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21 April 2008

Green JSU's New Coach,
School Officials Confirm

James Green talks to J-Club executive secretary Miriam Haywood during his meet and greet at JSU on Friday. Photo: Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star

By Al Muskewitz
Star Sports Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

JACKSONVILLE In the end, Jacksonville State chose experience over potential.

James Green, the coach at Mississippi Valley State, has agreed to become the Gamecocks' next men's basketball coach, university officials confirmed Saturday night.

The 11-year head coaching veteran was chosen over three other finalists, none of whom have Division I head coaching experience former JSU player and high school head coach Charles Burkett, Alabama assistant Philip Pearson and Massachusetts assistant Tim Maloney.

Green is expected to be formally introduced Wednesday afternoon 51 days after the school announced it was not renewing former coach Mike LaPlante's contract.

"I was very im-pressed with all four finalists, but one just seemed to stand out among the others," JSU president Bill Meehan said through a university spokesman Saturday night. "I believe Coach Green is the person to lead our men's basketball program and make us more competitive in the Ohio Valley Conference.

"I like his academic structure and his discipline policies, and his years as a head coach at the Division I level were also an advantage for him."

Green will be taking over a program that has lost 20 games or more three of the past four seasons. He inherits a team if all the players stay that will have lost only three seniors and returns three of its top four scorers.

"I'm looking forward to helping our team become more competitive in the Ohio Valley Conference, but more importantly, becoming good citizens and having a good life after basketball," Green said through the university. "I realize there are challenges and I'm willing to accept those as the leader of the men's basketball program."

Attempts by The Star to reach Green on Saturday night were unsuccessful. His cell phone voice mailbox was full.

Although Green is said to have agreed in principle to a contract similar to that of LaPlante's, terms were not immediately available. The job was reported to be paying $105,000 per year, which is slightly less than what LaPlante finished at and some $25,000 below the OVC average.

There also was no word on potential assistant coaches, although it is thought Antoine Pettway is expected to remain. Pettway has been serving as the Gamecocks' interim coach, primarily maintaining recruiting contacts during the transition.

Building teams around defense and rebounding, Green was 123-109 with two NIT appearances in eight seasons as the coach at Southern Mississippi. He has gone 44-49 the past three seasons at MVSU, but won the regular-season SWAC title two years ago and this past season guided the Delta Devils to the SWAC Tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to top-seeded UCLA in the first round.

He also has been an assistant at Alabama, Idaho, Iowa State and Texas A&M.

"There is no substitute for 11 years of head coaching experience," Green said during his meet-and-greet with JSU fans following his interview Friday.

JSU athletic director Jim Fuller also called Green's head coaching experience "an added bonus."

Green met with about a half dozen players briefly during his campus tour and thought that meeting "went well." Point guard DeAndre Bray was on the search committee.

With his hiring, Green becomes the first black head coach of a JSU men's sports program and the basketball program's third head coach since legendary Bill Jones retired after 24 seasons in 1998. On the day the school announced it wasn't renewing LaPlante's contract, Fuller said he would strongly encourage the search committee to consider a minority candidate.

In his package to the search committee, Green described himself as a disciplinarian with proven graduation rates, a motivator and life skills educator. In discussing this next step in his career Friday, he talked about a mutual fit.

"I'm a basketball coach," he said. "When I got back in, I got in to coach basketball and help young people. Regardless of the circumstance my goals were the same.

"In terms of where I am, it's more about is there a good fit with the things I bring to the table. Is that what you need? Is that what you're looking for? Are the things there for me, is that what I'm looking for? It needs to be right. I've said a couple times today it's like a marriage. It's gotta be good for both."

About Al Muskewitz

Al Muskewitz covers golf and Jacksonville State University sports teams for The Anniston Star.

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