Dave Buchanan has put many basketball programs on the state map over the past few years. It's a map with which he's very familiar.
"Every highway, city or wayside in the state of Wisconsin, you could call me and I could probably tell you where it is," said Buchanan, recently named the successor to Dave Schultz as Carroll University men's basketball coach.
Buchanan's basketball journey has made stops in Watertown, LaCrosse, the Milwaukee area, Kenosha, Superior and now back to Waukesha, but his tireless recruiting journeys have meant plenty of nights on the roads in between.
"We didn't miss one of Dan Culy's games his senior year," Buchanan said, referring to a Rice Lake player he recruited in a standout freshman class prior to the 2007-08 season at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. "That was our shortest recruiting job, and that was 93 miles away. I was getting home late, because seeing him in a road game might mean Eau Claire or Menomonie. We were demonstrating how seriously we were about them coming to the school and communicating constantly. Selling some playing time didn't hurt either. Those kids could play at a young age, whereas if they went other places, they'd have to wait a little bit."
Superior took steps forward, going from a five-win team in 2005-06 to a 12-15 team two years later with that talented freshman class - featuring four of the top 40 Wisconsin seniors, as ranked by Wissports.net. After slumping a bit last year, falling to 11-14, the Yellowjackets were nonetheless stocked for success going forward, with Buchanan's class now juniors and more top recruits - such as incoming freshman Eric Williams of Wauwatosa East - on the way.
"It was a major rebuilding job (when I got to Superior)," Buchanan said. "They last won a conference title since 1941 and had one playoff game win in the history of the school. Four times since the 1960s, they had a .500 record or better. I really feel the program is primed to take the next step right now, and they're in a tremendous league."
On to Carroll
The same could be said for Carroll, now on a streak of six seasons with 15 or wins after seven straight years falling short of that standard, and four straight appearances in the conference tournament. Leading scorer John Hoch will return, and the team will aim for its second NCAA Division III tourney appearance in school history.
"Maybe 5 to 10 years ago, you would say they were pretty similar in terms of identify and recent history," Buchanan said in comparing Carroll and UWS. "Coach Schultz has done a tremendous job stabilizing success in the program. It's different (than Superior) because there's a foundation there, and they've been in a winning environment. Our goals are obviously to build on that. It's somewhat refreshing in terms of resources, location, and talent being close by and being focused on things there rather than being in the car.
"Hockey is a really big emphasis up here (in Superior). Different parts of the nation will have different sports that get more recognition and youth involvement. Coming back home and being in a place that has always had good basketball tradition, especially at the high school level, will be really nice."
Buchanan was one of more than 200 applicants for the position, vacated when Schultz took a position at his old haunts at Waukesha West.
"Our men's basketball program has been very successful and has garnered national attention," said Carroll athletic director Kris Jacobsen in a school release. "I feel strongly that David Buchanan represents integrity and character. He will continue the tradition of winning on the court and will be a positive influence to his players, the community and the large following of alumni. Carroll University is fortunate to have David join our team."
Buchanan said he expects to chase after players getting looks form perennial powers such as Wisconsin-Platteville, Whitewater and Stevens Point.
"We want to get into the same discussion with the student athletes, knowing at the end of the day Carroll might be a good fit for them regardless," Buchanan said. "The program has a lot of credibility right now and great things are happening at our university. It's growing in terms of numbers, and the athletics are as healthy as they've ever been under There's a lot of interest locally."
Buchanan officially assumed the position Aug. 3, and he said he expected to have a chat with Schultz sometime soon - to discuss both Carroll and the high school scene.
"Recruiting will always be the lifeblood, kind of the undercurrent of any program," Buchanan said. "The second you don't do it, the house can crumble. … I want to build on some of the things they did well (under Schultz) and add a few of our own things."
The fab frosh
Dave Buchanan's 2006-07 recruiting class was lauded as a coup for the University of Wisconsin-Superior, featuring several freshmen who competed instantly.
Jake Smith (Rhinelander)
Leading scorer and rebounder each of the last two years, with more than 17 points per game. Also led team in minutes (35.9) as a freshman.
Dan Culy (Rice Lake)
Team's third-leading scorer as freshman (14.2) and second-leading scorer (13.9) as sophomore.
Shane Manor (Altoona)
Fourth-leading scorer (11.9) and third-leading rebounder as a sophomore.
Ray Byrns (Hixton)
Fifth-leading scorer as a freshman, fourth-leading rebounder as sophomore
Greg Roeder (Mercer)
Led team in blocks and third-leading rebounder as sophomore.
Road often traveled
Watertown (high school, graduated 1990)
La Crosse (UW-La Crosse student and assistant coach, 1990-1997)
Greenfield (high school coach, 1997-2002)
Brookfield East (high school coach, 2002-03)
Kenosha (UW-Parkside assistant, 2003-06)
Superior (UW-Superior head coach, 2006-09)
Waukesha (Carroll University head coach, present)
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