Veteran coach and University of Winnipeg graduate Grant Richter has taken over as interim head coach for U of W Wesmen men’s basketball team.
On Jan. 12, head coach Dave Crook resigned after almost 10 years with the Wesmen. The team, although quite veteran, is struggling this season with a record of 0-16.
“It’s been a long, hard struggle, and hopefully things will just turn out for the kids. That’s my No. 1 concern,” Crook said, in the Jan. 15 Winnipeg Sun.
Richter began coaching basketball in 1984 and coached the Murdoch MacKay Collegiate team for 14 years. In 1992, he returned to the U of W and assisted Bill Wedlake, head coach of the men’s team, until 1998.
Richter remembers those years fondly.
“Those were good times. For three years we were No. 1 in the country.”
In 1997, while still assisting the Wesmen and Murdoch MacKay, Richter became an assistant to Bill Klucas, head coach of the semi-pro Winnipeg Cyclone. Richter stayed on when Darryl Dawkins took over and became head coach in 2000 for the team’s final season.
He said working with the Cyclone was a very different coaching experience. The players were incredibly skilled, and the style of the program was new, he said.
“It was a lot less practices and a lot more games ... A lot of travel, much more than university.”
Now back with the Wesmen, Richter is ready to make some changes.
In the first half of the season, Richter noticed a few glaring stats that needed to be improved, like low shooting percentages and few assists.
“The ball has to move more” for the team to succeed, he said.
In his first week, Richter introduced a new strategy and new systems. He knows it’s not easy for the players to have a new coach halfway through the season but is happy to be with the team.
After one week with their new coach, the players found that much had changed.
“It’s definitely a different style to adapt to, just like any coaching change,” said forward Mike James.
James said the team is adjusting well, but also spoke fondly of Crook.
“We all had a good relationship with him, but it is probably a greater adjustment for the veterans because we were together for so long.”
The Wesmen are hoping that with their new coach will come new energy. The team has only five regular season games left this year and is looking to steal two wins this weekend (Jan. 29-30) when they host the Lethbridge Pronghorns.
U of W’s athletic director Doran Reid said the search for a new head coach for next year has begun. He said the program will search locally as well as nationally.
“We want someone that is a highly qualified and capable basketball coach but we also want someone that is going to be able to work well with the community and inner-city programming,” said Reid. “They should be able to deliver that all-round great student-athlete experience that includes excellence in the classroom and in team activities.”
Published in Volume 64, Number 17 of The Uniter (January 28, 2010)