North Texas hires Marquette assistant Tony Benford
DENTON, Texas (AP) Tony Benford is finally getting his chance as a head coach.
Benford was hired Tuesday by North Texas after spending the past four years on Buzz Williams' staff at Marquette. He was a college assistant for 20 years, including stops at Arizona State, Nebraska and New Mexico.
"I couldn't be more excited about the opportunity of taking over the basketball program at North Texas," Benford said. "My philosophy is all about the players, and we will do everything in ensure that our players grow in the classroom, the community and on the court."
Benford replaces Johnny Jones, who left North Texas after 11 seasons to return to LSU as head coach. Jones played for the Tigers in the NCAA Final Four, and later was on coach Dale Brown's staff for another trip to the Final Four.
Jones was 190-146 over six seasons with the Mean Green, including two Sun Belt Conference tournament titles.
In his statement released by the school, which planned to formally introduce their new coach on Wednesday, Benford thanked Jones "for doing such a great job in making North Texas a winner."
Benford was the associate head coach last season at Marquette, which advanced to the NCAA round of 16 the past two seasons. He helped recruit six All-Big East players to Marquette, including 2012 conference player of the year Jae Crowder, a second-team AP All-American.
He previously coached at New Mexico (1992-98), Arizona State (1998-2006) and Nebraska (2006-08).
"In this search we were looking for a set of traits that make up a great coach and a great person, and Tony Benford fit the bill," UNT athletic director Rick Villareal said. "He is a tireless worker, has great relationships with his players, has been a part of several successful programs and is highly respected by those that have coached with and against him. He has always recruited the Dallas area and has the ties that will help keep Texas talent in Texas."
Benford played at Texas Tech, where he was part of the Red Raiders' 1985 Southwest Conference regular season championship, and two tournament titles.
Updated April 24, 2012