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Bizot aims to revive Co-Lin men’s team

WESSON – Kenny Bizot stood tall at the podium Thursday afternoon. Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s new 6-foot-5 men’s basketball coach smiled with satisfaction as his shaved head reflected lights from the Rea Auditorium ceiling.

Bizot, 42, felt comfortable to be back in Mississippi after six years coaching the University of Texas-Tyler basketball team. A New Orleans native, it felt almost like being back home in Metairie.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a coach that comes to us so highly recommended,” said Co-Lin president Dr. Ronnie Nettles. “When you talk about basketball teams at Co-Lin, you talk about some of the great coaches who have coached here: Mike Jones, M.K. Turk, Richard Williams, Paul Johnson and Dennis Sims. Coach Bizot has all the credentials to be successful.”

In 42 years of sports writing for The Daily Leader, yours truly has had the privilege of working with many outstanding coaches at Co-Lin. William Lewis followed Turk in 1974 after he left for an assistant’s job at then Memphis State. Turk later moved to Southern Miss where he took the team to places the Golden Eagles had never been, including an NIT championship.

Lewis moved into another field of education and now serves as president of Pearl River Community College.

Co-Lin athletic director Gwyn Young, a legend in his own time after 36 years of coaching the women’s team and over 800 victories, introduced Bizot to the crowd. Young pointed out Bizot’s 18-8 record at Texas-Tyler this season and his American Southwest Conference Coach of the Year honors.

Bizot worked five years as an assistant to Mike Jones at Mississippi College . During that span the Choctaws posted a 119-35 worksheet. Bizot earned MC’s Mr. Hustle Award 4 straight years as a player.

Bizot also held high school coaching stints at Vicksburg Porter’s Chapel, Jackson Prep and Hillcrest Christian where he won two MAIS Overall Tournament championships.

“I want to thank Dr. Nettles, Dean (Brenda) Smith, Coach Young and the search committee for their vote of confidence,” said Bizot. “I want to build this program on character, integrity and hard work. I want to get our players involved in the community. I want to build support and enthusiasm for our basketball team.”

Certainly, Bizot has his work cut out. He is bringing Brent Henley, his No. 1 assistant and recruiter at Tyler-Texas, with him. Cliff Furr, former assistant under Sims, will be assigned other duties on campus.

Sims, 62, coached the Wolves for 17 years. The last four seasons have been difficult at best. Co-Lin has won just 28 games in the last 4 campaigns, going 4-19 in 2012-13.

“Co-Lin has always been a place for us to recruit,” said Bizot. “We’ve been here numerous times.”

Asked about his offensive preference, Bizot said, “We want to value each possession and value each shot,” he answered. “We want to take care of the basketball. We like to run and push the basketball up the floor.”

Much depends on the personnel available. Bizot said he will evaluate the returning players and take a hard look at the prospects in Monday’s tryout camp.

“We might sign eight or nine players.”

Bizot said he looks forward to meeting new coaches on the high school level and renewing old friendships in the coaching ranks. “I like the state being open to recruiting. I have a comfortable feeling in Mississippi.”

Jones, now serving as MC’s athletic director, was present for the conference. Co-Lin enjoyed some of its greatest seasons under his guidance in the late 1980s.

“I know you are getting a good coach in Kenny,” said Jones, flashing a confident smile. “I know you will be pleased.”

Bizot said his favorite New Orleans food is po-boys and Italian muffalettas.

Bizot’s father made the 2-hour drive from Metairie to be with him yesterday. They shared a strong, paternal embrace after the conference.

Bizot’s wife, Jeni, and his 2 sons, 11-year-old Kenner and 5-year-old Will, are finishing up school in Tyler. They’ll move to Wesson in June.

Right now, Bizot is moving fast to recruit and sign the best players available. He wants to bring back the glory days of Co-Lin basketball.

Tennis Change: In another coaching change at Co-Lin, Brenda Smith has been appointed men’s tennis coach. She replaces Mike McIntyre who is retiring after 38 years of coaching Co-Lin tennis.

Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by Email: tom.goetz@dailyleader.com