Heath Names Herrion

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas basketball coach Stan Heath tabbed former East Carolina head coach Bill Herrion to fill his staff vacancy on Monday.

Herrion, 47, who had a 70-98 record in six seasons with the Pirates, takes over the position formerly held by Rob Flaska, who became the head coach at Centenary last month.

Herrion, 47, joins assistants Ronny Thompson, Oronde Taliaferro and Darren Sorenson.

In three seasons, Heath has compiled a 39-47 record. The Razorbacks have not played in the postseason during his tenure. At 18-12, Arkansas qualified for an NIT bid last season, but Heath withdrew the Hogs from consideration, citing fatigue.

Herrion took Drexel to three straight NCAA Tournaments from 1994-96, knocking off Memphis in the first round in 1996 before losing to Oklahoma State, and averaged 21 wins.

"I'm very excited that Bill has joined our staff," said Heath through a statement while out of town Monday for a Dallas Razorback Club meeting. "His intensity and enthusiasm impressed me. I was looking for someone with experience and possibly with head coaching experience. He fits that criteria."

Heath and Herrion will be available this morning at a press conference in Bud Walton Arena.

Herrion did not return a message left at his Greenville, N.C., home on Monday.

Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles, who met with Heath to discuss candidates and is in the process of his annual review of the basketball program, is out of town until Friday, and was unavailable on Monday.

Herrion, who has a 237-169 career record, coached under Mike Jarvis at Boston University and George Washington before heading up the Drexel program for eight seasons, winning five America East titles from 1991-99 before taking the East Carolina job.

Herrion coached under Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson on the 1995 World Junior team and under former Stanford and current Golden State Warriors coach Mike Montgomery on the 22-under U.S. team in 1996.

Herrion's Drexel and East Carolina teams were known for strong rebounding and aggressive defense.

Last season, East Carolina was in the top half of Conference USA in rebounding (39.9, second), field-goal defense (41.6, seventh), rebounding margin (plus-3.2, fifth) and blocked shots (4.14, fourth).

Six-eight junior forward Corey Rouse led the conference in rebounding (10.2) and 6-10 senior center Moussa Badiane led the conference in blocked shots (2.78). Herrion's 2004 team led C-USA in rebounding margin (plus-5.1) and his 2002 team topped the league in blocked shots (4.67).

His Drexel teams led the league in rebounding three times, in rebounding margin four times, in scoring defense four times and in field-goal defense four times.

In Southeastern Conference games, Arkansas improved just 0.5 percent from 2004 in field-goal defense and was sixth in rebounding margin (minus-1.7). After leading the conference in field-goal defense during the nonconference season, Arkansas was eighth in SEC games (44.6 percent).

Heath joked last week that Hall of Fame former UCLA coach John Wooden was the only "magic assistant" who could make a dramatic change in his program after the Hogs lost five of six to close last season.

But he was serious in his statement Monday that Herrion should help Arkansas improve for next season.

"I expect him to make an immediate impact," Heath said. "His teams have a history of being hard-nosed on defense. He also loves being in the gym, so I can see him playing a key role with player development."

Herrion, a native of Worcester, Mass., and a 1981 graduate of Merrimack College, and his wife, Maureen, have two children: Catlin, 18, and Ryan, 14.

His brother, Tom, is the head coach at College of Charleston.

Herrion's late father, Jim, coached in the New York City Catholic League and at Holy Cross before becoming head coach at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

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