The University of Tulsa Head Basketball Coach Frank Haith announced today the addition of assistant coaches Dave Leitao, Tom Abatemarco and Dennis Felton, and strength and conditioning coach Todor Pandov to his Golden Hurricane coaching staff.
Leitao, Abatemarco and Felton are all former collegiate head coaches and carry an abundance of NCAA postseason experience on their resumes. Together, they total more than 90 years coaching in college athletics. In a combined 27 years as head coaches, the group totaled 12 postseason appearances, including six NCAA Tournament appearances. Overall, the three coaches have been a part of 48 postseason appearances, including 31 trips to the NCAA Tournament and two NCAA titles.
“I am excited to have this group of coaches on board with us at Tulsa,” Haith said. “Combined, they bring a wealth of experience at both the collegiate and professional levels. They have coached at the highest levels of college basketball and will provide great knowledge and experiences to share with our players.”
Haith’s familiarity with Leitao and Felton go back to when the trio coached against each other in the ACC, while Haith’s relationship with Abatemarco spans more than 10 years as well.
“Each of these three men are quality people with tremendous basketball minds and have enjoyed many successes in the game,” said Haith. “Todor has been with me six years and has been able to utilize his experiences as a player and translate that into the conditioning of our players to build their bodies for the game of basketball.”
“We look forward to working together to carry on the rich basketball tradition at The University of Tulsa, and continuing to build a program that wins championships,” added Haith.
Leitao and Pandov join Haith from the University of Missouri staff and were introduced last Friday at the press conference naming Haith as Tulsa’s head coach.
Leitao, a former head coach at Northeastern (1994-96), DePaul (2002-05) and Virginia (2005-09), carries 29 years of college coaching experience. He spent the past two seasons at Missouri with Haith. In nine years as a head coach, he posted an overall 143-129 record and led his teams to six postseason appearances, including two NCAA Tournament trips. Leitao was the 2007 ACC Coach of the Year after leading Virginia to an 11-5 league mark and finishing with an overall 21-11 record.
Abatemarco brings more than 40 years of collegiate and professional coaching experience to Tulsa. He spent last year as an assistant coach at Loyola Marymount, and the previous three seasons on the Colorado coaching staff. He served head coaching stints, covering seven seasons, at Lamar (1986-88), Drake (1988-90) and Sacramento State (1997-2000).
Felton brings 24 years of collegiate coaching experience to the Golden Hurricane program, including 11 years as a head coach at Western Kentucky (1998-2003) and Georgia (2003-09). His teams won seven conference championships in those 11 years and reached the postseason six times. The 2002 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year coached in four NCAA Tournaments, made two NIT appearances and compiled an overall 187-154 head coaching record.
Pandov spent the last three years as the Director of Basketball Athletic Performance at Missouri following one season as the basketball strength and conditioning coach at Miami. He played four years of basketball at Western Kentucky for Felton.
DAVE LEITAO, Assistant Coach
Leitao was a conference championship head coach during stops at DePaul and Virginia. Among his many accomplishments on the hardwood are league titles at DePaul (2004) and Virginia (2007), as well as 22 career postseason appearances, including 13 NCAA Tournaments. His championship pedigree includes the 1999 National Championship at the University of Connecticut, where he served as the Associate Head Coach under Basketball Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun. Leitao played collegiately under Calhoun at Northeastern University.
Leitao began his coaching career as a full-time assistant under Calhoun at his alma mater in 1984, helping Northeastern to two NCAA berths and a combined 48-14 record. The pair then moved to the University of Connecticut where the team grew from a 9-19 mark in year one (1986-87) to making seven consecutive postseason trips –– four NCAA Tournaments, two NCAA Sweet 16's and an NCAA Elite Eight.
Leitao earned his first head coaching position at Northeastern from 1994-96 where he won 18 games as a first-year head coach. He then returned to UConn as Associate Head Coach in 1996, where the Huskies made six more postseason trips highlighted by the 1999 NCAA Championship season.
