Spurned By Huggins, WVU Turns To Bowling Green's Dakich

By JOHN RABY, AP Sports Writer

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Spurned by Bob Huggins and others, West Virginia hired Bowling Green's Dan Dakich as its head coach Wednesday.

Dakich played at Indiana and was an assistant to Bob Knight for 11 years there. At West Virginia, he'll try to rebuild a team that set records for losses in two of the past four seasons and was racked with discipline problems.

The Mountaineers were 8-20 this season, 1-15 in the Big East.

Dakich replaces Gale Catlett, who retired in February after 24 seasons with the Mountaineers and a school-record 565 wins.

Dakich is 89-57 in five seasons at Bowling Green, without a trip to the NCAA tournament. The Falcons went 24-9 this season -- the school's most victories in more than half a century -- and played in the NIT for the second time in three years.

West Virginia originally pursued Huggins, an alumnus, but the coach said March 25 that he would stay at Cincinnati. Kent State's Stan Heath then visited Morgantown, but he took the job at Arkansas the next day. Tennessee Tech's Jeff Lebo removed his name from contention Saturday, and Southern Illinois coach Bruce Weber withdrew Monday.

West Virginia athletic director Ed Pastilong also met with several assistant coaches.

Bowling Green sophomore center Kevin Netter said the team was prepared to lose its coach.

"I know it was a big salary change for him," Netter said. "It would have surprised me if he had stayed. We knew he was going to go no matter what.

"It's going to be weird without him," he said.

Sophomore forward Josh Almanson said the West Virginia job was a "great opportunity" for Dakich.

"You can't be selfish in wanting him to stay," he said.

Almanson said he was told Dakich was leaving during a call from a Bowling Green assistant coach.

"I think he'll do all right there," Almanson said. "The Big East is tough, but obviously he knows how to win."

Dakich is probably best remembered for shutting down Michael Jordan in the 1984 NCAA regional semifinals. Dakich held Jordan to 13 points and one rebound in his final game at North Carolina as the Hoosiers upset the top-ranked Tar Heels 72-68.

Much like Knight, Dakich's practices are intense. He storms the sidelines during games and he preaches defense.

"I hope the players know what they're in for," Netter said. "He's a tough coach. He demands a lot out of you."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)