Harris – Landscape Changes
SIUE Preview – Part 4
(St. Louis, MO) – Titanic transfer numbers, programs changing conferences, coaches moving from place-to-place and players dealing with heavy social issues are all part of what a Division 1 basketball coach faces.
We sat down with Southern Illinois Edwardsville head coach Jon Harris and discussed some of the more complicated ‘off-the-floor’ issues and the third year coach was candid in saying the issues aren’t good or bad, they simply are the issues at hand.
Harris worked seven years with new Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin, who himself has led four programs in the past eight seasons. Proponents of easing transfer requirements for players site coaches like Martin as one of their reasons. Coaches can leave and coach immediately, players are forced to sit for a season.
ValleyHoopsInsider.com’s own neighborhood has been rocked by program changes as both Creighton and Wichita State have left the Missouri Valley Conference, and in turn the Valley has twice poached teams from the Horizon League (Loyola and Valparaiso), and came very close to drawing Murray State from the Ohio Valley Conference.
Harris says you don’t have to like all that disruption, but the die has been cast and now it is better to understand the situation and then work and coach accordingly. Due to the threat of losing fourth year players to the ‘graduate transfer’ rule, Harris says he won’t hold a player back and will do what is best for the development of each individual player, even if it is a short term loss for the Cougars.
Harris might be deemed an ‘old school’ coach that believes in hard work and commitment to traditional values, but he recognizes today’s players face different issues than when he was playing at Marquette. Social unrest, the power of social media and a greater sense of independence makes it both enabling and more difficult for today’s athletes.
Harris says he does try to steer his players into solid life choices. He knows his role as coach, mentor, and father figure are all important, all while knowing he isn’t replacing his players’ true parents.
Harris is beginning his third season at SIUE and has eight new players on his roster. The Cougars play in the OVC and Athlon has picked them to finish sth.