Dickerson has taken Green Wave basketball from a program that registered just one winning season during the five years prior to his arrival and overhauled the squad into a conference contender by his second season. Dickerson guided the Wave to back-to-back winning seasons in 2006-07 and 2007-08, a feat not accomplished since the days of Perry Clark 11 years earlier.
Along with the improvements during the regular season, Dickerson has opened the door to postseason success in the Conference USA Tournament where the Green Wave is 4-0 in opening round games.
With the Wave's recent success on the court and the team's performance in the classroom, Dickerson takes great pride in his 100 percent graduation rate by Tulane seniors under his watch.
The 2008-09 campaign turned into a rebuilding season for much of the opening half of the season, but the Green Wave finished strong with an eighth-place showing in Conference USA play. Off the court, Tulane basketball once again placed high in the NCAA's annual Annual Performance Rate, finishing in the 80-90 percentile.
Dickerson has taken the Green Wave basketball from a program that enjoyed just one winning season during the five years prior to his arrival and overhauled the squad into a conference contender by his second season. Last season, Dickerson guided the Wave to back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since the 1995-96 and 1996-97 campaigns, or a span of 11 years, and Tulane once again found success in the Conference USA Tournament.
Season highlights included a 10-4 non-conference record with a 3-0 mark against Southeastern Conference teams, including wins over SEC Tournament Champion Georgia, Auburn and LSU, 10 victories inside the city of New Orleans, including an impressive victory over in-state rival LSU, and TU improved to 3-0 under Dickerson in Conference USA Tournament opening round games with its victory over Marshall in the first round of the 2008 C-USA Tourney.
Tulane's success did not go unnoticed in the coaching circles as Dickerson was tabbed as the National Association of Basketball Coaches All-District 8 Coach of the Year, and was the lone coach from Conference USA to receive the national award.
Off the court, the Green Wave was recognized in the NCAA's annual Academic Performance Rates as one of the NCAA's top 10 percent basketball squads, and was just one of 33 school's from around the nation that were singled out for its elite success.
However, Tulane's success under Dickerson has not come easy or been the norm of most rebuilding jobs. Dickerson has been forced to take the road less traveled for most coaches, but still managed to mold the Green Wave into a winning program. He had to withstand the ordeal brought on by Hurricane Katrina during his first season and the distractions of the rebuilding process both in New Orleans and on the Tulane campus during his second campaign.
"Has any coach in America had it tougher than Dave Dickerson? He not only had to rebuild a struggling Tulane program, but he had to do it in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It is hard not to root for Tulane. And it's easy to recognize that Dickerson is one of the most courageous coaches in the country for the burden he has shouldered," said ESPN's Jay Bilas.
After Tulane's 17-win campaign and fourth-place finish in 2006-07, one ESPN analyst stated that "Given everything he's had to deal with, Dave Dickerson should be coach of the year."
Along with the 46 victories and three straight opening round victories in the Conference USA Tournament during his first three years, Dickerson has helped three players earn All C-USA recognition, including Quincy Davis (third team), David Gomez (second team/third team), Kevin Sims (all-freshman team) and Chris Moore, who was a two-time C-USA Player of the Week honoree.
Dickerson has shaped the Green Wave into a stingy team on its home court and city. Tulane has a record of 27-13 (.680) at Fogelman Arena and a mark of 17-5 (.772) against non-conference teams in New Orleans.
During his second season, Tulane was once again picked to finish close to the bottom of the Conference USA race, but Dickerson and the Green Wave proved the league wrong with a 17-13 overall record and TU recorded its best conference finish in nine years with a 9-7 league mark, which was good enough for fourth place. Dickerson led the Green Wave to its most wins in seven seasons and the program's first winning season in four years.
Tulane was tough to beat at Fogelman Arena with an 11-4 mark and concluded the year riding a four-game win streak on its home floor.
Dickerson's 29 wins in his first two seasons put him in third place for the most wins by a Tulane coach in the first two seasons.
During his first season at the helm of the Green Wave basketball program, Dickerson was faced with perhaps a challenge no other first-year basketball coach in NCAA history has ever had to overcome. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall south of New Orleans and the effects of the storm devastated the city as levees broke and flooded a majority of the city.
The Green Wave settled in College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University, and Dickerson, along with his players and staff, began their first campaign together.
