ISU to interview Muller, Giacoletti for men's basketball coach post

2012-05-02T10:28:00Z 2012-05-03T10:59:42Z ISU to interview Muller, Giacoletti for men's basketball coach postBy Jim Benson |

NORMAL — The search to find Illinois State’s next men’s head basketball coach seems to be in fast-break mode.

The Pantagraph has learned Vanderbilt assistant coach and ex-ISU standout player Dan Muller will interview today with ISU athletic director Gary Friedman at an undisclosed location. also reported Gonzaga assistant coach Ray Giacoletti, a former Redbird assistant, will interview today as well.

Meanwhile, Friedman is expected to interview ISU assistant coach Rob Judson later this week. Judson confirmed last week he was offered a position on the next coaching staff by ISU officials, but said he would assess the situation if he wasn’t named the head coach before deciding whether to stay.

Earlier this week, Duke associate coach Chris Collins issued a statement saying he had spoken to Friedman but would not be a candidate. Friedman also reportedly has spoken to Michigan State assistant coach Dwayne Stephens.

Muller was instrumental in ISU winning the Missouri Valley Conference regular season and tournament titles in 1997 and 1998. His late basket helped ISU beat Tennessee in the first round of the 1998 NCAA tourney. That was ISU’s last trip to the Big Dance.

The 36-year-old Muller has spent the last 12 years on the Vanderbilt staff of his former ISU coach, Kevin Stallings. Ironically, Muller was promoted from administrative assistant to assistant coach when Jankovich left Vandy in 2002 to go to Illinois.

Jankovich resigned as ISU’s coach last week to accept a position as associate coach/coach-in-waiting under Larry Brown at Southern Methodist.

One of Muller’s former ISU teammates, Rob Gibbons, believes the Redbirds need to look no further for their next coach.

“He’s the embodiment of what you’re looking for in a program from an athletic and student background,” said Gibbons, who owns The Paramount Leadership group which helps and advises high-growth sales companies. “It’s hard to figure which outshined the other.”

Muller ranks No. 10 in career scoring at ISU with 1,445 points. He helped the Redbirds to a 91-36 record during his career while twice being named the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Muller was named most outstanding player of the MVC Tournament as a senior and was an all-league second-team selection that season.

Muller also was a two-time second-team Academic All-America, a three-time member of the All-MVC Scholar-Athlete Team and was named a Bone Scholar, the highest academic honor at ISU. He also was a winner of an NCAA postgraduate scholarship and earned his master’s degree in business administration from Florida in 2003.

Since 2006, Muller also has served as Vanderbilt’s recruiting coordinator and oversaw the highest rated recruiting classes in the Commodores’ history. Three players from this past season’s Vandy squad — center Festus Ezeli, forward Jeffery Taylor and guard John Jenkins — are potential first-round picks in June’s NBA draft.

“He’s a bright guy. I know how he would treat the kids,” said Gibbons. “He has one of the best basketball minds around. The stars are aligned (for him to become ISU’s coach).”

Giacoletti, 50, served on Bob Bender’s staff at ISU from 1990-93. After moving to Washington with Bender, Giacoletti was later head coach at North Dakota State, Eastern Washington and Utah.

The East Peoria native led Eastern Washington and Utah to the NCAA tourney, with the Utes advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in 2005 before being fired two years later.

For the last five years, Giacoletti has been an assistant coach at Gonzaga under Mark Few.

Giacoletti compiled a 171-123 record as a head coach. Utah went 29-6 in the 2004-05 season led by Andrew Bogut, who was the National Player of the Year.

If Friedman wants the players to know and meet the new head coach before they leave campus, the search could be over by early next week. Final examinations at ISU end May 10 and a Board of Trustees meeting will be held the following day, when a contract for a new coach could be discussed and approved.

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(18) Comments

  1. TwentyTwo
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    TwentyTwo - May 03, 2012 6:52 pm
    No, your point was "mute" to my ears....thanks for trying..

    Yeah, let's go out and get someone from an established program and get them to come to ISU with the salary they pay! Been around long? Not happening. Never has, never will...ISU averages about 4-5 years for their coaches, then it's off to bigger & better things...not gonna change. It's hot assistants. And there is not much there...End of story....
  2. exmvcchamp
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    exmvcchamp - May 03, 2012 4:54 pm
    I think you are trying to say "moot point"...

    "How many coaches are NOW still available?" ?? Well let's see....was Coach Jank on that non-existent, "still available" list you just made up?? He had just signed a 5 years contract the month before. Everybody is 'still available'.

