It's a new day for Cowboy basketball as McNeese formally introduced BYU assistant Heath Schroyer as its next head men's basketball coach.
It didn't take long for Schroyer to make bold proclamations about the future of the program.
"I really believe that we can turn this into a mid-major powerhouse," Schroyer said. "I think we have the best facility and the best city in this area."
Schroyer has head coaching experience at the Division I level. In nine seasons, he compiled a 125-143 record at Portland State, Wyoming and UT Martin. His teams also made three trips to postseason tournaments (CBI in 2009, CIT in 2015, 2016). He's posted a total of four winning seasons with two of them coming during his two seasons at UT Martin.
"Every job that I have had as a head coach has been one that needed to be rebuilt. I actually enjoy that process. I know some of my colleagues think I am insane. I enjoy the process of building something and putting my stamp on it," Schroyer admitted. "There are a couple of banners at UT Martin that have never been there before. We won a division championship, went to the CIT final four and won the first championship at Portland State of any male sport in the history of the school. Those are things that I enjoy to do and I see a lot of similarities [between previous jobs and McNeese], but I see a lot more advantages here."
Schroyer also confirmed that the Ledoux twins (Kalob and Jacob) will be transferring. Kalob has led the Pokes in scoring each of the past two years.
"Our expectations and the commitment level this program will take going forward, isn't for everybody," said Schroyer. "I'm excited about coaching the guys that are in this program and I wish [the Ledoux twins] nothing but the best."
Schroyer expects two members of his staff to be hired by the end of this week. He's already targeted Nicholls assistant John Aiken to be his associate head coach. Aiken previously worked as an assistant under Schroyer at UT Martin from 2014-2016.
The Walkersville, Maryland, native brings 21 years of D1 coaching experience to the table. This past season he served on the BYU coaching staff as the Cougars posted a 24-11 record and earned a berth to the NIT. The sixth-seeded Cougars lost 86-83 to No. 3 seed Stanford Wednesday night.
Below is a transcript from Coach Heath Schroyer’s introductory press conference:
"First of all, thank you. I want to thank Dr. Burckel, Bruce (Hemphill) and the committee members. I am honored and humbled to be standing here today as your new basketball coach.
There are some young men here. We got a chance to meet each other yesterday. One of the things that really attracted me to this position were the people, you guys sitting here (referring to the returning players). I think there are some great pieces here that we can build upon to do something special.
I’m a first generation college student. I am a son of a farmer. And I’m proud of those things. I’m proud of the fact of where I came from and of the things I’ve had to do. And I think that that has always allowed me to relate to the young men that I coach.
This is not Heath Schroyer’s program. This is the university’s program. This is Lake Charles community’s program. And I am humbled to lead it. But make no mistake, I will lead it. And I’m going to lead it with three characteristics every single day. One of them is great passion. We’re going to be passionate about what we do. And we’re going to have a clear vision about where we are, but where we’re going. And we’re going to have unwavering commitment to reach out goals.
If you have those three things then you can be successful in anything you do in life. But if you don’t have a clear vision, you’re not passionate about it and you don’t have an unwavering commitment, you’re not going to be very successful. We will have those.
A lot of people asked me throughout the process and even buddies of mine in the industry, “coach why McNeese?”
I believe there is so much untapped potential here. The people I’ve talked to that know this area. I can’t tell you the great things about the people of this community. How much they care about this university and care about this program. I could sense that through the committee, the questions they asked. I could sense that they’re passionate about this program.
Obviously the new building is something that is really attractive. I think there’s untapped potential here. I don’t think we’ve scratched the surface on what this program can do.
My vision for this program is really simple. And I obviously want to graduate these young men and produce quality people in this community. Good fathers, good husbands. People that understand how it is to go to work every day and better their lives for themselves and their children.
But I also envision us hanging banners in that gym. I envision a full house. I envision it’s the hottest ticket in town. I see students lining up around the block to get into the game. And I’ve said these things before and I’ve seen them happen. And that’s what I see here. I see greatness on the horizon. I told the young men yesterday in our first team meeting that my goal is to win right now. This group of people, this group of young men deserve that. We’re going to everything as we can as a staff, and for me personally as their head coach, to put them in a position to win next year. That is my goal.
This program is going places, in my opinion, its never been before. Achieving greatness on the floor, off the floor, in the community, in the classroom, that we haven’t experienced before. And to do that, the program we’re going to put together here is based on five pillars I believe in. We talked about this as a team yesterday.
The first thing is loyalty. We’re going to be loyal to something bigger than ourselves. We’re going to be loyal to our university, to our state, to our teammates.
Number two, we’re going to play with great passion. When people come watch Cowboy basketball, I want them going ‘my goodness they played hard. Man they get after it. They’re great teammates. They love to play’. Because that’s contagious.
We’re going to be unselfish. It’s a huge thing in this world to be unselfish. To care about something beside yourself; to care about each other as a team; to care about the university.
Fourth thing is we’re going to have great discipline within our program. We’re going to have discipline on how we look, how we act, how we talk to each other. Because you can’t have discipline on the floor and not have discipline off the floor in my opinion. We’re going to be a disciplined basketball team. We’re going to take great shots. We’re going to guard you. We’re going to value each possession on both sides of the ball.
The last thing we talked about as a team is we’re going to have a champions’ work ethic. Everyone talks about working hard but what does that mean. We’re going to work like a champion. We’re going to have a championship mentality in everything that we do. We talked about that as a team last night that how we carry ourselves, how we look, how we act, we need to carry ourselves like a champion.
I couldn’t tell you how excited I am to be here. I couldn’t tell you how excited my family is to be here. Again to my wife Kim, without question once you meet her, you’ll realize she’s the best recruit I’ve ever signed.
My son Hayden is my heart. I have a daughter, Sierra, that’s a junior at the University of Tennessee. To have my father here is something that’s really special to me. I lost my mom a couple years ago. So for my dad to make the trip here, it means more than you know.
Going forward, I will tell you again that I am humbled to be your coach. I am honored to be your coach. And this is your program. This is Lake Charles program. This is McNeese’s program. And I’m going to lead it and we’re going to go where everyone wants it to go. And I’m going to need all of your help. I need you to come to games. I need you to buy season tickets. I need you to tell your friends it’s a new day for Cowboy basketball. Give us a chance. Because when you watch the product we’re going to put on the floor, you’re not going to be disappointed. I’m not going to tell you that we’re going to get there tomorrow. I’m not going to sit here and say that it’s going to be easy, because it’s not. But I promise you, as my dad would say, just roll up your sleeves and get to work, and that’s what we’re about to do. And these guys are about to do that.
I’m going to put together an unbelievable staff. My goal is to have the best staff in the Southland Conference. The people that I’ve been talking to that want to come here is phenomenal because they believe in the vision that we’ve talked about. They believe in the vision of this program and the community here in Lake Charles.
And again, I am humbled and honored to be your coach. I can’t wait to get started."
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