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Monday, May 27
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

McDonald named as new assistant

New hire brings NBA experience to men's basketball team bench

Though men's basketball coach Mike Davis has said finding a former Hoosier to fill his staff would be ideal, Davis drew his latest assistant coach from California.\nNew assistant coach Ben McDonald, an Nike basketball camp director, offers NBA experience Davis couldn't pass up.\n"He has NBA experience with us that I want because I want to recruit NBA-type players, so my whole staff has NBA experience, so that's one of the reasons," Davis said. "He's a good guy and a really good individual workout guy."\nMcDonald is the second hire by Davis this summer after his other two assistants left IU. Davis said he chose assistant coach and former Hoosier (1979-1983), Jim Thomas, because of his IU connections.\n"I have no problem hiring former players, hiring high school coaches in Indiana," Davis said. "I have no problem doing that, but they have to be good. That's why I took a long time looking at Ben. I don't care if they coach at UCLA or wherever, the guy has to be really, really good -- and Jim's the same way."\nThe Cleveland Cavaliers drafted McDonald, one of University of California-Irvine's all-time leading scorers, with the 50th pick in 1984.\nMcDonald fills the role of former assistant coach Dan Panaggio, who left the Hoosiers during the summer to take an assistant coaching job with the Portland Trail Blazers. McDonald will be primarily responsible for guiding individual workouts and instructing the forwards and centers. \nMcDonald spent his first practice with the Hoosiers Tuesday afternoon, coaching such players as Kyle Hornsby and Dane Fife on layups and urging Jeffrey Newton to be aggressive to driving to the basket against Jared Jeffries' defense.\nMcDonald, who boasts a 252-pound, 6-foot-8 body thicker and taller than most of Davis' players, could prove to be vital to healing some of the Hoosiers biggest trouble spots -- Newton and George Leach, who struggled last season.\nWhen asked how he would improve a player like Leach, McDonald said, "I would look at a lot of film on him, look at him workout, look at his footwork, look at him reacting in different situations in the game. When I was a player, I had to be real aware of the specifics, the going-ons of the game."\nMcDonald said he spoke to Jeffries at Nike camp during the summer, and likes the sophomore forward's unique quickness for his large size.\n"I probably want to work on his inside game a little more and on balance, because a lot of times he takes shots that he's not really on balance," said McDonald, whose other assistant coaching job was at California State-Dominguez Hill from 1996 to 1997. "He's a great big man who shoots great from the outside too, so we're going to work on that a little more too."\nMcDonald arrived in Bloomington Sunday and was offered the job soon after. Davis spoke to McDonald this summer at the Nike All-America Basketball Camp, where McDonald has served as an assistant director since 2000.\nMcDonald, 39, has played for the Caveliers (1986) and Golden State (1988-89). He also competed in Israel in 1988 and Germany from 1992 to 1994. In the Continental Basketball League, he played for Albany (1990-91), San Jose (1991) and Oklahoma City (1992). He has also taught delinquent children in the Long Beach Unified School District in Long Beach, Calif., since 1996.\n"People have babies all the time, so Ben is a new baby, so he's a part of the family now," Davis said. \nLosing hold of a former Hoosier\nDavis said he talked to former Hoosier (1997-80) and former Cleveland Cavaliers assistant coach Mike Woodson about the coaching job. But Woodson chose to stick with the NBA, though he said coaching at IU would be an ideal collegiate career.\n"He wanted to coach in the NBA, and he made that clear a couple months ago," Davis said. "I told him to take his time and he signed a contract with the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA a week or so ago.\n"Once Ben and I talked at Nike camp, I brought in four other guys to interview them, and he was the best out of the four, and that's what I want." \nWoodson, in a phone interview from his home in Houston, Texas, said he didn't lose interest in the IU slot, nor did Davis lose interest in him. Woodson would only say "things didn't work out."\n"I was able to move on," Woodson said. "I'll still be in the NBA. I can't say where I'll be until everything's ironed out." Woodson was fired from the Cavaliers in April.\nWoodson said he couldn't speculate how his choice would affect recruit Sean May's decision to attend IU. Woodson and Scott May, Sean May's father and another former Hoosier, talk two or three times a week. Woodson said he regards Sean May as a son.\nRecruiting efforts\nAmid the recent hires, Davis has spearheaded recruiting efforts and plans to stay in charge of recruiting. Thomas will also help with recruiting and develop the guards.\n"The young guys want to see the guy they are going to play for and have a relationship with him," Davis said. "I just feel like that a lot of times in recruiting that the recruits get to know the assistant coaches and once they get on campus, they get to know the head coach. ... I want them to know me and once they get on campus, to know the assistant coaches."\nFormer assistant coach Julius Smith, who was hired by Davis in September, had helped with recruiting before he resigned in late June. Smith is taking time off with his family in New Orleans, Davis said.\nCoverdale struggles\nDavis didn't allow junior guard Tom Coverdale to travel to Europe with the Big Ten Tour Team that Davis coached to a 6-0 record in Europe after Coverdale missed an entire practice. Coverdale arrived at the gym after oversleeping.\nCoverdale told Davis he had set his alarm clock to p.m. instead of a.m., Davis said. The incident hasn't strained his relationship with Coverdale, Davis said.\n"He just thought I was upset about that, and I'm not upset about that at all. I'm disappointed, and he's disappointed," Davis said.\n"I'm trying to help him mature. The workout today, he was working hard. He was going 100 miles per hour. I haven't seen him work harder."\nAn additional hire\nThe athletic department also promoted video coordinator Dan Block, 23, to men's basketball administrative assistant. Block graduated from IU in May with a bachelor's degree in history. He was a student manager for the Hoosiers from 1997 to 2000.

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