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East Tennessee State hires Wichita State assistant Forbes

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (AP) Former Wichita State assistant Steve Forbes says he plans to build a winner at East Tennessee State by following the same formula that worked at his old school.

After being introduced Monday as ETSU’s coach, Forbes said he was indebted to Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall and noted that they share the same philosophies.

”I believe in all the things that he believes in,” Forbes said. ”He’s given me a tremendous blueprint to bring here to East Tennessee State.”

Forbes replaces Murry Bartow. ETSU fired Bartow on March 13 after he went 224-165 with three NCAA Tournament appearances in 12 seasons. ETSU earned the last of those NCAA invitations in 2010.

ETSU went 16-14 this season and lost eight of its final 12 games, including each of the last four.

”We want (our players) to go to the NCAA Tournament,” ETSU athletic director Richard Sander said at a Monday news conference. ”We want them to have an arena where people are yelling and screaming and just crazy for ETSU basketball. And unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and so I really wanted to go out and find somebody who could make that happen for these men, for our great fan base.

”I know we have found that person.”

The 50-year-old Forbes spent the past two seasons at Wichita State after going 62-6 in two seasons as the head coach at Northwest Florida State, a junior college in Niceville, Florida.

Forbes said the ETSU job appealed to him in part because of his previous connections with the area. Forbes spent five seasons working as an assistant on Bruce Pearl’s Tennessee staff.

”It was a place I was familiar with because of my five years at Tennessee,” Forbes said. ”I knew there was a passionate fan base here and a tradition of basketball and people who loved basketball. It was a really, really, really good fit for me. When the opportunity came, I jumped on it.”

Forbes received a one-year show cause penalty from the NCAA in 2011 as part of the NCAA investigation of Tennessee that resulted in Pearl’s firing. Forbes says the experience taught him that ”when you make a mistake, you learn from it and don’t do it again.”

”What you do in a situation like that is you look in the mirror, you’re accountable for your actions, and then you move on,” Forbes said.

”I use myself as an example. As a coach, you always tell your players when you get knocked down, you’ve got to get back up and you’ve got to keep going. Well, I got knocked down, and I decided to dust myself off, be accountable for my involvement and then move on.”

Forbes also has worked as an assistant at Texas A&M, Illinois State, Louisiana Tech and Idaho. Now he gets his first Division I head coaching opportunity.

”You never know if this day’s ever going to come,” Forbes said. ”Then after what I went through four years ago, to be able to come back to the state of Tennessee and be a head Division I basketball coach, to me is a surreal moment and something that I’m very proud of.

”I’m ready to go to work and build this program.”

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