Riley takes over ASU basketball

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2011

LORMAN — Luther Riley saw first hand that Alcorn State men’s basketball could be successful while he was a graduate assistant coach under Davey Whitney.

Now, Riley said he’s looking to take the Braves’ hoops program back to that successful level of play.

Riley, who has coached at John W. Provine High School in Jackson for the past 11 seasons, was introduced as the Braves’ new basketball coach Monday at the Jackson Convention Complex.

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“We are extremely pleased and excited to welcome Coach Luther Riley back home to Alcorn State University,” said Alcorn President Dr. M. Christopher Brown.

“Coach Riley is a seasoned coach committed to restoring our basketball program’s reputation on the court, as well as ensuring student athlete success in the classroom. His winning nature, familiarity with the SWAC and proven ability to recruit and develop the best talent will lead to many years of success for Braves basketball.”

Riley said the chance to help restore Alcorn basketball’s winning ways is what made the job so appealing.

“This is a great opportunity for me to help restore the tradition that Alcorn has had over the past 20 to 40 years with basketball,” Riley said.

“I feel honored. Anytime you can be where a legend like coach Whitney has coached, that’s an honor within itself. I’m very energized and enthused to re-establish this program.”

Riley compiled at record of 286-70-0 in 11 seasons at Provine, including four state championships in 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008, and one state grand slam overall championship in 2008. He replaces Larry Smith, who was promoted to director of athletic development March 10. Smith went just 12-78 in three seasons as the Braves’ men’s coach.

Having coached in Jackson for 11 seasons, Riley said he will definitely recruit the Jackson area hard, but wants to extend his recruiting to the entire state of Mississippi.

“Mississippi as a whole has great athletes that can help us,” Riley said. “I’m going to talk about restoring tradition, coming to a great academic institution in Alcorn and being able to play at the Divison I level.”

Riley said rebuilding the Braves’ program will be a process, and that fan and alumni support will be key.

“That process involves recreating a spirit of winning,” Riley said. “Once the players, fans and alumni get excited about winning again, then you can start reestablishing that tradition.”

And Riley said he’ll take the same attitude he had at Provine with him to Alcorn.

“When I got there, I had a plan and a vision,” Riley said. “I was hungry to prove that we could win championships.”