|ISU basketball alum Dan Muller returns as new head coach|
|Written by Todd Marver, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Wednesday, 09 May 2012 13:16|
Illinois State forward Dan Muller’s game-winning layup propelled the Redbirds to an 82-81 overtime victory against Tennessee on March 12, 1998 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. ISU has not earned a tournament berth or won a game in the Big Dance since.
Previously an assistant coach at Vanderbilt for the last 12 years, Muller returned to Redbird Arena for Tuesday’s press conference where he was officially named former ISU head coach Tim Jankovich’s successor.
Muller takes over a program that finished last season at 21-14 overall and fell just short of a spot in the NCAA tournament, losing 83-79 in overtime to Creighton in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament championship game Mar. 4.
The 36-year old first-time head coach hopes to clear the final hurdle that was not able to be achieved in the “Jankovich Era”, with three Arch Madness championship losses in his five years at the helm, and bring the ISU basketball program up to a level it has not seen in over 14 years.
“We are going to put our own expectations on ourselves that will be higher than anybody else’s” Muller said. “We will expect to compete, play together, represent Illinois State, the fans, administration, faculty, and the entire Redbird nation the right way.”
After a thorough coaching search, Muller was selected over ISU assistant coach Rob Judson and Gonzaga assistant coach Roy Giacoletti.
“We talked to many basketball people across the country and we repeatedly heard that Dan was the complete package and someone with a commitment to excellence in all areas including academics, recruiting, evaluation, player development, in-game coaching, and game preparation,” ISU athletic director Gary Friedman said.
It remains to be seen whether or not the assistant coaches under Jankovich including Anthony Beane, Paris Parham, and Judson will be kept on the staff. There will be further discussion to determine whether or not part of or all of the staff will remain intact.
“Gary and I have spoken and we are on the same page as far as the assistants that were here in the past,” Muller said. “I am going to sit down with Anthony, Paris, and Jud. My role and my job is to put together the best coaching staff for this program and that’s what it will come down to.”
Muller plans to improve and bulk up the non-conference schedule from where it was during Jankovich’s time.
“Goals for scheduling will be to have an RPI that is high enough to give us an at-large bid if we don’t win the [conference] tournament, to bring in opponents to Redbird Arena that people will be excited about, and prepare our team to go on the road and win Valley games,” he said.
Muller is not satisfied with the attendance figures in past seasons and would like to see that improve as well.
“We have a lot of empty seats up here that need to be full during the season,” he said. “We need everybody to get your friends, families, faculty members, colleagues, and students [out to the games] because we have a group of guys that are here that deserve to be supported. We’re going to work hard, play hard, have fun, be exciting, we’re going to win, and we have a group that is going to come out on this floor and represent Illinois State University in the right way.”
Forward Jackie Carmichael and Jankovich both graduated from Manhattan High School in Manhattan, Kan., 21 years apart, and the duo formed a close relationship while at ISU, but the 6-foot-9 senior is happy with the new hire.
“He’s high energy, played here, was a star here, and the community loves him,” Carmichael said. “He won two championships here and you have got to love a coach who knows how to win. He brings a lot of experience to the table. We are really happy to have him here and we’re excited to go on the court with him.”