UTSA Athletic Director Lynn Hickey formally announced the hiring of former Oklahoma Assistant Coach Steve Henson as the Roadrunners sixth men’s basketball coach at a Friday afternoon press conference.
“This place is a gold mine,” said Hickey, “And we need someone that can really stabilize our program, that can build relationships. So we needed a very strong person that has a great background as a coach, as a former student-athlete, as a professional player. All those pieces fit in well with Steve.”
Widely considered one of the top assistant coaches in the nation, Henson said he jumped at the opportunity because of what he sees in UTSA.
“When I found out there was an opportunity I didn't hesitate for a second,” said Henson. “I think there is just a ton of potential here. It's a great city. I think there is a great buzz going around campus right now.”
One of the issues that UTSA Basketball has faced in recent years is their facilities, or lack thereof. When asked about having to recruit players to the Convocation Center, Henson said he didn’t feel like it was going to a problem.
“I don't anticipate that being an issue at all,” Henson said of the Convocation Center. “I anticipate us finding the right guys. We're going to have good people in our program.”
Along the lines of recruiting, Henson says he’s going to look for high-character players more than anything else.
“We're going to recruit the right guys, the right fit. We'll turn down some guys that maybe are a higher level that we don't think are the right fit for us,” said Henson. “We're going to recruit great teammates, guys that we want to be in the foxhole with. We may miss out on some guys but we're confident we're going to find the right guys.”
One of the things that has lacked with UTSA in recent years is a connection local players and programs. Henson says that will be a point of emphasis.
“We're going to work very hard with the local guys,” said Henson. “I've reached out to a few of them. Wish I would have had time to reach a few more of them. We'll have clinics and get guys on campus. If we have Saturday morning workouts, we'll find great opportunities to get coaches here. Maybe have a little chalk talk before practice, after practice.”
As far as the current roster, right now there are more questions than answers. Only one player is scheduled to depart (senior Ryan Bowie). However, others could follow. Henson says no decisions have been made yet but he’s already met with the team.
“I told them I was hired here to turn this program around, and we're going to turn it around and we're not going to have any doubt about that.”
Following a Wednesday night meeting, Henson said he decided to have an early Thursday morning workout. Although the workout was not mandatory, it certainly sent a message to the current players on the roster.
“When we had that meeting, I guess that was Wednesday night and we decided to have a little workout on Thursday morning, I said if any of you want to hit the snooze button tomorrow, just do it. Just hit it, and then hit it again, and come see me in the afternoon because if you're not looking forward to getting up and playing basketball, then something's not right.”
In addition to changing the cultural around the program, it also seems like Henson will also be modifying the on-the-court philosophy.
“We're going to play fast. We're going to play up-tempo, push the ball, throw it ahead at every opportunity. Our guys will have to be in great shape, great condition in order to play that way,” said Henson. “Defensively we'll be mostly man-to-man. Be aggressive, switching man-to-man. Pick up the ball early, try to take in things away, be disruptive. Mix in a lot of run and jumps, lot of traps around mid-court, stir things up defensively.”
Henson announced during his press conference that Scott Thompson, a former staffer at OU, as been hired to his staff at UTSA. Henson says other staff hires will be happening soon.
“We're real close with another staff member. Got a guy that's going to come, we're just not ready to announce it yet. He'll come in here and do some great things for us,” said Henson. “We want to make sure we get the right guy. We need guys that will get out and work and hustle, and recruit the state, recruit the local kids.”
In addition to roster management, recruiting, and staff hiring, Henson is also charged with building a non-conference schedule for next season and beyond.
“It's vital to our program that we nail the scheduling portion,” said Henson. “We want to play exciting opponents. We want to play exciting games. We need some momentum. We've got to be really smart with that.”
Press Conference Video
Post-Press Conference Audio
Press Conference Transcript: LINK
Press Conference Photos: LINK
Steve Henson Bio: LINK