The Rio Grande Valley Vipers announced today that Chris Finch has been hired to replace Clay Moser as the team's head coach. Most recently, Finch has been
a traveling sales rep with Wernham Hogg the coach of Great Britain's national team as well as coach of the Belgian team Dexia Mons-Hainut. The vast majority of his coaching experience has come in Europe, though interestingly enough he was an assistant on the Dallas Mavericks' Summer League team this summer.
I don't follow European basketball all that closely, but what I've gathered about Finch is a somewhat mixed picture. He won multiple British Basketball League championships with the Sheffield Sharks and took Mons-Hainut to the Eurocup finals in 2008, but he bounced around a bit between those stops, and was replaced midseason during his stint in Germany when he went 4-13 with the Giessen 46ers and put the team in danger of being relegated down a level.
Finch does have some familiarity with NBA and D-League players, including current Houston Rocket Pops Mensah-Bonsu (and in turn, he makes them get familiar with the British national anthem). Rockets GM Daryl Morey emphasized Finch's experience building up the British national team (which this year qualified for the European Championships for the first time since 1981), but this is still a rather...interesting choice. The two most widely-circulated names were former University of Virginia coach Dave Leitao and Rockets assistant R.J. Adelman, either of whom would have been a solid if relatively uninteresting choice (I'm being generous, I know, but just go with it).
Finch is relatively young, 39 years old, so Houston and Rio Grande Valley were able to find someone who has both a decent coaching resume and a lot more growth as a coach in his future. Other than this past season with Mons-Hainut, though, he doesn't seem to have had much success outside the realm of British basketball, so it remains to be seen how he'll adjust to the D-League and to south Texas. I personally wonder if the team will hire an assistant more familiar with the D-League and/or player development in the same way that Maine and Springfield have, in order to ease Finch's transition. Nevertheless, congratulations are in order both to Coach Finch and to the Vipers, especially since this means all D-League head coaching vacancies are now filled. (Oh, and here's what he really looks like.)