Despite the challenges, Dickerson led Tulane to a 12-17 overall record and a 6-8 Conference USA mark, which tied the Wave for sixth place. The Green Wave continued to jell late in the season, winning seven of its final 12 games, including a 64-58 first round victory over Marshall in the Conference USA Tournament. TU dropped a hard-fought decision to eventual champion and NCAA "Elite Eight" team, Memphis, on its home floor in the C-USA Tourney quarterfinals.
Dickerson came to Tulane from his alma mater of Maryland, where he spent nine years as an assistant under Gary Williams. In 2004-05, he was the program's associate head coach. He helped the Terrapins to nine straight postseason appearances, five Sweet Sixteens, two Final Fours and one National Championship in 2002.
Accolades for Dickerson have included his recognition as an AFLAC Assistant Coach of the Year in 2003, the ACC's No. 1 Assistant Coach as named by Basketball News (2003-04), Athlon Sports' No. 4 Assistant Coach in the nation (2003-04), and an "Assistant Coach on the Rise" as tabbed by ESPN's Andy Katz.
After six straight winning seasons as an assistant coach at three schools, Dickerson was tabbed by Gary Williams to return to his alma mater as an assistant. Williams had built a foundation for success with the Terrapins in his first seven years as the head coach, but with Dickerson at his side, Maryland enjoyed an unprecedented run. In their nine years together, the Terrapins made nine postseason appearances, posted eight 20-win seasons, advanced to two Final Fours and won the first National Championship in program history in 2002.
"Winning the national championship at Maryland was a dream-come-true," Dickerson said. "It validated the reason I went to Maryland as a student-athlete. I thought we were the type of school that could get into a position to win a national championship. One of my goals after winning the championship as an assistant coach was to try and be a head coach and chase that dream again."
With his impressive run as an assistant coach, his strong family background and his reputation as one of the hardest-working coaches in the business, Dickerson was an easy choice for Tulane Athletic Director Rick Dickson as the man to take charge of the Green Wave basketball program.
Soon, Dickerson recognized that Tulane matched his personality and requirements as well.
"The first thing that attracted me to Tulane was the opportunity to be a head coach at one of the best schools in the country with a national reputation for its academics and the potential to be a nationally-recognized basketball program," Dickerson said. "As I did more research, I could see that it was also an opportunity to come into a program and make a difference by winning basketball games, which has always been the type of situation I saw myself going into."
Upon settling into New Orleans and Tulane, Dickerson quickly embraced his new family - the Tulane basketball players. As a collegiate player, he had experienced a coaching change and knew the stress and confusion it could cause. He set up individual meetings with all of the returning players and his first road trips were to the homes of the two players who had signed letters of intent to play for the Green Wave.
From there, Dickerson's goal was to change the atmosphere and attitude surrounding the program.
Dickerson, facing what was likely to be among the most trying first years for a head coach in history, responded with strength and determination, drawing on his own experiences as a player at Maryland to guide the Green Wave players through the challenges. Following Dickerson's freshman year at Maryland, that program experienced a tragedy when All-American Len Bias suffered a drug-related death shortly after being selected No. 2 in the 1986 NBA Draft. Dickerson, who had served as Bias' backup, saw the Maryland program thrown into disarray.
"I learned so much from everything that happened to our program when I was a player at Maryland," Dickerson said. "You can approach adversity in two ways, you can shrink from it and hide, or you can meet it head-on and learn from it. As much as I wish that none of that happened, I learned from it, I grew up much quicker than I would have otherwise. Seeing how things were handled at the time, both positively and negatively, made me realize that I wanted to be a basketball coach."
Dickerson's long-term goals for his men's basketball program are consistent with the same values Tulane holds as a university.
"My long-range goal for the program is for us to be as good as the school," Dickerson said. "If we are a top 30 school in the country, then my goal is for us to be a top 30 basketball program. If we can be at that level, then we will be competing for postseason play every year. My top priority is to make sure that our players have a great experience, both on and off the court, in and out of the classroom, and that they are better people from being at Tulane. I want the Tulane experience to be one of the best experiences of their lives."
As his teams come together as a family each season, Dickerson is clearly the mentor and role model for his "kids." Winning basketball games is a goal for every coach, but Dickerson also focuses on developing his players into responsible young men with the tools necessary to succeed in life, whether on or off the basketball court.
