Kevin O'Neill Named USC Men's Basketball Head Coach
June 20, 2009
WATCH MONDAY'S (JUNE 22) LIVE PRESS CONFERENCE ON USCTROJANS.COM -- NOON PACIFIC TIME
Kevin O'Neill, who has 13 years of collegiate and NBA head coaching experience, has been named the men's basketball head coach at USC, Trojan athletic director Mike Garrett announced today (June 20).
"We're thrilled to have Kevin O'Neill as our men's basketball coach," said Garrett. "Kevin is the consummate coach. He knows his Xs and Os, he's an excellent recruiter and he is very in tune with the academic side of a player's collegiate experience. His 30 years of experience at the college and professional levels has prepared him well for this opportunity. I love his coaching philosophy and principles: he's a no-nonsense coach who is very detail-oriented and prepares his teams well. He stresses defense and I've always believed that defense wins championships."
Said O'Neill: "I'm very excited about this opportunity to coach at such a great institution as USC, with its tremendous athletic and academic tradition. I appreciate Mike Garrett's confidence in me. I will work my hardest to coach us to a championship level every single day. I can't wait to get started."
He takes over for Tim Floyd, who resigned on June 9 after 4 seasons at USC. The Trojans won at least 20 games and made the NCAA tourney in each of the last 3 seasons, both school records.
O'Neill, 52, has worked in the basketball coaching ranks for 30 years, most recently spending the 2009 season as an assistant coach and special assistant to the general manager of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies.
He began his NCAA Division I collegiate head coaching career at Marquette, where he went 86-62 (.581) in 5 seasons (1990-94) and had 3 post-season appearances. His initial 1990 team went 15-14 and played in the NIT (the school's first winning season and post-season trip since 1987). His 1993 squad was 20-8 (Marquette's first 20-win season since 1985) and captured the school's first NCAA berth since 1983. That season, he was named the Great Midwest Conference Co-Coach of the Year, Basketball Weekly Midwest Coach of the Year and National Association of Basketball Coaches District 11 Coach of the Year and he was a finalist for Associated Press National Coach of the Year. He then went 24-9 in 1994, helped Marquette to its first-ever league title and guided the Warriors to their first NCAA Sweet Sixteen berth since 1979. He was selected as the 1994 Great Midwest Coach of the Year and NABC District 11 Co-Coach of the Year. His final 2 Marquette teams led the nation in defensive field goal percentage. While at Marquette, he was featured in the 1994 Oscar-nominated documentary, "Hoop Dreams."
He then became Tennessee's head coach for 3 years (1995-97), inheriting a team that had won just 5 games in 1994 and getting the Volunteers into the NIT tourney by his second season.
He next was the head coach at Northwestern for 3 seasons (1998-2000), where he went 30-56. The 1999 Wildcats team was 15-14 (their first winning season since 1994) and played in the NIT, just the third post-season appearance in school history.
O'Neill then went to the NBA as an assistant coach, spending 2001 with the playoff-bound New York Knicks and then 2 seasons (2002-03) with the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons won 50 games, were the Central Division champs and appeared in the playoffs both seasons (advancing to the Eastern Conference finals in 2003) and were regarded among the NBA's premier defensive teams.
He served as the Toronto Raptors' head coach in 2004. His team started out 25-25 and was in position to make the NBA playoffs, but then injuries struck and the team finished with a 33-49 record, just missing a playoff spot.
He spent the next 3 years (2005-07) with the Indiana Pacers, the first 2 as an assistant as the club made the NBA playoffs both seasons and the third as a consultant.
O'Neill was named interim head coach at Arizona for the 2008 season when Lute Olson took a leave of absence. His Wildcats went 19-15 and made the NCAA tourney.
O'Neill began his coaching career as the head coach at Central High in Hammond, N.Y. in 1980, then spent the next 2 years (1981-82) as the head coach at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake, N.Y. He was the head coach at the NAIA's Marycrest College in Davenport, Ia., in 1983.
He then became an assistant coach at Delaware for 2 seasons (1984-85), Tulsa in 1986 and Arizona for 3 years (1987-89) before landing the head coaching job at Marquette. Tulsa won the 1986 Missouri Valley Conference tournament and made the NCAAs. Arizona captured the Pac-10 title and Pac-10 Tournament crown in both 1988 and 1989 (it finished second in the 1987 league standings) and advanced to the NCAAs all 3 seasons (including to the Final Four in 1988).
O'Neill was a 3-year (1976-79) basketball letterman at McGill University in Montreal, helping the Redmen to a 52-38 (.598) mark in his career. In his 1978 junior season, McGill posted a school-record 28 wins and advanced to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship tournament.
He received his bachelor's degree in education from McGill in 1979 and his master's degree in secondary education from Marycrest in 1983.
He was born on Jan. 24, 1957, in Malone, N.Y. His wife's name is Roberta. He has a son, Sean.
