Born in Southern Illinois, Dana Ford played college basketball at Illinois State. Porter Moser was his head coach in Normal. Now Moser is a Valley champion, coaching in the Sweet 16 with Loyola.
At 21, Ford took a graduate assistant job with Gregg Marshall at Winthrop. He later rejoined Marshall as an assistant coach at Wichita State.
“I learned from one of the best at that time at Wichita State,” Ford said Thursday. “Then I got a chance to learn from a first-time head coach in Dan Muller.”
Muller got the Illinois State job in 2012. His first call was to fellow Redbird alum Dana Ford.
“I made him associate head coach from the beginning because I knew the type of talent he was as a coach,” Muller told KOLR10. “He’s just a high-energy, high-intensity coach who can connect with players and recruit at a high level.”
Muller said he stays in touch with Ford more than any other coach. But starting Thursday, Ford is recruiting and coaching against one of his mentors and best friends.
“I’m hoping that he has a really, really good team every year, and I’m hoping we beat them every time we play them.”
The Valley will have three new coaches in 2018-19: Ford, new Evansville hire Walter McCarty and Niko Medved’s successor at Drake. Thursday Medved bolted for Colorado State after one season in Des Moines.