Joe Dooley, the Kansas basketball assistant who struck recruiting gold for the Jayhawks on the East Coast, was announced Wednesday as the new head coach at Florida Gulf Coast.
That’s the school that became the hit of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles won the Atlantic Sun championship and then plowed through Georgetown and San Diego State, becoming the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16.
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“It’s not an overhaul situation. They have four returning starters, and will incorporate a lot of what they did with what we did at Kansas,” Dooley said.
The Eagles’ returning starters include Brett Comer, a point guard who played his first two high school seasons at Blue Valley Northwest and led the NCAA Tournament in assists per game this year.
Florida Gulf Coast’s season ended a couple of hours after Kansas’ did, at the same place — in the South Regional semifinals at Arlington, Texas. Eagles coach Andy Enfield became the head coach at Southern California before the tournament was over.
Dooley was an original member of coach Bill Self’s staff at Kansas, joining the Jayhawks in 2003 after having served as an assistant at Wyoming and New Mexico. Before that, Dooley spent four years as East Carolina’s head coach from 1991-95 and went 57-52, reaching the NCAA Tournament in 1993.
“He’s had several opportunities where he could of made a move but this one just felt the best for him and his family,” Self said in a statement. “Joe has meant an awful lot to our program in the last 10 years and a big reason why we have been successful.
“Although we hate to see him leave, it’s one of those situations that you are so happy for him and know that he will be ultra-successful living on the beach in Florida. He’s been so instrumental in not only coaching our guys but also with the development and skill improvement of our players. All of our players have enjoyed playing for him, knowing they were going to get his best effort every day.”
A native of Orange, N.J., Dooley used his East Coast connections to help land such players as Tyshawn Taylor from Jersey City, the Morris twins from Philadelphia and Thomas Robinson from Washington, D.C.
At the 2011 NCAA Tournament in San Antonio, Robinson told reporters he thought Dooley was one of the nation’s best recruiters.
“There are great players (at Kansas) from the East Coast, and Dooley had a lot to do with that,” Robinson said. “He worked his butt off recruiting us.”