McNeese's search for a men’s basketball coach is nearing a close.
After sorting through over 100 applicants, the Cowboys have narrowed down the list to five names, according to sources. Wichita State's Isaac Brown, LSU-Alexandria's Larry Cordaro, St. Louis Catholic's Rick LeBato, Northwestern State's Jeff Moore and BYU's Heath Schroyer are the final five left in the coaching search.
The list of names ranges from local coaches, or those with local ties, to national coaches with connections to McNeese Athletic Director Bruce Hemphill.
Salary may be an issue for some coaches like Brown or Schroyer, but with McNeese cleaning house of the entire previous coaching staff, the Cowboys seem as though they are willing to spend more than what they have in the past.
The Cowboys will open the 2018-19 season at their new on-campus arena.
Brown is a Pascagoula, Mississippi, native who has multiple ties to Louisiana - both as a player and a coach. Brown has been a Division I assistant since 2002, and is currently an assistant coach at Wichita State under Gregg Marshall. Brown arrived in Wichita, Kansas, in 2014 after a three-year stint on the Louisiana Tech coaching staff under now Florida coach, Mike White.
The Shockers won the Missouri Valley regular season conference title three times during Brown's tenure with WSU. This past season the Shockers moved to the American Conference, where they finished ranked No. 16 in the country with a 25-7 record. Wichita St. tied Houston for second in the conference standings behind Cincinnati.
The Shockers made the NCAA tournament as the school picked up a fourth seed and will face 13th-seeded Marshall on Friday. WSU has made the NCAA tournament every year with Brown on staff.
As a player, he played two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast (1989-90) before spending one season at Texas A&M (1991). He then transferred to ULM in 1992, where he'd sit out a season before leading his team to the 1993 Southland Conference title, which earned the school an NCAA Tournament bid.
Cordaro, too, has coaching experience in Louisiana, a common theme for most of these coaches. Cordaro is arguably the most decorated at his level too.
The LSU-Alexandria head coach is still in his fourth season with the program as the Generals vie for an NAIA National Championship. LSUA grabbed the fourth seed in the NAIA's version of March Madness and won their opening game against No. 5 Lewis-Clark State earlier on Wednesday.
The Ruston native has wowed crowds in Alexandria as the school's first-ever head coach. He's compiled a 112-16 record and his teams have made the national tournament in all four seasons - including a semifinal run a year ago.
Cordaro has been popular among fans to fill the position, thanks to his impressive record.
Before LSUA, Cordaro was the associate men's basketball coach at Southeastern. During his tenure in Hammond, the Lions had nine All-Southland Conference players, six All-Louisiana players and made six trips to the conference tournament. From 2007-14, the Lions went 117-123.
LeBato is the only name on this list that isn't a current college coach.
The Sulphur native just wrapped up his sixth season at St. Louis where he took the Saints to the quarterfinal round of the Division II playoffs. LeBato has led St. Louis to a 111-64 record as head coach according to Maxpreps. That includes back-to-back Top 28 appearances in 2015 and 2016.
LeBato also has college coaching experience. He spent four years as an assistant coach under Robert Lee at UL-Lafayette from 2006-2010. He wasn't retained on the staff when Bob Marlin took over the program. The Cajuns were 35-37 during LeBato's tenure. He also spent time at UT-Arlington from 1990-1992.
The UL Lafayette (undergrad) and McNeese (graduate) alum made his name in coaching by leading Northside High School to the 2006 LHSAA Class 4A State Title. It was the first state basketball title ever claimed by a Lafayette Parish public school. LeBato has spent a total of 26 years coaching high school basketball with stops at Grand Lake, Vinton, Sulphur, Northside and St. Louis.
Moore, like LeBato, has strong ties to Southwest Louisiana.
The Lake Arthur native has been an assistant coach at Northwestern State since 2006. He replaced Dave Simmons in Natchitoches, who left the Demons to become the head coach at McNeese.
Under Moore, Northwestern State has posted a 171-199 record in 12 seasons, although NSU made the 2013 NCAA Tournament after winning the Southland Conference title. The Demons limped to a 4-25 record in 2018.
Before coming to NSU, he spent nine years as a coach at the junior college ranks. His lone head coaching experience came at John Wood (Ill.) Community College from 1997-2002. There he made a run to the NJCAA regional tournament semifinals in 2001. He posted a record of 80-78.
Moore’s father, the late Wilbert C. “Nooky” Moore, coached for 33 seasons in Louisiana at the high school level (Slidell, Rayne, Notre Dame-Crowley, Lake Arthur). He was also an assistant at McNeese to coach Ralph Ward.
The final name on this list (in alphabetical order) is the only coach without Louisiana ties. Although, Schroyer has a connection with McNeese AD Bruce Hemphill. Schroyer was an assistant coach at Wyoming from 2001-02, while Hemphill was serving as the associate athletics director.
Schroyer is the only coach on this list with head coaching experience at the Division I level. In nine seasons, he compiled a 125-143 record at Portland State, Wyoming and UT Martin. His teams also made three trips to postseason tournaments (CBI in 2009, CIT in 2015, 2016). He's posted a total of four winning seasons with two of them coming during his final two seasons at UT Martin.
The Walkersville, Maryland native brings 21 years of D1 coaching experience to the table. This past season he served on the BYU coaching staff as the Cougars posted a 24-10 record and earned a berth to the NIT. The sixth-seeded Cougars travel to No. 3 seed Stanford later tonight.
McNeese is seeking a replacement for Dave Simmons, whose contract was not renewed and let go March 4 after 12 seasons with the Pokes. Simmons was 154-211 at McNeese.
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