OU interviews Central Oklahoma coach Terry Evans
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Thursday, March 31, 2011
3/31/11 at 5:28 PM
NORMAN – The Tulsa World has learned that Central Oklahoma coach Terry Evans interviewed for the University of Oklahoma basketball job last Tuesday night. It is the first known interview OU has conducted since Jeff Capel was fired as Sooners coach March 14.
Shortly after OU athletic director Joe Castiglione made the change, Evans told the World: "The opportunity to go back and coach at a place where I had a lot of success would be a dream come true, to be honest with you."
The question was whether Evans, who has won 193 games in nine years at NCAA Div. II UCO, would be given the opportunity to make that pitch to Castiglione. He got that chance Tuesday.
A source close to Evans said the interview lasted three hours, and did not appear to be cursory.
Castiglione has kept details of his 2½-week search under a tight lid. Some information, however, has begun to leak out.
Late Wednesday, the World learned that there is mutual interest between OU and embattled Illinois coach Bruce Weber. Reached by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch very late Wednesday night, Weber texted: "Received interest calls from a few schools the last couple weeks. Other than that no real story or stories! Sorry!"
Reached by the Chicago Tribune Thursday morning, Weber texted: "On my way to the true coaches' rumor mill – the Final Four Coaches Convention! Heard last night that I am going to replace Cuonzo (Martin) at Missouri State – onward to Springfield!"
The 54-year-old Weber has come under some pressure at Illinois, to the point that athletic director Ron Guenther was compelled to publicly speak on his behalf a month ago. Guenther is in his own limbo, with a contract set to expire June 30.
Sources have indicated to the World that Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall also is on Castiglione's radar. He has the Shockers in tonight's NIT championship against Alabama.
The 48-year-old Marshall is 81-55 in four years at Wichita State, including a 53-18 mark the past two years.
Before coming to Wichita, Marshall spent nine years at Winthrop. He coached the Big South Conference Eagles into the NCAA tournament seven of those years, upsetting Notre Dame as an 11-seed in 2007 for his only tournament victory.
A source close to OU's coach search told the World Wednesday afternoon that veteran UNLV coach Lon Kruger was no longer a possibility after being considered initially. Later Wednesday, the Las Vegas Sun reported that Kruger declined an interview opportunity.
Other coaches have fallen out of the running by signing extensions at current schools. Chief among them is Buzz Williams, Castiglione's perceived top candidate since the search's first day.
Williams agreed to a new contract at Marquette Wednesday, reported worth more than $2 million annually.
Meanwhile, Evans remains the only coach in the nation to publicly state his interest in, and make his case for, the OU job.
"We would win, first of all," he told the World two weeks ago. "I've won everwhere I've been. I would bring an identity, same as I've had at all of my programs – an up-tempo, high-scoring team that also plays great defense and rebounds the basketball.
"I haven't really seen an identity regarding OU basketball since coach (Kelvin) Sampson left. Oklahoma needs an identity, needs some excitement. ...
"I have no recruiting budget here (at UCO), yet for the last three years we've been among the best college teams in the state. Give me an unlimited recruiting budget, I'll bring in great players and do a lot of the same things that we did with Kelvin when we went to the Final Four."
Evans was OU's operations director during Sampson's 2001-02 Final Four season. He went from that position to his current one at UCO. Prior to joining Sampson's staff, he went 100-11 and won three Class 6A state championships at Midwest City.
Evans was a Sooners guard from 1989-93. He was All-Big 8 Conference his final two years, and remains the school's all-time assists and 3-pointers leader.