Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Peters new UC decision maker


Huggins aide assumes interim coach title

By Bill Koch
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Dan Peters hasn't been a head coach since he left Youngstown State in 1999 to become the associate head coach at the University of Cincinnati, but he hasn't forgotten what the job is like.

"The one thing I know from being a head coach is that every time you make a decision you affect somebody," Peters said. "It's kind of easy being an assistant sometimes. You can make suggestions but you're not the one making the final decision."

He is now.

Peters, 49, was named interim head basketball coach Monday by UC athletic director Bob Goin for as long as head coach Bob Huggins' indefinite paid suspension lasts. Huggins was suspended Saturday after being arrested on a drunken driving charge last week.

How Peters, along with assistant coaches Andy Kennedy and Keith LeGree perform during the next few months could be crucial for the UC program as it goes about the business of securing its first recruiting class for the Bearcats' 2005-06 debut in the Big East Conference.

"I just know that we've got to recruit kids that are at a very, very high level," Peters said.

Peters, considered the logical choice to fill in during Huggins' absence, learned Monday morning that he would receive the title of interim head coach.

Goin said Peters will have full responsibility for the program and that he will receive an increase in salary that has not been determined yet.

But Goin plans to have more input in the daily operation of the program.

"It's going to be direct supervision by me," Goin said. "Dan will report directly to me on all issues."

Peters has a 237-140 record in 14 seasons as a head coach at Walsh (Ohio) College, St. Joseph's (Ind.) and Youngstown State. He has had eight 20-win seasons as a head coach.

But he has not been involved in off-campus recruiting since he left Youngstown State in 1999.

"I hope to get out and look," Peters said. "The summertime is an evaluation period. In the summertime you're just trying to figure out who you would like to recruit and what the interest is, then in the fall (Sept. 9-Oct. 5) comes the recruiting part, at least the contact part of it.

"I haven't done that in a while, but you've got a tremendous product here to sell - the success of this program, the support, the interest in it and the Big East."

Peters said he planned to talk to all of UC's players, most of whom are out of town, either Monday night or today.

"We need our players to do their end," Peters said. "They have responsibilities whether coach Huggins is here or not and they need to live up to those responsibilities."

Point guard Chadd Moore, on campus working the Bob Huggins Summer Camp, said he's confident Peters will do a good job.

"He's a good coach," Moore said. "He teaches you all the fundamentals and he lets you play. I think it'll go pretty smooth."

Moore also said the players continue to support Huggins.

"We're sticking behind him 100 percent," Moore said, "the whole team."

If Huggins' suspension lasts beyond the start of the season, Peters will be responsible for conducting practice, as well as making decisions about playing time and style of play.

"Every year you kind of tweak your offense and your defense based on your personnel," Peters said. "We've got three or four new guys coming in, so we'll see how they fit in and see what improvements our guys coming back have made. But I'm sure we'll be doing something very similar."

But Peters' approach - and perhaps the atmosphere around the program - is likely to be different than it was under Huggins because they have different personalities.

"I think Huggs is more laid back off the court than Dan is," LeGree said. "But Huggs is more fiery on the court. It's probably easier for me to talk to Dan, because I've talked to him as an assistant coach for four years, side by side. There are some things you can say to the assistants that you can't say to the head coach. I think he'll do a real good job."

---

E-mail: bkoch@enquirer.com




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