Andrew Copelan’s plan worked out well.
He was a head coach before he came to Maryland. And thanks to three years as an assistant at a major school, he’s a head coach again.
Copelan is taking over at Fairfield, an intriguing move for both one of the country’s promising young assistants and a program in an unusual spot.
“I think that they’re at the point right now where a lot of the intangible stuff is there,” Copelan said. “I think maybe a fresh start and do things just a little bit differently. We’re just going to go to work and see what happens.”
Copelan coached at Marist for two seasons, helping the Red Foxes reach their first NCAA tournament before coming to Maryland.
Fairfield is coming off a 4-9 season, a tough year during which former coach Ted Spencer battled cancer. But the Stags have been in the NCAA tournament twice this decade (2002 and 2005), and will be part of a reconsitituted ECAC (along with Air Force, Bellarmine, Denver, Hobart, Loyola and Ohio State) starting in 2010.
That league will give Copelan access to some of the best recruiting pockets in the country, though the way the game is now just about everyone has to think beyond the traditional hotbeds.
It’s also clear the gamble Copelan took to leave a head coaching gig at Marist in 2005 and become an assistant has paid off.
“The combination of coach [Dave] Cottle and coach [Dave Slafkosky], they’re two of the best minds in the game today,” Copelan said. “I can honestly say I’ve learned under both those guys in three years than I did in 24 years [prior]. I went to Marist as green as can be, and I understood if I wanted to make coaching a profession, I had to go ahead and work under some people that have been there and done that.”