DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Niko Medved is taking over a Drake program that has proven to be a coaching graveyard for plenty of his predecessors.
Medved's first challenge is convincing the Bulldogs he's the right person for the job.
Medved, who grew up in nearby Minneapolis, was introduced Monday as Drake's latest coach. He replaces interim coach Jeff Rutter, the guy many of his new players hoped would be awarded the job permanently.
''I believe this is the perfect fit for me,'' said Medved, who also thanked Rutter during his opening remarks. ''I'm here to win, and I'm here to build a program that all of you can be proud of.''
On Sunday, just hours before Drake announced Medved's hiring, star guard Reed Timmer retweeted Rice's announcement that it had promoted associate coach Scott Pera and wrote ''Awesome moment for these guys, hoping for the same for us!'' Timmer also tagged Bulldogs athletic director Sandy Hatfield-Clubb and Drake president Marty Martin for the post.
But while Rutter was a finalist, Medved- the 2017 Southern Conference coach of the year at Furman - won the job. He is tasked with making Drake consistently competitive in the Missouri Valley.
Medved knows he'll have to earn the trust of the current Bulldogs first.
''Sometimes change is hard. But I know one thing. Change can be a good thing,'' Medved said. ''Change can be a really good thing moving forward.''
Medved, 43, spent the past four seasons as the head coach at Furman. Medved also spent six seasons as an assistant coach at Colorado State under current Nebraska coach Tim Miles.
Before joining Colorado State, Medved spent a year as an assistant at Minnesota under Dan Monson after seven seasons as an assistant at Furman.
He gets the reins of a program with just one NCAA Tournament appearance in the past 46 years. Former coach Ray Giacoletti quit just eight games into his third season in late 2016, ceding to Rutter.
Rutter and the Bulldogs got off to a relatively fast start, winning five games out of nine in one stretch. But Drake collapsed down the stretch, finishing 7-24.
Rutter and Giacoletti followed Mark Phelps, who was let go after five seasons. The last coach to win big at Drake was Keno Davis - who left after leading the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament and the Valley title in his only season as the head coach.
''The guy has a proven track record. I'm just really excited to see what he's about and start working with him,'' forward Casey Schlatter said of Medved. ''We have no other option than to give him a chance. He deserves a chance.''
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