Thursday, May 15, 2003

Ex-Xavier assistant gets Iowa St. job

By David Pitt
The Associated Press

AMES, Iowa - Former Xavier assistant Wayne Morgan was introduced as the basketball coach at Iowa State on Wednesday, succeeding Larry Eustachy and ending a tumultuous two weeks at the school.

Morgan, an assistant under Eustachy, called his hiring "the greatest thing in my life."

Eustachy resigned last week after publication of photographs showing him partying at an apartment in Columbia, Mo., after Iowa State's Jan. 21 loss.

The photos, printed in The Des Moines Register, were taken by a University of Missouri student. The photos show Eustachy holding a can of beer, kissing young women on the cheek and being kissed by them.

"With the difficult time we've been through it's time for us to come together," Morgan said at a news conference. "I want us to all come together and support this great university, support this wonderful program."

He promised to maintain the high-quality basketball at Iowa State.

"We will try and play as hard as you're use to seeing us play," he said.

But he predicted there would be some changes on the court, including "a little more up-tempo, a fun and exciting brand of basketball."

He takes over a team that finished 17-14, losing its second game in the NIT - a 54-53 decision to Iowa.

Morgan came to Iowa State last summer after six years as head coach at Long Beach State, going 91-84. His 1999-2000 team finished 24-6 and won the Big West Conference championship.

Prior to that he spent 12 years as an assistant at Syracuse and held assistant coaching jobs at Xavier and Dartmouth.

Athletic director Bruce Van De Velde said details of Morgan's four-year contract could be worked out as early as the weekend. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"We were looking for someone with trust, honesty and integrity, a proven national recruiter with demonstrated success," Van De Velde said.

University president Gregory Geoffroy said Morgan has "made a commitment to me to always represent this university in a positive manner," he said.

"We've resolved a very difficult situation ... and we are able to move forward again," he added.

Van De Velde said the school was looking for a "player's coach, who can develop, teach and mentor."

Geoffroy said Morgan's hiring was well-received by the players.

"He was their first choice and they are very excited to play for him," he said.

Guard Jake Sullivan, who led the team in scoring last season with 17 points a game, said the players trust Morgan and believe he was the best candidate to move the team forward.

"He has the kind of system that excites players, and to get this program where it needs to be again," Sullivan said. "He's the right guy."

Point guard Tim Barnes, who supported Eustachy and initially said there was a chance he would not return if the coach left, said he is committed to playing for Morgan.

"I'm going to go out and play the same as I did for Larry 110 percent," Barnes said. "I'm pretty sure everyone is going to come back. Everybody loves Coach Morgan and everybody's glad to see him as head coach now and move on. Now we can just get back to playing as a team."

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