MARSHALL BASKETBALL ; Rick Stansbury Trying to Rebuild at Western Kentucky

By Smock, Doug | Charleston Gazette Mail, January 20, 2017 | Go to article overview

MARSHALL BASKETBALL ; Rick Stansbury Trying to Rebuild at Western Kentucky


Smock, Doug, Charleston Gazette Mail


Last March, Rick Stansbury had been out of head coaching for four years, and seemed to be content about it. He retired in 2012 after 14 years of leading the Mississippi State program, returning in 2014 as an assistant under Billy Kennedy at Texas A&M. Last season, the Aggies tied Kentucky for the regular-season title in the Southeastern Conference.

The Aggies' season ended March 24 with a Sweet Sixteen loss to Oklahoma. Four short days later, he was back into head coaching, taking over at Western Kentucky.

In Conference USA, a league that has seen a number of previously accomplished coaches - John Calipari, Larry Eustachy and Larry Brown, among others - Stansbury's hiring raised some eyebrows. But he insists he wasn't jumping back into head coaching for the sake of doing so.

He knew the lay of the land in the Bluegrass State. He was born in Battletown, an Ohio River town west of Louisville, and played at Campbellsville. He was an assistant for five years at Austin Peay, an Ohio Valley Conference school in Tennessee near the Kentucky border.

When the offer came, he took it, bringing his 293 career victories to Bowling Green.

"It wasn't like I was just wanted to get back into being a head coach. I'd been in it long enough, and some of those headaches you didn't miss, he said Thursday. "If I did it, I had to be in the right situation, and understanding Western's tradition, I understand this program, knew a lot about it, played up here a couple of times.

"I know how important basketball is here, and I'd seen their facilities. Those are the reasons, more so than being a head coach. It had to be the right situation, or I wouldn't have done it.

Stansbury will make his first visit to Cam Henderson Center this weekend, taking on Marshall at 6 p.m. Saturday. The American Sports Network will televise the contest.

While the Hilltoppers have enjoyed modest success in recent years - three 20-win seasons from 2012-15, then a quarterfinal upset of top seed Alabama-Birmingham in the 2016 C-USA tournament - Stansbury walked into a sudden mess. Three top players were suspended by a WKU disciplinary committee, and then coach Ray Harper announced his resignation the next day.

When Stansbury took over 11 days later, the backcourt was decimated and the bodies were few. In fact, only five players returned from the 2015-16 roster, with two coming off transfer years. (One of those, Willie Carmichael, was recently booted off the team. …

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