By David Brandt
AP Sports Writer
HATTIESBURG – New Southern Mississippi coach Doc Sadler says he’s ready to lead the Golden Eagles to the NCAA tournament.
The school announced the hiring Wednesday and had a news conference on campus Thursday. Sadler says the Golden Eagles are in position for immediate success after 56 victories and two trips to NIT over the past two seasons.
“I know you guys had a good team last year, but we’re going to the NCAA tournament dude,” the 53-year-old Sadler said with a grin. “I don’t care anything about winning a lot of games. I care about one thing — playing in the NCAA tournament.”
Sadler coached Nebraska for six seasons from 2006-12, leading the Cornhuskers to three appearances in the NIT. He was an assistant at Iowa State last season, helping the Cyclones win 28 games and make the NCAA tournament’s Sweet 16.
He also coached UTEP for two seasons, leading the Miners to the NCAA tournament in 2005.
Southern Miss athletic director Bill McGillis says Sadler “is a fabulous person and a fabulous coach.” He replaces Donnie Tyndall, who left after two seasons for Tennessee.
Sadler inherits a Southern Miss program that is in the midst of arguably the best three-year run in school history.
The Golden Eagles made the NCAA tournament in 2012 under then-coach Larry Eustachy, who left for Colorado State after that season. Eustachy was replaced by Tyndall, who won 27 games and 29 games, respectively, over two seasons and took Southern Miss to the NIT quarterfinals each season.
Now Sadler wants to get them back to the NCAA tournament.
Southern Miss should have a nucleus of talented returners like guards Aaron Brown and Matt Bingaya, who were an important part of last year’s team.
“I couldn’t be happier for Doc, but we will miss him greatly here at Iowa State. Much of our success this past year was because of Doc’s influence on our team,” Hoiberg said in a statement released by Southern Miss. “Southern Miss is getting an excellent basketball coach and an even better person who will do special things for the program.”
Sadler has a 149-107 record as a Division I head coach over eight seasons at UTEP and Nebraska.
Sadler was also a candidate for the Southern Miss job in 2012 when Tyndall was hired. He comes to the Golden Eagles with a defensive reputation, but said he’s learned much about offense after working with Hoiberg for a season.
The Cyclones were fifth in the nation in scoring last season.