After firing Tim Floyd loyalists Gib Arnold and Phil Johnson last month, it looks as if Kevin O'Neill finally has his staff in place for the upcoming 2010-2011 season. Earlier today, it was announced that O'Neill had hired former Fullerton College and Antelope Valley college head coach Dieter Horton as an assistant in addition to promoting Bob Cantu to the position of associate head coach.
In regards to Horton though, there is no doubt that he has been successful as a head coach at the junior college level. During both of his head coaching stints, he has posted incredibly high winning percentages in addition to serious runs at the California junior-college state title - even capturing the championship as the headman at Fullerton.
"Dieter has a tremendous amount of coaching experience as a head coach, and he’ll be a valuable addition to our staff," said O’Neill. "He has produced successful teams wherever he’s been. I’m extremely pleased he is joining us."
Horton, 39, spent the past four years (2007-10) at Antelope Valley College, where he went 97-47 (.674) and got to the 2007 state championship final. The Marauders went 31-7 in 2007, a school record for wins. His 2008 team won the Foothill Conference crown while going 25-11.
He was at Fullerton College for 10 seasons (1997-2006), posting a 198-124 (.615) record, and the Hornets advanced to postseason play each year. Thirty of his Fullerton players signed with four-year schools, including 18 with NCAA Division I programs. In 2006, Fullerton went 37-0 (the most wins in California junior-college history) en route to winning the state championship. It was just the fourth time that a California junior-college team had a perfect record (among the other coaches to have done so were Jerry Tarkanian and Bill Mulligan).
It would certainly be preferable if Horton had similar credentials on the Division I or Division II level, but nonetheless, it's still refreshing to someone on staff with such a strong track record of winning. As I've stated before, it's difficult to analyze assistant coaches so I'll personally reserve judgment for the time being. Let's just hope he knows a thing or two about breaking down a zone defense.