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|Pasternack now a Wildcat|
Recruiting just got a lot easier for Joe Pasternack III.
Pasternack will not have to go into a recruits home trying to persuade them to come to the University of New Orleans with its cloud of uncertainty surrounding its athletic program.
He will be going into the home of much more publicized recruits to be a part of the University of Arizona's basketball team. The Wildcats were part of the Elite Eight last year, falling to eventually national champion Connecticut 65-63 after eliminating Duke.
Pasternack resigned as head coach at the University of New Orleans after accepting an assistant coaching job under Sean Miller at Arizona.
Not that going to a school like Arizona made his decision to leave UNO any easier.
"I had an unbelievable experience in New Orleans," Pasternack said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything."
The decision was also made tougher considering the 34-year-old Pasternack grew up in New Orleans after a year in kindergarten in Ferriday when parents Joe Jr. and Sarah Pasternack made the move to the Crescent City.
Pasternack spent the last four seasons as head coach at the University of New Orleans.
Pasternack immediately gave stability to the Privateer program, as he was the program's third head coach in three seasons when he was hired in July 2007. Pasternack made his mark quickly, leading UNO to 19 wins in 2007-08, the school's most since 1997, and helped the program defeat a nationally-ranked team (then-No. 21 North Carolina State) for the first time since 1993 and ended up winning more games (11) before Jan. 1 in school history.
His efforts on the recruiting trail were almost as quick as Pasternack secured 11 newcomers for the 2008-09 season after his inaugural squad lost six seniors. That recruiting class was ranked among the best in the Sun Belt Conference.
His fourth year as the Privateer mentor may have been his most challenging. In wake of the school's decision to drop to NCAA Division III, Pasternack lost the majority of his roster to transfer. Pasternack answered the challenge despite the obvious hardships, cobbled together a roster and guided the 2010-11 squad to a 16-6 record.
Prior to UNO, Pasternack spent eight seasons as an administrator and coach at the University of California from 2000-07. He oversaw the Bears' scouting and game preparation efforts by studying game film, writing scouting reports and helping prepare the team on the court for upcoming opponents.
In addition, Pasternack, who worked with the Golden Bear guards in day-to-day practices, was heavily involved in coordinating Cal's recruiting and helped attract several top-25 classes during his tenure.
A 1999 graduate of Indiana University with a degree in marketing, Pasternack was a manager for the Hoosier basketball team for four years under coach Bob Knight, where he broke down game film and assisted in scouting opponents.
Pasternack has helped teams reach the NCAA tournament eight times.
A native of New Orleans, Pasternack played varsity high school basketball for four years at Metairie Park Country Day School. He and his wife, Lindsay, have a son, Joe IV (4), and a daughter, Lilly (3 mos.).
But the opportunity to coach at an elite program was too much to pass up.
"It's a great job and I'm really excited," Pasternack said. "Sean Miller is the total package. He's one of the top coaches in all of college basketball."
Pasternack's contract at UNO was due to expire June 30, and he said the plan was to sit down with Athletic Director Amy Champion to work on a new deal. Things changed once Miller called.
Miller looked at a number of candidates to replace former assistant Archie Miller, his brother, as Archie left to become Dayton's head coach shortly after this year's Final Four. Pasternack flew to Tucson, Ariz., for an interview.
"It all happened at the last minute," Pasternack said. "Once I got out there it blew me away. The practice facility is brand new and they have 15,000 people for every home game. It's a great tradition."
Pasternack was coming off his best season as UNO went 16-6, the best mark of all Division I independents. The program is in the process of downshifting to Division II. Pasternack only had one returning player last season as the NCAA allowed anyone to leave without penalty as the Privateers transitioned.
Pasternack said he called all the players, and said the team was in a state of shock when he told them about his departure, but he said he thinks they all understood his decision.
"I wanted to really stick through it and do everything in my power to build University of New Orleans basketball back," Pasternack said.
And the opportunity to be a head coach was something he will benefit from at Arizona.
"I was very fortunate to get head coaching experience," he said. 'It really helped me see things from a different angle on knowing how to run a total program. That's really going to help me as an assistant."
Despite Derrick Williams making himself eligible for the NBA Draft after a sophomore season in which he as PAC-10 player of the Year,
Pasternack said the Wildcats should be competitive again next season.
"That's going to hurt, but Arizona has the No. 4 recruiting class in the nation coming in," Pasternack said. "It's going to be a lot easier going into homes and asking players to buy into our program."
Losing players after a year or two is something most top-tier programs have adapted to.
"Schools like Arizona, Kentucky and Kansas have been able to reload every year," Pasternack said.
Knowing a player may only be available for year makes it tougher.
"But it's hard to say no to the Brandon Knights of the world," Pasternack said. "You always have to be ready for a guy leaving after a year. That's why you recruit every position."
Pasternack said he believes the NBA will go back to allowing high school players to jump immediately to professional ball.
But until then, Pasternack will continue seeking the best players in the nation.
"They know they are coming to one of the top basketball schools in America," he said. "It's a lot easier going into a house and saying I am from Arizona. But I wouldn't trade my experience at the University of New Orleans for anything. And it taught me a lot about dealing with adversity after Katrina. That ultimately affected our enrollment and student fees. But it was a great experience for me."
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