Tony Benford Named To Marquette Coaching Staff
April 24, 2008
Milwaukee - Collegiate coaching veteran Tony Benford, considered one of the top assistant coaches in the country, has joined the men's basketball program at Marquette University, first-year head coach Buzz Williams has announced.
Benford brings with him to Milwaukee a wealth of experience and success at the NCAA Division I level (nearly 20 years), including extensive encounters with both during stops at Big 12 Conference, Pac-10 Conference and Western Athletic Conference programs.
"I've known Tony Benford the entire 14 years I've been in coaching," Williams said. "He was already a full-time assistant at New Mexico when I started at UT-Arlington. Since the BCS has been formed he's been in a BCS league the entire time."
He has spent each of the past two campaigns at Nebraska, working under head coach Doc Sadler. The Huskers have collected 37 total victories in the last two seasons, highlighted by a trip to the National Invitation Tournament in 2008. The squad posted 20 victories in 2007-08, just the 12th 20-win campaign in the program's 112-year history and the first in nearly a decade. Nebraska players have also been well represented on the all-league squads, including three honorees last year.
Following each of his two seasons at Nebraska, Benford earned well-deserved recognition as he was ranked among the top 35 assistant coaches in the nation by Basketball Times magazine and Hoop Scoop. The list compiled the 100 top assistant coaches among the 331 basketball schools at the Division I level.
Benford's efforts recruiting and coaching efforts have helped develop all-conference caliber players at each of the stops during his coaching career. Three of those individuals, Ike Diogu (Arizona St. - Indiana Pacers), Eddie House (Arizona St. - Boston Celtics) and Kenny Thomas (New Mexico - Sacramento Kings) are currently featured on NBA rosters.
The NIT appearance by the Huskers marked the 10th postseason appearance for a team with Benford serving on the staff.
Off the court, Benford helped the Huskers make significant strides on the recruiting trail. Nebraska's eight-man recruiting class for 2007 was ranked among the top 25 in the nation by at least three major recruiting services, including ESPN.com's Bob Gibbons (21st), CSTV.com's Van Coleman (12th) and HoopScoopOnline.com's Clark Francis (5th).
"He has great relationships in the Midwest," Williams added. "Because he's a former player and because of the places he's been and the coaches that he's worked for, he has the ability to do a lot of different things, not just recruit and not just coach. He'll be great with our guys, he'll be great on the floor. His next move will be as a head coach - that's my opinion. He has impeccable character, and all of the attributes needed to guide his own program in the very near future."
Prior to Nebraska, Benford served on the Arizona State bench as an assistant coach for his first six years in Tempe. He was then named associate head coach for his last two seasons with the Sun Devils. During his time at Arizona State (1999 to 2006), Benford recruited and coached Pac-10 Players of the Year Ike Diogu (2005, consensus All-America) and Eddie House (2000), and also brought in all-freshman team performer Jeff Pendergraph in 2006. Benford helped the Sun Devils to four postseason appearances during his tenure, including gaining a spot in the second round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament.
Before joining the ASU staff, Benford spent six seasons as an assistant coach at New Mexico (1993 to 1998). He helped New Mexico to five NCAA Tournament bids while winning 73.2 percent of its games (139-51 record). New Mexico picked up a pair of Western Athletic Conference tournament titles (1993 and 1996) and a regular-season championship (1994) with Benford on the sideline. During his stint with the Lobos, Benford coached the top four scorers in program history, including all-time leading scorer Kenny Thomas, who Benford recruited to New Mexico.
Benford finished his playing career at Texas Tech in 1986 and during his playing days, he helped the Red Raiders to two Southwest Conference Tournament titles (1985, 1986) and the SWC regular-season championship in 1985. He was an all-conference pick as a senior and was the league tournament most valuable player. He earned his bachelor's in physical education from TTU in 1992.
A native of Hobbs, N.M., Benford was a 1986 fourth-round NBA Draft selection by the Boston Celtics. He played professionally in Holland during the 1986-87 season.
As a prep all-star, Benford was a Converse All-American and the New Mexico Player of the Year after pouring in 27.5 points per game as a senior. He led Hobbs to the state title in his final season, earning MVP honors of the state championship tournament after posting 29 points in the title game.
Benford and his wife, Deborah, have two daughters, Audriana (19) and Milena (11), and one son, Tony Jr. (16). Benford also has a son, Jeremy (26). Audriana is in her first year as as a student at Nebraska in 2007-08.