Bulls introduce Whitesell as next head coach

The Jim Whitesell era has officially begun at UB

Jon Simon
April 08, 2019 - 3:38 pm

Photo: Paul Hokanson - UB Athletics

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University at Buffalo Athletic Director Mark Alnutt officially introduced Jim Whitesell as the Bulls’ new men’s basketball head coach on Monday morning. 

The news broke on Saturday morning that Whitesell would become the 14th head coach in program history, replacing Nate Oats, who left for the University of Alabama less than two weeks ago. Whitesell has been an assistant coach at UB for the last four seasons and was hired by Oats when he took over in 2015.

“We had close to 40 names,” Alnutt said when talking about the coaching search. “We wanted someone who is known to help players develop. Player development is key in this business. We wanted someone who understood the style of play we’ve utilized the last four to six years, and wants to continue to set that standard.”

Alnutt mentioned that the search committee got down to “about six” names they seriously considered to be “the right one,” but they ultimately choose Whitesell, in large part due to the familiarity with UB.

“I’ve been asked a lot if we’re going to keep the same style of play,” Whitesell said. “Oh yeah! We’re going to guard, we’re going to run, and we’re going to play that blue-collar style. Our fans want that and I want that. It’s been exciting and it’s grown every year.”

Whitesell added he’d be filling out the rest of his staff in the coming days. He said they’ll be adding a recruiting coordinator and a couple more assistant coaches.

Recruits and players on the current roster could be a concern when a team goes through a coaching change. Alnutt talked about how during the coaching search he communicated with the players to get their feedback on who or what they wanted in their next head coach.

“Familiarity with them was key,” Alnutt added. “In going through that process it was good dialog, they opened up and had conversations. It was very productive and I’m glad we had a chance to sit down and have those conversations.”

The entire team attended Monday’s press conference and echoed the support they showed towards Whitesell during the coaching search.

“We all had a conversation with Alnutt,” Jayvon Graves said. “I stayed around for an interview and a conversation one-on-one. We talked about what I wanted and what the team wanted. I thought coach Whitesell was the right choice.”

Dontay Caruthers, Jeremy Harris, CJ Massinburg, Montell McRae and Nick Perkins, the seniors that will be graduating in May all went to see Whitesell get introduced as well. While their on-court careers are over at UB, they wanted the program to be left in good hands and expressed how much they wanted Whitesell to take over.

“Coach Whitesell is the man,” Nick Perkins exclaimed. “He’s a guy with a lot of experience so he really knows what he’s doing. He’s been really key to our success here these last four years. Him and Oats were really two head coaches; they kind of played the same role. Whitesell does a good job developing players. They’re going to play a lot of defense, so expect those numbers to go up next year.”

The 59-year-old Whitesell has 34 years of coaching experience, including 24 as a head coach. Whitesell’s last head coaching job was at Loyola-Chicago, where he spent seven seasons (2004-11).

“I’m really excited about Tuesday,” Whitesell said. “We get back in the gym and we do what we do. We get back into working and we go back to earning what we’re doing. We’re back to 0-0, so we’re ready to go and develop the next chapter.”

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