Both coaches wish to groom tough players who value defense.
Those were tenets Flint, who played collegiately at Saint Joseph’s, first learned from his high school coach, Dan Dougherty, at Episcopal Academy.
“Then I worked for two good guys, Fang Mitchell (at Coppin State) and John Calipari (at UMass),” Flint said. “Who they were — that’s what it was all about. It was about playing defense, playing with toughness, challenging the guys a little bit.”
All told, Flint brings 29 years of coaching experience to Miller’s staff, with 331 wins as a head coach at the Division I level.
And yet, this time last year, Flint didn’t know the direction his life would take. Reflecting now, Flint leans on some wisdom provided by legendary Temple coach John Chaney.
“I actually tease him about, ‘Oh, I ain’t going to be 80 years old coaching and doing all this stuff,'” Flint said. “He said to me — it’s really true and I really found it out this year — ‘One of the reasons why guys coach for so long is that the kids give you energy.’ He says, ‘Being around the kids, they keep you going a little bit.’ He said, ‘You’ll be surprised.’
“And last year, I missed that. I missed the interaction with the players and the kids and just being on a college campus all the time and being around the young people.”
At Indiana, Flint believes, he’s found the right fit.
“I could actually stay at home and relax if I wanted to,” Flint said. “I know I wanted to work but I didn’t have to jump at it. But Indiana, you know, the opportunity to come and work at a place like this is unbelievable.”