FAU has found its next head basketball coach, and he brings serious credentials to Boca Raton.
FAU announced Monday that former NBA player and Detroit Pistons head coach Michael Curry has been hired as the Owls' eighth head coach at a press conference at FAU Stadium.
Curry will be FAU’s eighth coach. He replaces Mike Jarvis, who resigned at the end of the 2013-14 season. FAU went 10-22 last year — its first season in Conference USA — and 77-112 in five seasons under Jarvis.
Curry beat out North Carolina Central's LaVelle Moton and Florida assistant Matt McCall for the job.
“He differentiates us,” Chun said at a press conference in FAU Stadium Monday night. “No one had a profile like him.”
“I wanted to get into the college game, and If I could pick, it would be a program where I could build, and I could put a stamp on that program,” Curry said. “This [program] is in a stage which they’re craving for success, they’re craving to do things at a high level. And I get a chance to build it, to be the architect of the program."
Chun said that Curry’s leadership abilities — exemplified as an NBA player and echoed by Chun’s friends in the basketball world — sold him.
“Once I did my homework on Michael, it was compelling,” Chun said. “He’s in alignment with core values on what we’re trying to do… When I called around, there was a consistency. You can tell there’s a trust there, and that tells you he treats everyone the same way. “
Curry will inherit a team that finished fourth-to-last in Conference USA last season and will not return its top scorer, Pablo Bertone. Curry is expected to have two promising freshman guards — Marquan Botley (11 ppg) and D'Andre Johnson (6.4 ppg) — and forward Justin Raffington (10.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg) return.
While the X’s and O’s part of coaching is hardly a concern for Curry given his NBA head coaching experience, the 45-year-old will have little time to acclimate himself to college’s basketball’s recruiting scene.
“We have a short session before we bring in some other players,” Curry said. “One of the things I told our guys is that first we have to clean up our house.”
Chun said he isn’t concerned by Curry’s inexperience at the collegiate level.
After his NBA career ended, Curry became an assistant with the Detroit Pistons. He was promoted to head coach of the Pistons in 2008, and in his one year in that role, he led his team to the playoffs. He was fired after the 2008-2009 season, and after three years as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, Curry took the past year off to study the college game and its many nuances — both on and off the court.
“The way that he articulated his plan and the depths of the relationships he has with high school and AAU coaches, it alleviated all concerns,” Chun said.
Curry promised Monday that he would build a defensive-minded team whose offense starts in the post.
“In football, you have to win in the trenches. In basketball you have to win in the paint,” Curry said.
Curry, a Georgia native and graduate of Georgia Southern said he expects to have success recruiting the South — Florida, Georgia, South Carolina — and that the South Florida weather made FAU an easy sell for him.
“It seemed like all my offers in the NBA came from cold places,” Curry said with a laugh. “[My wife and I] were always sitting around, wondering if we’d ever get an offer from a warm-weather place. No better time than to get it now, when those 15 years of pro ball are wearing on my body. We’re in a warm place, but more importantly, I’m with a warm group of people that really believe in doing things the right way.”
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