Alford names staff, reunites with ex-Lobos coach Craig Neal

Tahoe Onstage

Steve Alford was introduced at the Nevada men’s basketball coach on April 12.
Michael Smyth / Tahoe Onstage

New University of Nevada head men’s basketball coach Steve Alford has named five members to his coaching staff for the 2019-20 season. Craig Neal will be the associate head coach, while Kory Barnett and Bil Duany will serve as assistant coaches for the Wolf Pack. Kory Alford will be the Pack’s director of player development. Brandon Chambers will remain the Pack’s director of operations, a spot he has filled the past two seasons.

“I’m extremely fortunate to have assembled this staff,” Alford said.  “The common theme of these men are exactly what I want in leading our student-athletes. They are men of faith, they have a love for family and all have a terrific history of winning. I’m so anxious to work alongside a group of men who are so well connected. Beginning day one we will start building our culture of Nevada basketball.”

Neal and coach Alford have been good friends since grade school as both were coached by their fathers in high school. The past 10 months, Neal worked in Monaco as the country’s director of sport where he oversaw 23 youth teams for the ASM Basketball Association comprised of players from age 9 to 21. He was tasked with helping improve youth basketball in Monaco. During his time in Monaco he worked closely with U18 players and the Espoirs Team of the LNB Pro A League. He was instrumental in making basketball history in Monaco by helping secure the NBA Global Camp which was a huge accomplishment bringing the NBA to the country and making Monaco relevant on the world basketball stage.

Craig Neal

Neal was the head coach at the University of New Mexico from 2013-17 and led the Lobos to a 76-52 record. He spent three years as the associate head coach under Alford at Iowa and six at New Mexico. He was promoted to head coach at UNM when Alford accepted the head coaching job at UCLA.

In nine seasons coaching alongside Alford, the two led teams to postseason eight times, captured three conference tournament titles and four regular season conference championships. In those nine seasons, the teams posted a combined record of 218-87 for a winning percentage of 71 percent. The teams averaged 24 wins per season. During their time in the Mountain West from 2007-13, they won six total titles and produced an amazing record of 155-52, a 75 percent winning percentage.

In his first season at UNM, Neal led the Lobos to a 27-7 record and an NCAA Tournament berth after winning the Mountain West Tournament. He was the first Lobos rookie coach to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament in his first year. The Lobos’ 27 wins were the most by a first year head coach at New Mexico. UNM ended the year ranked 17th in the Associated Press poll.

On the 2013-14 squad, he coach All-American Cameron Bairstow who was joined on the All-MW first-team by Kendall Williams. Alex Kirk earned third-team recognition and Hugh Greenwood was on the honorable mention squad. Williams and Kirk were also members of the MW’s All-Defensive team. Neal himself was a finalist for a pair of national awards in the Joe B. Hall award (top rookie coach) and the Jim Pheland Award (national coach of the year).

Two of his players at UNM were selected in the NBA draft during his tenure as head coach. Tony Snell was taken 20th overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 2013 draft, Bairstow was a second round pick of the Bulls in 2014.  Kirk was on the Cleveland Cavaliers 2014-15 opening day roster.

Neal’s teams succeeded in the classroom as UNM posting a perfect APR score in the NCAA’s 2014 report. In the fall of 2014 UNM’s grade point average was 3.02, marking the first above a 3.0 in program history.

In college, he played at Georgia Tech and earned All-ACC honors his senior year in 1988 when he set the conference record with 303 assists. He led the ACC averaging 9.5 assists per game, 11.6 in conference play. His 659 career assists were a school record when he graduated. Neal played on five teams that advanced to postseason play, the 1984 NIT and four NCAA Tournament teams.  In 1985, Georgia Tech fell in the NCAA regional final to top-seed Georgetown and in the Sweet 16 in 1986.

A third-round selection in the 1988 NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers he also played for Miami, Chicago and Denver.  Overall he played eight professional seasons in the NBA, CBA and Europe.  During his time in the CBA he played in three championships series.  In his final season in the CBA in 1994-95 he played and coached. He later worked in the Toronto Raptors organization and spent 16 years in professional basketball both as a player and coach.

Neal earned his bachelor’s degree in management from Georgia Tech in 1988. The native of Washington, Ind., played prep basketball at Washington High School, for his father, Stan. Craig earned All-America recognition and was a member of the Indiana All-Star team following his senior year in 1983. He and his wife, Janet, have two sons, Cullen and Dalton.

Nevada basketball

Kory Barnett

Barnett worked for Alford at UCLA for six seasons, the last two as the director of basketball operations and the previous four as the program’s video coordinator. In 2012-13, he was a graduate assistant for his alma mater, Indiana University. From 2009-2012, he played for the Hoosiers and earned a degree in sports communications.

During his time at UCLA, the Bruins reached the Sweet 16 three times.  The Rochester, Ind. native helped lead the Hoosiers to a Sweet 16 appearances his senior year in 2008.  Three times he earned All-Big Ten Conference academic honors.

He and his wife Sarah have a son, Brooks.

Duany comes to the Wolf Pack after four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of New Orleans. In 2016-17, he helped the Privateers to a 20-12 record as the team captured the Southland Conference regular season and tournament titles. In 2017, New Orleans advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 21 years.

Nevada basketball

Bil Duany

He helped Erik Thomas earn conference player of the year honors and Travin Thibodeaux garner all-defensive team recognition. Thomas received the Pete Maravich Award, given to the Louisiana Major College Player of the Year, Associated Press All-American Honorable Mention and NABC All-District 23 first team honors. In 2019 freshman forward Gerrale Gates became just the third UNO player to receive Southland Conference Freshman of the Year honors.  In the last three seasons at UNO the Privateers led the Southland in conference and conference tournament combined wins.

In college, he played two seasons at Eastern Illinois and his final two years at Indiana.  Duany completed his bachelor’s degree in public affairs from Indiana in May 2009.

Kory Alford spent the past four seasons at UCLA as the video analytics coordinator after playing two seasons for the Bruins and two seasons at New Mexico. As a player, he helped four teams reach the NCAA Tournament and the 2014 and 2015 squads advanced to the Sweet 16. During his prep career at La Cueva High School in Albuquerque he was part of two state championship teams.

Between his time at UCLA and New Mexico, Kory Alford’s teams won three conference tournament titles and two conference regular-season crowns.

Nevada basketball

Brandon Chambers

He received his degree from UCLA in 2015 in sociology and a masters from USF in 2017. Kory and his wife Haley will reside in Reno.

Chambers has spent the past three seasons on the Nevada basketball staff, the last two as the director of basketball operations. He has helped the Wolf Pack capture three consecutive MW regular season titles and make three trips to the NCAA Tournament.

The past two seasons, the Pack has tied the school record with 29 victories.  The 58 wins in the past two years are the best two years in school history.  Nevada has gone 86-17 overall and 44-10 in MW play during his time with the Wolf Pack.

— Jack Kuestermeyer, Nevada Athletics

About Tahoe Onstage

Tahoe Onstage is an online entertainment and sports magazine covering Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Reno, the Carson Valley and June Lake.

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