Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News

Sports

June 19, 2013

Whitford likes BSU's prospects

New basketball coach says Cardinals will rise again in MAC.

Kokomo — Ball State once ranked among the best mid-major men’s basketball programs in the nation. The Cardinals rattled off 14 straight winning seasons and made five NCAA Tournament appearances from 1989-2002.

But since that run, Ball State has fallen into a state of mediocrity, with just two winning seasons in the last 11.

New coach James Whitford is confident the Cardinals are positioned for a return to prominence. Whitford was in Kokomo on Monday night to speak to a Ball State alumni outing at the Kokomo Country Club.

Whitford spoke about what sparked his interest in the job.

“When you walk in Worthen Arena and you look at the banners on the wall, there are 12 banners hung from 1989-2002. There was a time when Ball State was on such an incredible run and I remember those times. I know it can be done there because it has been done,” Whitford said. “And then we have an athletic director [Bill Scholl] and a president [Jo Ann Gora] who are really committed to our program. They are raising money for a new practice facility. I think Bill’s vision is incredible and Dr. Gora has a passion for athletics.

“I felt like with what has already been done and the commitment and the leadership from the top, I felt we could really become the dominant team in the Mid-American Conference and that is our goal.”

Whitford, 41, knows the MAC well. He spent 11 years on Miami of Ohio’s coaching staff before moving on to work on Sean Miller’s coaching staff, first for four years at Xavier and then for four years at Arizona. He was Arizona’s associate head coach the last two years.

Ball State announced Whitford as its new coach on April 10. He said the transition is going well.

“I’m confident we have a really good staff and that’s such a big part of it. Brett Nelson, Jason Grunkemeyer and Billy Wright are all terrific coaches and they’ve really helped,” he said. “We’ve hit the ground running on two fronts. We’re working really hard on the recruting part of it, trying to get kids to campus, and that’s going well. Everybody that shows up to Muncie is impressed. And we have our players in summer school and we’re able to work them out. We have good kids and they’re all working hard. I feel really good about the direction we’re heading in.”

Recruiting, of course, is the lifeblood of a program. Whitford talked about the type of player he hopes to bring into his program.

“There is a balance. We obviously want to bring in the best talent we possibly can, and we want to bring in kids who are high in what we call competitive character,” he said.

Whitford acknowledged in-state recruiting is a high priority, which is surely music to Ball State fans’ ears.

“There are great players in Indiana — that is part of the reason the job is so appealing,” he said. “We want to compete against the best schools for the top talent [in Indiana and elsewhere] and make sure we’re filtering out those are the right fit for who we are, for the way I am going to coach. We’re making the state of Indiana a big priority and you’re going to see that in our first recruiting class, for sure.”

Whitford’s return to the MAC coincides with the recent passing of MAC legend Charlie Coles, who played at Miami and coached at Central Michigan and Miami. Whitford called Coles an example for all young coaches in the profession.

“I worked with Charlie for 11 years. Two years we were assistants together, then nine years I worked for him. He was a mentor to me and a second faher to me. The thing I’ll give great credit to Charlie for, there’s about 30 people who’d say the same thing,” Whitford said with a smile. “I said the day of his service: Impacting lives, in my opinion, is the real measure of a coach. Impacting young people in a positive way. And by that standard, there are very few coaches I know who have done that as well as Charlie. I’m proud to have been a part of his life and will try to continue the things he taught me moving forward.”

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports
  • SPL - KT041814 - Prep roundup - pic Prep roundup for Friday, April 18 Tanner Guyer and Sam Seagrave led the way as Kokomo's boys golf team scored a win in its season opener Thursday at Kokomo Country Club.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sports briefs for Friday, April 18 Kokomo High School will host the 2014 Howard County free physicals from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on May 14.

    April 18, 2014

  • SPL - KT041714 Kokomo-Western baseball - pic 2 Kats top Panthers in baseball Since the inception of class sports, the annual early-season baseball matchup between Kokomo and Western had been solely for in-county bragging rights. With Western moving up to Class 4A for the next two seasons because of the IHSAA's new success factor, the rivals met up Wednesday as potential sectional opponents for the first time since 1997.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Prep roundup for Thursday, April 17 Eastern junior Caleb Aaron tossed a four-hitter to lead the Comets past Northwestern 3-1 in a Howard County baseball clash Wednesday at Greentown.

    April 17, 2014

  • SPL - KT041714 - B1 briefs - Edwards mug Sports briefs for Thursday, April 17 The North Central Conference on Wednesday announced Indianapolis Arsenal Tech will join the conference on April 1, 2015.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPL - KT041614 - Boys golf preview - secondary pic BOYS GOLF: Howard County preview Western's boys golf team is thinking big this season.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPL - KT041614 Girls tennis Preview - pic GIRLS TENNIS: Howard County preview After 39 seasons and counting as the boys tennis coach at Taylor High School, Dave Wise is entering his 24th season leading the Titan girls.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT041614 - Western hires coaches - mug Western hires football, volley coaches Western High School's search for a new football coach is over. Western on Tuesday named Ron Jankovich its new coach during a board meeting. He spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach for Bethel University in Tennessee. He was the Wildcats' co-offensive coordinator.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT041614 - Brett Bowman column - Bowman ID BOWMAN: Abreu shines in Kokomo GP Although he might be short in size, California's Rico Abreu was tall in stature after dominating the two-day Kokomo Grand Prix for the USAC Honda National Midget Series and the Lucas Oil Powri National Midgets over the weekend at the Kokomo Speedway.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SPL - KT041514 - Kokomo girls BB coach - mug Cusick is Lady Kats' new coach Heather Cusick is enjoying a pretty good month. Kokomo High School on Monday selected Cusick as its new girls basketball coach. Three days earlier, she became engaged to Michael Mygrant.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

NCAA Men's Basketball Poll
Featured Ads
SportsKT twitter
More kokomotribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.