The Coyotes men’s basketball team has a new leader of the pack. Craig Smith, head coach for the last four years, has left for Utah State. It wasn’t long after when Todd Lee was named as Smith’s replacement. Lee is a rather unique hire for USD. For starters, Lee is a USD graduate.
Not only is Lee already a member of our community, but he brings with him a legacy of success. When coaching for California State University, Lee won the NCAA Division II national championship. At Kentucky Wesleyan, he took his team to the Sweet Sixteen. And at Grand Canyon University, Lee set a record by winning the most games in a school’s transition to Division I. The record is clear: Todd Lee knows how to win.
If the record is not convincing, then consider what the experts have to say. Mike Brown, assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, said “I have known Todd for almost 30 years and wherever he has gone, programs have gotten better. He is a high-character guy with a wide range of contacts with great knowledge of the game.”
Head coach of Nevada (yes, the Nevada that broke brackets with its run to the Sweet Sixteen in this year’s NCAA tournament) Eric Musselman said, “Todd Lee is known in the coaching fraternity as a star. He is an incredible X and O coach, as well as having a magnetic personality. He has a unique background having coached both at a collegiate and professional level. He will have tremendous success at South Dakota. He is one of the best coaches I have ever been around.”
For USD, the combination could not have been much better. It’s always good for morale to have one of your own leading the team. It’s even better when that person has a record of victory on the court.
We have a lot to look forward to. It might be a few years before the team becomes consistent again. Losing a coach is always a hard thing to go through. Changing to a new coach, a new attitude, a new system and a new mentality will take some time. If next year doesn’t go our way, we should be patient. Lee is a coach, not a magician and we should not forget our role in success.
Coaches, whether it be football, men’s or women’s basketball or volleyball, always talk about the need for a strong fan base. In the past, students have not always been the strongest in this department. With Yote as the coach, the team really is made up of Coyotes from top to bottom, so Coyotes everywhere should unify behind their team more than ever.
Coach Lee has expressed the desire to not just win the Summit League Tournament, but to win games in the NCAA national tournament. To do so, he wants to build home court advantage and bring more people to the games. He wants to be a member of the community and help out with events and other activities so people know who he and the team are and what they stand for.
We have great potential with the new coach. But, as always, if we want to succeed on the basketball court, we all need to be there to back up the team. Now we have a stronger need and a stronger reason to support the team. With a Yote leading the pack, the Coyote nation needs to come together and pull through, for the coach and the team.