Bobcats to make change; U of A eyes coach Craddock

- June 2nd, 2012

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It would appear Brandon University — which has gone through numerous coaching changes in its basketball programs — is now preparing to usher in the first coaching change in the history of its volleyball programs.

As my tweet from a few days ago indicates, multiple sources told me the Bobcats will go into the new season without head coach Russ Paddock in the position he has held since the program’s inception in 2005. Paddock, an Oak River, Man., product who played with the Manitoba Bisons and with Canada’s national team in the 1980s and 90s, was named interim athletic director last summer and, just a couple of months ago, had that interim title lifted to become the full-time AD.

The school is expected to make a departmental announcement some time in the next week or so, at which time it is likely that assistant coach Grant Wilson will be introduced as the interim head coach for next season. Wilson has been Paddock’s No. 1 assistant since Day 1, and has experience at at the high school, college and provincial level, and even served as an assistant on Canada’s youth national team in 2006. There are very few coaches around whom Paddock would trust more than Wilson, who was temporary head coach during BU’s faculty strikes of 2011 and 2008.

Sources indicated to me that the only stumbling block to Wilson being inserted as head coach would be a department vote that was to have taken place last week, but there was not expected to be objection to the motion.

In a Sun Radio podcast in April, Paddock said he had not made a decision about whether he’d continue to work both jobs but certainly, at the time, didn’t shoot down any notions of coaching again in 2012 while weighing his options. Still, he did say it was something that was going to require thought and discussion.

“The coming year is I see it as quite challenging with the new (BU athletics facility) and still looking at what might be best for everyone for this period and for the long term,” Paddock said on the podcast. “I’m not exactly looking to give up coaching long term but I want to try to get through this year and see how the season goes. It’s a busy year coming up, so still evaluating what might be best for the program as a whole and for my team. I guess I committed to the AD part for now so that is a little bit front and centre but at the same time heavy into recruiting at the moment. We’ll see what happens in the coming months and what unfolds.”

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In other coaching news, sources have told me that former Brandon head coach Barnaby Craddock, who is also a former Winnipeg Wesmen assistant, is the front-runner for the vacant Alberta Golden Bears men’s basketball head coaching position.

The job, which was vacated when Greg Francis took a reported six-figure position at Waterloo last month, is considered to be one of the more coveted jobs in the country, regardless of the fact Francis, a Toronto native, left the job after just three years at the helm after taking over for longtime coach Don Horwood.

Craddock, meanwhile, is one of the most respected young university coaches in Canada after having success at Brandon as well as currently at Fraser Valley. In two years at BU, he took the Bobcats to one national final while being named national coach of the year before moving on to UFV, and this past season got the Cascades into the national tournament for the first time in the program’s six-year existence. UFV was also the Canada West runner-up in 2012. Craddock was also recently named, for the second straight year, an assistant coach on Canada’s Cadet (U17) national men’s team.

630 CHED’s Reid Wilkins blogged recently that the school had whittled its list down to three candidates, saying: “One is a current CIS coach who is not a U of A alumni.  Another is an alum who does not have CIS experience.  The third is from the college ranks.” One of those three, according to more than one source speaking on the condition of anonymity, is said to be Mount Royal head coach Marc Dobell, who has tried unsuccessfully to land CIS jobs in the past, including making a run at previous BU vacancies.

Out of that you can see why Craddock, who left Brandon in part to be closer to his Vancouver roots, would be the one the U of A covets. Now, it would appear, the job is his if he wants it.

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Twitter: @LarkinsWSun

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