The Fresno State men’s basketball team has more questions than answers as the NCAA basketball season draws to a close. At the top of the list, undoubtedly, is: who’s the new coach?
A coach who fits best not only for the school, but for the central San Joaquin Valley, as well.
Discussions about support from the institution of Fresno State and the community have been swirling after former head coach Rodney Terry’s departure and some, including myself, think this could impact the next coach.
While that can change for the better, I think the biggest challenge for the Bulldogs is finding a coach who will stay long term and build something special. Terry came into the program in 2011 and helped it grow, entering the Mountain West Conference with the ability to compete right away and winning the conference tourney at one point.
A great achievement, no doubt. However, today coaches might find success and move on to a bigger program. Fresno State can’t compete with UCLA or Stanford, for instance. Not just in terms of money in the contract, but fan attendance and recruiting, as well.
The Bulldogs need a coach with experience, but one who isn’t looking to just make a name for himself. What I mean by that is a coach who has won games already, experienced fierce competition and, above all, wants to build a culture.
Greg Kampe, head men’s coach at Oakland University, is one of the longest tenured coaches in the NCAA. With 34 years at the helm for the Golden Grizzlies, Kampe is ranked third all-time behind Jim Boeheim from Syracuse and Mike Krzyzewski from Duke.
I’m not saying a coach has to be here over 30 years, but I am trying to say that staying in place for a longer period of time allows the community and team to grow. Over that span, Kampe has won more than 600 games.
Kampe isn’t the only one. There are many of coaches across the college basketball landscape who build their programs up and continue that into the future, and I think the Bulldogs’ best bet in achieving our expectations of the NCAA Tournament and more is going this route.
Fresno State has the tools to become a powerhouse in the MWC, if not the country. We have recruits here for the taking like Jalen Green from San Joaquin Memorial. He is a program-changing prospect, but can Fresno State make a move?
All we need is an individual willing to put in the time like his predecessors or maybe even more. Maybe the Bulldogs will have a situation they’ve never had since head coach Jerry Tarkanian, and the greatest part, we the fans have a role.
We can show the next head coach that the Central Valley is a community that is hungry, not only for appearances, but for hardware. Fresno State has basketball in its blood. It’s about time we start showing it.