Sports Stance: The search begins

With Derrick Clark’s firing, the Athletics Department must decide what traits and qualification they want in the basketball team’s next leader

After MSU Denver parted ways with men’s basketball head coach Derrick Clark on March 27, an immediate search for a new head coach began.

During Clark’s seven years as head coach, he was the second most accomplished coach in MSU Denver history. His peaceful departure from the team now puts the athletics department in the driver’s seat
to recruit a coach who can continue the great success the program has achieved.

Before Clark’s resignation, he finished the season 17-13, one of the worst records he obtained during his
seven years as head coach. Also, the Roadrunners did not qualify for the NCAA Division II tournament as they had in previous years, a huge disappointment for the program.

Metropolitan State University of Denver’s basketball team huddles for a time out during their game against Westminster College at the Auraria Events Center in Denver on Saturday, Jan. 28. Roadrunners lost the game 76-83 in double-overtime. Photo by Kenny Martinez • kmart143@msudenver.edu

However, Clark tallied an impressive resume during his time at MSU Denver that leaves some big shoes to fill for the vacant position. Before there is any change to this program, the program itself and its
players should be evaluated as to how they can achieve the greatest possible success.

MSU Denver is known for its recruiting pipeline from Australia that both former head coaches Mike Dunlap and Clark embraced. This is a great asset that brings in talent from overseas and can introduce
different styles of play to the program.

The program would best benefit from a head coach who can coach both sides of the ball. The men’s team has shown game after game how efficient they can be on defense, wreaking havoc on their opponents, but what about the offense?

There have been signs of lapses in the offense that made it difficult for MSU Denver to stretch the lead over its opponents when they have had the advantage. Judging by the team’s overall talent, they posses the ability to have a strong inside-out game that makes them effective inside the paint and on the perimeter. Throughout the season, we have seen them settle for too many jump shots, which resulted in a paltry 36 percent from the three-point line.

Last season, the Roadrunners had five players who were arguably All-American caliber in Cameron
Williams, Andre Harris, Sunday Dech, Brian Howard and Peter Moller. Yet at times it looked as if there was no cohesion on the court during games when winning mattered most. This is not negative criticism toward players or coaches, however, it was hard to excuse the fact that the Roadrunners did not play to
the level of their potential on a consistent basis.

A coach who can draw the best out of his players on both ends of the court is the kind of leader that is needed to get the Roadrunners over the hump come tournament time. Players like Harris, Dech and Williams are the type of players who you look to as the motor that drives the team. An elite guard with
Williams’ talent paired with a solid big man like Harris and a wing shooter like Dech is lethal to an opposing team.

Even though the Roadrunners will be without senior center Harris next year, the future head coach will
need to consider how they can dominate teams inside the paint. Players of Harris’ caliber and scoring ability should be utilized in pick-androlls, pick-and-pops and have several touches in post. To really be intricate with your offense, having a coach that teaches spacing and constant movement on offense, which allows players to work off each other in a motion-style offense, is important. The Roadrunners
have athletic players across the roster who can affect the game in a variety of ways outside of scoring.

The perimeter shooting will still need to be an important factor because the Roadrunners have players who have the ability to stretch the floor at the guard position. However, implementing a motion-style
offense that utilizes a lot of pick-and-roll and creates open shots for others is the kind of offense that can change their efficiency. Maybe that is already their identity as a team, but has not been maximized to its full potential. Whoever receives the head coaching job will need to consider how to maximize each player’s full potential.

Author: Jordan Roland

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