When Rick Barnes needed to fill a position for a high-profile assistant coach earlier this week, he didn't look far from his former "family" of coaches.
And, his choice is a familiar one to Siena and MAAC basketball fans. Former Saints' head coach Rob Lanier (2001-02 through the 2004-05 seasons), who most recently had been an assistant under Billy Donovan at Florida, was the choice.
Lanier had been an assistant at Texas for two seasons just prior to taking over at Siena. The 42-year old Lanier takes over the post vacated by Rodney Terry, who left the Longhorns' coaching staff earlier this month to become head coach at Fresno State University. At Texas, Lanier will hold the title of associate head coach.
"It was a very difficult decision to leave The University of Florida," Lanier said, in a statement released by the Texas sports information office. "Even though we were only here for four years, our family established a lot of roots here. Working with Billy Donovan has been a great experience, and I can't thank everyone at Florida enough for the opportunity. I'm leaving a great friend and coach in Billy Donovan who I love and admire, and the only way this move happens is if I'm going to work with someone who I have great trust in. I wouldn't have been able to make this move without the trust I have in Rick Barnes.
"In a way, Dayo (Lanier's wife) and I feel like we're coming home," Lanier added. "I'm sure that sounds strange since we were only there for two years, but that is how we feel. Our son Emory was born in Austin. Since the time we left Texas and started our family, we've always said if you could draw that perfect place to be as a family and have the quality of life we desire, it would be Austin and The University of Texas. It is that special a place for us. As hard as the decision was, we realized that if we let it pass by, it would have been one of our greater regrets down the road."
At Siena, his teams went to an NCAA tournament and an NIT in his first two seasons there, but a 6-24 record in 2004-05, coupled with the defection of several players from his program, brought about his dismissal from that program.
"Our entire coaching staff is ecstatic," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "From the time Rodney Terry left to take the job at Fresno State, everyone I talked to asked about the possibility of hiring Rob Lanier. The fact of the matter is we weren't sure we could get him here.
"He was here at Texas before when we were just getting started, and you can't put into words the effect Rob had on helping us build this program," Barnes continued. "We welcome Rob, his wife, Dayo, and their children, Emory and Kai, back into our basketball family and The University of Texas. Our staff is excited to work with Rob in continuing to improve our program."
Between Siena and Florida Lanier served as an assistant coach at The University of Virginia for two seasons (2005-06 and 2006-07).
In his earlier stay at Texas, Lanier was a vital part of that program's recruiting success, helping the Horns land a consensus Top 10 national class that included Brian Boddicker, Royal Ivey, Jason Klotz, Brandon Mouton and James Thomas. He was also credited for being the lead recruiter of T.J. Ford, one of the best point guards to ever play in the Texas program.
After a playing career at St. Bonventure, Lanier began his coaching career at another conference school, Niagara, where he was a graduate assistant and a restricted earnings assistant coach for two seasons.