NMU names finalists for head men’s basketball coaching job

MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University will interview four finalists in four days next week for its vacant head men’s basketball coach position with two candidates – a head coach and assistant coach – coming from GLIAC North Division rivals.

Ferris State head men’s basketball coach Bill Sall and Hillsdale College assistant men’s basketball coach Dan Evans will interview for the Wildcats’ opening along with Tom Brown, the associate head men’s head basketball coach at Winona State in Minnesota, and Jeff Kaminsky, the head men’s basketball coach at Valley City State in South Dakota.

Hillsdale’s Evans will interview on the NMU campus Monday with Winona State’s Brown visiting on Tuesday, Valley City’s Kaminsky on Wednesday and Ferris’ Sall on Thursday.

All four candidates will be made available to the public at 2 p.m. each day in the Izzo-Mariucci Room of the Berry Events Center.

“The search committee has done a great job,” said Wildcats athletic director Forrest Karr in a statement released this morning.

“Our goal now is to find the best fit for Northern Michigan University and the greater Marquette community.”

Sall, a native of downstate Zeeland and graduate of Unity Christian High School in Hudsonville, led the Bulldogs to four GLIAC North Division titles and three NCAA Division II tournament berths in his 11 years as a head coach in Big Rapids with two appearances in the NCAA regional championship game.

In that same 11-year span, NMU has only four winning seasons and has missed the GLIAC tournament for six consecutive seasons, resulting in the resignation of 24-year veteran Dean Ellis in 2010 following three losing campaigns and the release of Doug Lewis Jr. after three losing seasons on March 13.

Prior to Ferris, Sall was an assistant at Hillsdale, where Evans has served as the top assistant to Chargers’ head coach John Tharp for the past six seasons.

Evans graduated from Cary-Grove High School in Illinois and played for Tharp at NCAA Division III Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., from 2002-05. When Tharp took over the Chargers in 2007, he gave Evans his first collegiate coaching job.

In six seasons under the guidance of Tharp and Evans, the Chargers have compiled a 107-60 record. In 2011-12, Hillsdale won its first GLIAC regular season title in 30 years and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade.

Brown has been with his alma mater, Winona State, for 15 seasons, all under head coach Mike Leaf. The Warriors won the NCAA Division II Championship in 2006 and 2008.

Under Leaf and Brown, the Warriors have won six regular season and five tournament titles in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Athletic Conference – the GLIAC’s neighbor to the West.

WSU ran off an NCAA Div. II-record 57 consecutive wins from Jan. 13, 2006 to March 22, 2007, set an NCAA all-divisions record for wins in a season in 2007-08 with 38 and lost only six games in three seasons from 2005-2008 under Leaf and Brown.

Kaminsky’s Valley City State Vikings were an independent in NAIA Division II this season after the dissolution of the Dakota Athletic Conference in 2012 due to NCAA Div. II defections that left the league with four schools.

Kaminsky, who played junior college basketball in Illinois before spending two seasons at Grand Valley State, has been with VCSU for eight seasons. In that span, he’s led the Vikings to four 20-win seasons and shared DAC titles in 2010 and 2012.

Prior to VSCU, Kaminsky was the head coach at NCAA Div. III Wisconsin-Superior for 11 seasons and seven seasons at Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids.

Karr tapped a team of seven community members, three NMU faculty members and four university staff members to find the next head men’s basketball coach for the Wildcats with nine of the 14 search committee members having either played basketball at Northern or coached hoops at the high school level in the U.P., or both.

That committee began with a group of 98 applicants and over the previous two weeks, conducted online video conferencing interviews via Skype with 16 semifinalists that included, according to Karr, two NCAA Div. II head coaches, five NCAA Div. II associate/assistant coaches, six NCAA Div. I assistants and two junior college head coaches.