HOOPS: Cougs go defensive with new hire

KEN BONE HAS hired a longtime college basketball head coach to become the Cougs' director of player development. Rod Jensen will replace Jeff Hironaka, who left WSU to take an assistant coaching position at Portland State. Jensen has been in the coaching game for more than 30 years and the hallmark throughout his hoops career -- has been defense.

Cougfan.com first learned about Jensen's hire from independent sources and WSU Athletics on Wednesday afternoon confirmed to CF.C the hire.

Jensen's defensive expertise would seem to supercharge Bone's increased emphasis on defense each year since arriving at WSU.

The Cougars have had notable drops in points allowed in each of Bone's four seasons at the Cougar helm -- to the point they were approaching Bennett-Ball territory this past season.

As for Jensen, he's well known as a defensive coach, especially during his 19 years as both head coach and an assistant at Boise State.

Note: Per NCAA rules, Jensen in his role at Washington State won't be able to coach players or go out on the road recruiting. However, Hironaka as the Director of Player Development was still able to be acutely involved with Bone in practice and game preparation and it is believed Jensen will be as well -- particularly when it comes to all things defense.

JENSEN COMES TO WSU after three seasons as head coach at The College of Idaho. In his final season there, Jensen led COI to its first winning season in four years (15-14), its first home playoff game since 2007 and earned the program's first win over a No. 1-ranked team, an 83-82 thriller at Eastern Oregon.

Back in 1995, Jensen became the head coach at Boise State, compiling a 109-93 overall record in seven seasons at the helm while recording the third-most wins in BSU history.

During his head coaching tenure, the Broncos ranked among the NCAA top 25 in scoring defense in 1998 and 1999, while winning the 1999 Big West East Division Championship.

From 1983-95, he was the top assistant to BSU head coach Bobby Dye, helping the Broncos rank among the top 15 in the NCAA D-I in scoring defense for four-straight seasons. The Broncos won Big Sky regular-season championships in 1988 and 1989, and Big Sky Tournament titles in 1988, 1993, and 1994. BSU teams advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1988, 1993, and 1994, and the National Invitational Tournament in 1987 and 1991.

"We are excited about the addition of Rod Jensen to our staff and want to wish Jeff Hironaka the best at Portland State," Ken Bone said. "I've known Rod for many years and he is an outstanding basketball coach. I love the passion and energy he brings to the game."

Jensen was also an assistant coach for Pete Gillen at Virginia from 2002-04, where he helped the Cavaliers to two NIT appearances -- and Virginia led the Atlantic Coast Conference in defensive field goal percentage in 2003 and 2004. In 2005, he headed south to UNC Greensboro, working for Mike Dement, where during his tenure, every player who exhausted their eligibility, graduated. He spent five years at UNCG, his final four as associate head coach.

A graduate of the University of Redlands in California, Jensen began his coaching career at his alma mater in 1980, serving as an assistant for two years, before spending one season at Penn State.

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