Patton takes Northern Illinois head coaching job

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

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

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

"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.