MISSOULA — Former Montana point guard Travis DeCuire, who spent the last 11 years as an assistant to two former Griz coaches, was introduced Monday as the university’s men’s basketball coach.
“I identified Travis right away as a very strong candidate very early in the process,” said Montana athletic director Kent Haslam, who announced DeCuire’s hiring over the weekend. “I can tell you folks, the more I listened to him, the more impressed I became.”
“I can say this without a shadow of a doubt: We got our guy,” Haslam said.
The former associate head coach at Cal signed a three-year contract with a base salary of $140,000, the Missoulian reported. He succeeds Wayne Tinkle, another former Griz player who left after eight seasons to become head coach at Oregon State.
DeCuire said he had interviewed for other jobs after Mike Montgomery retired from Cal at the end of the season and had started those interviews by talking about his coaching experience.
“Now that I’ve gotten here to Missoula, I said you know what, this journey started in the summer of 1990 when Blaine Taylor recruited me here,” DeCuire said. “I thought he was just recruiting me to a winning program, but it’s bigger than that. When you look at the people I’m following, the coaching tree, we’re talking hall of famers, we’re talking champions, whether they won them here or at their next stop.”
He mentioned Jud Heathcote, who won a national championship with Magic Johnson at Michigan State; Montgomery, who in 1998 led Stanford to its first Final Four appearance in 56 years; current Utah State coach Stew Morrill along with Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak and Tinkle.
“I know I’ve got big shoes to fill,” DeCuire said. “We’ve set our goals high.”
Taylor gave DeCuire his first Division I coaching job at Old Dominion. DeCuire said he naively thought he knew everything about coaching because he had been a head coach at Green River Community College in Seattle and at Sammamish High School.
“I’ll never forget going on the floor before we played Georgetown and Taylor said: ‘Now I’m going to show you how to win a big game,'” DeCuire said. “And it happened, we upset Georgetown at Georgetown.”
DeCuire spent five years at Old Dominion followed by six at Cal, including the last two as associate head coach under Montgomery.
“It’s a great opportunity for Travis and the folks in Missoula and the state of Montana are going to love him,” Montgomery told UM officials in a phone interview. He said DeCuire was excited, prepared and “will work his tail off for you guys.”
DeCuire understands the game, knows the city and the university, knows what to look for in a player and will make sure his players stay on track and graduate, Montgomery said.
DeCuire said he has asked assistant Jono Metzger-Jones to stay on with the team.
Haslam also announced the Montana men will play at Cal in December.
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