What’s Ahead for Stanford Men’s Basketball?

New head coach Jerod Haase wanted to play for Stanford while growing up in South Lake Tahoe, but attended the University of California before transferring to the University of Kansas, playing for top coach Roy Williams. He brings an impressive pedigree to his new job at Stanford serving as Assistant Coach at both Kansas and North Carolina, before becoming head coach at UAB.

Jerod highlighted Stanford’s upcoming basketball season for the audience at the Menlo Park Kiwanis Club’s noon luncheon Tuesday, August 1, eventually yielding to many questions from the audience.

Are you glad to be at Stanford?
Since I wanted to play ball at Stanford many years ago, I’m very happy to be here and to start another era of Stanford basketball. Stanford University is a world-class institution which represents excellence across the board. My goal is to continue this tradition. We will compete for championships by doing it the right way and graduating young men who will go on to accomplish great things in the world.
What’s your outlook for the upcoming season?
Our record will be better than last year. Our end goal is to make it to the NCAA tournament again.

What’s the upcoming schedule look like?
All I can say is that it’s tough! We will be playing North Caroline in Maples right before Thanksgiving. Then we travel to Portland to play Florida in a holiday tournament, and if we win, we could play Gonzaga, Duke, Ohio State, Texas or Butler. If we win this tournament, we’ll be #1 for sure. After that we fill play highly ranked St. Mary’s and Kansas before we start the Pac 12 schedule.

What kinds of players will you have this year, and how are you preparing them for the upcoming year?
Here’s the situation. We have just 13 scholarships to give. We lost 3 tough players from last year’s team, but there are 9-10 returning players. We have 4 new players and 1 redshirt freshman. Currently there are also 2 walk-ons, who are a huge part of our success in practices. Right now, we can practice just 2 hours a day, but the players can work with our strength and conditioning coaches for up to 6 hours.

How do you overcome the academic requirements Stanford places on its student athletes?
It’s not as difficult as you might think, because Stanford is one of the easiest places in the US to recruit to. Stanford is a strong brand. The academic piece is a big plus for us, because when we call, people listen. In addition, it creates a sort of safety net, because our players don’t transfer out. There are no “one and done” players here. In fact, in 102 years, only four players have transferred out, compared to 75 or so in the US who transfer out every year. This makes player development key to our program, because we know our players will be at Stanford for 3 or 4 years.

What is your coaching philosophy?
First, I hope to be at Stanford for 25 or 30 years, so I take a long-term approach. I want to make sure that we develop more than just skills in our players. I hope to instill 3 core values in our players. I want them to be invested in our program. I’d like them to be tough competitors. I’d like them to be selfless. These are things that will serve us well, but they will be important to the futures of our players while here and in the future. When I evaluate players, I look for those three qualities, too.

How do you evaluate players?
Right now, I’m traveling a lot—to various AAUW tournaments and other basketball events. Of the 100 or so players, I seriously look at each year, only 4-6 will be heavily recruited. We have begun recruiting internationally, too, as there are some very talented players around the world now. The ones we talk with would love to come to Stanford to play basketball in the US. As I said before, Stanford is a strong brand.

What’s the hardest part of your job?
I love coaching, recruiting, and working with my staff, but the most stressful part of my job is game day. It’s always been that way for me, but I’ve learned how to adjust to it.

What challenges lie ahead?
Since this is my first year at Stanford, I want to see us fill the stands with students, alums and local fans. That has not happened in a few years, so I hope people will come out, see us play, and come back over and over again. Our schedule is tough, filled with lots of top teams. We’ll do our part to put together lots of wins. However, the support of our fans will help us get to the NCAA.

What did you learn from coach Roy Williams?
Working with him and playing for him for a total of 20 years gave me a very strong foundation from which to formulate my coaching style and strategy. How he ran a program and how he treated people and the media have been invaluable to me. He taught me there’s much more to basketball than the “x’s” and “o’s” of the game.