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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Commercial Appeal Reports Tiger Assistant Tony Barbee Interviews at Murray State

Tiger aide seeks job at Murray St.

By Gary Parrish
April 5, 2006

University of Memphis basketball assistant Tony Barbee did more than just watch games at the Final Four. He also met with Murray State athletic director Allen Ward and interviewed for the Racers' vacant head coaching position.

"It's the best job in that league," Barbee said Tuesday. "So it's a place where you have a good chance to win."

The Murray State position opened when Mick Cronin left two weeks ago to become the coach at his alma mater, Cincinnati. In addition to Barbee, a list of potential candidates includes Alabama assistant Philip Pearson, Florida assistant Anthony Grant, Kentucky assistant Reggie Hanson, Louisville assistant Kevin Willard and LSU assistant John Trelor.

Earlier this week, Ward released a statement explaining what type of person he desired to take over a program that won two Ohio Valley Conference titles in three seasons under Cronin. In part, it read Murray State wanted "a coach that has had success on the recruiting trail."

That seems to be an advantage for Barbee, who has been responsible for much of the Tigers' recruiting accomplishments during John Calipari's six-year tenure. With Barbee and colleague Derek Kellogg on the road, Memphis has consistently signed classes that rank among the best nationally, and Barbee's best coup was the discovery of Rodney Carney, who went from an unknown commodity to an Associated Press All-American in four years while leading the Tigers to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.

"Murray State is a place where you have to recruit," Barbee said, "and I have a track record for recruiting."

Ward has given no timetable for when he will make a hire. But whoever gets the job will inherit a Racers team expected to return three of its top four scorers from this past season's team that went 24-7 and lost to North Carolina, 69-65, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Attempts to reach Ward for comment Tuesday were unsuccessful.

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