Given James Johnson’s head-coaching inexperience, many have surmised that he will include a former big whistle on his Virginia Tech basketball staff. If so, here’s a possibility:
Navy associate head coach Kurt Kanaskie.
Kanaskie has worked the last eight years, seven at Penn State and one at Navy, for Ed DeChellis. He and Johnson were co-workers at Penn State during the 2004-05 season, and sources say there is a mutual interest.
Prior to Penn State, Kanaskie was a head coach for 18 years, the first three at Lock Haven ( Pa.) State, followed by eight at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He guided both to the NCAA Division II tournament, Indiana to the 1996 national semifinals, and compiled a 207-107 record.
Kanaskie then coached Drake of the Missouri Valley Conference and resigned in 2003 after seven consecutive losing seasons produced a 62-136 record.
If Johnson, a career assistant hired last week to replace the fired Seth Greenberg, prefers a seasoned coach with extensive Virginia and ACC ties, he would be wise to consider Missouri assistant Ernie Nestor.
A former head coach at George Mason (1988-93) and Elon (2003-09), Nestor worked as an assistant at Wake Forest (twice), James Madison, California, South Carolina and Penn State, the latter under DeChellis.
Nestor’s George Mason teams were 68-81, and in 1989 he coached the Patriots to their first Colonial Athletic Association championship and NCAA tournament bid. He was 67-117 at Elon.
Nestor worked 10 years for Dave Odom, first at Wake Forest and then at South Carolina. He was on the staff when the Tim Duncan-led Deacons won consecutive ACC championships in 1995 and ’96.
Full disclosure: Nestor and I go back to the late 1970s, when I was a student at JMU and he was an assistant to Lou Campanelli.
Here's Nestor's bio at Mizzou's website.
As mentioned in a previous post, College of Charleston assistant Mark Byington also is a candidate to join Johnson’s Hokies staff. The pair worked together at Charleston during the 2002-03 season.
Byington confirmed to the Roanoke Times’ Mark Berman this week that he has interviewed with Johnson and remains interested. Moreover, the Charleston Post and Courier’s Gene Sapakoff has tweeted (@Sapakoff) that he expects the move to happen.
Lunch hour update:
Surfing online I discovered another assistant basketball coach whose background might be ideal for James Johnson’s Virginia Tech staff: Roanoke native Ramon Williams.
An All-Southern Conference guard at VMI, Williams spent the last three years working for John Groce at Ohio, which this past season reached the Sweet 16. Groce subsequently left to coach the University of Illinois and hired Williams in an administrative role.
Previously, Williams coached under Jerry Wainwright at DePaul and Richmond. He also spent nine seasons at VMI as first an assistant coach and later the associate head coach.
Williams graduated from VMI in 1990 and played there with his twin, Damon. Ramon scored 1,630 points, which then ranked third in Keydets’ history.
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