Mike Dunlap is not a household name, at least not at the NBA level.
However, Dunlap has had success wherever he coaches – especially in the college ranks.
He won a pair of NCAA titles while coaching at Metro State (2000 and 2002) and led the Roadrunners to nine NCAA tournaments.
Of course that was at the Division II level, which is much different than the NBA.
His lone experience at the professional level was two seasons (2006-08) as an assistant coach to George Karl and the Nuggets. He went back to the college ranks after the 2008 season where he was an assistant with Arizona, Oregon and St. John’s University. Last season, he ended up stepping in as St. John’s interim head coach while Steve Lavin dealt with health issues. Dunlap coached a team full of freshman to a 13-18 record.
Any coach that has worked with Dunlap will attest to how hard of a worker he is and his basketball IQ. Just ask Karl, who tweeted Tuesday about Dunlap’s hiring,
Great hire by Bobcats! Mike Dunlap is one of the most creative defensive minds I’ve ever worked with. Welcome back to the NBA!
Elated about Mike Dunlap going to Charlotte! To hire a guy of knowledge and character more than spin and perception makes me feel great.
There was a preception among many in college ranks that Dunlap’s biggest goal was going back to the NBA, which kept him from getting a full-time college coaching job – even though he was considered for a number. Most recently were head-coaching jobs at Wyoming and CSU.
Of course the biggest challenge of coaching in the NBA is managing egos and getting talented athletes to listen to you. That was the challenge for former Nuggets’ coach Jeff Bzdelik, who spent two-in-half seasons on the sidelines in Denver. He showed he had the knowledge of Xs and Os, but struggled to get superstars like Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony to respect him.
Dunlap may run into the same problem down the road, but not likely with this young Charlotte Bobcats squad which features a core group of Gerald Henderson (24 years old), Kemba Walker (22) and Bismack Biyombo (19) that is younger than 24 years old.
The next move that may be of interest to the Bobcats is trading their second pick for a package of picks later in the draft. Rebuilding a Bobcats franchise will be tough, but Dunlap is the right under the radar coach for the job.