CARBONDALE — To get to where he wants to go, Pat Monaghan wants to help you get there first.
One of the biggest 'we' guys on SIU men's basketball coach Bryan Mullins' staff, Monaghan helped the Salukis get one of their biggest spring recruits. Not that you'll hear much about it.
"I love working with the guys every day, and being around the guys on a daily basis," said Monaghan, a 10-year collegiate assistant coach that was at the University of Milwaukee the last two years. "Constantly communicating with them, and helping them get to where they want to be. Everybody comes in with different sets of goals, as players and such. If you've got a one-year graduate transfer, they're coming in here trying to win a championship and help themselves, as well as you got the freshmen, where everything is new to 'em and they're just trying to stay above water."
Monaghan was integral to SIU landing freshman guard/forward Marcus Domask, the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association's state player of the year. He recruited Domask to Milwaukee, which had just hired Pat Baldwin from Northwestern as its new head coach, and was in the running until Domask chose Northern Kentucky. When the Norsemen's coach left to take over Cincinnati, Domask re-opened his recruiting, and the Salukis eventually landed their first state player of the year since Mr. Basketball Illinois Kevin Dillard in 2008.
Monaghan also played a part in landing Ben Harvey, a transfer guard from Eastern Illinois that will have to sit out the upcoming season per NCAA rules. Monaghan recruited Harvey when he won a state title at Jonesboro (Arkansas) High School and during his one year at Link Year Prep.
SIU is Monaghan's second Division I stop and fourth overall as a collegiate assistant coach. A third team All-American at Harper College in Palatine, he played two years at Division II Lewis University before beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Wayne State (Nebraska). Monaghan, 35, coached two years at Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College before joining Loyola as the director of operations from 2010-11 under Jim Whitesell. He then went to Division II Minnesota State, where he helped the Mavericks to two conference titles and four NCAA Tournament appearances between 2011-17.
Minnesota State won 20 or more games in each of his last five seasons there, including a 30-5 mark in 2014, under the program's all-time wins leader, Mark Margenthaler. Mullins, a Hall of Fame point guard at SIU, will be looking for his first career win as a head coach when the Salukis kick off the 2019-20 season.
"I throw myself into every spot that I've been at, and I take pride in that, and my job as an assistant is to help my boss get to where he wants to be," Monaghan said. "And if that's winning a national championship, a conference championship, I have to do whatever I can to help them, and I've taken that approach at every single spot I've been at."
Monaghan, a Chicago native, is the oldest of three boys. His youngest brother, Zach, who he coached at Minnesota State, just finished his fourth professional season in Spain. His mother worked for the Chicago Park District, and his dad worked for United Airlines growing up.
Mullins hired Monaghan primarily because of his drive and recruiting ties to jucos, Midwest high schools and AAU programs. His teaching ability will come in handy, too, as SIU will have 10 new players, plus one redshirt freshman, 6-7 forward Sekou Dembele.
"Unbelievable motor to think about the program, think about the guys, think about what we need," Mullins said. "He just never shuts it off, and that's what you need to be successful, to just think ahead. He's great on the court with the guys."
Milwaukee went 9-22 last season, but had two Power Five conference sitouts and a redshirt forward from Arizona that could be eligible in the second semester for the Panthers this season. Junior guard Te'Jon Lucas, a transfer from Illinois, was the runner-up for the Wisconsin Mr. Basketball Award at Washington High School in Milwaukee and started 34 of 60 games with the Fighting Illini. Harrison Henderson, a 6-10 forward/center from USC, also sat out last season for the Panthers.
Monaghan said Milwaukee and SIU both have a lot to be excited about.
"I've been fortunate, every program I've been around has had success, even when I was at Milwaukee," he said. "Last year, yeah, we struggled, but we had two high-major guys sitting out, and we redshirted a really good freshman. They're set up for success this year at Milwaukee. It's an exciting time for those guys up there, but down here there is a lot of excitement, too."