KEVIN O'NEILL'S YEAR-BY-YEAR HEAD COACHING RECORD (NCAA DIVISION I AND NBA ONLY)
1990 Marquette 15-14 9-5 3rd NIT First Round
1991 Marquette 11-18 7-7 5th tie --
1992 Marquette 16-13 5-5 3rd tie --
1993 Marquette 20-8 6-4 NA NCAA First Round
1994 Marquette 24-9 10-2 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
5-Year Total 86-62 (.581) 37-23 (.617) Midwestern Collegiate/Great Midwest
1995 Tennessee 11-16 4-12 6th East --
1996 Tennessee 14-15 6-10 5th tie East NIT First Round
1997 Tennessee 11-16 4-12 6th East --
3-Year Total 36-47 (.434) 14-24 (.368) Southeastern
1998 Northwestern 10-17 3-13 9th tie --
1999 Northwestern 15-14 6-10 8th NIT First Round
2000 Northwestern 5-25 0-16 11th --
3-Year Total 30-56 (.349) 9-39 (.188) Big Ten
2004 Toronto Raptors 33-49 -- 6th Central --
1-Year Total 33-49 (.402)
2008 Arizona 19-15 (.559) 8-10 7th NCAA First Round
1-Year Total 19-15 (.559) 8-10 (.444) Pacific-10
12-Year Collegiate Total 171-180 (.487) 68-96 (.415)
TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO STATEMENT FROM USC ATHLETIC DIRECTOR MIKE GARRETT
Hello. I'm Mike Garrett, athletic director for the University of Southern California. I am pleased to announce that Kevin O'Neill of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies will be joining the Trojan family as our new head men's basketball coach.
Coach O'Neill, who spent this past season as an assistant coach and special assistant to the general manager of the Grizzlies, has 13 years of collegiate and NBA head coaching experience.
Kevin is the consummate coach. He knows his Xs and Os, he's an excellent recruiter and he is very in tune with the academic side of a player's collegiate experience. He's a no-nonsense coach who is very detail-oriented and prepares his teams well. And he stresses defense -- another philosophy we share since I've always believed that defense wins championships.
His 30 years of experience at the college and professional levels has prepared him well for this opportunity.
But it is not just me who feels this way about Kevin.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal last year called Coach O'Neill a defensive guru, an X's and O's genius who has resuscitated college programs.
It went on to say, "He led Marquette to a pair of NCAA tournament berths. At Tennessee, after inheriting a program in shambles, he laid the foundation for four straight 20-win seasons by the time he departed. And as an assistant with the Detroit Pistons, he was instrumental in crafting the team's reputation as a defense-minded unit."
As impressive as his on-the-court credentials and track record are, his reputation for integrity and fairness is equally impressive.
I am convinced that in Kevin, we have found the right coach at the right time for our great institution -- a proven winner at the professional and college level who has demonstrated over the years that he recognizes that what happens off the court is equally, if not more important, than what happens on it.
We are looking to Coach O'Neill to bring great things to USC basketball.
But enough from me. I will let you hear from the Coach himself.
TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO STATEMENT FROM USC ATHLETIC DIRECTOR MIKE GARRETT
I'm Kevin O'Neill, and I couldn't be more proud and excited to be part of the Trojan family as the new head men's basketball coach.
When Mike offered me this job, there was only one answer: "yes." To step onto the University of Southern California campus as a head coach in any sport is something one usually can only dream about.
Not only does USC have one of the richest traditions in college athletics, but this is one of the greatest learning institutions in the world. Cardinal and gold flows throughout the city of Los Angeles, not only because of the success USC has enjoyed on its athletic fields, but also because of the countless contributions this institution has made to Los Angeles.
That said, I recognize that USC basketball has been through a tough time lately. Like many college basketball fans, I have been following the developments in the media. One thing I expect people might second-guess me on is whether I made the right call in taking this job.
While all of us at USC are prohibited by the NCAA from discussing details of this ongoing investigation, I want to assure you that I made my decision only after a thorough evaluation.
USC could not have been more forthcoming and honest in answering my questions. Their answers and the integrity of President Sample, Mike Garrett and the entire USC organization gave all the assurances I needed of the strength and integrity of this entire organization. If I didn't believe in USC -- and all of the people involved -- I wouldn't be putting my name and reputation on the line. But I do and I am. Enough said.
I'm sure I am also going to be asked whether the NCAA investigation involving basketball is going to hurt recruiting or the program in general. Let me just say that if I thought I wouldn't be able to do my job -- do the job that the University expects of me and equally important that I expect of myself -- I wouldn't have taken the job.
It wasn't that long ago that Pete Carroll arrived at USC, and proceeded to create a level of excitement worldwide for Trojan football that people hadn't seen before. Coach Carroll not only created a team of winners, but more importantly became an ambassador for our university by showing how you can use athletics to inspire and help the young people of Los Angeles. It's my goal to do the same with USC basketball -- make it a program that both excites and inspires our community.
I want to thank President Sample, Mike Garrett and the entire USC family for showing faith in me, and also express my love to my family for their support through this process.
I promise you that I will do all that I can to make all of you proud -- both on and off the court.