At UConn, Leitao assisted in the recruitment of several future NBA performers including the likes of Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Emeka Okafor, Donyell Marshall, Clifford Robinson, Jake Voskuhl, Travis Knight, Scott Burrell, Caron Butler, Khalid El-Amin, Tate George, Donny Marshall and Kevin Ollie.
Following a 2001-02 campaign in which the Huskies went 27-6, Leitao returned to the sidelines as a head coach at DePaul. The Blue Demons posted a 58-34 record in his three years in Chicago and advanced to three consecutive postseasons. His 2004 squad shared the Conference USA title and qualified for the NCAA Tournament, while his 2005 Blue Demons reached the NIT second round.
In Leitao's first season, the Blue Demons were one of college basketball's most improved clubs going from a 9-19 mark (2-12 in C-USA) the year before his arrival to 16-13 (8-8 C-USA) in his first season. Leitao's league crown and NCAA berth at DePaul remain the most recent in that program's history.
Leitao then took over the head coaching duties at Virginia in 2005-06 and led the program to three postseason trips, including the league title in 2007. That 2007 Cavaliers squad was pegged eighth in the ACC preseason poll, but shared the conference title with North Carolina and recorded the most league wins (11) since 1994-95. That team also topped Albany in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, marking Virginia's first NCAA appearance since 2001 and first NCAA win since 1995. Leitao was named the 2007 ACC Coach of the Year for the team’s accomplishments.
At Missouri, Leitao assisted with both the guards and forwards, helping the Tigers rank among the national leaders in both offensive efficiency and rebounding. Leitao also provided another veteran presence on the bench as Missouri topped 20 wins for the fifth consecutive year in 2012-13 and returned to NCAA Tournament play despite having just one returning player from the previous season.
Leitao earned his degree from Northeastern in 1982. He and his wife, Joyce, have three sons: David, Reese and Tyson.
TOM ABATEMARCO, Assistant Coach
Abatemarco brings more than 40 years of collegiate and professional coaching experience that includes nine NCAA tournament appearances, five Elite Eight trips and an NCAA title, and comes to Tulsa after one season at Loyola Marymount.
Previously, he spent three years on the coaching staff at the University of Colorado, his second stint with the Buffaloes. In three seasons on Tad Boyle's staff at CU, the Buffaloes posted back-to-back 24-win seasons in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and a 21-win season in 2012-13. In the 2011-2012 campaign, Abatemarco helped CU earn its first NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years, upsetting No. 6 UNLV in the second round and advancing to the third round. At the inaugural Pac-12 Conference Championship, the Buffs became just the 10th team in the nation to win at least four games in four days to capture the tournament title.
Abatemarco was an essential part of Colorado’s recruiting efforts during his tenure there, finding and eventually signing Andre Roberson for the Buffs. Roberson is currently playing with the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
Before arriving in Boulder, Abatemarco served a brief stint with the Sacramento Kings as a player personnel and scouting coach. In addition, he spent seven years as a broadcaster with the Kings. Abatemarco also served as an assistant coach for the Reno Bighorns of the NBDL during its inaugural 2008-09 season.
He served as an assistant coach in the WNBA with the now-defunct Sacramento Monarchs from 2003-09. In six years with the Monarchs, he guided the team to the 2003 and 2004 WNBA Western Conference Finals, before winning a conference championship in 2005. The Monarchs reached the WNBA Finals again in 2006, falling in the championship series.
Before making the transition to the WNBA, Abatemarco spent the previous 30 years on various college campuses as an assistant or head coach.
In addition to his head coaching stints, Abatemarco’s college coaching experience also includes time at Utah (2004-05) under the late-Rich Majerus and Rutgers (1994-97). He spent three seasons at CU under Jim Harrington from 1991-94. Abatemarco was an assistant coach at North Carolina State from 1982-86 when the Wolfpack won the 1983 NCAA Championship under the late-Jim Valvano. He has also been credited with discovering 5’6” point guard Spud Webb while coaching at NC State.
He also coached at Virginia Tech (1981-82), at Maryland under Lefty Driesell (1979-81), under Lou Carnesecca at St. John's (1978-79), Davidson (1977-78), Iona (1975-77) and the New York Institute of Technology (1974-75). As an assistant coach, Abatemarco enjoyed nine NCAA Tournament appearances, five Elite Eight appearances and a trio of NIT appearances.
