Our Pac-10 rivals are stocking their basketball programs again. But this time it’s not recruits, it’s coaches that are being added.
Sean Miller has hired away a head coach from a D-I independent school in Louisiana for his men’s program at Arizona. His counterpart on the women’s side, Niya Butts, is bringing in a former professional player. And Charli Turner Thorne at Arizona State has added an all-star college guard who has become a well-traveled assistant coach.
The most significant move, although Arizona hasn’t officially announced the hire yet, would have to be the addition of Joe Pasternack to the men’s staff. For the past four seasons, the Indiana University graduate has been the head coach at the University of New Orleans, where he compiled a 54-60 record.
He will replace the head coach’s brother, Archie Miller, who left the program to accept the head coaching job at Dayton.
Pasternack’s team last season posted a 16-6 record, the best among Division I independents. The Privateers left the Sun Belt Conference and played last season as an independent.
Next year, UNO will drop down to D-II status, which undoubtedly provided some impetus to make the move to a nationally-respected D-I program, even if means taking a step back into an assistant’s role.
Pasternack already has experience coaching in the Pac-10. He spent six seasons as an assistant coach on the men’s staff at California, and two more working as a video coordinator in the program.
On the women’s side of the Arizona program, E.C. Hill will take a seat on the coaching bench after spending the last six seasons as an assistant coach at Northern Illinois, where she set numerous scoring records during her college career there.
Hill played professionally for teams in the American Basketball League, the WNBA, and in Europe. Her pro career included a season in 2001 with the Phoenix Mercury.
A Hall of Fame inductee at NIU and the Illinois Basketball Coaches’ Association, she will likely be assigned to work with the perimeter players, which was one of her major roles at NIU. She helped develop the guard play of Stephanie Raymond, the first player from the school to be drafted by the WNBA.
The 5’7″ guard led the league in scoring while at NIU and was ranked 16th nationally with a 22 points-per-game average.
And Arizona State has also announced an addition to their women’s program, as Amy Wright slides over from Cleveland State to replace assistant coach, Laura Hughes, who is taking over the Cochise College program.
Wright, too, will be given the task of developing the Sun Devil guards. During her three years at Cleveland State, she worked specifically with the team’s point guards.
And with good reason. During her senior year at Arkansas, she set a school record for assists in a season (205), and graduated as the all-time leader in assists (717). She was drafted by the WNBA Detroit Shock in 2002.
Last year, she was elevated to associate head coach at Cleveland State. The Vikings won 21 games, the second-highest total in the program’s history, and won the conference title.
The 31-year-old coach has already logged time as an assistant at three different colleges, including Western Kentucky and South Florida.
Since Turner Thorne is taking a leave of absence for the 2011-12 season, it’s expected that the Sun Devils will be adding one more assistant coach to help fill out the bench.