Interesting bit of hiring news today out of the MIAA today as Emporia State names Boise State assistant coach Shaun Vandiver as its new men’s basketball coach. For those of you who have been around these parts long enough, that name might be familiar because Vandiver helped lead Hutchinson Community College to a national championship in 1988 and then was a star player at Colorado for the next three years, earning Big Eight newcomer of the year honors his first season and All-Big Eight kudos the last two.
Vandiver was a first-round pick by Golden State in 1991, but never played in the NBA, instead spending nine seasons playing for some of the top-level clubs in Europe. He’s been back in the states coaching for the last 10 years, including stints as an assistant at Wyoming, Bowling Green State University, and Northern Colorado.
I just spoke with Vandiver a few minutes ago and he told me he’s already been on the phone recruiting today. Big props on that, because the Hornets will need it. ESU has been stuck in the middle of the pack in the MIAA the last couple of years, and with the MIAA reforming into what should be the premiere NCAA Division II conference in the country by expanding to 16 (er, 15 right now, but that’s another subject) teams. There’s no dominant men’s basketball program in this league, unlike some other sports. And at ESU, with the football team as bad as it has been, there’s an impetus on sports like baseball, softball and basketball performing at high levels. Helps make those ugly, ugly falls a little easier to deal with, I’d guess.
I’d hesitate to even say there is a hierarchy in the MIAA in men’s hoops because the teams at the top are so different from year to year. So it’s anybody’s game. What Vandiver has working for him is a massive network of connections plus his own experience as a player and a coach. What he’s got working against him is he’s never been a head coach before. Which can be a bigger deal then you think. I don’t care what level you’re at, once you become The Man things change. Check Tuesday’s Eagle for our article on the hiring.
PS. One month away? Had to hit it right on the dot, I guess.