Dominguez takes over as interim coach following Jackson's departure
Aug. 18, 2012
BELLINGHAM, Wash, -
By ANDREW LANG -- THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
Tony Dominguez has waited 17 years for his opportunity to become the Western Washington University men's basketball coach.
Western Athletic Director Lynda Goodrich ended his wait Friday morning, Aug. 17, when she offered Dominguez the position of interim head basketball coach following the news of Brad Jackson's departure for a men's basketball assistant coaching job at the University of Washington.
Dominguez learned the news in a phone call from Goodrich, as he was in New York vacationing with his family.
"It's incredible," said Dominguez during a phone interview. "You wait a long time and, for me, I enjoy being a leader for the guys. I like to establish relationships with (the players) as men and as basketball players."
The new coach will certainly have a large pair of shoes to fill.
Dominguez is replacing a man who has been at the helm of the men's basketball program the past 27 years, is the winningest coach in school history with 518 victories and last year guided the Vikings to a Division II National Championship. Jackson was also selected the 2011-12 National Association of Basketball Coaches Coach of the Year, as well as the Bulletin National Division II Coach of the Year.
Replacing such an accomplished coach may be daunting for some, but Dominguez has been by Jackson's side while he's earned the majority of his accolades.
Dominguez worked 17 years as an assistant to Jackson - Dominguez's mentor. The last two years he's served as Western's associate head coach.
"I've always known that if Brad left, Tony would be there as the leading candidate," Goodrich said in a phone interview. "As an AD, you're always thinking, 'If this coach leaves, who will be a natural person to step in?' Tony has been an integral part of the basketball program and has had success as a recruiter and has always worked hard."
Although this is Dominguez's first head coaching gig, not to mention he's taking control of a Western team fresh off a national title, Dominguez said he's not intimidated.
"I was a big part of that," said Dominguez, referring to the success the Vikings had last year. "I think with any first opportunity, you'll certainly take what you can get. I'm a Western guy. I helped recruit these guys who are on the team. It's going to be a great opportunity. There's no question there will be (expectations to live up to). Unless you win it all, you haven't reached last year's success. We have a great opportunity this season. I'm definitely not intimidated."
While Dominguez was thrilled to learn about his hiring, he felt mixed emotions about parting ways with his friend and basketball mentor.
"I was very excited for him," said Dominguez of Jackson's opportunity with the University of Washington. "I think it will re-energize him at his age. It's a tremendous opportunity for him and myself. We are very close but, at the same time, life is about new adventures."
Jackson said he was equally thrilled for Dominguez.
"I think he is the right man for the job," Jackson said in a phone interview. "I'm very excited for him, and I think he'll do an incredible job. He's extremely well liked by the players, and he has a great basketball mind."
Jackson said he spoke with Dominguez over the phone, and said both he and Dominguez exchanged congratulatory messages.
WWU junior and starting guard Richard Woodworth said he was shocked when he learned the news of Jackson's departure, but he said as sad as he was to see Jackson go, he was just as happy for Dominguez.
"When I heard, I had mixed emotions," Woodworth said. "It was bittersweet. (Jackson) is a great coach, and it's tough to see him go, but I'm happy for him. I'm super excited for coach Dominguez at the same time. He's put a lot of hard work in under coach Jackson."
Woodworth praised Dominguez's abilities to understand his players. He called both Jackson and Dominguez "perfectionists."
"It will be very interesting to see how coach Dominguez acts as head coach, because he usually defers to coach Jackson," Woodworth said. "It makes sense, because (Jackson) has been around a long time. I think they both coach toward the same philosophy, but I think Dominguez really encourages individual creativity."
Woodworth gave credit to Dominguez for helping solve Western's logjam last year at the guard position. Woodworth, John Allen, Rico Wilkins, Cameron Severson and Paul Jones gave Western a number of skilled athletes along the perimeter. However, there were not enough minutes to go around.
"We had a lot of new pieces last year, and (Dominguez) was able to connect with players in a fashion that really got guys to buy into the system," Woodworth said. "He was definitely a huge part in developing chemistry between players."
With school resuming in late September - the same time the men's basketball team begins preseason activities - Goodrich said she felt it was a good decision to hire a coach in-house.
"School starting in a month I felt, for the players and the program, we needed an interim coach," Goodrich said.
She said she will conduct a search for Jackson's full-time successor at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season. She will determine whether that will be Dominguez or a different coach at that time.
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