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Last updated: Thu. May. 15, 2014 - 02:49 am EDT

IPFW's Coffman hires experienced assistant he can rely on

Veteran Betts 'here to help' longtime colleague

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For more on college basketball, follow Tom Davis via Twitter at www.twitter.com/Tom101010.

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Jon Coffman has seen, and continues to see, good things in Ben Betts. And in return, Betts sees good things not just his former colleague, but in the IPFW basketball program, as well.

That mutual respect and admiration are the basis in explaining why the veteran coach has now joined the Mastodon program as the lead assistant under the recently-hired Coffman.

“Ben has not only a tremendous skill set as a coach, but we also have a personal relationship,” Coffman said. “At the end of the day, Ben is someone that I know is loyal, that I can trust.”

Working with someone that you are familiar with can be invaluable. However, what Coffman truly needs in his first stint as a head coach is someone that he can lean on – not only as a friend – but as a professional.

Betts has been brought in to fill that role.

“Ben has 21 years in the business,” Coffman said. “He’s been a Division I head coach. He’s been an assistant with extremely successful programs. He’s a tremendous recruiter and he will really help me to develop this program and move us forward.”

Betts is coming off a pair of runs at Tennessee State and Oklahoma, both of which had mixed results during his time as an assistant there. But he’s also proven at earlier stops at South Carolina State (both as an assistant and head coach), College of Charleston (where he served with Coffman), and VCU, that he can help a program achieve success. And he’s experienced enough to know a good opportunity when it’s presented.

“You want to be in a situation where you have the opportunity to be successful,” Betts explained. “That has certainly been shown here. In doing the research on IPFW, some good things have been happening here. Some really good things.

“Good things happen to programs for a reason. That means there are good people here, it’s a good situation, there is good infrastructure, and it can attract good players.”

Betts would know a “good player” when he sees one. After all, he coached NBA All-Star Blake Griffin at Oklahoma. But he also knows the benefits of working at a lower-level, and he believes IPFW stands apart in certain regards.

“This level is great for a number of reasons,” Betts explained. “At IPFW, you can go to a lot of different places, a lot of different areas, and have a wide range of things to work with in terms of the type of kids that you can recruit (the Mastodons will have players from Croatia, and four different states next season).

“Obviously, that’s been proven here. That’s a unique thing to IPFW. Not a lot of programs can do that at the mid-major level.”

Betts served three seasons as the head coach at South Carolina State, during which his teams won nearly 60 percent of their games and beat the likes of Penn State and Miami (Fla.). That experience has not only made him a better coach, but a better assistant coach.

“My responsibility will be to help take as much off of (Coffman’s) plate as possible,” Betts said. “So he can focus on the team, coaching, and things of that nature. But me having been a head coach, helps me be an even better assistant.

“As an assistant, you view things differently. Situations may occur that you look at from (just) one perspective. But as a head coach, especially with decision making, you look at things differently. That’s helped me and hopefully will be something that I can use to help (Coffman). I’m here to help – and assist – in every way possible.”

Tdavis@news-sentinel.com


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