Perhaps the easiest way to build name recognition in the sports landscape and street credibility among recruits is to hire a “big-name” basketball coach, then have that coach turn around your moribund program.
Texas State, which introduced Danny Kaspar on Thursday as its new men’s coach, feels like it’s done the former. Now it’s up to Kaspar — who has led the Stephen F. Austin program for the past 13 years — to do the latter.
Kaspar, 58, was emotional Thursday, discussing the balance of his excitement over his new job while lamenting the school, players and friends he left behind in Nacogdoches.
“I am touched by the opportunity to coach at Texas State,” Kaspar said. “My job is to add a consistent winning team to the ones already here in San Marcos. I have always seen Texas State as a basketball program with a lot of potential.”
Kaspar replaces Doug Davalos, who went 92-107 in his seven years with the Bobcats and never had a team finish higher than .500. This season, Texas State went 12-22.
The Lumberjacks, under Kaspar, went 246-193 and had five 20-win seasons in the past six years. SFA went 27-5 this season, won its third Southland Conference championship in the past six years and earned a berth to the NIT.
“I will ask a lot of my players and we will work very hard,” Kaspar said. “Teams may have more talent than ours, but no one is going to outwork us. I will not allow that.”
Kaspar signed a five-year contract, Texas State athletic director Larry Teis said. Kaspar’s base salary will be $270,000, with as many as $100,000 in incentives per year. Davalos’ base salary this season was $120,000.
Kaspar’s SFA teams have traditionally played a constant pressure defense and worked the shot clock on offense. He said he expects his new players to play defense first — even at the expense of gaudy offensive statistics — and adapt to his system.
“I know it’s not going to be easy for the players I have inherited here, and it might take a year to get things turned around,” Kaspar said. “I am hoping that some of the seniors I will have are more interested in winning a championship and playing in the NCAA (tournament) rather than just scoring a bunch of points and losing.”
Kaspar said he had not yet met his new team.
Although requested, none of the Texas State players were made available for comment.
Teis said Kaspar’s name came up early in the coaching search, and that he had been championed by former Bobcats and NBA stalwart Jeff Foster. It also helped, Teis said, that San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called to laud Kaspar as well.
“We know it might take Danny a while to get things where we want to be,” Teis said. “That’s why we gave him a five-year contract. We wanted a coach here that was committed to and excited about being at Texas State, rather than a coach we had to pay to get excited about taking on this challenge.”