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Missouri State University President Dr. Micheal Nietzel and Athletic Director Bill Rowe introduced Cuonzo Martin as the University's new men's head basketball coach Wednesday morning. Martin, who has played both collegiate and professional basketball, has been the assistant coach at Purdue University for the past eight seasons. KSMU's Greg Leuthen has more.
Anxious alumni and media members greeted Missouri State University's new men's head basketball coach, Cuonzo Martin, with a standing ovation in the Alumni Lounge of the Hammon's Student Center. Many people in the room had been buzzing with excitement for over half an hour. Even Doug Elgin, the Commissioner of the Missouri Valley Conference, came to welcome Martin and his wife, Roberta, and express his approval of the way the University went about its search for a new coach.
Martin, who grew up in East St. Louis, says that he and his wife feel that this is a great opportunity for their family.
Dr. Michael Nietzel, the President of Missouri State University, says that he and Athletic Director Bill Rowe had seven criteria that they wanted the new men's basketball coach to have, which included fitting in well with the local community.
Some of the other criteria were that the candidate have a strong affiliation with a premiere Division I program, recent postseason success, and strong graduation rates.
Cuonzo Martin fits all the criteria.
At Purdue, he helped his team advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament each of the past two years. Purdue also had one of the four highest graduation rates out of the 65 schools in this year's men's basketball tournament. But that's all in the past now, and Martin says that his focus is on building a team that plays hard for Missouri State and its fans.
As a basketball player, Martin ranks as #11 on Purdue's all time scoring list. He also spent time in the NBA playing for the Milwaukee Bucks and Vancouver Grizzlies.