In a move that shouldn't be shocking to anyone following the Fort Wayne Mad Ants season, head coach Jaren Jackson has been relieved of his duties.
Jackson, who coached a talented Fort Wayne team to a cellar-dwelling 19-30 record this season, apparently was fired after his team's performance in the home finale for the Mad Ants, which left 6,559 wondering how their team blew a 22 point halftime lead. As I wrote last night, from 2:57 in the third to :27 in the fourth quarter, not one substition was made for Fort Wayne. This seems absurd, as there was obviously something wrong with the team on the floor.
Apparently the Mad Ants decided that "something wrong on the floor" was JJ. After taking over for Kent Davison mid-season last year, he led this years team to a two win improvement, but a second straight season as the last place team in the division.
The Mad Ants have begun a nationwide search to fill their head coaching position. "We are going to cast a wide net and certainly be very thorough in this process," said Potter. "Our fans are hungry for a winner, and we are going to leave no stone unturned in our quest to provide them with just that."
Who are my top candidates? First, myself, as I need a job and love the Fort Wayne staff (Garrett, I know you got my back)! Seriously though, I'd probably be better suited as an assistant coach, so here are my head coaching options that are assistants in the D-League this season.
Wait, curveball, my number one choice is going to be my main man, Michael Sanders. Many of you know I worked in the now-all-but-defunct CBA with the Minot SkyRockets as Director of Operations (Big time!). I was the only full-time staff member besides Coach Sanders. He's a hard-worker, he's dedicated, he knows the game as a coach (Assistant with Detroit, Milwaukee, and Charlotte) and player (nine year NBA career). Also, he treated me like his son - even taking me out for pizza after a long day at the office! Love this dude.
I hate to pick favorites among other possibilities because then I'll wake up to numerous texts and Emails telling me that they're not going to get hired because I said they weren't good sportsmen and that they're great sportsmen and they work hard officiating the D-League and I suck for not pimping them more on RU.
Regardless, I'm picking favorites, after the break. Jeff, pay attention. Also, Jon Jennings and whoever is in charge of Springfield now that Sam Vincent disappeared, you guys might want to look at these candidates as well.
Tony Fritz, Sioux Falls - He's never been a head coach that I'm aware of, but he's certainly worked under the tutelage of some great minor league coaches and could soon count himself among them - current Sioux Falls coach Nate Tibbetts, current Tulsa coach Paul Woolpert and Bill Bayno, who coached UNLV from 1995-2000 to a 91-60 record. With four CBA championships and a couple of good seasons with Sioux Falls, he's worth a look.
Randy Livingston, Idaho - He's already the first D-League assistant coach to get his own day named after him. He's had his jersey retired while on the road (in Sioux Falls) and at home in the past two weeks. This is his first season coaching since retiring last season, but one could argue that he was a coach on the floor throughout his career. He knows the game.
Paul Mokeski, Anaheim - He's another guy with NBA playing and coaching experience, which is valuable in the minors, as it seems that if your coach has been there before, you'd be more apt to listen to him to learn what it takes. Coach Mo started his coaching career in 1992. He's been a head coach in the CBA and USBL, along with assistant coaching jobs at USC and with the Charlotte Bobcats.
Casey Owens, Colorado - Owens was the Head Coach of the Dakota Wizards when they were in the CBA during the '04-05 season, after serving as Assistant Coach and Director of Player Personnel for the team from 2001-04. He's also served as an assistant with the Fayeteville Patriots, along with video coordinator for the Chicago Bulls. He's been with Colorado for the past couple seasons.
Deane Martin, Bakersfield - With nearly 20 years of coaching experience, Martin is a veteran in the college ranks, but has also worked the NBA Development League Pre-draft Camp in Dallas and assisted the Milwaukee Bucks throughout the summer at their mini camps, along with assisting the Dakota Wizards last season.
Martin has also worked extensively with NBA scouting director Marty Blake and coached professionally in Sweden. Martin has served as an assistant coach at Saint Louis University, University of Tennessee-Martin and University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Martin is Single (with a capital 'S' apparently) and resides in Las Vegas during the off season.
Mr. Joel Abelson, I wanted to mention you, but frankly, I couldn't do it. If you're not even acknowledged in your fellow assistant coach's 20 minute speech on his very own day, I can't promote you. Blame it on Liv. RU knows you're the unsung hero of that staff!