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The Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog is back and improved. We'll keep you updated on everything you need to know about Rider and Princeton hoops as well as the college basketball landscape.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Paul Cormier in the Ivy League; Tim O'Toole next?

It's been quite a month for former Fairfield head coaches.

After a decades-long stretch during which no former Stags coach moved on to another Division I head job, two of them -- Mitch Buonaguro at Siena and Paul Cormier at Dartmouth -- were hired to take over programs.

Buonaguro taking the helm at Siena -- a team that should contend, along with Fairfield and a few other teams, for the MAAC title -- will likely end up being the most talked-out hire in Stag Country.

But also of interest is the coaching picture in the Ivy League, which saw half of its coaches leave or get fired either during or after the 2009-10 season. First came news that Cormier was heading back to Dartmouth, where he coached the Big Green from 1984-91.

And according to a source familiar with the hiring process at Columbia, former Fairfield coach Tim O'Toole interviewed for the Lions' vacancy yesterday, meaning he's on a short list of candidates to replace Joe Jones, who left to join Steve Donahue's staff at Boston College.

Other candidates reportedly include NJIT coach (and former Columbia assistant) Jim Engles, Saint Mary's top assistant Kyle Smith and New Orleans coach Joe Pasternack.

O'Toole, whose contract wasn't renewed at Fairfield following the 2005-06 season, could be a good fit in the Ivy League. He's spent the last four years teaching graduate-level business classes at Fordham -- a rarity, to be sure, among coaches -- and is close friends with Harvard coach Tommy Amaker.

O'Toole, a color analyst on ESPNU's Ivy broadcasts for the past two seasons, comes highly recommended by former boss Mike Krzyzewski, who, though the Duke admissions office is surely more helpful than its counterpart at Columbia, knows a thing or two about recruiting players with strong academic backgrounds.

Engles, also a former top assistant at Rider, is 11-51 in two seasons at NJIT. He left Rider for Columbia in 2003, paving the way for Don Harnum to hire Tommy Dempsey as his new deputy.

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