Haase takes over Stanford men’s basketball program, aims to compete for championships
Basketball has taken Jerod Haase across the country, and now the South Lake Tahoe native is back on the West Coast — at one of the nation’s premier institutions. Haase was hired as head coach of the Stanford University men’s basketball program March 25 and is tasked with returning the Cardinal to success on the hardwood.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me in terms of being at a first-class institution and having a basketball program that I think has unlimited potential,” Haase said. “To have this opportunity means the world to me.”
Haase spent the previous four seasons as head coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he led the Blazers to an 80-53 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance. After graduating from South Tahoe High in 1992 as a state champion and Nevada AAA Player of the Year, he played at California and Kansas before serving as an assistant to legendary coach Roy Williams with the Jayhawks and at North Carolina.
While getting settled into his new digs at Maples Pavilion, Haase talked to the Tahoe Daily Tribune about the latest stop in his basketball career:
What appeals to you most about the opportunity to coach at Stanford?
The opportunity to take a basketball program, develop and grow it and turn it into a championship-level program. That’s the biggest reason I wanted to be here — I think there’s an opportunity for growth and an opportunity to compete for championships.
Stanford is a high-profile program in a high-profile conference, and you’re excited about that challenge?
Absolutely. I’ve always tried to push myself as a player and a coach to compete at the highest level. At Stanford, we’re certainly going to be able to do that with the student-athletes we can bring in — and as a university and athletic department with all of the support we have here, we feel like we can achieve at a high level.
Is there an academic component that comes along with that at a school like Stanford?
That’s one of the attractive parts of the job, is that there are high academic expectations from the recruiting process all the way until graduation. The core values of the university and the athletic department are in line with the things that are important to me — the academic piece is real, and in my mind it’s a positive.
How nice is it to be back on the West Coast?
I certainly have a lot of friends and family on the West Coast — obviously in Lake Tahoe, but really spread around all of Northern California. To have an opportunity to be close to those people is certainly a plus.
Does that mean more trips to Tahoe?
We would try to get out once a year before, but being at Stanford there will certainly be opportunities to make it up there and see people. There’s only certain times of the year that I can do that, but it is something I want to be able to do.
Is there a summer activity that comes to mind when you think about Tahoe?
I love the golf in Tahoe, and basically anything there is up there with the outdoor activities I love to do. The summertime is certainly great times and there are great things to be had.
Was there someone surprising that reached out to you after you got the job?
It was pretty cool when Condoleezza Rice sent me a text message — that was a pretty unique and powerful thing. The overall support from the Stanford alumni and former players has been really, really good.
Had the head coaching position at Stanford been on your radar?
Not necessarily — I was so ingrained at UAB that I was never looking past what we were doing in the short term. I expected Coach (Johnny) Dawkins to be at Stanford for a long time, and it was not an expectation to be here, but when it did become open I realized quickly that that was a situation I would be very excited about.
What’s the biggest thing that you learned from your four seasons at UAB?
As a head coach, it was developing the Xs and Os, game-day preparation and game management. I think I’ve evolved a lot in four years and will continue to do so — the best coaches have the ability to adjust and grow throughout and that’s one of my goals.
What is your vision for the Stanford program?
In simplest terms, the goal is going to be to compete for championships. If you’re competing for championships and playing at a high level in the Pac-12, then you’re extremely relevant on the national stage and a top-level program in the country.
That’s where I want to be able to get the program — I know it’s a lofty and aggressive goal, but I think it’s a realistic goal. It will take a little bit of time to build to that, but that’s the way we’re setting things in place and that’s the belief system we want to have.
What do you think of the players currently in place at Stanford?
It’s a roster that is very, very talented, and potentially everyone can be back from a team that had a lot of high moments and success last year. There is some talent in the program and it’s a lot of motivated talent — guys that are really excited to try to achieve at a high level and get to a spot they haven’t been yet.
Is “Floor Burns” going to be on the team’s required summer reading list?
It will not be on the reading list at all, but I’m hoping that floor burns in the game will be a stat we keep. I want that to be part of the program and the culture that we have on the floor. They will not be required to read it, unless they want to go to sleep at night and get a break from the difficult classes they’re taking.