Michael Bahl comes full circle, named men’s basketball head coach

Former assistant coach Michael Bahl has been tapped to become the new head coach of MSU Denver’s men’s basketball team.

Michael Bahl

Michael Bahl joins Tivoli Brewery patrons in conversation on May 22. Bahl was named the head coach of MSU Denver’s men’s basketball program on May 17. Photo courtesy of Karson Hallaway.

He takes over for Derrick Clark, who coached the Roadrunners for seven seasons before being let go by MSU Denver.

Bahl is a Roadrunner lifer. During his playing days at MSU Denver from 2003-07, he was known as a sharpshooter and led the Runners to three regular season Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles, three RMAC tournament championships and four consecutive NCAA  appearances.

The Thornton native got into coaching immediately after his playing career and landed an assistant coaching job at Arapahoe High School. He then began climbing the ladder. His next season was spent at Golden High School as the head coach of the school’s junior varsity team, and then he ended up at his alma mater as an assistant coach under former head coach Derrick Clark.

“I played here as a student-athlete and obviously I had the luxury of working for coach Derrick Clark for seven years, and we’ve laid the foundation for how a successful program should be ran,” Bahl said of his time as an assistant coach.

Now he makes another ascension into the head coaching position. It will be the first time in his career that he’s officially been head coach, but that’s not to say that he doesn’t have experience. Last season, after Clark’s suspension and end-of-season leave-of-absence, Bahl served as interim co-head coach along with fellow assistant at the time Adam Wall. In those ten games the Runners went 5-5 and had an impressive RMAC tournament run stomped out by the eventual tournament champion Colorado School of Mines.

Michael Bahl served as an assistant coach with MSU Denver under former coach Derrick Clark.

His performance as interim co-head coach piqued the interest of athletic director Anthony Grant and ultimately, he was able to land the job.

“It’s a dream come true. I’m a Colorado guy, born and raised, so I’ve seen the program when I was younger,” he said. “My pride, not only for the athletic department, but for the institution, is at an all-time high. I couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity. I couldn’t be more excited to be given the reigns to take over a storied program. This is one of the best Division II programs in the country, it’s one of the best programs in the country, regardless of level. To be given the opportunity is something that I don’t take for granted, and something I’m committed to in terms of making sure that I represent myself, the institution and the athletic department in the best possible light 24/7, 365.”

In a statement to RoadrunnersAthletics.com, Grant stated that he recognized the pride and passion that Bahl has for MSU Denver and believes he is the man to continue to elevate the program to new heights.

“Michael has an incredible passion for MSU Denver and is committed to continuing the long-standing tradition of championship caliber basketball that the Roadrunners have been known for,” Grant said. “He is an alum who takes great pride in being a Roadrunner. I am confident that he is the right person to lead the men’s basketball program.”

As far as strategy goes, no two head coaches are the same. However, Bahl has indicated that he is going to leave a defensive staple fans have come to love and continue to take advantage of Denver’s altitude with up-tempo play.

“I’m committed to it,” Bahl said of the full-court press defense. “It’s going to look a little bit different, to be honest with you. If you saw the last 10 games of the season, especially the RMAC tournament, we want to use that to our advantage: Colorado, 5280, the elevation. We want to be hard to play against, we want to be hard to prepare for. Not a lot of teams in the country press, so I think we can use it to our advantage.”

As far as offense goes, Bahl said that the team is going to play faster, but he left a little teaser in there to tempt fans to come out and witness the new style.

“We’re going to play faster,” he said. “How that’s going to look, I think I’ll wait for you guys to see it.”

But Bahl is no one-trick pony. He understands that to achieve continued success he’ll need to alter his approach from time-to-time.

“As a coach I think I’m always going to be a student of the game. It’s important that I always continue to evolve,” he said.

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