SFU Athletics announced on May 26 that Steve Hanson will be the eighth head coach of the men’s basketball team. He was the lead assistant coach last season at SFU under former head coach Virgil Hill, and previously was the coach at Terry Fox Secondary.
“We have to re-establish stability and re-establish credibility with our men’s basketball program,” said Theresa Hanson, SFU Athletics director, in a press release. “Steve has demonstrated technical expertise in his coaching and teaching abilities, and he displays the personal character that Simon Fraser values so highly.”
Steve Hanson will be tasked with rebuilding the struggling men’s basketball program. Last season, the team had a 2–24 overall record, and 1–19 within the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Hanson said he knows that in the beginning, there will be many challenges.
“I think one of my strengths as a coach is communication.” – Steve Hanson, SFU basketball head coach
“Well, I think in the short-term I think the most important thing is getting a group of guys who are willing to stick out some tough times,” said Hanson. “I think in order to do that you need some guys with some long-term vision like I have.
“I think the number one thing is we have to build culture. That has to be around some core values. I have some core values of my own, [but] I’m going to let the players and future captains bring out what the core values of the team are going to be.”
While core values can be a good idea, nailing down what that means can be a bit of a challenge. Hanson said he believes he has a good vision of what those values might be.
“I think trust is huge between players and coaches. I think one of my strengths as a coach is communication,” he said.
“Letting players know that you care about them outside of practice is really important. This is a tough school, it’s eaten a lot of people trying to get their degree up, and when you pile on athletics and the pressures of being a varsity athlete, it’s tough.
“I understand that, and I can help the players get through it.”
A change of direction for this program will be the focus on recruiting. Former head coach Virgil Hill stated when he was hired that he was going to focus heavily on local recruiting. Hanson is planning to open up more to international recruiting, but still wants the core of the team’s talent to be BC players.
“With [the] Internet and YouTube, there’s so many devices now that recruiting is international,” he explained. “It really doesn’t matter where the players are from, as much as [it does] having a common vision of what they want.”
Hanson said he is expecting to announce two new recruits in the next 10 days, to add to Vinnie Safin and Kedar Wright, who were announced on April 7.
A big challenge for Hanson will be erasing the memories of last season for the returning players, as well as the fans. On April 1, former head coach Virgil Hill resigned amidst numerous allegations of misconduct. Hanson indicated that they are “focusing on the future,” and the fallout with coach Hill is not affecting his ability to recruit players.
“I think it’s a fresh start for everybody,” said Hanson when asked about his idea for the future of the program. “[Every] head coach brings a [different] element, different type of leadership. [. . .] I expect to bring a different type of leadership.
“With good culture, I think we can surprise people, whether it’s next season or the season after.”