"The guys that come through a college basketball program are not all going to be professional basketball players," Dickerson said. "Our guys can look at me and see that going to college and getting a degree can do something for you. You don't have to be a pro basketball player; you don't have to be a great basketball player in college to be successful. I hope I can rub off on them. I am a true student-athlete. I used basketball to get a scholarship and I used basketball to be successful in life. That is what 90 percent of our basketball players at Tulane have to do, use basketball to earn a Tulane education which will allow them to be successful in life."
Dickerson wants each and every Tulane basketball player to know that they will always have the support of their Green Wave family to help them achieve success, just as Dickerson has relied upon his original family of his parents and sisters, his number one family of his wife and son, and his basketball families at Maryland and now Tulane.
Growing up in a small town in South Carolina, Dickerson did not have to look far for positive role models. When his mother passed when he was eight years old, his father and his older sisters provided the drive for his success.
"I have six older sisters and they are all very, very successful in different ways, so I had instant role models because they were the people I wanted to be like and they demanded that I be successful," Dickerson said. "There was pressure from them just to go to college, not to play basketball, but just to go to college.
"My father was also a role model for me. He worked every day for 35 years, never complained and the most he ever made was $15,000. I never knew I was poor, because we had stability and discipline within the family, and everyone in my family knew they had to do something with their lives."
With that support, Dickerson grew into a standout high school basketball player before making his first big move - to the University of Maryland, where he was a standout basketball player. In 1988-89, he was selected a team captain for the Terrapins, a tribute to his leadership skills. From there, coaching was the obvious next step.
"I knew in the back of my mind that playing basketball was not going to be a career for me, so I started looking at different things," Dickerson said. "I was the type of student-athlete that always wanted to give back; I was always a leader. Even though I had a tough career at Maryland with a lot adversity, my coaches were always the people that kept me going in the right direction. I wanted to be like them. So coaching was my destiny."
A native of Olar, S.C., Dickerson is married to the former Laurette Newsom, a 1991 graduate of Maryland. The couple has one child, Dave III (8).
Dickerson's Coaching Experience
|2005-P||Tulane University, Head Coach|
|2004-2005||University of Maryland, Associate Head Coach|
|1996-2004||University of Maryland, Assistant Coach|
|1992-96||Radford University, Assistant Coach|
|1991-92||James Madison University, Assistant Coach|
|1990-91||Gardner Webb College, Assistant Coach|
Dickerson's Year-By-Year as a Head Coach
|2005-06||Tulane||12-17||C-USA Tournament Quarterfinals|
|2006-07||Tulane||17-13||C-USA Tournament Semifinals|
|2007-08||Tulane||17-15||C-USA Tournament Quarterfinals|
|2008-09||Tulane||14-17||C-USA Tournament Quarterfinals|
Dickerson's Year-By-Year as an Associate/Assistant Coach
|2003-04||Maryland||20-12||NCAA Phoenix Region Second Round - ACC Tournament Champions|
|2002-03||Maryland||21-10||NCAA South Region Semifinals|
|2001-02||Maryland||32-4||NCAA Champions - ACC Regular Season Champions|
|2000-01||Maryland||25-11||NCAA Final Four, West Region Champions|
|1999-00||Maryland||25-10||NCAA Midwest Region Second Round|
|1998-99||Maryland||28-6||NCAA South Region Semifinals|
|1997-98||Maryland||21-11||NCAA West Region Semifinals|
|1996-97||Maryland||21-11||NCAA Southeast Region First Round|
|1995-96||Radford||14-13||Big South Tournament|
|1994-95||Radford||16-12||Big South Tournament, Semifinals|
|1993-94||Radford||20-8||Big South Tournament, Semifinals|
|1992-93||Radford||16-15||Big South Tournament, Semifinals|
|1991-92||James Madison||21-11||Colonial Athletic Association Finals - NIT 1st Round|
|1990-91||Gardner Webb||15-14||South Atlantic Conference Tournament Finals|
1985-89, University of Maryland, basketball letterwinner
Maryland team captain, 1989
Career Contribution Award, 1989
Most Improved Player Award, 1987
Education: University of Maryland, 1990, B.A. in government and politics
Date of Birth: March 29, 1967
Family: Wife Laurette, son Dave III (8)