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Search for a new head coach for St. John's Edge shouldn’t take long

Doug Plumb has worked as an NBL Canada assistant coach for two years, first with the London Lightning and last season with the St. John’s Edge. —  St. John’s Edge photo/Jeff Parsons
Doug Plumb has worked as an NBL Canada assistant coach for two years, first with the London Lightning and last season with the St. John’s Edge. — St. John’s Edge photo/Jeff Parsons

With Jeff Dunlap not returning to NBL Canada team, look for assistant coach Doug Plumb to be promoted to the top job

Now that the St. John’s Edge are officially in the market for a new coach, don’t expect a widespread search for a replacement.

The leading candidate — perhaps the only one — is Doug Plumb, who was the top assistant to Jeff Dunlap, the Edge’s head coach during the team’s successful inaugural season in the National Basketball League of Canada.

After playing a big role in the successful launch of the St. John’s Edge franchise, head coach/GM Jeff Dunlap is saying goodbye to St. John’s. On Wednesday, Cal State Northridge announced Dunlap was joining the school's NCAA Division One basketball program as an assistant coach. — St. John’s Edge photo/Jeff Parsons
After playing a big role in the successful launch of the St. John’s Edge franchise, head coach/GM Jeff Dunlap is saying goodbye to St. John’s. On Wednesday, Cal State Northridge announced Dunlap was joining the school's NCAA Division One basketball program as an assistant coach. — St. John’s Edge photo/Jeff Parsons

As The Telegram’s Robin Short predicted in March, Dunlap is headed back to the American collegiate ranks and his native southern California, to Cal State Northridge in the San Fernando Valley, where he will be an assistant to the Matadors’ new head coach, Mark Gottfried. It’s a familiar setup — Dunlap had been an assistant to Gottfried at North Carolina State from 2011 and 2017.

Dunlap had a one-year contract with the Edge. At one point during the season, word was that it would become a two-year deal, but such an extension never happened.

The 29-year-old Plumb was hired by the Edge at the same time as Dunlap, but the two had not worked together previously. The Port Moody, B.C., native, an all-Canadian guard with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds who also played professionally in Hungary and Romania, came from the NBL Canada’s London Lightning. In London, he had been the lead assistant coach to Kyle Julius in 2016-17 as the Lightning went on to win what turned out to be the first of back-to-back championships.

Dunlap’s departure actually creates two vacancies on the Edge as he was also the team’s general manager; his work constructing and building up the team’s roster earned him the NBL Canada’s executive of the year award.

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It’s possible Plumb, who had been director of player development and head scout for the Lightning and also operates the Vancouver Basketball Academy, could become the GM for St. John’s as well, but don’t discount the possibility of star guard Carl English taking on some or all of the general manager’s duties.

English, who was the 2017-18 NBL Canada MVP, still hasn’t announced he will be returning to play for the Edge next season, although there is every expectation he will do so. He’s on record as saying he has no interest in coaching in the league, but even before he officially signed on with the Edge last fall, the 37-year-old from Patrick’s Cove had indicated he would eventually be looking for an opportunity to translate his playing career into a management role.

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The question would be whether he and the Edge ownership feel he can handle a dual role as the team’s feature player as well as someone responsible for roster building and management, even on an unofficial basis.

However things shake out, expect them to do so quickly.

With the latest NBL Canada campaign having ended last Friday, when Lightning knocked off the Halifax Hurricanes in a league final that went the seven-game limit, teams have begun preparing for next season, with the first order of business being submission of six-man protected lists. This gives clubs exclusive rights to negotiate with a half dozen of their players from the current roster up until the start of next season, after which they would still have the right to match offers to those players from other NBLC teams.

brendan.mccarthy@thetelegram.com

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