Washington State announced Tuesday that it has named Ray Lopes assistant men’s basketball coach. Lopes had previously served as associate head coach for the Vandals under Don Verlin.
Though Lopes declined comment to Vandal Nation on the move, Verlin said that Lopes approached him less than two weeks ago to ask him if he could pursue an offer from Washington State coach Ken Bone. Verlin encouraged him to do so.
“Our business is a networking one…I always encourage my assistants if they think they can better themselves, they need to make the best decision for themselves and their families. I’ve never been a person to hold my guys back,” Verlin said.
Verlin said while he didn’t necessarily anticipate a shake up in his coaching staff, it wasn’t a total surprise.
“I don’t know if you’re ever fully prepared for it (but) it’s a part of your business,” he said.
At this point it’s no surprise that Don Verlin’s staff has started to get raided. After all, the team had their best season out of the four that Verlin has been a part of - Idaho finished with 19 victories, finished third in the WAC for a second consecutive year and defeated top two WAC finishers Nevada and New Mexico State.
“What I have to do is figure out which direction we want to go,” Verlin said. “It depends on how I re-arrange my staff. It’s going to take some time to get the right person on board.”
Lopes’ new employer is going on year four with Ken Bone at the helm, who is sitting on an uncomfortably warm seat at the moment. The Cougars made a run to the CBI Tournament this season which followed a trip to the post-season NIT Tournament final four the year prior, results that leave much to be desired. The week prior, Bone demoted assistant coach Jeff Hironaka, which made way for Lopes to join the staff.
“Ray Lopes is an experienced coach who has been at several Division I universities that have had success with his recruiting and coaching abilities,” Bone said in a statement released by the school. “He has won at Washington State before and has been to several NCAA Tournaments…He is a great recruiter with ties all over the country and has had success recruiting to the Palouse.”
The move comes with the hope that Lopes invigorates recruiting efforts on the Cougar side of the Palouse. The many perks of Pac-12 coaching may have helped Lopes in making the decision. In addition to the type of money a Pac-12 school can offer its assistants, being part of a Pac-12 staff could help him climb the coaching ladder and help him land a head coaching job in the future.
Before arriving at Idaho in 2008, Lopes was the head coach at Fresno State from 2002-2005 when he resigned in the face of NCAA violations.
As for who will replace Lopes on the Idaho staff, Verlin said that he hopes to have the final member of his staff in place by July 1.