  3. miniman
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    miniman - May 03, 2012 2:42 pm
    Very funny. Perhaps Stallings and Muller have joined Focus on the Family and are protesting manlove on the court.
  4. miniman
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    miniman - May 03, 2012 2:37 pm
    This could be fun. I can see students coming to the games with giant cut-outs and/or teeshirts of beer bottles with a MULLER label that has Dan's picture on it. Defense til the last one drops. Pour yourself a tall one. An All-American brew.
  5. ReddyPlay
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    ReddyPlay - May 03, 2012 12:58 pm
    Muller as the Redbirds' HC would invigorate the program and bring fans to games. Very exciting! He's the hot young coach we need to get this program back to the late '90s era! He's been training for the past 12 years under Stallings. Great mentor. It's Muller Time!!
  6. TwentyTwo
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    TwentyTwo - May 03, 2012 12:09 pm
    Also, when did Jankovich decide to move on to his next destination? Alittle late maybe??With that, from a timing standpoint, how many coaches are NOW still available? Many positions have been filled since the end of the basketball season, leaving nothing but what Friedman is currently interviewing...And Collins was NEVER gonna happen anyway, so that is a mute point....Exmvcchamp, WHO should Mr. Friedman be recruiting to become a head coach now, since you seem to know so much about this?
  7. KCISU24
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    KCISU24 - May 03, 2012 10:10 am
    There is NO DOUBT in my mind that Dan would be the right choice for Head Coach. Let's think back to how Coach Stallings was hired, as a first time head coach after being a long time assistant at KU. Was that a success.......obviously. He did not have a losing record during any season at ISU and an over 66% winning percentage. Coach Stallings know exactly how to prepare Dan for his first head coaching job. Dan is like a son to Coach Stallings and has been grooming Dan for this exact moment. If Coach Stallings felt Dan was not ready for this, believe me Dan would not be interviewing today.
  8. KCISU24
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    KCISU24 - May 03, 2012 9:53 am
    Just Coach being Coach......
  9. RedbirdFan1
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    RedbirdFan1 - May 03, 2012 8:44 am
    It's Muller Time!!
  10. RedbirdFan1
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    RedbirdFan1 - May 03, 2012 8:43 am
    You also have to keep in mind that Friedman also has to appease Bowman and the board of trustees with this hire. His candidates may not be entirely his choice. They probably said...."we want our next coach to have ties to ISU."
  11. memo
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    memo - May 03, 2012 8:05 am
    Why has Friedman screwed up if he choses Giacoletti or Judson over Muller? I think any of the three would be great fits as the head coach of ISU, but I could easily see an AD choosing someone with head coach experience and a resume of leading teams to NCAA tournaments over a former player who has assistant coach experience. I am not saying that Muller won't be a better fit over the other two, I just don't know how you could say Friedman screwed up if he doesn't hire Muller.
  12. exmvcchamp
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    exmvcchamp - May 03, 2012 8:04 am
    Wow, we bring in Gary Friedman with 22 years experience, from a basketball mecca (Louisville) and his short list for a new coach is this "original" ? One current assistant, one former assistant, and a former player. Just seems to reveal he has no networking connections... And this was all preceeded by the polite, 'thanks but no thanks' that we get from the Collins family every few years when we try to go back to that 'well' (they've moved on, NBA, Duke,....).

    Muller would do a fine job, but just disappointed if this is all Gary can bring to the table...
  13. birdfan98
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    birdfan98 - May 03, 2012 6:57 am
    I totally agree. Keep Judson on staff for continuity though.
  14. earthling
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    earthling - May 02, 2012 9:04 pm
    This is an important moment for AD Friedman. If he doesn't land Dan Muller as coach he has screwed up. It is Muller Time!
  15. ysteb
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    ysteb - May 02, 2012 6:50 pm
    I am really excited about the idea of Dan Muller being back in a coaching role. He (and that team) were involved in an era of ISU basketball that was exciting to watch, and the crowds were often sell-out capacity. That being said, I am a little concerned about the second picture of him with Kevin Stallings...what, exactly, is going on with the officials?
  16. BN Resident1
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    BN Resident1 - May 02, 2012 4:10 pm
    Ray Giacoletti would be a great fit, from the area, coached here under Bender has broadened his experience and would bring the kind of atmosphere that ISU needs to move to the next level.
  17. miniman
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    miniman - May 02, 2012 4:03 pm
    Muller would be a very popular selection in the community for those of us who remember his dogged style of play. That would probably result in better attendence, especially with what I see as a very strong team coming back. I understand Judson to be a strong recruiter and responsible for both Aaron Simpson and Nic Moore. Being coached and trained by Kevin Stallings has to be a real plus.
  18. MacDaddy
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    MacDaddy - May 02, 2012 1:55 pm
    Gotta give Dan a shot. You know that Kevin Stallings has trained him well and as a former RedBird he has the inside track of what is expected from ISU players.
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