Blugolds face big decisionEdgewood College coach Todd Adrian has been at the DIII level for 13 years. Ashford University coach Oliver Drake spent seven years as a DIII assistant before moving to his current NAIA job. UW- Superior coach Matt Siverling has been both an assistant and a head coach in DIII.
By: By Joe Ziemer, The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Superior Telegram
Familiarity with Division III. Head coaching experience. Strong ties to the area and program.
It's pretty clear what UW-Eau Claire is looking for it its next men's basketball coach.
All four finalists who interviewed for the job this week have at least two of those three qualities.
All four clearly are Division III guys.
Edgewood College coach Todd Adrian has been at the DIII level for 13 years. Ashford University coach Oliver Drake spent seven years as a DIII assistant before moving to his current NAIA job. UW- Superior coach Matt Siverling has been both an assistant and a head coach in DIII.
That's a bit of a contrast to last year's group of finalists, which included a Division I assistant in Northern Iowa's Kyle Green and a former Division I head coach in Jim Whitesell, previously of Loyala-Chicago. Green, of course, got the job and resigned last month after one season.
Whoever gets the job this time around will be well-versed in the DIII game. That much is clear. But as to the other two qualities, head coaching experience and area ties, it looks like an either/or scenario.
The quartet breaks down into two groups: those with extensive head coaching experience and those with ties to UW-Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley.
All four are college head coaches. Again, that's different from last year's group which featured two finalists, Green and Eau Claire native Eric Gardow, who weren't college head coaches when they applied.
But there are differing levels of experience among this year's finalists. Drake and Siverling have been head men for two seasons. Adrian and Miller, on the other hand, have been doing it a bit longer.
Adrian's been a head coach since 2006, when he took over at Edgewood. He's coming off an incredibly successful season in which his Eagles knocked off No. 17 UW-River Falls in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Miller has even more experience. He's been a head coach for 18 years, 13 of them in Wisconsin and all in DIII. If experience as a head coach is the deciding factor, he's the man.
Now, in terms of significant ties to the area and program, the edge lies with Drake and Siverling. Both are former Blugolds assistants who grew up in these parts and graduated from UW-Eau Claire.
Drake is from Neillsville. He's a 2002 UW-Eau Claire grad. His wife, Kristen, is a UW-Eau Claire grad. Drake was a Blugolds assistant for the 2003-04 season. And he's familiar with the high school scene, having been an assistant at Eau Claire Memorial and head coach at Cadott.
Siverling has a similar story. He's from Ladysmith. He graduated from UW-Eau Claire in 2002. Like Drake, he's also married to a Blugold in his wife, Lori. And, like Drake, he's a former Blugolds assistant. Siverling was on the UW-Eau Claire staff from 2004-07.
Now, it's worth pointing out that both Adrian and Miller have made it clear they want to put down roots here and raise their families in the Chippewa Valley. They're not looking to move on from UW-Eau Claire. But they don't have the direct ties Drake and Siverling do.
It's a good group of finalists. Each of the four has a compelling argument to be the 10th men's basketball coach in UW-Eau Claire history.
But from the outside perspective, it seems to come down to choosing between an alum who's relatively new to being a head coach and a more established coach without direct ties to the school.
Maybe it's as simple as weighing Drake against Siverling and Adrian against Miller, then choosing one or the other.
Only athletic director Scott Kilgallon and the search committee know what the determining factor will be. And they've got a tough decision on their hands. But whatever decision they make, they'll have themselves a good coach.
All four said all the right things this week. All four emphasized their commitment to elevating the program and putting down roots in the Chippewa Valley.
It's a tough call. But as far as problems go, that's not a bad one to have.
Have an opinion on the UW-Eau Claire coaching search? Ziemer can be reached at 715-833-9210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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