Matt Daniel guided a Central Arkansas women’s basketball program from Division II to the Division I level and not only made the Sugar Bears competitive, he made them a force to be reckoned with in the Southland Conference.
On Tuesday, Daniel was officially introduced as the new head coach at Marshall University.
“I am tremendously excited to have Matt Daniel join the Marshall Athletics family,” Athletic Director Mike Hamrick said. “He brings not only experience as a Division I head coach, but also a proven track record of success. His reputation as a top recruiter and coach is well known in college basketball circles.”
Daniel, 35, spent four seasons as the head coach at UCA and recorded at least 21 wins in each of his last three seasons at the helm. He was twice named Coach of the Year, led the Sugar Bears to the postseason two times and won the school’s first D-1 conference championship.
“I think in order to leave the program I was at it had to be the right move and I think this was it,” said Daniel. “I’ve had my eye on it for a while.”
Daniel actually spent time in Huntington back in his playing days being recruited by then-Thundering Herd head coach Billy Donavan.
“I think that his style of play fits my style of play,” said Daniel.
Daniel plans to bring a fast up pace tempo to the Cam Henderson Center court. Daniel says fast and upbeat are how he liked to play and he wants to bring that same style to his teams. He believes players like to play that way and fans like to watch that style of play.
“That’s what I’m really excited about, a fast style of play. I think we’re ready for that,” said guard Shay Weaver.
The tally in the win column wasn’t the only number to increase while Daniel headed up the Sugar Bears program, attendance also increased during his tenure. UCA led the Southland Conference in attendance and 8 of the largest 10 crowds in UCA history came in the last five years.
Daniel played college ball at the University of Colorado in ’94-’95 but eventually transferred to Harding University where he graduated in 1998. Daniel also has a coaching lineage. His father, David, is a highly respected coach, having spent more than 30 years coaching in both the high school and college ranks.
The Jonesboro, Ark. Native had coaching stints at the University of Missouri, University of Colorado and Texas-Arlington before becoming the head man at UCA.
Daniel replaces Royce Chadwick who headed up the program for 11 seasons before resigned in April to take the head coaching job at Texas A&M Corpus Christi. Marshall finished last season 16-14, its best overall record since 2008.
“We have talent here,” said Daniel. “I don’t think it will be a quick fix overnight, but there will be a plan in place. I’m excited for the opportunity. I’m honored to be here and I’m eager to get started.”