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Assistant hoops coach leaves Eagles

Wed., June 24, 2009

Earlywine hopes he will be able to replace Leep

Assistant coach Grant Leep, the longest-tenured member of Eastern Washington University’s men’s basketball staff, has accepted a position as the top assistant under Ryan Looney at Seattle Pacific University.

Leep, a former prep standout for Mount Vernon High School and four-year letterwinner at the University of Washington, spent four seasons as an assistant at EWU, the last two under Eagles’ head coach Kirk Earlywine, who lamented his departure Tuesday afternoon.

“Any time you lose somebody off your staff, as a head coach, it changes things,” Earlywine said. “It’s like losing a player. Roles change, and so does the chemistry.

“Grant has done a really good job here and has a tremendous amount of respect from our players. He’s developing into a terrific coach, and when you lose a guy like that, it hurts.”

Earlywine added he is still awaiting word from EWU’s administration on whether he will be allowed to hire a replacement for Leep, considering the massive budget cuts the school is making.

“It’s entirely possible they may not let me,” he said. “And, to be honest with you, I’m preparing for the worst. Since the middle of January, the approach I’ve been taking is to prepare for the worst and make sure you don’t get blindsided. And until I hear differently from our administration, I’m sticking with that approach.”

Earlywine said Leep’s departure should not dramatically affect his program’s current recruiting efforts, noting only three coaches can be out recruiting right now.

“And myself, (associate head coach) Jamie Matthews and (assistant) Rach Wortham will handle that for the rest of the summer,” he explained.

Leep said his decision to leave the Eagles program was a difficult one to make.

“It was unbelievable,” he said of his experience at Eastern, “especially these last two years working under Kirk, with the way he treated me and taught me. And it was about more than just basketball. It was being a professional and doing things the right way.”

But Leep added the chance to make “a little more money,” be a No. 1 assistant and get back to the Seattle area was too good to pass up.

At SPU he will work under Looney, who was hired last May to replace former Falcons’ head coach Jeff Hironaka, who left to become an assistant under Ken Bone at Washington State.

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