D-League's Thunderbirds hire Ruland as coach

Jul 18, 2007 - 11:20 PM ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Ticker) -- The Albuquerque Thunderbirds of the D-League named former NBA forward Jeff Ruland coach on Wednesday.

A two-time All-Star with the Washington Bullets, Ruland played eight seasons in the NBA, averaging 17.2 points and 10.4 rebounds over his career.

But the 6-10 Ruland made his name recently with his alma mater, Iona College, guiding the school for the past eight campaigns. During his tenure, Iona recorded three 20-win seasons, three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances.

According to Ruland, he will use his NBA experience to help D-League players get to where he once was.

"I've been to where D-League players want to go," Ruland said. "Guys want to learn, and I can show them. I can't make them, but I can show them."

Ruland replaces another former NBA player, Michael Cooper, who left Albuquerque in April to become coach with the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks. Albuquerque owner Sam Bregman does not think there will be any dropoff after the coaching change.

"We are very excited to welcome Jeff Ruland as the new head coach of the Thunderbirds," Bregman said. "He has a great combination of NBA experience and a proven ability to develop young men for success at the next level.

"We look forward to watching coach Ruland bring another D-League championship to Albuquerque."

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