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YSU’s Richmond heading to Notre Dame College

Jerrod Calhoun’s phone reception was spotty, calling from an AAU Tournament in Alabama.

The connections he had around coaching circles — that is always strong.

Mark Richmond knows that all too well. He and Calhoun, the Youngstown State University men’s basketball coach, have been friends since the two had known each other at West Virginia. Calhoun was the director of basketball operations a decade ago for the Mountaineers, while Richmond was a student assistant on Bob Huggins’ staff.

Richmond served as YSU’s Director of Basketball Operations for the past two seasons, in charge of the team’s managers, coordinating road trips, ordering equipment. There’s plenty this job entails, but few see the work that goes into this demanding job.

Tuesday, Notre Dame College, an NCAA Division II institution, named Richmond its head men’s basketball coach, replacing Tim Koenig, who led the Falcons to the school’s first-ever NCAA Division II Tournament berth.

“It’s been a whirlwind the last couple of days,” said Richmond, who has his first head coaching position.

Koenig, to whom Calhoun talks frequently, was named Fairmont State’s coach, replacing Joe Mazzulla, who was named an assistant coach on the Boston Celtics staff. Calhoun was the best man in Mazzulla’s wedding. Mazzulla was a standout at WVU.

“All of them got jobs in a seven-day span,” Calhoun said. “Really, really happy for him.”

Calhoun said Richmond impressed during his interview at NDC. Now, he has to win over returning Falcons.

Koenig was Mountain East Coach of the Year and Atlantic Region and MEC Player of the Year Will Vorhees, who scored 26.8 points and grabbed 10.3 rebounds a game.

There’s plenty of talented players in the NCAA Transfer Portal and places to recruit high school talent, especially in nearby Cleveland, along with Youngstown, Toledo and western Pennsylvania. Richmond has footprints in other areas of the country where he has been on staff, giving the first-year coach plenty of possibilities.

“They got a good group back,” Richmond said. “He’s going to be tough to replace. I like the guys that are coming back. That’s been my No. 1 priority, re-recruit the roster that I have and add a piece or two to take us to the next level.”

Richmond was at Fordham University as director of player development prior to YSU, along with stops at East Tennessee State University as director of basketball operations and assistant coach for Murry Bartow. He coached for Mark Downey at the University of Charleston (W. Va.), which is part of the MEC, along with being an assistant for Greg Gary at Centenary College in Shreveport, La.

At NDC, it’s a combination of these jobs.

“You have to be able to do multiple things as a head coach, especially at that level,” Richmond said.

NDC’s campus in South Euclid is an hour away from Youngstown, where Richmond addressed the YSU team on Wednesday. It’s a Penguins team, which went from eight to 12 wins in his first two seasons. This year, with its main scorers returning, YSU is poised to be one of the best teams in the Horizon League.

“It’s hard to leave Youngstown right now when they’re about to get really, really good,” he said. “We’ve put our time in, taken our lumps, and obviously grown up here over the last two years.

“I’m really excited about their future.”

It’s an opportunity Richmond had to take, using the talents he’s learned at every stop.

Calhoun said he’s sad to see his friend go, but knows this isn’t an opportunity he can pass up.

There are about 900 head-coaching jobs from Division I to III around the country.

“Like coach (Rollie) Massimino told me, ‘You only get one chance to make that impression and to get it done. Don’t screw it up.’ I’ll never forget that advice,” Calhoun said.

He’s provided plenty of advice for his friend, building off the success NDC had.

Richmond must lay out his plan for this Falcons team.

“Mark is one of those guys, he’s a relationship guy,” Calhoun said. “He builds really sound, solid relationships with people. People gravitate toward him. I think those players, once they get to know him and know what type of person he is.

“Putting his imprint on the program is going to take time.”

It’s something Calhoun will hear about in his calls with Richmond.

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