CLEVELAND —- Dave Dickerson never doubted things would work out when he left Tulane after last season.
It just so happens his career twist proved as excellent as possible.
The former Maryland player and assistant joined Ohio State’s staff in April, securing a role on a team ensconced in the top five nationally since the start of the season.
“It’s been awesome,” Dickerson said Thursday. “It’s been a great situation at Ohio State.”
The Buckeyes (32-2), the tournament’s top overall seed, meet Texas-San Antonio in Friday’s round of 64 at Quicken Loans Arena. Dickerson has plenty of experience in such a scenario —- he was an assistant when Maryland won the national title in 2002 —- but it is a bit of a turnaround from this time last season.
Dickerson took over at Tulane in 2005. Hurricane Katrina arrived in New Orleans just months later.
The Green Wave hasn’t won 20 games since 2000. They last reached the NCAA tournament in 1995 in the final days of the old Metro Conference.
Under normal conditions, Tulane isn’t the easiest of jobs. The aftermath of a hurricane made it substantially more difficult.
Dickerson went 68-84 in five seasons in New Orleans, winning 17 games in both his second and third seasons. But the Green Wave fell back to 14-17 in 2009, then 8-22 a year later as the post-Katrina recruiting difficulties caught up with the program. Tulane opted to make a change.
Still, Dickerson waited more than a month before accepting a job.
“I knew I could get a job after Tulane; I wasn’t worried about that,” Dickerson said. “I just wanted to make sure those seniors graduated and got their lives started in the right direction because that’s one of the main reasons I stayed there —- those four or five guys who graduated. It was probably one of the most important classes I’ve ever recruited because we had to beg people to come to Tulane after Katrina. I thought those guys were courageous.”
Ultimately, Dickerson headed for Ohio State after former Buckeyes assistant Alan Major took over at Charlotte. Dickerson said he knew coach Thad Matta for some time, and that the two talked about Dickerson joining Matta’s first staff in Columbus in 2004.
Switching back to an assistant’s role has not proved difficult for Dickerson, who was an assistant for nine years at Maryland before taking the Tulane job.
“I think every coach wants to be in a situation where you have a chance to be successful,” Dickerson said. “Being at Ohio State has been that for me. Working with Thad, he’s one of the best in the country. He’s only been a head coach for 11 years and he’s averaging 27 wins a year, so it’s been awesome.”
So has being part of an elite team. The Buckeyes won the Big Ten tournament for the second straight year and were ranked No. 1 in seven of the final nine AP polls.
Indeed, things have worked out just fine for Dickerson.
“I’m having the time of my life,” Dickerson said. “I enjoyed my five years down in New Orleans. I met some unbelievable people and New Orleans is a great city, but being here at Ohio State has been a dream come true for me.”
—- Patrick Stevens