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Sunday, March 18, 2007
Updated: March 19, 4:37 PM ET
Patton takes Northern Illinois head coaching job

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

Northern Illinois University has picked former Colorado coach Ricardo Patton to be the school's new men's basketball coach.

Ricardo Patton bio
Ricardo Patton
Patton
• Age: 48

• 184-160 in 11 seasons at Colorado

• Led Buffaloes to posteason six times, including two NCAA tourney trips

• Recruited NBA star Chauncey Billups to Colorado

• Fun fact: Has fifth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do

Patton finished an 11-year career with Colorado earlier this month. The Buffaloes lost to Texas Tech in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament. He announced he wouldn't coach beyond this season at the outset of the season.

Patton's prior success as a Division I coach helped set him apart from hundreds of coaches who were considered for the job, said NIU Athletic Director Jim Phillips.

"There's only been 11 teams in the history of Colorado basketball in 106 years that have won 18 or more games," Phillips said. "The man on my left [Patton] is responsible for six of those."

The 48-year-old Patton replaces Rob Judson, who was fired after going 7-23 overall and 4-12 in the Mid-American conference this season. Judson was in his sixth season with NIU and had a career record of 74-101 with the Huskies.

Patton coached the Buffaloes to a 3-13 finish in the Big 12, 7-20 overall, after going 9-7 a year ago and finishing fifth in the Big 12. The Buffaloes lost four seniors but returned Richard Roby, who declared for the NBA draft before withdrawing.

Patton took CU to the NCAA Tournament in 1997 and 2003, going 1-2. His most famous recruit was getting Denver-area product Chauncey Billups to play for CU.

Patton said he is confident that he can turn things around at Northern Illinois.

"We should be playing for conference championships," he said.

Patton's hiring is significant for NIU in the MAC. The MAC now can boast as being one of the most diverse coaching conferences in the country with seven of its 12 members now being coached by African-Americans. Bowling Green is also looking for a coach after firing Dan Dakich.

Phillips noted Patton's success as a recruiter. He said Patton was an assistant when he recruited Billups. He also recruited center David Harrison, who is now with the Indiana Pacers.

Patton said his priorities include recruiting top players throughout Illinois, particularly in Chicago. He said he believes he can win recruiting battles with schools such as Illinois and DePaul.

"There's no reason why when we go into the homes and talk to these young men they will not select Northern Illinois," he said.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.