Patton Lands NIU Job

While CU is still searching for a head men's basketball coach, Ricardo Patton wasted little time in landing another job. Northern Illinois made it official Monday morning with the announcement Patton will take over the Huskies program.

Word continues to be that CU is waiting for Air Force to finish their season (they play in the second round of the NIT tonight) so they can further their discussions with Jeff Bzdelik about filling the men's basketball coach vacancy in Boulder.

If Bzdelik doesn't bite, other names floating through cyberspace connected with the search are UNLV's Lon Kruger and Old Dominion's Blaine Taylor.

One thing's clear: Patton won't be able to catch his breath. He's headed to DeKalb, Ill., to take over a program that fired its Rob Judson, who spent six years at the helm of the NIU program. Northern Illinois concluded a 7-23 season in 2006-07 with a loss in the first round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.

CU also bowed out of their conference tourney this season, and ended with a 7-20 mark. Patton announced he wouldn't seek or accept a contract extension at CU back in October. He left Boulder the second-winningest coach in program history.

On Monday, Patton received strong endorsement from his most famous pupil, Chauncey Billups, whom Patton recruited to Colorado and coached for a full season.

"Coach Patton is my favorite coach, he's really become almost like an older brother to me," Billups, the point guard for the Detroit Pistons, said. He's the reason I went to Colorado. I'm so happy he has this opportunity at Northern Illinois to coach because that is what he was put here to do.

"If you like someone who is honest, up front, who knows the game and will get the most out of your talent, then you will like playing for Coach Patton. He's not going to lie to you .

"He genuinely cares about his players and that is something that is hard to find. He's not just about what can you do to help the team win; he talks to you about things outside of basketball and he wants you to graduate and he doesn't just say that, he means it."

Former Big 12 coach Kelvin Sampson also chimed in, saying "Having coached against [Ricardo Patton] for 10 years in the Big 12, two things come to mind. Number one is he is a great, great, great person. And number two, he can coach. What he accomplished at Colorado is something special. That is one of the toughest places in the Big 12 to succeed and he did. I admire him so much as a person. They got a jewel."

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