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Southern Miss searching for new basketball coach

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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Southern Mississippi athletic director Bill McGillis thought basketball coach Donnie Tyndall might not last long as the team kept winning games.

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It just happened a little sooner than he wanted. The Golden Eagles are searching for their third basketball coach in four seasons after Tyndall left on Tuesday to take the Tennessee job. Tyndall had a successful tenure at Southern Miss that included a 56-17 record in two seasons, including two trips to the NIT quarterfinals.

''If I look a little tired,'' said McGillis, with a grin. ''It's because I had a long night.''

McGillis thanked Tyndall for ''two amazing years,'' but said during a news conference he expects the program to build on that success.

''I want to be clear - we have a great basketball program,'' McGillis said. ''We have a great basketball job. This is a position that will be highly sought after, there's no question about it. We will attract an outstanding head coach.''

McGillis said he held a morning meeting with the players and started the search for Tyndall's successor. He said he hopes to have a new coach within two weeks with the help of a small group of advisers.

Southern Miss is expected to return a young nucleus of talent that includes guards Aaron Brown and Matt Bingaya. The 6-foot-5 Brown averaged nearly 10 points last season, and the 6-5 Bingaya became a key contributor during the final month.

McGillis described his meeting with the players as ''somber'' since most were recruited by Tyndall, but said there was no anger.

''They're the most important guys to me, the guys who are here,'' McGillis said. ''They're going to be the foundation of our success going forward for next year and I wanted to remind them of that. Let them know how important they are and that we're going to move quickly and get the right leader.''

Southern Miss, which plays in Conference USA, has had plenty of recent success with five straight 20-win seasons. Veteran coach Larry Eustachy led the program to the NCAA tournament in 2012. Eustachy left after that season to take the Colorado State job and Tyndall had seasons with 27 and 29 wins, respectively.

But more than the wins, Tyndall was known for his up-tempo coaching style and enthusiasm in the community that attracted fans to Reed Green Coliseum. After big wins, he would sometimes grab a microphone to thank fans for showing up and made frequent trips around campus to invite students to games.

McGillis said he had few preconceived ideas of who the next coach would be - young or old, head coach or an assistant - but did say he'd like someone who is willing to interact with the community and cultivate the newfound fan support.

''(Tyndall) was very special in that regard - one of a kind in some ways,'' McGillis said. ''And I think that's important. Being able to engage our fan base and our community and be of the community is very important. That's the kind of community we're in. That's essential. But the personality is going to be different. On the fun meter, are we going to have a 10? Who knows?''

-----

Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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