Thursday, April 10, 2003

Gregory brings intensity to Dayton

By James Hannah
The Associated Press

DAYTON, Ohio - Brian Gregory wasted no time settling in as Dayton's new basketball coach. Hours after the Michigan State assistant was introduced to the team and the public, he was preparing to watch game film with one of his players.

"I've seen intensity work and be successful and help teams reach their full potential," Gregory said Wednesday. "That's a part of me. I'm very passionate about coaching."

Gregory succeeds Oliver Purnell, who left Dayton last week after nine seasons to become coach at Clemson.

Purnell guided Dayton to a 24-6 record and the Atlantic 10 Conference championship this year. The Flyers lost to Tulsa in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but were ranked No. 16 in the final AP poll.

Gregory, 36, said he had his eye on the Dayton job for some time.

"There's a fabulous tradition here. We need to embrace that," he said. "I'm going to hit the floor running with our current players, with recruiting and in the community. I've been taught by some of the best. I'm looking forward to bringing that here."

Gregory joins the growing list of Tom Izzo assistants who have jumped into the head coaching ranks.

Tom Crean led Marquette to the Final Four this season in just his third year as head coach. Stan Heath was hired by Arkansas last year after leading Kent State to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament.

Sean Finn, the Flyers' 6-foot-11 junior center, said Gregory met with the team Wednesday and discussed his goals, which included repeating as Atlantic 10 champions and advancing in the NCAAs.

"And he knows what it takes because he's been in those kinds of situations," Finn said.

Keith Waleskowski, a 6-foot-9 junior forward, said Gregory wants to build a tough, physical, high-intensity team.

"He told us we're going to knock you down, help you back up, smile at you, and knock you right back down," Waleskowski said. "He said he's going to be very demanding of us."

Gregory said he likes aggressive man-to-man defense and to run the floor on offense.

"There is a system. I've been mentored by some of the best," said Gregory, who has worked for nine years at Michigan State under Izzo and Jud Heathcote. "I feel very fortunate to know the blueprint."

Gregory, who also has been an assistant at Toledo and Northwestern, helped recruit four McDonald's All-Americans for Michigan State during the past three years.

"Brian has proven himself in his time here to be everything you need in a head coach," Izzo said. "He's a great recruiter, but he is also a great game coach. I don't think you get that kind of mix very often. The job he did here is second to none."

Gregory, a native of Mount Prospect, Ill., played with David Robinson at Navy and was a member of the 1986 Navy team that was 30-5 and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. Gregory later transferred to Oakland University in Michigan, where he became the school's all-time assists leader.

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