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Idaho assistant Pfeifer to take over hoops reins

MOSCOW, Idaho -- Idaho assistant coach George Pfeifer will
take over the ailing University of Idaho men's basketball program,
school officials announced Saturday.

Pfeifer -- an assistant at Idaho during the 2005-2006 season and
the former coach at NAIA Division I Lewis-Clark State College in
nearby Lewiston, Idaho -- will be offered a three-year contract
comparative to former coach Leonard Perry's, which was valued at
about $170,000 a year, said athletic director Rob Spear.

Pfeifer has been heading the program since Perry was fired just
hours after Idaho's season-ending loss to Nevada in the first round
of the Western Athletic Conference tournament on March 9.

Pfeifer is a 51-year-old St. Ivies, Idaho-native and earned a
master's degree from the University of Idaho in 1989 and his
bachelor's from Lewis-Clark in 1979.

In 16 years at Lewis-Clark, he led the team to a 296-208 record,
including six NAIA national tournament appearances as well as
Frontier Conference titles in 2004 and 2005.

Pfeifer said the Idaho basketball program will need rebuilding
after a record 25 losses this season and back-to-back 20 loss
years. This season, Idaho also finished last in the WAC in nine of
18 statistical categories, including points scored, scoring margin,
field goal percentage and rebounds.

"We need to get better players," Pfeifer said Saturday after
being announced as the new head coach. "We have some younger
players who are going to step up and help in the future, but we
need to get some people who will come help us play right away."

He said he'll try to craft a new recruiting "blueprint" to
bring more and better players to Moscow.

The decision to hire Pfeifer is somewhat of a reverse from a
statement Spear made earlier this month when he said he wanted a
coach from a winning program.

In recent weeks, Gonzaga assistant Leon Rice, Utah State
assistant Don Verlin, Oregon State assistant Jeff Reinart and
Minnesota assistant Bill Walker have reportedly interviewed for the
Idaho coaching job.

Spear said he interviewed a total of nine candidates, but
declined to give names or say whether any of them were offered the
position.

"What we've done in this process is been very thorough. We
talked to NBA coaches, Division I coaches and my contacts across
the country," Spear said. "The theme was that that we have a good
guy right down the hall."

Pfeifer's selection was apparently aided by endorsements from
former Idaho basketball coach Don Monson and Idaho's new
high-profile football coach Dennis Erickson, Pfeifer said.