FARGO, N.D. -- Credit North Dakota State point guard Ben Woodside with another assist, this time in the decision on the
Bison men's basketball coach.
Woodside told school administrators the NDSU players were
unanimous in their support for Saul Phillips.
"When Ben Woodside said he's a better basketball player because
of Saul Phillips, I'm not going to argue," NDSU athletic director
Gene Taylor said Monday in announcing Phillips would take over the
program from Tim Miles, who was named head coach at Colorado State.
Woodside said he and Taylor had a "lengthy conversation" about
the team's endorsement of Phillips.
"We're happy. This is what we wanted," Woodside said.
It's the first head coaching job for Phillips, a Bison assistant
for the last three years. Earlier, he was the director of
basketball operations for three years at Wisconsin, where he
handled scheduling, travel, budgeting and on-campus recruiting.
"This shouldn't be too hard," Phillips said after he was
introduced as NDSU's 22nd head coach. "I've been practicing this
moment in the shower since I was in fifth grade.
"Nobody has more of an emotional attachment to what is going on
here than me, I guarantee you that," he said.
The Bison finished the season 20-8, the first time they won 20
games since moving to Division I before the 2004-05 season. They
return four of five starters, including three double-figure
"I really like the talent we have," Phillips said.
Miles announced last week he was taking the head job at Colorado
State. Taylor said he watched Phillips closely last season because
he suspected Miles would receive other job offers.
"It hasn't been a short turnaround. It's been a year of
study," Taylor said.
Phillips, a native of Reedsburg, Wis., played basketball for
four years at Wisconsin-Platteville. He led Platteville to a
national championship in 1995.
He has spent the last 11 years as an assistant coach at five
Taylor said Phillips also received recommendations from Miles,
Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, Iowa State and former NDSU head coach Greg
McDermott and Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard.
Miles guided the transition from Division II "as gracefully as
any school in America ever has," Phillips said.
"The messenger is changing. The message isn't," he said.