Sherman Dillard has been coaching college basketball for nearly three decades, and Monday he got a text message from one of his favorite former players.
“What a coincidence,” Nate Green texted Dillard.
Green was entering his senior year at Des Moines Roosevelt when his coach, Greg Lansing, got the break he dreamed of. Dillard, the head coach at Indiana State, hired Lansing as his restricted earnings coach in August of 1995.
On Wednesday, Lansing will bring his Indiana State team to Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City for a 6 p.m. first-round NIT game against Iowa, where Dillard is now an assistant coach.
“Isn’t that a coincidence,” Dillard said Monday. “It’s amazing. Incredible.”
Lansing was making $45,000 a year as a counselor and boys’ basketball coach at Roosevelt when he left to become the Sycamores’ restricted earnings coach for $12,500.
“I left a great job in a great town that I love a lot,” said Lansing, an Iowa native. “It was a tough decision, but it worked out pretty well for me. And I owe coach Dillard a lot for offering me the opportunity to get into college coaching.”
Green ended up signing with Indiana State, and was the Missouri Valley Conference player of the year as a senior in 2000. But Dillard only coached him as a freshman, leaving to take the job at his alma mater, James Madison, and starting a trip down coaching’s long and winding road that crosses paths with Lansing on Wednesday.
“Greg was one of those guys who was the total package,” Dillard said. “He presented himself well. He had a coaching background, because his dad (Dave) was a coach. He knew the game very well. He was very personable. It’s no secret that he was going to be successful.”
After coaching at James Madison, Dillard worked for Nike before eventually getting hired by Fran McCaffery at Iowa in the spring of 2010.
Lansing was an assistant at Indiana State until Steve Alford hired him at Iowa in 1999. But when Alford hired Craig Neal before the 2004-05 season, Lansing’s bond with Alford eroded. Alford fired him after the 2005-06 season.
“It wasn’t my choice to leave,” Lansing said with a laugh. “We loved Iowa City. I’ve always been a Hawkeye fan, so getting to be part of that family was a dream come true. It’s a time I’m very thankful for, and I’ll never forget.”
Lansing got hired again at Indiana State, and got his next big break when Kevin McKenna left to become an assistant at Oregon after the 2009-10 season. Lansing got the head coaching job and took the Sycamores to the 2011 NCAA Tournament in his first season. Indiana State will be making its third straight postseason appearance under Lansing on Wednesday.
“I’m looking forward to seeing Greg,” Dillard said. “He’s had tremendous success. It’s a rarity to take a team to the NCAAs in your first year. I know he’s very well liked here from his time at Iowa.”
Dillard said that Lansing’s success as a head coach makes him — the guy who opened the door for Lansing to the college coaching world — feel good.
“I wish I could tell you I was a genius in picking him out,” Dillard said. “But sometimes you get a read on people right away. And with Greg, it was very easy. I’m very proud of him, and what he’s been able to accomplish.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes men's basketball