Abatemarco graduated from Dowling College in 1974 with a degree in Education. He has three daughters: Amy, Whitney and Tracy.
DENNIS FELTON, Assistant Coach
Felton most recently spent three years with the San Antonio Spurs organization and before that had stints in the NBA with the New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets, Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies.
In his last collegiate coaching post, Felton was the head coach at Georgia from 2003-09, leading the Bulldogs to the 2008 SEC Tournament Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Before that, he coached five years leading the Western Kentucky program from 1998-03, guiding the Hilltoppers to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2001-03.
At Georgia, he coached six All-SEC selections and compiled 87 victories that included four seasons with .500 or better records. In his first season, 2003-04, the Bulldogs went 16-14 with a squad comprised of just seven scholarship players and a slew of walk-ons. Two years later Georgia posted a 15-15 record, and in 2006-07 went 19-14 and advanced to the second round of the NIT. The first round NIT victory that season was the program’s first NCAA or NIT postseason tournament win since 1998.
In 2008, the Bulldogs earned the SEC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning the SEC Tournament title. Despite compiling the league’s fewest wins during the regular season, Georgia won four games in four days to claim the SEC title.
Felton became the first coach in Western Kentucky history to take three straight teams to the NCAA Tournament in 2003. In five seasons at WKU, he compiled a 100-54 overall record for a .649 winning percentage, including a 76-20 mark from 2001-03. The Hilltoppers earned each of those three NCAA berths automatically by winning the Sun Belt Conference tournament. Felton began his tenure at WKU as the youngest head coach in school history, and left as the third winningest coach in Sun Belt Conference history.
Before he became a head coach, Felton climbed the collegiate ladder in a series of assistant coaching positions. He first coached at Delaware for four seasons (1986-90) before one season each at Tulane and St. Joseph's. From 1992-98, he worked as an assistant coach at Providence and Clemson under Rick Barnes.
The six teams that Barnes and Felton coached together all posted winning seasons (including three 20-win campaigns), all played in the postseason (four NCAA berths, two in the NIT) and went 114-71, averaging 19 wins per year. In 1997, the Tigers went 21-8 and reached the NCAA Round of 16.
In 2001, Felton served as a court coach during the USA Basketball National Team trials. In 2003, he was an assistant coach for Team USA at the Junior World Championships in Thessaloniki, Greece. That squad, under head coach Ernie Kent of Oregon, won 12 of its 13 contests, including a 7-1 mark in the World tournament. In the spring of 2005, Felton was named as an assistant coach for the U.S. team at the Under 21 World Championships in Argentina.
Felton earned his bachelor’s degree from Howard University in 1985. He and his wife, Melanie, have two sons: Jazz and Nile.
TODOR PANDOV, Strength & Conditioning Coach
Pandov, a native of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, carries 10 seasons of assisting at the collegiate level and four years of NCAA Division I playing experience.
Pandov has been a key part of several postseason and championship teams during his career. As a player, he was a member of three Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship squads as the Hilltoppers won three Sun Belt postseason titles to earn trips to the NCAA Tournament. After scoring 12 points and grabbing five rebounds in 23 minutes at top-ranked Arizona in the 2002-03 season opener, Pandov went down with a season-ending knee injury.
It was actually that injury that fueled Pandov’s passion for strength and conditioning.
Pandov has helped teams earn NCAA berths at each stop of his professional career. While assisting at Texas, the club advanced to the Elite Eight, and teams at Miami and Western Kentucky each made the second round of the Big Dance. While at Missouri, the Tigers reached the NCAA Tournament twice.
He actually spent two stints with Haith at Miami. Pandov served as a graduate assistant on the Hurricanes' 2007-08 NCAA Tournament team. He also has familiarity with the region, volunteering as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Texas in 2005-06.
Prior to his time in coaching, Pandov played professionally in 2004-05 for Eiffel Towers in Holland, earning all-star honors.
Pandov earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Kentucky in 2003. He and his wife, Kimberly, have two sons: Mason and Jaden.