Pfeifer To Take Over Men's Basketball

This afternoon University of Idaho Athletics Director Rob Spear announced the hiring of GEORGE PFEIFER as Idaho's new Men's Basketball Head Coach. A head coach at Lewis & Clark State College for 16 years prior to joining the Idaho program last season as an assistant, he compiled a 296-208 record with the Warriors, including a 34-19 record in post-season competition.

After a 2-week search, the University of Idaho announced this afternoon in a press conference from the Moscow campus that current assistant coach George Pfeifer would be offered a 3-year contract (pending State Board approval), with a salary comparative to recent Idaho basketball head coaching salaries. Pfeifer spent one year on the Idaho staff as an assistant to previous Vandal head coach Leonard Perry, joining the Vandal program after serving 16 years as the head coach of NAIA Lewis & Clark State College (Lewiston, Idaho). While at LCSC, Pfeifer turned a previously dormant program into a perennial winner. Among his accomplishments at the NAIA school:

- Before taking over the program, LCSC had won just one post season game ever (in 1947). Under Pfeifer's watch, the Warriors went 34-19 in post-season competition.

- In his last six seasons, the Warriors went 140-56, and won back-to-back Frontier Conference titles in his last two seasons.

- In 2004-2005, his basketball team finished the season ranked 25th in the nation with a 22-8 record.

- In 2003-2004, his basketball team finished the season with a 31-6 record, and made the NAIA Sweet 16 in the National Tournament.

- He has recruited and coached 15 NAIA All-Americans as well as 17 Academic All-Americans.

- His NAIA teams beat Idaho (2000) and defeated Boise State by 14 points (1995). In all, he faced 26 NCAA Division I opponents while at L-C, including narrow losses to Washington State (by a last second one point loss in 2003, and by 5 points in 2004).

- Of the 75 men's basketball records held at L-C, Pfeifer coached teams have posted 51 of them.

With Pfeifer, the University of Idaho has hired a coach who understands recruiting in the northwest, how to rebuild a program, and the challenges facing the program immediately (having spent a year as an assistant already). He knows what positions on the roster need the most help immediately, and has been recruiting to fill those needs the past 2-weeks (along with current assistant Leroy Washington).

Below are excerpts from today's press conference:

From Athletic Director Rob Spear... "What we've done in this process has been very thorough. I've exhausted and turned over every stone. I've talked to people throughout the country, to NBA coaches, Division 1 head coaches, and I've talked to my contacts across the country. At the end of the day there was a common theme, and that theme was that you have a pretty good guy on your staff that really is well thought of in the basketball community. Somebody that understands Xs and Os, understands your environment at Idaho...someone that's an Idaho guy. So we ended up looking closer down the hall. We were very impressed when we interviewed our candidate. He came very prepared. He absolutely has the best vision and the best plan to move this institution and this athletic program forward. And I use the following analogy several times, in that when you're on an athletic team, the players understand who the best players are. And I can tell you in the coaching profession the coaches understand who the best coaches are. I want to thank a couple people who were very involved in this process. One obviously is our President. I also want to thank Bob Cowan who was very generous. And I also want to thank a legend, Don Monson, who has really helped throughout this process as well."

From Dr. Tim White, University of Idaho President... "George has clearly proven to be successful in recruiting student athletes to the inland Northwest. And he has clearly proven to be successful in winning with those athletes at every chance he has had. And now he has an opportunity at the University of Idaho. So George, we are looking forward to a long and successful tenure, and we look forward to having you as the coach of the University of Idaho mighty Vandals."

George Pfeifer regarding his vision of what needs to change within the basketball program... "What I think we have to do at the University of Idaho, and I feel very committed to this, is we have to create a blue print that we can recruit to. We have to find the kind of student-athlete that we can get here who will play a brand of basketball that is exciting for people to watch, yet make it more difficult for people to prepare for. Over 30 years I've seen a lot of different plans and different schemes, so I think there's a way to do it here. It might not look quite as traditional as other plans, but I think that's something we have to do. We obviously have to close the talent gap...that's a huge thing."

What type of player will he recruit... "We have a better access to forward type players who can face up and shoot, versus the traditional 6-9, 270-pound "park in the block" [type of player]. We're certainly going to look for those people, but in the short-term we need to find good basketball players. When you find good basketball players that can play, and understand how to play, you want to spread the court out. You want to give people an opportunity to create one-on-ones and share the basketball. As we recruit our basketball players, it will have a lot to do with what we do with how we script it and how we lay it out.

What about the talent gap between Idaho and it's competition... "We need to get better players. We have six younger players, I think, that I think are going to step up and help us in the future, but we need to get some people that can come in and help us right away. In the long-term we need to make sure we're getting freshmen and filling in each class so that we're not into a quick-fix two year type plan. But right away we need to get some people in here to help us win some games.

Similarities between recruiting to UI and LCSC... "LCSC hadn't won a playoff game since 1947. Every single job that I've ever had from High School to here has been a building say the least. I'm excited about this opportunity and what we're going to be able to do with it.

New recruits coming in... "We've signed Jason Ecford out of Chicago...and that's it. So as far as anybody that's signed on, that's it. But, like I said, we've talked to quite a few people who have indicated that if this is the scenario that's going to take place, they're going to become Vandals. We're more than excited about that.

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