Bradley hires Ford as new men's basketball coach

Bradley hires Ford as new men's basketball coach

Sunday, March 27, 2011
Posted 8:54 p.m.

CSNChicago.com

PEORIA, Ill. - Bradley has found its new men's basketball coach, announcing the hiring of Geno Ford Sunday night.

Ford, the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year the last two seasons at Kent State University, will become the 13th head coach in Bradley Basketball history.

"I am ecstatic to work at such a great institution with such a rich basketball history," said Ford in a statement released by the university. "The passionate Bradley fan base, academic excellence and exceptional facilities will give us an opportunity to compete at the highest levels of the Missouri Valley Conference.

"I am excited about the support for our program and the resources we have to achieve at the highest levels. The investments made in our program will give us a chance to achieve our maximum potential."

In his third season at Kent State, Ford, 36, became the first men's basketball coach to lead his team to consecutive, outright MAC regular-season titles in 48 years. After winning the 2009-10 title with a 13-3 league record, Ford won another MAC championship in 2010-11 with a 12-4 conference mark despite only returning three players.

Although the Golden Eagles didn't make the NCAA Tournament after losing in the MAC Tournament championship game, Kent State won NIT contests on both at Saint Mary's (Calif.) and Fairfield - before dropping an 81-74 decision at No. 1 seed Colorado in the quarterfinals to finish the season with a 25-12 overall record.

Ford went 68-37 in his three seasons at Kent State. Including previous head coaching stints at NAIA Shawnee State (22-10 in 2001-02) and NCAA Division III Muskingum (29-22 from 2005-07), Ford has a record of 119-69 in his six years as a head coach.

"Geno Ford met every quality that I was seeking in the head coach of Bradley Basketball," said Director of Athletics Dr. Michael Cross. "He has tremendous values, high basketball IQ, is a gifted and charismatic communicator, appreciates the educational quality of Bradley and has demonstrated he is a proven winner time and time again.

Ford will take over a Bradley program that finished 12-20 overall in 2010-11 and tied for ninth in the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season standings with a 4-14 league record. The Braves are expected to return nine lettermen and five of the top seven scorers for the 2011-12 season.

"Coach Ford is a perfect fit for Bradley and I have every confidence that our program will thrive under his leadership. I look forward to working with Geno on a daily basis and welcoming his family to the Peoria community."

Ford was a high-scoring guard for Ohio University from 1993-97, finishing his career as the fifth-leading scorer in school history with 1,752 points and earning second-team All-MAC honors in 1995-96 and first-team honors in 1996-97. He returned to his alma mater in 1998 as a graduate assistant and was promoted to assistant coach on the Bobcats staff in 1999.

In addition to finding success on the court, Ford's teams also have excelled beyond the hardwood. In his first year as Kent State head coach, his players combined for the program's best semester grade point average during the 2008 Fall semester and five of his student-athletes have been honored at the Judith K. Devine Athletic Academic Honors Dinner each of the last two years.

High School coaches 'leave no stone unturned' in helping players explore next level

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Photo at top: Loyola Academy assistant coach Paul Pryma extends his hand toward a Steinmetz High School player during pregame introductions on Feb. 21. (Andres Waters/MEDILL)

High School coaches 'leave no stone unturned' in helping players explore next level

By Andres Waters
Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

After Loyola Academy held off rival New Trier 43-40 to win the 2017 Zion-Benton regional championship, Ramblers head coach Tom Livatino had a special message for his players.

"That's the best celebration that I have ever been a part of," Livatino said. "Because everybody was completely about love. You guys love each other and we all can tell. I'm really, really proud just to be one of our coaches."

While the speech was a powerful way for Livatino to tell the players of his appreciation, he and other high school coaches engage in something much bigger to show players how proud they are: college recruiting.

In addition to time spent planning and practicing, coaches also sacrifice countless hours each week helping their players find opportunities to play at the next level.

"It's a really long part of the process, but to be honest, it's a part of the job that I absolutely love," Livatino said. "We demand so much of our players in every aspect. And, from a basketball standpoint, the least I could do is everything in my power to help them out."

Less than 48 hours after the Ramblers completed their season with a loss to Evanston Township in the Waukegan Sectional semifinal, Livatino was back in his office holding individual meetings with each player.

Starting with the 10 departing seniors, Livatino discussed the factors that go into choosing a college for high school athletes.

His conversations with the two players who already committed, senior guards Ramar Evans and Matt Lynch, focused on how they felt about their next steps. With the others, Livatino asked whether they wanted to play at the next level and, if so, which schools they wanted to attend that shared an interest in them. The conversations held with the Ramblers' juniors are very similar.

"I wasn't just looking for basketball, I was looking for a fit academically and socially," said Lynch, who committed to Division III St. Norbert College. "[Livatino] said St. Norbert would be the best fit for me. It fit everything I was looking for."

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.

From dunks to deliveries: Former No. 1 pick LaRue Martin's unlikely success story

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Photo at top: La Rue Martin poses for a photo at a National Basketball Retired Players Association event. (Photo courtesy of La Rue Martin)

From dunks to deliveries: Former No. 1 pick LaRue Martin's unlikely success story

By Elan Kane
Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

LaRue Martin Jr. thought his future was set. The Portland Trail Blazers had drafted him No. 1 overall in the 1972 NBA draft. Money and fame awaited.

Fifteen years later, he started work as a UPS driver, struggling to find uniform pants that fit his 6-foot-11 frame.

"There is life after sports," Martin said. "Period."

It's been 45 years since the draft and Martin, a former Loyola University star, is now the UPS Illinois district public affairs and community services manager. He is labeled by many as one of the biggest busts in NBA draft history, but he is fine with that designation.

"I don't believe in saying anything negative, you have no control over that," Martin said. "I took care of my family, did what I had to do and I'm the type of person I can't dwell off the negatives. I can't. I kept my head up high and moved onto a positive mode of life and it has treated me very well."

Martin averaged 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 14 minutes per game in just four seasons with the Trail Blazers. He blames his low numbers on his lack of playing time, but many believe he was just not good enough.

"He didn't get playing time because he [stunk]," said Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan, who has covered the NBA for decades. "[Former No. 1 overall draft pick Michael] Olowokandi didn't do much but I think he did more than that."

Martin is used to the criticism.

"As a young man, reading the papers all the time, that bothered me, I must admit that," Martin said. "But I hold my head up high now because I've been very successful in the corporate world."

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.