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Grizzlies name Dave Joerger head coach

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Dave Joerger was introduced as coach of the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday after a season in which they won a franchise-best 56 games but split with coach Lionel Hollins.

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Joerger (YAY-gehr) was a successful head coach in the minor leagues and was the lead assistant under Hollins the last two seasons. He has been with the team six seasons.

``I am ready for this opportunity,'' he said at a news conference. ``I have won in the past. I know how to win. We're going to win.''

The Grizzlies reached the Western Conference finals this season, but there was a disconnect between Hollins and the new ownership group led by Robert Pera that took over this season. Hollins' contract wasn't renewed despite a 196-155 record since becoming coach of the Grizzlies in January 2009.

Terms of Joerger's contract weren't released. But The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis has reported Joerger signed a four-year deal with a starting salary of about $1.5 million.

``This is a blue-collar town, and I'm a blue-collar guy,'' Joerger said. ``I came up the hard way. I came up through the minor leagues.''

Joerger helped coordinate a defense this season that allowed a league-low 89.3 points a game, and his experience with the players may well ease the transition between coaches.

He had been mentioned as the successor to Hollins even as ownership and the former Grizzlies coach were trying to patch things up. On June 10, team leaders decided they had reached an impasse and announced they wouldn't keep Hollins.

The Grizzlies also interviewed George Karl, the NBA coach of the year before being fired by Denver, Chicago Bulls assistant Ed Pinckney and former Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry. Through it all, though, Joerger's name remained the one that kept coming up.

Joerger won an International Basketball Association championship and two Continental Basketball Association crowns with the Dakota Wizards. A third CBA championship came as coach of the Sioux Falls Skyforce in 2005. He won a fifth minor league title in 2007 with the Dakota Wizards after they had moved to the NBA Development League.

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