Mike Adras departs NAU hoops; Brown starts with big win

Mike Adras should have hung around a little longer.

His Northern Arizona basketball team just pocketed their first Division I win of the season by beating Cal State Bakersfield Saturday night.

And they did it by scoring 80 points.  Which is double what they scored in the last game he coached before suddenly resigning as the Lumberjacks’ head coach on Friday.

Maybe the 49-40 loss to Pepperdine in his final game was enough to take him over the edge.  The Jacks, who had stumbled to a 2-7 start, shot just 28.8 percent against the Waves – the second-lowest field goal percentage in a game since 2009.

High scoring honors were shared by two players, with each barely getting into double digits.  Stallon Saldivar and James Douglas each scored 10 points.

How are you going to get over the hump with that kind of offensive output?

Don’t know.  And maybe Adras couldn’t figure it out, either.

The coach, who had been at the controls for the past 13 years and served as an assistant for seven years before that, didn’t make his decision for leaving public.  In fact, he didn’t meet with the players to share his decision with them; they were told just before Friday’s practice.

He put together a 193-170 record during his time as the head coach and, in his first season, led the school back to the NCAA tournament for just the second time.  He ranks third on the Big Sky Conference win list with 99 victories.

The team went 17-11 overall and 8-7 in conference last year, but lost eight players from that squad through graduation, one dismissal from the team, and a couple of voluntary departures.

One of those who graduated was Cameron Jones, who set a new career scoring record at the Flagstaff school with 1,563 points.

Without Jones and his supporting cast returning, this was not going to be a year of great promise.

Jim Fallis, the school’s athletic director, sprung into action Friday and tapped Dave Brown, to take the reins for the interim.

The 70-year-old Brown has been on campus even longer than Adras, first arriving in 1983 to take over the women’s basketball program.  He has served NAU in various roles through the years, including a co-athletic director position in the mid-1980’s and filling in more recently as the interim athletics director in 2004.

He leaves his role as the color commentator for the NAU basketball broadcasts, which he has held for the past three seasons, to step back onto the court while Fallis begins his search for a permanent coach.

“In order to keep some continuity in the program and also remain competitive, obviously we’re going to want a coach in place as quickly as possible,” Fallis pointed out in a statement Friday.

In the meantime, Brown is off to a good start.  The Jacks rolled to an 80-67 victory over CSU Bakersfield, fueled by a 22-point performance by freshman James Douglas.  They shot 50 percent from 3-point range and played lock-down defense.

Brown brought a relaxed, easy-going approach to the game, which contrasts with the high-intensity style of his predecessor.

He said he felt comfortable with his new role:  “When you coach  26 years as a head coach, it comes pretty natural.

“It’s going to be a good way for an old dude to look back some day with some memories.”

And a good way for this team to be able to look ahead with a renewed optimism.