Two long-time coaches weigh in on WSU's Marty Lees

THE BASEBALL COACHING SEARCH at Washington State took all of nine days, suggesting that the switch in leadership had been in the works for several weeks or more. But whether it took nine days or 90 days to hire Marty Lees, a pair of longtime Pac-12 coaches -- including the man he’s replacing -- offered enthusiastic endorsements today for WSU's new man.

"I am excited for the opportunity that Marty Lees and his family have at Washington State. He is a hard worker who is well deserving of this opportunity,” Oregon State head man Pat Casey texted CF.C after Lees was officially named the 15th coach in WSU baseball history

Lees, who helped Casey win two national titles in Corvallis, was long thought to be the head coach in waiting at Oregon State under Casey before he left to join Josh Holliday at Oklahoma State in June 2012.

Donnie Marbut, who was released as the Cougars' head coach last week after 11 seasons at the helm, also has known Lees a long time and offered high praise for him.

“Marty will do a fantastic job. He’ll recruit anybody, anywhere. It doesn’t matter where they come from, he’ll recruit them,” said Marbut.

Nobody knows the current WSU roster better than Marbut and when asked if he would have any advice for Lees, Marbut brought up two points.

“I would pray that he would evaluate (assistant coaches) Gregg Swenson and Joe Ross,” said Marbut. “Those coaches are fantastic and my dismissal had nothing to do with them. We had the best team I ever had coming back this next year and it had everything to do with those two guys. I know it’s not typical to keep a staff but if Marty kept Gregg Swenson and Joe Ross, they would really hit the ground running.”

Marbut praised Lees’ recruiting prowess but noted even the best recruiters in the game need the tools to keep up with Joneses.

“What I hope for the program is that they’ll build Marty a facility and give him the bullets to win consistently. They’ve made a great hire, now they’ve got to match their facilities with the great hire,” said Marbut.

MARBUT SAID it will be intriguing going forward to see how Lees, who was in Corvallis for 11 years, recruits in-state and in the Pacific Northwest.

“If you look at Washington State, no school in the Northwest has more guys from their state than we do. It’s the best team I ever had that’s coming back and with the group that’s coming in. And I know Marty will continue to mine this area but will not be afraid to leave the area either (to find talent),” said Marbut.

Where might some of those territories be?

“He had great connections at Oregon State in the Northern California area – they did a great job in Sacramento,” said Marbut. “Oregon State became a national brand so he had lots of contacts. Oklahoma State, I don’t know that they’re a national brand but I know he recruited kids there that would like to be part of the Pac-12. Those are all great things in his favor.”

Lees is an Oregon native and a graduate of Western Oregon.

With this being Lees’ first head coaching job, it’s tough to make predictions about the coaching philosophy he might employ on the Palouse.

“I just know he’s a good baseball coach,” said Marbut. “And most good baseball coaches in general have a philosophy but they’ll also adapt to the personnel that they have. If you’re a good, smart baseball coach you do those things and Marty is a good, smart baseball coach. They’re getting a proven Division I assistant who is a tireless recruiter.”

At both Oregon State and Oklahoma State, Lees’ duties included working with the infielders. At Washington State, he has some great tools to work with, said Marbut.

“Marty is a fantastic infield coach and with that nucleus of Shane Matheny at third and Jack Strunc, Tyler McDowell -- and then you look at the young outfielders, they’ll take these guys to the next level that I know they were going to go to regardless,” said Marbut.

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