The national search for a new head men’s basketball coach began on Feb. 19, after Kevin Walden announced his resignation. According to assistant coach Garret Williams and several of the players, Walden said he sees future success for the program without him at the helm.
As of this week, 101 candidates have sent in applications for the position. Williams hopes to stay on in an assisting position, assuming he believes the coach is a good fit for him and the players. He hopes to fill the void and be supportive of the players, while the department goes through applications and begins setting up interviews.
“With a new coach hire and things like that, I certainly would like to feel that there’s a good fit with the new guy. At the same time, I’m going to be eyeing the job posting sites a little bit and just see what’s out there. If we get a good quality hire, I would definitely like to stay,” Williams said.
As for the players, junior Deryk Ruple is looking forward to the process of getting a new coach. The players on the team were instructed to come up with four to six traits they would like to see in the new hire to give Athletic Director Daniella Irle some idea of who to filter out. The team will also be allowed to sit in on interviews once the candidates are narrowed down.
“As of now, we’re trying to get in the gym and get ready for next season while waiting to hear back from potential coaches and sitting in on interviews,” Ruple said. “We need to prepare ourselves until we get a new leader. I look for someone that really connects with us, relates to us, sees things from our perspective as well as theirs. Can coach but is open to criticism from the players as well.”
The department is letting the team get a say in who they hire.
“She’s going to let the guys have a voice as to who they want to hire then she is going to do the best she can to match what they want with whoever she feels will be the best candidate. I’m very optimistic about what we can achieve next year,” Williams said.
Williams has heard rumors of players leaving after this season, but says it’s natural for players to talk about leaving after a season like the one they had. He believes the team has a lot of talent and potential and will see success with a new head coach.
“I don’t think there’s a more talented team with one win in the country, to be honest. I don’t want to set a number for the amount of wins we expect but to get close to that double digit mark I feel is very achievable,” Williams said.
Williams believes the news came as a shock to the players because they had a hand in Walden’s decision to resign.
“They were a part of it too, as the players. It wasn’t just Coach Walden, it wasn’t just the players. It was a combination of everything involved that didn’t work,” Williams said. “So the guys were kind of stung at first knowing that they were a part of it, not the reason but I think that they’re very competitive.”
Williams believes the team has more potential than their record reflected this past season. Irle and the rest of the department will be filtering resumes and looking to hire someone by April 1.