Fans to pick Frost Heaves coach from two finalists
Posted: Wednesday April 12, 2006 2:51PM; Updated: Thursday April 13, 2006 11:51AM
After learning at the side of Lou Henson (right), Rus Bradburd (far left) may be ready to take a leading role with the Frost Heaves.
Alexander Wolff will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
Frankly, I'd be delighted to have either of these guys serve as the first coach of the Vermont Frost Heaves. But it's not my call. We've asked members of our online community, the Bump in the Road Club, to serve as the selection committee.
One of our finalists, Rus Bradburd, is a Chicago guy who has known virtually nothing but winning as a player and coach. He made his bones as an NCAA Division I assistant for 14 years; when he got a mid-life shot to be head coach of a pro team in Ireland, his team finished last -- only to come back the next year to win the Irish championship.
The other, Will Voigt, grew up in a Vermont farmhouse and played at Cabot High -- the smallest in the state -- where he was valedictorian. After an ankle injury cut short his basketball career at Pomona (Calif.) College, he fell into a gig as video coordinator for San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. A couple of elite college stopovers followed, and by age 27 he had made good on a tryout as head coach of a pro team in Norway, which he has led to the playoffs in each of his three seasons.
Different, to be sure. But what's striking to me is how much the two have in common.
Each has learned from the very best: Bradburd at the elbow of Hall of Famer Don (The Bear) Haskins at UTEP and Lou Henson at New Mexico State; Voigt as an aide to Texas coach Rick Barnes, as well as Mike Dunlap of Metro State in Denver, whom hoop connoisseurs know as one of the game's finest teachers.
Both have a knack for reaching out to kids. Scores have benefited from Rus' dribbling demonstrations at camps and his grassroots programs in El Paso (Basketball in the Barrio) and Las Cruces (the Incredible Pistoleros). Will launched two youth programs of his own in Bergen, Norway, where he has lifted the fortunes of the Ulriken Eagles.
If both grasp the rhythms of the game, it may be because each plays an instrument: Bradburd the fiddle and Voigt the piano.
Moreover, they share a sense of adventure, something that's sure to serve well anyone who joins us in our mission to bring an ABA team to Vermont.
Consider: During those two seasons coaching in Tralee, in western Ireland, Rus learned Irish fiddling and gathered material for his forthcoming memoir about his worst-to-first odyssey, Paddy on the Hardwood.