James Strong is coming back to Nashville.
But the Vanderbilt grad won’t be coaching for the Commodores again. Instead, he’ll be right up the road at Belmont.
Bruins head men’s basketball coach Rick Byrd announced the hiring of Strong on Wednesday, filling a void on the Belmont coaching staff after Casey Alexander took the head coaching job at Atlantic Sun Conference rival Stetson last month.
“His experience as a player and coach, as well as his success as associate head coach at Furman, will allow him to begin contributing immediately to all aspects of our program,” Byrd said in a statement. “We are looking forward to implementing new ideas and approaches that James will bring to our basketball program on the floor and in recruiting. And, most importantly, he will enhance Belmont University and our athletic department with the personal character that he brings to our campus. We are really glad to have him on board.”
Strong comes to Belmont after five years at Furman, which is coached by former Vanderbilt assistant Jeff Jackson. Strong was promoted to associate head coach for the 2010-11 season, and Furman went 22-11 and upset Southeastern Conference foe South Carolina. The Paladins also earned a bid to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. It was Furman’s first trip to the postseason in 20 years.
Strong also coached at Vanderbilt from 2001-06, serving as director of basketball video operations. He also played for the Commodores and Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings from 1997-2000. He helped guide the Commodores to the NCAA Tournament once and the NIT twice. As a junior, he led the SEC and set a school record with 77 steals. He is fourth all-time in school history with 209 steals.
Byrd will make one more hire to fill out his four-person coaching staff. Roger Idstrom is expected to be announced as Alexander’s top assistant at Stetson. Byrd officially announced earlier this week that Brian Ayers has been promoted to associate head coach (Alexander previously held the position since 2002). Ayers, a Lipscomb grad, will begin his 14th season at Belmont in the fall.