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Dakota Wizards Looking for a Head Coach

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I don't exactly know what this means, but I'm assuming Duane Ticknor doesn't plan to get back with the Wizards or they'd rather him not come back. Either way, I'm assuming that the Wizards are, or will be getting, plenty of applications from coaches around the D-League as soon as they read this, as it's probably one of the better jobs in the D-League.

This is a job I know about better than most other jobs, simply because I'm based in Bismarck and, aside from my lovely years in Bemidji, I've attended a majority of the games. I'm well aware of what coaches they've struggled under (Jay Garmatz, Steve Tucker, Dave Bliss) and which coaches have done well (Dave Joerger, Casey Owens, Duane Ticknor) in their time with the Wizards.

Just looking at those names, the Wizards have done well with people from within the organization/area and terrible when they try to get fancy and bring in somebody new. I have no clue about Garmatz past, but Tucker was already a well-traveled coach in the minor leagues without a great record anywhere and Bliss, well, had a terrible past and was received terribly in Bismarck, even before his team was terrible.

On the other hand, Joerger is now an assistant with the Memphis Grizzlies, but before that, he was a great coach with the Wizards, and before that was general manager and assistant coach with a good idea of what worked, both on and off the court, in Bismarck. Casey Owens had a good season in Bismarck, but his contract wasn't renewed due to some perceived off the court problems, and it's doubtful they'd go back to Owens, who has been the assistant in Colorado for the past few seasons. Ticknor, well, he's a stud.

After the jump, I'll break down who is available, who I like and everything else you should know about the candidates the Wizards could bring in.

  • Bob MacKinnon, Colorado 14ers - Rumor is, he's the front runner for any position now that Joey Meyer has picked up the Fort Wayne job. He's coming off of a D-League championship, but has never coached in the minor league's, save for last season. He's also, according to our friend Brandt Andersen, not the greatest dude. Positives: The exciting offense, title of reigning D-League champion, and probably a good relationship with Denver, who is looking for an affiliate - something Dakota would surely be interested in. Negatives: Attitude, one season - was it a fluke?
  • Deane Martin, Bakersfield Jam - This isn't a sexy pick at all, though it could be a good pick. Martin is a former Wizards assistant, which worked out well for Owens and Joerger, who both learned under Ticknor, like Martin. Martin also has NBA experience, working with the Bucks, D-League experience, learning from Ticknor and Scott Roth, college experience, learning from Lon Kruger, and even did scouting for Marty Blake - he has plenty of experience proving himself. Positives: Familiar with Dakota fans, scouting. Negative: Lack of head coaching experience.
  • Mike Sanders, Minot SkyRockets - Coach Sanders is my guy. Everyone knows this. For a refresher course, here is this. Positives: D-League experience and winning, head coaching experience, NBA player/assistant coaching career. Negatives: Only two D-League championships.
  • Steve Tucker, Southeast Texas Mustangs - Well, he coached the Wizards in the past, which is something the Wizards obviously cherish. He also was recently named the best coach not in the NBA by the incredibly unbiased PBN (BARF!) Positives: Loves exclamation marks; My dad remembers his name, but remembers he was terrible; Has Twitter. Negatives: Led Wizards to worst record in the IBA in his lose season with the Wizards in 1999.
  • Dale Osbourne, Utah Flash - It's well known that if Ticknor has taught someone to coach, they've done great - Dave Joerger and Bryan Gates are two of the best coaches the D-League has seen. The only other guy I know of that is still coaching that's learned from Ticknor is Osbourne, as he coached with Ticknor in the USBL with the Gary Steelheads. He's been an assistant in the D-League since, first under the late Dennis Johnson in Austin before spending the past two seasons in Utah. Positives: Minor league experience; learned from Ticknor. Negatives: Relatively unknown as a head coach.