Embracing the past while looking towards the future. It's been the constant drumbeat of new athletic director Kenneth Seigfried since he arrived at the University of Evansville two months ago. And the Aces new men's basketball head coach David Ragland has taken that message to heart, beginning with his coaching staff.
Putting the band back together. That's what new University of Evansville men's basketball head coach David Ragland is doing, beginning with his assistants. Instead of trying to remake the Aces program in his own image, Ragland is looking to return it to it's glory days, bringing a pair of legends from UE past. Marcus Wilson and Craig Snow, teammates on the last team to hoist up a conference banner in 1999.
"A coaching staff that believes in the University of Evansville. What we've done in the past and what we're going to do in the present and in the future," Ragland said. "What better way to do it than with guys who have done it?"
And it's not just on the court that Wilson and Snow have succeeded. Wilson was an assistant under former Evansville bench boss Jim Crews at Saint Louis, when they won the Atlantic 10 title in 2013. While Snow has been a head coach at Division 2 New Mexico Highlands, while serving as an assistant in two stints at the University of New Mexico.
"From the minute Rags and I started talking about this, and the relationship I had with him, my love for this place, the University, knowing what I felt like we could do together, then when he started talking about additional staff, with Marcus and the other guys I've known throughout the profession, knew how strong our staff would be, chemistry-wise, it was something that you couldn't pass up," Snow said.
"Craig and I have stayed in touch more than any other teammate that I've had. Winning a championship together, as a player, you look back, and you see that 1999 banner, never in my wildest dreams did I think that would be the last banner hanging up here," Wilson explained. "So, to be back and have the opportunity to hang another banner together is something that we are committed to doing. It's more than just winning. We want the student athletes to feel how we felt. I knew how good it felt to be a champion here. I know how the fans and the community embraces a winning team."
Then there is the relationship they have with Ragland, who played crosstown at USI, but who's relationship with both men has only grown stronger since leaving Evansville.
"Marcus' relationship, mine and his, 20-plus years ago is when we first met each other. Stayed in contact, grew to respect each other and the friendship," Ragland said. "Craig and I, we've actually coached against each other. I know his history. He sat in every single seat within a program, which is valuable. Then, to know the insides of these walls is very important."
Ragland's third assistant is George Swanson. A longtime JUCO coach at North Idaho College, Swanson perhaps summed up the new feeling around the program better than anyone else.
"We're going in the right direction. The way we're going to play. We recruited the style of athletes to what we want to do and I think the coaching staff we've put together, based on what we've done previously before works to that style of play," Swanson says. "I see all the history that goes on here and it feels kind of good. The vibes that have been going on around town. People are kind of upbeat about everything since I've been here."