Tim Toler said he wasn't surprised when coach Ricardo Patton was fired.
Before signing with NIU, the junior college transfer looked at the record Patton had with the Huskies. He said he believed things had to turn around last season for Patton to stay with the program. They didn't, and Patton didn't.
But while Toler wasn't surprised, he said that didn't make the three weeks leading up to Mark Montgomery's announcement as next men's basketball coach any easier.
"When it happened the next day after the Bowling Green game, it was kind of a hard thing," Toler said. "You've been around this guy for so many months now, I was actually just starting to get used for him and the staff. The past couple weeks, I've been ready to move on more."
Toler found out Montgomery was hired from Todd Townsend early afternoon Wednesday. He and his teammates met their new coach during a 45-minute meeting in the NIU Convocation Center locker room, the same room where they'd learned of Ricardo Patton's firing three weeks before. Toler said the meeting began at 6:30 p.m.
It wasn't the first time Toler met Montgomery.
The summer after his freshman year of high school, Toler attended Michigan State's basketball camp. There he was introduced to a young assistant known as Coach Monty. He was immediately impressed.
Toler said he doubts Montgomery remembers the encounter. He was excited when he found out Coach Monty was his new coach.
"When I found out he was a coaching candidate, I was actually very happy," Toler said. "He's enthusiastic, and he wants to win."