Jirsa Named New MU Basketball Coach

Ron Jirsa was officially hired as head coach of the Marshall men's basketball program on Monday. The announcement came at a news conference broadcast live on local television and radio stations. Such was the hubbub surrounding the arrival of Jirsa to Huntington.

The 43 year-old Jirsa succeeds former coach Greg White, who left earlier in June for a position at the University of Charleston.

Coach Ron Jirsa laid out his plans for the Marshall program, right from the start. "We need to have balance in the things we can have balance in at first, defense and effort-wise," Jirsa said. "Every man doing his job. When you've got that mentality, then we can go into the 'icing on the cake'."

Jirsa comes to Huntington fresh off four years as an assistant under Oliver Purnell at Dayton. In April of this year, Purnell took the head coaching job at Clemson and Jirsa along with him. Prio to that, Jirsa was head coach at Georgia from 1997-99 and an associate head coach under Tubby Smith at Tulsa.

Ron Jirsa donned the green jacket after being named Marshall's new men's basketball coach.

Jirsa's 35-30 record as head coach at Georgia included two NIT appearances, where he won four games and lost two. He also brings NCAA tournament experience, having been to the tournament nine times (two at Dayton, one at Georgia, five at Tulsa and one at VCU). Six conference titles and two top-five recruiting classes are also highlights of Jirsa's resume'.

Marshall athletics director Bob Marcum was ecstatic with the choice of Jirsa. "I was very fortunate that the best contacted me about the job," Marcum said after introducing Jirsa to the Huntington community. "All the people that we interviewed…there were many, many recommendations on the phone and so forth directly involving them."

"But he (Jirsa) knew about us. He said right off, 'I want to be the head basketball coach at Marshall University'. He wants us, now it's our responsibility to sell him on what we had to offer."

University of Kentucky coach Tubby Smith -whom Jirsa served under at both Georgia and Tulsa- had nothing but praise for his protege'. "I am so proud of Ron," Smith said on Monday morning. "Marshall has gotten a coach with tremendous work ethic and values that is a proven winner."

"His personality will set him apart."

Jirsa has already met with current members of the Marshall program, and the overall outlook seems to be positive. Just ask forward Marvin Black. "We talked to him like we've known him forever," Black said on Monday after the announcement. "Look at his track record. It speaks for itself. I'm very delighted with Mr. Marcum's decision."

New Marshall coach Ron Jirsa now faces a short summer in preparing his team for the upcoming 2003-04 season. Still, he's excited about getting to work in Huntington. "We're going to do exactly what we have done in the past. But, we're going to study our team and know each player's strengths and weaknesses going in, and seeing how they fit," Jirsa summed up.

"I was impressed with the guys, as far as their want to, right now."

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