Molinari hired as assistant men's basketball coach

Molinari brings plenty of lofty credentials to the Gophers program. Will it be enough to help revitalize the program?

Finally, something seems to be going right with the University of Minnesota men's basketball program.

Within a day of finding out that Roderick Trice, a 6-4 guard from Georgia Perimeter CC, will attend South Carolina, the team may have solved its future recruiting woes by naming Jim Molinari (Mole-in-AIR-ee) an assistant coach. Molinari replaces Mike Petersen, who was hired by Wake Forest University to be its women's basketball coach.

Molinari comes to Minnesota with some pretty lofty credentials. For the past two seasons Molinari has been an NBA scout for the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat. Prior to his stint with the Heat, Molinari enjoyed a 24-year career as a collegiate head and assistant coach at the Division I level. For 11 seasons, he was the head coach at Bradley University, where he amassed a 176-150 (.540) record and guided his team to the postseason six times - five NIT appearances and a trip to the 1996 NCAA Tournament. From 1989-1991, he was the head coach at Northern Illinois University, where he posted a record of 42-17 and won the 1991 Mid-Continent Conference title. His 13-year head coaching record stands at 218-167 (.566).

"I feel extremely fortunate to have Coach Molinari join our staff," said Monson. "He brings a wealth of experience as a recruiter and a coach, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Along with his impressive academic track record, he is a great fit for our program."

A two-time conference coach of the year — 1991 Mid-Continent Conference at Northern Illinois and 1996 Missouri Valley at Bradley — Molinari's coaching success was built on defense. While averaging better than 17 wins per season, Molinari's teams finished among the nation's top 24 defensive squads 10 times. In his two years at NIU, his teams finished fifth and second respectively in team defense on the national level. In his first nine years at Bradley, the team placed among the nation's leaders in all but two seasons for either fewest points allowed per game or field goal percentage allowed. In addition, Molinari graduated nearly 90 percent of his student-athletes during his head coaching career, and while at Bradley, 24 out of 26 senior student-athletes received their degrees.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to join Coach Monson and his staff at the University of Minnesota," said Molinari. "Dan has a great deal of respect in coaching circles and the University is an outstanding academic and athletic institution in a tremendous conference. I look forward to getting started."

Molinari earned his bachelor's degree in English from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1977 and earned a Juris Doctor in 1980. His college basketball playing career began at Kansas State, where he teamed with current UNLV head coach Lon Kruger for two seasons. After transferring to Illinois Wesleyan, where he teamed with former NBA center Jack Sikma, Molinari helped the Titans win consecutive league titles (1975-77), before entering the coaching profession in 1978 as a part-time assistant with DePaul.

After the beginning of the 1979-80 season, Molinari was elevated to a full-time assistant and helped both Ray and Joey Meyer return the Blue Demon program to national prominence. Throughout the next 10 seasons at DePaul, Molinari helped recruit college and professional stars such as Mark Aguire, Dallas Comegys, Tyrone Corbin, Terry Cummings and Rod Strickland — players who led DePaul to nine NCAA Tournaments and a runner-up finish in the NIT.

In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, Molinari is a veteran of national selection committees for international competition. Molinari led the 1997 USA Basketball men's team to a gold medal at the World University Games played in Trapani, Italy.

Molinari and his wife, Carol, have four children: sons Mark, Billy and David and daughter, Joy. He will begin his duties at the U immediately.

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