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Raptors name O'Neill coach

June 18, 2003 at 4:42 PM   |   Comments

TORONTO, June 18 (UPI) -- The Toronto Raptors Wednesday named Kevin O'Neill their new coach.

They decided not to spend for a high-profile coach after dismissing

Lenny Wilkens with a year left on his contract.

O'Neill had been an assistant under Rick Carlisle at Detroit the last two seasons. He lost his job when Carlisle was fired in late May.

"I want to thank Jeff Van Gundy for giving me a chance to coach in this league," O'Neill said at a news conference. "And Rick Carlisle gave me an opportunity to learn a lot in this league. I owe a lot to both of them."

O'Neill, 46, is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal. He has never been a head coach in the pros, but was a bench boss in college at Northwestern, Marquette and Tennessee.

"I realize you can't compare coaching in college with coaching in the NBA," O'Neill said. "This is certainly a lot more difficult."

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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