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Chuck Landon: Ex-Herd coach gets better in retrospect

Apr. 06, 2013 @ 12:14 AM

He isn't held in high esteem by some Marshall fans.

But give Greg White his due.

There has never been a Marshall head basketball coach who made better hires for his Herd staff than White did during his seven years (1996-2003) at the helm.

Not ever.

Skeptical?

The proof is in the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

When the Final Four tips off with Wichita State playing Louisville at 6:09 p.m., Saturday, in Atlanta, two of White's former assistant coaches will be sitting on the opposing benches.

For the Shockers, there's head coach Gregg Marshall, who is undeniably one of the hottest names in the industry after leading his No. 9 seeded collection of rag-tag junior college transfers to the Final Four.

Remember Marshall?

He was a member of White's staff during 1996-98 and was a relentless recruiter and gifted assistant. Marshall had "future head coach" written all over him even in those days.

Then, for the Cardinals, there's assistant coach Kevin Keatts. He was on White's staff in 2001-03 and distinguished himself as a tremendous recruiter. Keatts is a "head coach in-waiting," as evidenced by Old Dominion's interest in him before hiring the more-experienced Jeff Jones.

So, White has a protege on each bench.

That's very impressive.

But that's not all. Two former White assistants were also coaching in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament a week ago for Ohio State. They are Jeff Boals and Dave Dickerson.

Dickerson's stay on White's staff lasted for about a cup of Gatorade before he was hired away. But give White credit for having the coaching acumen to spot Dickerson's talent and bring him here.

As for Boals, he was a member of White's coaching staff at Marshall from 1999-2003. And it's merely a matter of time until he's a Division I head coach.

And don't forget Bryan Poore and Mark Downey.

Poore, who was on White's staff at Marshall from 1996-98, is the veteran head coach at West Virginia State. And Downey, who also was one of White's assistants during that same 1996-98 span, is the head coach at the University of Charleston.

Both are very successful.

That's quite a tree of active, highly successful proteges considering White isn't even in the coaching business any longer.

Yet, it proves just what a great eye for coaching talent White possessed when he was Marshall's head coach.

I like Greg White and I always will. But even his detractors need to give him credit this time.

White deserves it.

BIG DEAL: Collegiate basketball conference tournaments obviously aren't.

In fact, unless a school is a member of such leagues as Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference or the Sun Belt, all those bally-hooed post-season conference tournaments are downright irrelevant.

Think not?

Well, there's only one school competing in the 2013 Final Four on Saturday that won its conference tournament.

Just one.

Syracuse lost the Big East tournament championship game to Louisville. Ohio State won the Big Ten tournament, not Michigan. And, no, Wichita State wasn't the Missouri Valley's post-season champ. That honor went to Creighton.

Guess what?

It didn't matter.

It only matters to one-bid leagues like C-USA, the MAC and the Sun Belt.

That's the reality of conference basketball tournaments.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2827 or clandon@herald-dispatch.com.

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