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Candidates for the Dakota Wizards Coaching Job

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Here's one of the first signs that D-League coverage is a little different around here - I'm the one talking about the Dakota Wizards' head coaching vacancy. As you may know, Duane Ticknor, who had several coaching stints with team including the past two seasons, "officially will not be returning" next year. Several teams already have filled coaching vacancies this offseason, but there are still plenty of qualified and/or intriguing candidates out there.

We've spent some time talking about this vacancy before, as we have with all of them, but the Bismarck Tribune just wrote about some potential candidates (only one interview has been confirmed as of yet), and there appear to be some new names on the list, so I thought it would be a good idea to look at who the Wizards may be considering (and if you're wondering what Scott thought they should be looking for back in the day - here's a reference).

Deane Martin Martin is that one confirmed interview, so I guess that makes him something of a front-runner (or an only-runner for now). Martin was most recently an assistant in Bakersfield, and he's also been an assistant in Dakota. He's coached under both Ticknor and Scott Roth, and has also worked for the Milwaukee Bucks. He's certainly familiar with the D-League.

Kevin Rice - According to that Tribune article, the Wizards owner has said that Rice will be considered for the job (but the team won't confirm that he's going to be interviewed? Maybe that makes him the front-runner?). Rice has been an assistant under Ticknor for the past two years, and before that was a Dakota Wizard himself. He's apparently considered a good defensive coach.

Mike Sanders - Sanders is a former player who was a head coach in the CBA last year (with Scott as Director of Operations), and he's also coached in the USBL and the IBL, as well as being an assistant in the NBA, working in a D-League front office (he was director of player personnel for Asheville) and playing in the NBA for 11 years.

Paul Woolpert - Late of the Tulsa 66ers head coaching job, and a former CBA head coach. The 66ers weren't what you'd call "good" last year, but as the Tribune article notes, his overall coaching record is quite good and he was twice named the CBA coach of the year.

Randy Livingston - Like Sanders, Livingston played in the NBA for a number of years, though he's only been a coach for a year, and an assistant at that. Still, he seems to be relatively highly thought of as a future head coach, and he spent his last playing season or two in the D-League, so there's some familiarity there. Plus, he has his own Day.

Dale Osbourne - Osbourne's another Ticknor protege, and has been a D-League assistant the last few years in Austin and Utah in addition to seven years as a college coach. He also has some head coaching experience, though mostly on an interim basis (such as when Austin head coach Dennis Johnson passed away).

Bob Thornton - Thornton has apparently been a finalist for the Dakota head gig in the past, so maybe they'll make the third time the charm. A former player, Thornton has NBA assistant coach experience as well as D-League and CBA head coaching experience.

Rory White - Another former NBA player, White has been an assistant coach with the LA Clippers for the last six seasons, but he also has some head coaching success in the IBL.

Rob Spon - A former Dakota assistant, and in fact an assistant in several places including the D-League and CBA.

On the whole, I think the Tribune put together a decent list of candidates, though there are a few names here that I think are more based on a local connection than any sort of coaching qualifications. That's not to say that head coaching experience is totally necessary, as there are also some longtime assistants who would probably do well in the top job. So what say you? Is head coaching experience a necessity? Or would an assistant or former player do well? Who do YOU think should get the Dakota job?