By Bob Forrest
ADA — Joe Redmond, a former Division II head coach and Division I assistant, has been chosen to replace Terry Shannon as East Central University men’s basketball coach.
“We're excited about having someone of Joe’s experience and character join our Tiger family,” ECU Director of Athletics Brian DeAngelis said in announcing Redmond’s hiring.
“His background in Division II and recruiting in this region will be a valuable asset to our basketball program and help propel it toward future success.”
Redmond, who was out of coaching last season, was an assistant at North Carolina-Wilmington from 2006 to 2009, and before that he was an assistant for three years and head coach for three more at Henderson State.
His best season came in 2003-04, when the Reddies posted a 23-7 record, won the Gulf South West Division title and earned a sixth straight NCAA South Regional berth. He was 51-33 in his three seasons as head coach.
“I’m from southeast Kansas and coached at Henderson State before I went to North Carolina, so this area is kind of home,” Redmond said Wednesday. “It was a recruiting base for me, and it was an area I wanted to get back to.”
Redmond inherits a program that failed to make a playoff appearance in seven-plus seasons under Shannon, who also spent seven-plus seasons as an assistant to legendary ECU coach Wayne Cobb before taking over the program when Cobb retired suddenly midway through the 2002-03 season.
Shannon’s final ECU squad finished 7-19 after losing 15 of its final 17 games.
“Forget about recent history — I can’t change or control that,” Redmond said. “What I do know is that East Central University and the town of Ada have a lot to offer. I can put those things in front of recruits.
“You have to find some guys who can believe in you and believe in your system,” he added. “Is it going to be tough going into this first year? Sure. You don’t usually change coaches if there has been a lot of success, but every coach I’ve ever known enjoys a challenge. It’s not a challenge that will prevent us from having talented young men playing basketball at East Central.”
Although the national signing date for high school basketball recruits is next week, Redmond said he wasn’t concerned about getting a late start in the process.
“In one sense, it’s late, but in the Division II world of basketball, you get a lot of work done at the end of the spring and the early summer,” he explained.
“I’m not concerned. We’ll hit the ground running, and we’ll field a competitive team this season. We’ll know a little about the talent we have as we go along, but I think we have to add one point guard. The lack of size is also a concern, but I think we’ll fill those gaps.”
Redmond, who was in town Wednesday and will return next week to assume his new duties, said his first step once he is on campus full-time will be to evaluate his returning personnel.
“We want to make sure they’re doing the things they need to do academically, then I have to acclimate myself to the process here from a paperwork standpoint — learning the ropes, so to speak,” he noted. “Once those things are done, we need to get to recruiting.”
The 2009-2010 Tigers surrendered more than 100 points nine times and were near the bottom of the Lone Star Conference in most defensive categories. Redmond said his teams will stress defense first.
“At Henderson State, we were always at or near the top of Division II in several defensive categories,” he said. “That won’t change. We will be a very good defensive team at East Central.
“I believe all players can be taught to play defense,” Redmond added. “The challenge is to find guys who are hard-working and receptive to coaching. From a talent level, we will play defense; from an offensive standpoint, we’ll try to play to play to our strengths and make adjustments to our talent level.”
Redmond said that despite the program’s recent struggles, ECU men’s basketball has the tools to succeed.
“Looking at the Kerr Center, if I had to draw a line down the middle of Division II facilities, it would definitely be in the top half, and the facilities surrounding it, especially the new (Pat O’Neal) weight center, are outstanding,” he said. “From top to bottom, I’ve done nothing but run into people in the administration who are excited, not just about basketball but about the athletic department as a whole.
“No matter what kind of business you’re in, success starts at the top, and when you have people at the top who are that excited and interested, it gives you a great chance to succeed,” Redmond said. “Everybody at East Central wants to see men’s basketball succeed, and that made this job even more enticing. It’s been done here before, so it can be done again.”