August 7, 2012

UC Santa Cruz men's basketball: Slugs name former NBA assistant DuBois new coach

 

 

Former NBA assistant Ron DuBois will take over as coach of the NCAA Division III UC Santa Cruz men's basketball team.

The school quietly made the news public by adding his name and a short biography on the team page of the school's athletic website Monday.

DuBois -- a Lodi native who served as a Memphis Grizzlies assistant from 2007-09 -- is leaving his post as associate head coach at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., a position he has held since 2010.

DuBois, 35, is married with a 1½-year-old son. His wife, Rebecca, also from Lodi, is due to give birth to a second son in a couple of months.

"This is the right place for us," he said Tuesday. "We both have family in the area. About 2009, when I got let go from the NBA, I thought it would be better for me to look at a smaller program, to settle into a community. I'm real excited about UC Santa Cruz, about being in Division III. I think it's a great level. Obviously, it's a beautiful place."

In landing the part-time job -- which pays $15,000 over 10 months and includes no benefits -- DuBois beat out more than 70 applicants, including five other finalists.

DuBois, still in Memphis, said he hopes to fill out his staff by the end of next week.

His official start date is Sept. 1. UCSC -- which is on the quarter system -- begins school in late September.

"Any D-III, D-II, D-I school or pro team would be getting a steal with Ron Dubois," said Johnny Dunavant, a guard at Rhodes.

"What he brings to the table can't be written on a paper. I can't describe what he can do to a program. ... I've never had a coach who knows, more than Xs and Os, strategy and some of decision-making that kind of gets overlooked. He helped bring in a new culture and work ethic to our program."

Slugs athletic director Linda Spradley said the group of finalists excelled in a number of criteria -- which included coaching experience, handling budgets and recruiting. She said DuBois wasn't No. 1 in every category, but he was close.

"He was almost all number ones," she said. "He met the mass majority of criteria well. He has a calm demeanor, but you can tell he loves working with athletes. He's been to all levels and he loves Division III. His last job was D-III. You want a guy like that. He's a great fit for us."

The well-traveled DuBois previously served as head coach with the Antigua and Barbuda national team and Mexico's Tijuana Galgos -- both of International Basketball Federation -- and the Chico Force of the IBL.

He has also worked as an assistant at UC Davis for three years, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and FIBA's Paris Basket Racing in France and served as video coordinator for the Phoenix Suns.

"It was all in pursuit of gaining the most experience at the highest levels," DuBois said of his nomadic career. "I really learned a lot.

Spradley and Slugs women's basketball coach Todd Kent, who was also on the hiring committee, both said DuBois has a history of being a tireless worker.

Kent points to the fact that DuBois, a standout point guard at Lodi High, went from a walk-on at Arizona State to a team scholarship player and co-team captain by the time he was a senior in 1999.

"I really like him," Kent said. "He's going to be a nice addition to our staff. The thing that jumped out at me is how aggressively he went after this job. And he backs that with his background -- a walk-on who turned into a captain at Arizona State. I read he was the second youngest assistant in the NBA. He's approached his career in basketball, and as a whole, like that. A candidate like that is going to stand out."

Dubois replaces Gordon Johnson, a 59-year-old who coached the Banana Slugs for 10 seasons, compiling a 74-161 record.

Johnson stepped down in June, noting he wanted to spend more time with his family. Johnson is married with four children -- including son Josh, a backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers -- and seven grandchildren.

DuBois said he and his family visited Santa Cruz a lot as a child. But he hadn't been to UC Santa Cruz until working a Nike summer camp with Johnson.

"I was just amazed," DuBois said of the campus. "I just thought it was a special place."

DuBois inherits a roster that is expected to return nine players from a 12-10 campaign.

He has already emailed and called several players to introduce himself.

Spradley said she can't wait to see him in action.

"His references were impeccable," she said. "He's not a put-you-down guy. He's a build-you-up guy. He's always positively critical and we really like that style."

DuBois said he embraces the challenges that come with coaching at the D-III level: raising funds and handling travel arrangements, a budget and scheduling.

"I think Gordon Johnson did a great job building the program to where it is now," DuBois said. "The winning will take care of itself over time. Hopefully I'll be there a while. I want to establish a culture and identity and have our players living up to our core standards."

By Jim Seimas for the Santa Cruz Sentinel.  The origninal story can be found at the Santa Cruz Sentinel