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A slam-dunk to lead program

You’ve invested 15 years as head coach, building a program from the ground up.

You’ve become relevant on the national scene.

It’s finally gotten to the point where it’s easier to sell big fish on your small pond. In the game of recruiting, good players are seeking out your program.

Then, the goal posts are moved.

It’s not that any part of the situation between men’s basketball coach Alan Magnani (mun-YAWN-ee) and his former school, Iowa Wesleyan, is unfair. And it’s certainly not the first time a coach has had philosophical differences with the administration.

Magnani, hired Thursday to be the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Jamestown, refused to support his school’s move to NCAA Division III after he had built something special in the NAIA ranks. He was dismissed shortly thereafter.

There is no right or wrong party — they just had differences in regard to the school’s direction. In any case, Magnani appears committed to NAIA basketball, which makes him a great fit in Jamestown.

He’s won four conference championships, coached 13 All-Americans and been named conference coach of the year three times. There aren’t many opportunities to hire coaches with 244 wins under their belt.

It’s a slam dunk for the Jimmies, who could use some stability in the program after a two-year stint by former coach Justin Wieck.

They need to find a replacement for two-time All-American guard Mark Hoge, but Brequan Tucker is certainly capable of handling a scoring load. Add in returning guard Taylor Newton, and there are some crucial pieces back that could contribute to success.

Any time a first-year coach gets started, the question becomes: What new pieces will he add? It’s pretty late in the recruiting process to expect anything, but it often seems every new coach finds a little something left in the pipeline for that season.

It’s unfair to gauge his long-term life plans, but Magnani could be something special for the Jimmies. If history is any indication, there could be something special on the court as well.

Sun sportswriter Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or