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Posted June 7, 2011

U Of Alaska Selects Mick Durham As Head Coach

FAIRBANKS — Former Montana State head coach Mick Durham, an assistant coach at New Mexico State for the past three seasons, has been selected as the Alaska Nanooks men’s basketball head coach, athletic director Forest Karr announced Monday afternoon.

Durham replaces Clemon Johnson, who resigned at the end of last season to take the head coaching position at NCAA Division I Florida A&M, his alma mater.

“I really wanted to be a head coach again, so when I saw coach Johnson leave, I thought it would be a really good fit,” Durham said from Las Cruces, N.M. Monday evening. “I’ve lived in Montana for most of my life, so I guess you could say I’m kind of a cold-weather guy..”

Karr said he was excited a man with such a strong coaching background has joined the Nanooks staff.

“Mick has significant experience and has been very successful coaching at a high level,” Karr said. “He is the kind of coach that any parent would want their son to play for.”

After eight seasons as an assistant coach at Montana State, Durham took over the Golden Bobcats program in 1990 and was at the helm through 2006. After taking a two-year hiatus from coaching, he returned as an assistant coach at New Mexico State for the past three seasons.

“I just needed a break,” Durham said. “My son had two years to play at Montana State and my daughter had two years left in high school, so I just took some time off to watch my son play and be with them.”

In his 16 years at Montana State, Durham had the second most victories and second-longest coaching tenure in school history.

His 246 careers wins ranks first in the Big Sky Conference. Durham was named Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year in 1996, 2002 and 2005. He led the Bobcats to the 1996 NCAA Tournament and guided Montana State to the 1996 and 2002 Big Sky regular season championship and the 1996 Big Sky Tournament title.

“I’m very excited and looking forward to the opportunity to be the head basketball coach at UAF and competing in the GNAC,” Durham said. “I was very impressed with the commitment the university is making to basketball on my visit to Fairbanks.”

Durham said he wants to get basketball fans in the community and students on campus involved with the program.

“I want us to have a fun team to watch,” he said. “I like fast-breaking teams with unselfish players who are willing to play hard-nosed defense. You have to be able to defend if you want to have a chance to win.”

The Nanooks went 28-74 overall and 14-54 in the GNAC under Johnson, after having a run of several successful seasons under the direction of Al Sokaitis and Frank Ostanik.

“I’m not looking back at what may or may not have happened, I’m looking forward,” Durham said. “I’ll be going full bore ahead to see what we can do. I don’t like losing.”

Durham said he wanted to bring more Alaskans into the Nanooks program.

“I want to get the best Alaska kids we can get into the program, then supplement them with kids from the Northwest and junior college kids who fit into what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said. “It was a formula we used in Montana and it worked out well.’

Durham brought Montana State teams to the BP Top of the World Classic, the Nanooks’ NCAA Division I tournament, in 1999 and 2005. 

“I have fond memories of my two trips to the Top of the World Classic and the excitement it created and all the community involvement it took,” Durham said. “I saw the potential the UAF program has.”

Durham said that Eric Stang will be retained as his assistant coach.

“He’s done a good job of holding things together,” Duirham said. “He has paid his dues in this profession and really grown. I believe we can really work well together.”

Durham will be introduced to the public at 4 p.m. June 21 in the Nanook Lounge in the Patty Center.

The final terms of Durham’s contract are pending a background check, according to the official press release.

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