Sustaining success: New BSU coach Boschee plans to keep Beavers on winning track
BEMIDJI - Mike Boschee needed no introduction.
Maybe that's not entirely accurate. Bemidji State did introduce its new men's basketball coach at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. But from the way Boschee spoke - and from the way the crowd reacted - it didn't seem like a brand-new coach meeting the community for the first time.
Instead, Boschee seemed comfortable in a room full of strangers, like it was any other postgame press conference.
"It's not always easy moving from a great place but we felt like as a family this is going to be a good opportunity for us," Boschee said. "Not only for me professionally, but also for our family to be a little closer as well.
"It's the right fit, the right time, and we're excited to be here."
Bemidji State athletic director Rick Goeb introduced Boschee before a crowd of mostly media and alumni Tuesday at BSU.
"We're excited about what he brings to the table here," Goeb said. "The people he met on the interview, not only on the search committee, but also players and community members, he impressed greatly."
As it turns out, that comfort level with the Valley City, N.D., native and former North Dakota star is the main reason why Bemidji State hired him as the 16th head coach in Beaver hoops history.
Lance Rongstad noticed it immediately.
"I liked him from the get-go, from the time he sat down for the interview," the Beavers point guard said after Boschee met the media. Rongstad was on the committee that helped hire Boschee.
"Then he met with (the rest of) the players afterwards, and he grew on me even more then. I really liked what he had to say."
Mason Walters wasn't on the committee, but met Boschee early on in the process.
"I think it was really easy for us to relate to him," the Bemidji State senior forward said of his first talk with the coach. "When we met with him we just kind of kicked back and chatted, and it was very relaxed."
Boschee spent most of the 15-minute conference answering specific questions with specific answers - which is often difficult for a new coach in a new league.
But Boschee, who was a graduate assistant coach at Northern State and assisted at Gustavus Adolphus before his most recent job at Central College (Iowa), laid out a pretty clear gameplan for sustaining success at BSU.
"Over time, as I've looked back at the history of Bemidji State basketball, you'll have a good year, then some down time, then another good year and some down time," he said. "What I'm going to try to bring is sustained success. That's not always easy to do, but that's the goal."
A goal to that end is making sure the entire program is on the same page, from an organizational, behavioral and academic standpoint.
That includes style of play.
"I like to get excited," he said. "I like our players to play with enthusiasm. Ideally I'd like to press and get after people a bit, but I'm not so enamored with it that that's the way we're going to play."
Boschee also showed a strong familiarity with the rest of the NSIC. He knows how hard it is to win - especially now that the league has 16 teams.
"This league is just very talented," he said. "There are lots of shooters and lots of great athletes. So I think we'll fit in well.
"We're not here to change the game by any means, but I want to create an atmosphere where we can be consistent on a yearly basis. Guys know what's expected of them, guys that know how to execute and not doing anything gimmicky. We want to play the way we feel is the right way to play."
With a good group of seniors returning from BSU's NSIC championship-season, that shouldn't be an issue.
"I don't think we'll have a problem doing with the personalities we have," Rongstad. "We have an older group of guys that knows what it takes to win. And everyone's excited, so it won't be an energy issue.
"It will just be a matter of buying in and believing what he's teaching. The only way to do that is to jump in feet-first."
Along with Rongstad and Walters, the Beavers also return senior guards Dermaine Crockrell, who missed a chunk of the season after transferring from an Arizona community college, and Jason Edwards.
Junior guard Jake Schalow also logged lots of minutes as a sophomore last year.
The Beavers finished 22-9 last season and made only their second-ever trip to the NCAA Division II tournament.
Boschee thinks the Beavers can continue that success this season. But he's also mindful of the future - especially when it comes to recruiting. The team has about four more roster slots it can fill but not much time to fill them.
"We are trying to recruit some people for this year," he said. "But it is difficult, and I can't forget about next year's class. We graduate four seniors, and that's going to be a dilemma we'll have to work our way through. Especially the last couple weeks of recruiting season."
Boschee said after the news conference that he's got some players in his sights and he and his assistants - another position that's up in the air - have to buckle down.
"It's always a challenge this late in the year," he said. "We'll give them our best offer and hopefully we can snag a few. Most of the talented kids and the kids you want have already been taken up by somebody.
"It's a challenge to find someone who's a good fit for you as a coach and a good fit for your community and academically. Trying to find all three is a challenge but hopefully we can find a couple."