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Now get to work

There have been a lot of changes in NCAA basketball.

UConn won its second championship in a row — in case you forgot. Coaches moved to different challenges, replacing coaches who were fired or took a successful season and received a bigger paycheck somewhere else. I guess we could call it the coaching transfer portal.

Eastern Washington University head Coach David Riley moved onto WSU. I like Riley, but I wish he hadn’t said this was his dream job because a lot of dream jobs can easily become nightmares. Riley will need to build off of the transfer portal, and in his young career, he does have experience in doing that successfully.

There was big news coming out of Cheney on Friday. Former Long Beach State, Minnesota and Gonzaga head coach Dan Monson returns to the northwest as Eastern’s head basketball coach. Monson was head coach at Gonzaga in 1999 when the Bulldogs went to the Elite 8 losing to the eventual champion UConn Huskies. In the first round that year, the Zags beat University of Minnesota. The Golden Gophers were involved in an academic scandal that rocked the Big 10 team and their head coach would be fired because of it. Monson was recruited to take over after the tournament. One of the things he needed to make sure of in his hiring was that the recruits went to class and did their work and not let someone else do it.

As usual, when there are stipulations, coaches recruit the needs they were hired for. So, you get smart kids who work hard in class and hope they can play competitive basketball. He cleaned up the program academically and was able to take the Gophers to one NCAA and four NIT tournaments. But at the start of his eighth season, the Gophers were 2-5 and Monson resigned.

For the last 17 seasons, Monson coached at Long Beach State. He was fired prior to the start of the Big West Conference tournament when The Beach was in a four-game losing streak.

Monson and LBSU turned things around and rallied to win four games and a spot in the March Madness tournament after winning the Big West tournament. Strangely, the athletic director took credit for the change.

I guess he might have something to say about it had he let Monson go and then take over the team himself.

There is an old saying that goes, “Out of everything bad comes something good.” So, what is the good thing? EWU’s hiring of Monson, for sure.

The difficult part of making a team is recruiting high school seniors. That will be difficult but since several Beach players are in the transfer portal, they may find a home with the old coach.

Monson’s dad, Don, was a successful coach at Idaho and would take over the Oregon Duck program. He had great success at Idaho in his five years there and spent 9 years in Eugene with marginal success.

For Eagle fans like me, getting Dan Monson is great hire. Seldom have the Eagles hired a coach with as much experience.

A few Eagles have entered the portal — maybe, just maybe, a couple of those players might be wearing Cougar crimson next season. The players that did put their names out there are quality kids and will make their new coach happy. I’m sorry to see them go, but that is the nature of today’s NCAA.

So, WSU and EWU have new coaches and they are familiar names with history in this area. I’m hopeful for both and wish them nothing but success. Now, it is time to get to work. I’m sure both gentlemen are looking forward to it.

— Dale Anderson is a sports columnist from Ritzville. To contact him, email [email protected].

 

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