The University of Wisconsin basketball program has produced some quality coaches since the start of the Dick Bennett era in the late 1990’s. Most assumed that coaching tree would provide the next UW men’s basketball assistant.
On Thursday that assumption was proven wrong, as head coach Greg Gard went outside the family and hired Illinois State assistant coach Dean Oliver to the same position at UW. Oliver has spent the last three years with the Redbirds program. He just helped to lead the team to a share of the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title and a program-record 28 wins on the season.
So, why go outside of the Badgers family for this hire?
Gard seems to be intrigued by his ability to build relationships and his rapport with the players he is coaching.
“We are really excited to welcome Dean back to the Big Ten and the Wisconsin basketball family,” Gard said. “I have been impressed with him over the years and after getting to know him better through this process, it became easy to see why he has been so successful in the past as a player and most recently as a coach.
“Everyone I talked to about Dean had the utmost respect for his leadership, teaching abilities and passion for helping student-athletes. He has a tremendous reputation for building relationships, has great rapport with players and excels in player development, particularly with guards. It’s rare to find a coach with his combination of professional playing experience and coaching ability and I have no doubt he is the right fit for our program.”
Oliver isn’t exactly a stranger to the Big Ten either.
He was a guard with the Iowa Hawkeyes from 1997-2000 and comes with a vast array of professional basketball experience. That includes a two-year stint with the Golden State Warriors and overseas experience as well.
It doesn’t hurt that he has an excellent reputation for working with the guard positions, as Wisconsin is getting really young at the position for this upcoming season.
Oliver appears excited to get to work with this group and to be back in the Big Ten.
“I am extremely honored and excited to be joining the men’s basketball staff at the University of Wisconsin,” Oliver said. “It is truly a dream to coach at such a prestigious, storied Big Ten program. I can’t wait to get to work with the young nucleus of players as well as the exciting incoming recruits. I am equally as excited to work with and learn from Coach Gard and staff.
“I want to thank Coach Alvarez, Coach Gard and the entire UW staff for welcoming me in. Go Badgers!”
Wisconsin’s coaching staff will have plenty of work to do this offseason, with an overseas trip and the increased time they get with their players during the summer. Oliver’s work will be vital to developing D’Mitrick Trice after an intriguing freshman season and with incoming frosh Brad Davison as well.