Saturday, December 25, 2004
Phillips resigns as Tulsa coach
TULSA, Okla. -- John Phillips resigned Saturday as Tulsa's
basketball coach after a 2-5 start.
Phillips led Tulsa to the NCAA tournament in his first two
seasons, but the Golden Hurricane slipped to 9-20 last year and
have lost four of their past five games this season.
"The last couple of months have been very difficult for me, my
family and the players," Phillips said in a statement.
"Sometimes, change can bring about growth. My hope is that all TU
fans will support the players through the remainder of the season
and we will all witness tremendous progress."
Assistant coach Alvin Williamson will take over on an interim
basis. The school offered Phillips a chance to stay on as assistant
"Obviously, this is not the way that I envisioned becoming a
head coach," said Williamson, who also played at Tulsa. "Coach
Phillips has been very influential in my coaching career. As
coaches, we're going to put our entire energy into this basketball
team and our next opponent."
Phillips was hired in April 2001, inheriting a strong program
built up by former coaches Tubby Smith, Bill Self and Buzz
Peterson. Tulsa went to the NCAA tournament six times in eight
years before Phillips took over.
With a roster mostly recruited by Self and Peterson, Phillips
led the Golden Hurricane to a 27-7 record in his first season. The
Golden Hurricane lost to Smith's Kentucky team in the second round
of the NCAA tournament.
The next year brought a Western Athletic Conference tournament
title and another trip to the NCAAs. Tulsa upset fourth-seeded
Dayton in the first round before a last-second loss to Wisconsin.
Phillips' run of success ended there. Tulsa finished tied for
eighth in the WAC last season, its first 20-loss season in 16 years
and the first time the program had missed postseason play entirely
The Golden Hurricane opened this season with a loss to Wright
State, then were blown out by crosstown rival Oral Roberts. The
final straw was a 91-85 home loss Wednesday to Lamar -- a team that
hadn't won a road game in more than a year.
Phillips was 61-42 in three-plus seasons at Tulsa.
Williamson, 31, is in his fourth season on the Tulsa coaching
staff after previous stints as an assistant at Tulane, Illinois
State and Washington State.
"Coach Phillips has helped me progress as a basketball coach,
and he has helped these basketball players grow as young men and
players," Williamson said. "We will do everything possible to
continue instilling the values of hard work, teamwork and unity. We
have a great basketball tradition to uphold at Tulsa, and we will
work diligently to keep it."