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Joerger moving up

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For years, local fans have wondered what else Dave Joerger needed to do to get a chance to coach in the NBA.

Apparently winning a fifth title - this one in the D-League - did the trick.

The Memphis Grizzlies are expected to announce today that Joerger, who just led the Dakota Wizards to a championship in their first year in the D-League, will be one of three assistant coaches added to their staff. Both Joerger and the Dakota Wizards declined comment. According to a report by Memphis TV station WREG, Johnny Davis and Gordon Chiesa are the other two assistants.

Local fans know the 33-year-old Joerger's achievements - specifically his five titles in seven seasons - well. His record with Dakota and Sioux Falls is 215-107 in the regular season, 26-10 in the playoffs. He is fourth in CBA history in regular-season winning percentage (.655, 152-80), and second in postseason winning percentage (.680, 17-8).

In his first run with the Wizards, Joerger won three titles in four years, the first coming in the IBA and the next two in the CBA. In all four years Dakota finished as the top-seeded team in its league during the regular season.

Joerger left Dakota for the Sioux Falls Skyforce in 2004 and promptly turned around the struggling franchise. Joerger led the Skyforce past the Wizards and his former protégé, Casey Owens, in a classic five-game semifinal in 2005 and then to the CBA title.

In 2005-06, the Skyforce went 2-1 in the playoffs, but the CBA's convoluted new postseason system - based on quarter points - prevented Sioux Falls from defending its title.

Due to financial and other differences, Joerger was ready to leave Sioux Falls after his second season there. Coincidentally, the Wizards were in the market for a new coach after the hiring of the controversial Dave Bliss failed to work out.

It seemed too good to be true, but wasn't. Under his guidance, the Wizards again claimed the No. 1 seed overall in their new league. Dakota's 33-17 mark set a new D-League record for winning percentage (also set by Idaho). The Wizards went on to defeat Sioux Falls then Colorado to win yet another championship.

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