W&M Names New Basketball Coach: WMSB Hot Take

W&M’s next Head Coach is Dane Fischer, formerly an assistant at George Mason University.

W&M has finally done it — after an agonizing 2+ weeks following Coach Shaver’s firing, the new Head Coach has finally been named: Dane Fischer, assistant coach of the George Mason University basketball team. On the surface, many fans might be asking themselves, “What happened to John Thompson III? What about Jason Williford?” 

Rumors leading up to this hire suggest that W&M had a rough go of it making the sell to prospective head coach candidates; and with so many W&M players currently in the transfer portal, it’s perhaps unsurprising that it was tough to find a coach. However, at the end of the day, William & Mary managed to land a young, up-and-coming basketball coach with strong Virginia ties and elite recruiting potential in Dane Fischer. 

But we’ll stop our jabbering, and let Fischer’s George Mason bio do the talking (we’ve underlined what we believe to be key points on his resume):

Dane Fischer Resume & Biography

“Dane Fischer joined the George Mason men’s basketball team as an assistant coach in April 2015 and is widely recognized as a tireless recruiter, elite basketball tactician, and one of the rising stars in the coaching business. 

This past season, George Mason was one of the most improved teams in the country, winning 20 games and setting a new school record for A-10 Conference wins.  Much of the turn-around can be attributed to a new offensive system that Fischer was heavily involved in designing and implementing.  Fischer also mentored senior guard Marquise Moore, who was named the Atlantic 10’s 2016-17 Most Improved Player.

Fischer (left) proved himself to be a strong recruiter with George Mason.

In the staff’s first season, the Patriots set a school record for conference wins since joining the Atlantic 10 (broken again in 2016-17), and advanced to the championship game of the 2015 Gildan Charleston Classic. During the run to the title game, the Patriots uprooted Power 5 opponents Ole Miss and Oklahoma State to face nationally-ranked Virginia in the title game.  Fischer was also the lead recruiter of freshman Otis Livingston II who led the Patriots in scoring (11.9 ppg) and assists (114) and earned A-10 All-Rookie honors while being tabbed the 2016 VaSID Rookie of the Year. Livingston II led all freshmen in the A-10 in scoring and minutes per game. 

Prior to joining the staff at George Mason, Fischer spent seven years under Dave Paulsen at Bucknell University, where he served as the program’s Associate Head Coach beginning in 2011. He helped revitalize a Bucknell program that finished second to last place the year before the staff’s arrival, to Patriot League Champions and an NCAA Tournament berth in only their third season. The program went on to win three more regular season league titles over the next four years, including another NCAA Tournament appearance and two NIT berths

In six recruiting classes, Fischer brought in a total of fourteen All-League Selections, including eight on the 1st team and five All-Rookie picks.  Fischer also recruited three Patriot League Player of the Year Award winners in Nana Foulland, Cameron Ayers and two-time recipient Mike Muscala. Muscala, currently with the Atlanta Hawks, finished his career as Bucknell’s all-time leading scorer and is the only player in Bucknell history to play in the NBA.  Under Fischer’s guidance as the program’s recruiting coordinator, the staff landed the two winningest classes in Bucknell basketball history.

‘Dane has been my right-hand man for the last seven years at Bucknell,’ Paulsen noted. ‘He is one of the best teachers of the game that I have been around and was instrumental in the recruitment of Muscala and Ayers, who collectively won three Patriot League Player of the Year awards. Dane had his hand in every coaching, teaching and recruiting decision I made at Bucknell.’

Fischer was instrumental in turning around Bucknell’s team as an assistant with the Bison, a feat he’ll look to accomplish at W&M in the coming years.

Not only did Bucknell succeed on the court with Fischer on staff, but in the classroom as well claiming six Academic All-Patriot League spots, four Capital One Academic All-District selections and one national Academic All-American. 

Fischer was part of turning around another Division I program during his three seasons as an assistant coach at Rider University.  While at Rider, Fischer helped take a team that won 8 games in his first year to a school-record 23 victories and a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) regular-season championship in his third season. Also acting as the program’s recruiting coordinator, Fischer brought three all-conference and two all-rookie performers to the Lawrenceville, N.J., campus, and the 2011 class graduated with the most career wins in program history.  While at Rider, Fischer was instrumental in the development of NBA lottery pick Jason Thompson for three seasons, who was the top senior taken in the 2008 Draft, picked 12th overall by the Sacramento Kings.

Fischer’s first coaching stint with Paulsen occurred at Williams College as an assistant coach from 2003-05. In those two seasons, Williams went 46-11 and finished as the national runner-up in 2004.  Fischer was also the head coach of the JV program from 2003-2004.

During his playing days at Ithaca College, Fischer was a two-time team captain and graduated ranked among the top 10 in program history in career assists and steals. He was a three-year starting point guard and helped lead the Bombers to a berth in the NCAA Tournament, an ECAC Upstate New York championship, and was voted team MVP his senior year. A native of Minnesota, he graduated in 2002 with a degree in business administration and a minor in economics.

Fischer is married to the former Chelsea Chowning, a former women’s basketball Academic All-American at the University of Kentucky, where she graduated with her doctorate from UK’s College of Pharmacy.  The couple welcomed their first child, daughter Camryn, in November 2016.”

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W&M Sports Blog Hot Take
While this is not the most “sexy” hire, W&M AD Samantha Huge certainly found a great fit in Fischer. He’s a guy that checks many boxes: he’s helped lead two turnaround efforts at D1 programs at both Rider and Bucknell University.

He’s recruited high-caliber student athletes multiple times, most notably with Bucknell where he was instrumental in recruiting two of Bucknell’s all-time classes — which led to multiple years of postseason play in both the NCAA Tournament and the NIT.

He has strong recruiting ties to the state of Virginia, coming from George Mason University. He’s a young, offensive coach, who knows how to put points on the board — as evidenced by the offensive system he recently implemented at GMU. 

The main question we have about him centers around his lack of head coaching experience. We’re also unsure about his experience on the other side of the court — on the defensive side — as that’s been something that the Tribe has certainly struggled with in recent years (and that’s probably an understatement).

But overall, and especially given how hard of a sell this reportedly was for Huge and the rest of the W&M leadership team, W&M did a good job in selecting a coach with great potential. We’ll never agree with the firing of Shaver (especially the timing of it), but given that it’s in the past, Fischer looks to be the right guy for the job.

With the hire, priority #1 for Fischer and the administration should be to meet with and retain as many current W&M players as possible; as mentioned, every returning starter is currently in the transfer portal. This obviously means that there’s still hope for these players to return to the Tribe, as they’re only testing the waters (for now). 

We’ll be following these developments closely over the coming weeks and months, so be sure to check in with us on social media and on this site for future articles and updates! 

#WeBelieve

LET’S GO TRIBE

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