Deposed Iona coach Jeff Ruland, who was keenly interested in the St. Bonaventure job that went to Mark Schmidt in April, is back in coaching as the head man of the Albuquerque Thunderbirds in the NBA Development League.
Ruland endured a 2-28 circus last year at Iona and was sent packing despite a 139-135 record and three NCAA Tournament berths, including one secured over Canisius in HSBC Arena in 2001. If you covered the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, a Ruland press conference was must-see stuff. He'd poke fun at anybody -- referees, a city, his own players and even the reporters in the room. But by the end of last year, he seemed worn with the whole college scene.
Ruland told me several times that he would hard-pressed to ever leave Iona, his alma mater, unless he got a chance to the coach in the NBA. Half of the famous "McFilthy & McNasty" tandem with Rick Mahorn on the Washington Bullets of the 1980s, Ruland might get that chance. Just as it does for players, the NDBL can certainly serve as a springboard for a coach looking to get to the next level as well.