Harrison: Fundamentals key to successful programCaleb Harrison’s first challenge in taking over as Dickinson State’s head women’s basketball coach?
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
Caleb Harrison’s first challenge in taking over as Dickinson State’s head women’s basketball coach?
Finding a place to live in Oil Boom-affected Dickinson, where permanent residences are few and far between and don’t come cheap.
“There’s definitely a shortage,” the New Zealand native said with a laugh.
Lodging aside, the 32-year-old is eager to step into his new office and start his new job at DSU.
Harrison was officially hired Monday night and said Tuesday that DSU — his second head coach gig in as many years — is a school where he believes he can build a strong program with lasting success.
“It’s going to take time,” Harrison said. “But I think we can build a team and a program that keeps going and is very successful.”
The key to doing that, he said, is fundamentals.
It’s a concept he learned from one of the greats, legendary former Northern State men’s basketball coach Don Meyer, one of the many coaches he counts among his mentors after moving to the United States in 2004.
“We base everything on the fundamentals,” Harrison said. “That’s only going to be done through individual development and developing a core group that wants to work hard and be really good at the fundamentals of the game.”
Harrison spent last season at Hannibal (Mo.) LaGrange University, which like DSU is a NAIA Division I institution, and spent the five seasons before that as an assistant at Southwest Baptist in Bolivar, Mo., Dakota State in Madison, S.D., and Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn.
The year before he came to Hannibal LaGrange, the team had a 6-25 record. In his only season there, the Trojans were 17-14 and had the American Midwest Conference’s Newcomer and Freshman of the Year, both of whom Harrison recruited.
“The thing that impressed the (search) committee was he didn’t have a set style that he didn’t want to make his players play to,” DSU athletic director Tim Daniel said. “He had the philosophy that he was going to adjust to the players he had and put them in a situation where he felt they had the best chance to be successful. That’s crucial. In recruiting, you’re not going to get the exact kid you want to fit your need. You have to be flexible and be able to adjust. That’s one of the things we liked about his philosophy. He’s very flexible in things he does.”
While he works with real estate companies in Dickinson on his future housing options, Harrison said he has hit the recruiting trail trying to find players for this coming season. He hopes to add at least two more before the school year begins in August. He’s also trying to get a head start on the Class of 2013.
Harrison added that he will recruit international players — a backbone of success for DSU’s only teams with NAIA national championships, volleyball and men’s track and field — but has no intentions of ignoring local and regional players.
“I think it’s important that we recruit the local talents and we get the best players in the area,” Harrison said. “We want to dominate our backyard first. But obviously we’re going to recruit the globe and we’re going to find the best possible players and student-athletes to fit Dickinson State. (I am) definitely going to look for a mix between recruiting international and domestic players within our region.”
The Blue Hawks lost three seniors from last year’s team, including all-Dakota Athletic Conference guards Kylee Bittner and Jessica Nieves and two-year starting forward Mandy Mullock.
Eight players are expected to return, including senior guards Yianna Nadeau, Ashley Jelly, sophomore guard Jordyn Bender and sophomore forward Janae Moore.
Former head coach Andre Goldberg, who resigned in April to pursue other coaching opportunities in his home state of Colorado, signed three high school recruits — centers Emily Wolf of New Salem-Almont and Jayln Klauzer of Baker, Mont., and guard Sierra Bayles of Broadus, Mont. — before he resigned in April.
Harrison said DSU’s move into the Frontier Conference was a big draw for him, calling it one of the “toughest conferences in the nation.”
“It’s going to give us an opportunity to go to the national tournament every year if we can finish at the top of the conference,” he said.