Muller: Illinois State coach job ideal for him

As a player, Dan Muller helped lead Illinois State to the NCAA

tournament in 1998 – the Redbirds’ last appearance in the Big

Dance.

Now he will get a chance to take them back to the tourney as the

head coach.

Muller was introduced by athletic director Gary Friedman during

a news conference Tuesday at Redbird Arena. He takes over for Tim

Jankovich who left to become an assistant at Southern Methodist

under Larry Brown.

”I have a love and passion for this university and this

program,” said Muller, 36. ”It’s a great job because of the

people that are here, the facilities … and the tradition.”

Muller comes to Illinois State after spending 12 seasons as an

assistant at Vanderbilt.

The (Bloomington) Pantagraph reports (http://bit.ly/IBqbDh) that

other finalists for the job were ISU assistant Rob Judson and

Gonzaga assistant Ray Giacoletti. Duke assistant Chris Collins

talked with Friedman but said the job wasn’t the right fit; his

father, Doug, played for the Redbirds before beginning his NBA head

coaching career.

”After talking with several basketball people across the

country it was evident that Dan was the complete package, in terms

of academics, recruiting, evaluation, player development, in-game

coaching and game preparation,” Friedman said in a statement. ”He

also brings a strong coaching pedigree and a love for this

institution and program. We are thrilled to have Dan back home to

lead our men’s basketball program.”

Muller takes over a team with no seniors that finished 21-14 and

lost to Stanford in overtime in the second round of the National

Invitation Tournament.

”We’re going to schedule well, we’re going to play hard, have

fun and be exciting, and we’re going to win,” said Muller. ”We’re

going to get after it and we’re going to earn what we get.”

Muller said his immediate priorities will be to learn more about

his new players and put together a coaching staff. He said he would

talk with Judson and the other two ISU assistant coaches, Anthony

Beane and Paris Parham, about remaining in their positions.