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Army hires ex-Cornell assistant Spiker as coach

CBSSports.com reports Zach Spiker has been hired as men’s basketball coach at Army.

I don’t know Zach Spiker, at all.  I don’t know anyone who knows him… but I love to see an athletic department take a chance.  Zach Spiker isn’t a household name, he has never been a head coach and if this job wasn’t open in September – he probably doesn’t get it.

Fantastic! So many coaches never get a shot, or get a chance this early in their career because of perception.

We’re not talking about surgery… it’s coaching basketball, building relationships, working your tail off.  Don’t lose your mind coaches, I’m one of you… us… but, you know what I am saying.

This choice looks like a great fit.  We all talk about “fit.”  He’s young and will probably work like a dog (will also be thankful for the opportunity to be a DI head coach at 30), he has a non-scholarship recruiting background, he has an academic recruiting background and has been around good people.

I have always believed that an athletic director’s “National Championship” is the press conference.  I had an AD tell me once, “I have to stand up there (at the press conference) and convince our alumni, the media, our board of directors that the person I introduce is going to turn this all around.”

That to me says, once they introduce you – it’s on you – get it done.

Zach Spiker

Zach Spiker

Spiker had served as an assistant at Cornell under Steve Donahue and helped the Big Red to upper-division finishes in the Ivy League each of his five seasons there.

Spiker was involved in recruiting at Cornell, which won consecutive Ivy League titles the past two seasons, including a 14-0 conference mark in 2007-08. It marked the first back-to-back league titles for Cornell in school history, and the first time a team other than Penn or Princeton won consecutive Ivy League championships.

Spiker, a native of Morgantown, W.Va., also served as an administrative assistant under former coach John Beilein. Spiker replaces Jim Crews, who was fired just over a week ago after seven losing seasons.

With Spiker on the sidelines, Cornell closed its 2007-08 season by setting school records for wins (22) and consecutive wins (16), while also establishing marks for season points and 3-pointers made, as well as free-throw percentage. Cornell became the 13th team in conference history to finish with a perfect league slate (14-0) and was the first non-Penn or Princeton team to accomplish that feat.

Spiker was part of a 2006-07 club that won 16 games and finished third in the Ivy League with nine wins, surpassing the previous year’s total.  He also assisted in the development of All-Ivy selection Andrew Naeve.

In 2005-06, Spiker helped the Big Red to its second-consecutive winning season in Ancient Eight play for the first time in 18 years.

Spiker joined the staff in June 2004, returning to Ithaca after spending the previous two seasons at West Virginia, where he served as an administrative assistant under head coach John Beilein, helping the team to a pair of Big East tournament appearances and an invitation to participate in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in 2003-04. While in Morgantown, Spiker was responsible for managing on-campus recruiting visits, opponent scouting, post game film breakdown and overseeing the team’s daily event schedules.  Being around John Beilein for any amount of time, Spiker improved.  John Beilein knows how to win at every level, with what ever talent he has.

Prior to joining the Mountaineer staff, Spiker served from 2000-02 as a graduate assistant coach at Winthrop University under head coach Gregg Marshall, helping the Eagles advance to a pair of NCAA tournaments after winning the Big South tournament in successive seasons. 

While at Winthrop, Spiker was responsible for team travel, film exchange, directing camps, coordinating recruiting mailouts and managing on-campus visits. He created the school’s first coaching clinic and the team camp.

Spiker played two seasons of basketball at Ithaca College before serving as a student assistant coach as a senior, helping lead the Bombers to the 2000 ECAC championship, the first such basketball title in school history.

Spiker graduated from Ithaca College in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and earned a master’s degree in sport management from West Virginia in the spring of 2004.

Spiker and his wife, Jennifer have a son, Charlie.

The next 100 days will be baptism by fire for this young coach.  I can’t wait to see what is happening in West Point, NY a couple months and years down the road.

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