By Joe Henricksen

Sparty assistant to lead NIU hoops

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By Joe Henricksen

Northern Illinois will soon officially announce its new basketball coach at a press conference. The City/Suburban Hoops Report has learned that new coach will be Michigan State assistant coach Mark Montgomery, who is in his ninth season as an assistant for coach Tom Izzo. Montgomery was on campus today finalizing the details.

The NIU coaching search has been a bit of a whirlwind, with both Purdue assistant Paul Lusk and Gonzaga assistant Ray Giacoletti front and center early this week. But it's Montgomery, the associate head coach for Izzo since 2007, who will take over for recently fired Ricardo Patton in DeKalb.

Montgomery has long been considered one of the top assistant coaches in the country. And the hire makes sense in a lot of ways for the NIU basketball program. He has coached under one of the country's top coaches in Izzo and has been a part of one of the premier basketball programs in the country for a decade.

That background, along with the fact he spent four years as an assistant coach at Central Michigan, will only help in his transition to coaching in the Mid-American Conference. During his time in East Lansing, Montgomery has been a part of nine NCAA Tournament teams and Final Four runs in 2005 and 2009.

A native of Michigan who played collegiately at Michigan State, Montgomery has strong recruiting ties to the state of Michigan. He should bring energy and a new, positive look to a program that finished 9-21, 10-20 and 10-20 the past three seasons.

Look for Montgomery to add an Illinois feel to his coaching staff, with current NIU assistant coach Todd Townsend, who has made inroads throughout the city and suburbs, a strong candidate to remain on staff.

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NIU has long been a graveyard for coaches. So while Montgomery may make sense for NIU, why does NIU make sense for Montgomery?

Welcome aboard, now go get those twins from Brooks High School, Keith and Kevin Gray, they are the real thing, and you can't afford to let them out of the state!

Great, great hire for NIU. I agree with Gerry, I did not think Montgomery would want the NIU job. I have seen Mark at games in Chicago, I love this hire for NIU. As close as NIU is to Chicago, there is no reason not to be at or towards the top of the MAC on a regular basis, like they are in football. He already has the support of the Irvin family, that means a lot in Chicago. Patton was doomed from the start, he had a pathetic Chicago presence.

What does this mean for Zach Miller (the only NIU recruit I know of in the area?) Any chance Mark can steal any top uncommitted 2011 players like Julian Lewis or Dre Henley?

P.S. Make sure you hire Donald Whiteside as an assistant coach, Patton didn't rehire Donald, big mistake, the former NIU-standout, is in the area, if I were you I would interview Donald Whiteside, former NBA player, former Leo standout, he was on the previous staff before Coach Patton's!
Coach Whiteside can recruit with the best of em, and he knows the Chicago area like the back of his hand!

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on March 23, 2011 4:47 PM.

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