First year head coach Ben Jacobson takes over a Northern Iowa
won 23 games last year, advanced to the NCAA Tournament, and is
seemingly on the up and up. But the former assistant will
have to do it without the services of his namesake, star guard
Ben Jacobson. Coach was kind enough to take some time out
of his busy schedule about what should be an intriguing and
exciting year for Panthers fans.
Siegel (CHN): You lose three seniors that played huge roles
the past few seasons, including star Ben Jacobson. How will you try
and replace them?
Ben Jacobson (BJ):
departing seniors basically played every minute of every game
the past three seasons at the two wing positions. It will be
extremely difficult to replace them. Not only were they
productive on the court, but their leadership and toughness set
a new standard for our program.
As a true
freshman, guard Travis Brown showed the ability to score the
basketball in a variety of ways. His continued development,
particularly defensively, will be critical to our teamís
success. He has all the tools to be an all-conference caliber
Josten and Adam Viet have patiently waited their turn. While
playing sparingly the past two years, they have worked very hard
and are an integral part of our program. With the graduation of
Crawford, Jacobson and Little, their opportunity is now. Jared
is a combo guard who is extremely quick, is a good defender and
can score. Adam is battling a knee injury, and his healthy
return will be important, as he is the best three-point shooter
on our team.
do you expect the strengths and weaknesses of
this yearís team to be?
strength of our team is the experience of Brooks McKowen, Grant
Stout and Eric Coleman. Brooks will be a four-year starter at
the point. He has helped guide us to three consecutive 20-win
seasons and three NCAA tournaments. We will count heavily on
his leadership and toughness. Grant and Eric have been starters
for us the past two years, and have proven through their play to
be one of the better inside combinations in our league. Grantís
versatility at the offensive end, and his ability to rebound and
block shots, have made him one of the top players in the MVC.
Eric was Freshman of the Year in the league two years ago and we
hope that he can make a huge stride forward, as Grant did
between his sophomore and junior year. If he does, heíll be one
of the premier post players in our conference. Weíve added
quality depth to the front court with freshmen Jordan Eglseder
and Adam Koch. We feel both players can have an impact on our
team as freshmen.
graduated seniors Ben Jacobson, John Little and Erik Crawford at
the wing will be our biggest challenge. Ben, John and Erik were
very good at both ends of the floor, and provided us with great
leadership and toughness. We have talented players that will
step into those roles, however they lack the game experience of
those three. There will be three freshmen and one sophomore
among six players vying for playing time at those two positions.
CHN: Which of your guys stands out as deserving more credit
than the numbers might suggest?
Brooks McKowen is our teamís leader. Heís been an integral part
of our teamís success the past three seasons. He has provided
valuable leadership, even though the majority of the spotlight
has been on other players. Brooksí work ethic in practice,
outside of practice, in the weight room and in the classroom is
exactly what you like to see from your veterans. He has taken
on the role of point guard without ego and concern about
CHN: What should
we expect out of the incoming players. Who will make the biggest impact?
Jordan Eglseder is a 7-1,
265 pound center from Bellevue, Iowa. He joins us as one of the most highly
touted recruits in the history of our program. Jordanís size alone makes
him a difficult matchup in our league. He has all the skills necessary to
be an impact freshman in the MVC. Jordan has good hands, good touch, scores
around the basket, can handle and pass the basketball and works extremely
hard at developing his game.
Adam Koch is a
6-8, 210 pound forward from Ashwaubenon, Wis. Adamís
versatility at the power forward position will allow him to have
an impact on our team as a freshman. He has the ability to make
three-point shots, is comfortable handling and passing the
basketball, and is very capable of finishing plays at the
Kerwin Dunham and Stephen Jones are the three freshman guards in
our program. Ahelegbe is a point guard, Jones is a combo guard
and Dunham is a wing. All three players will compete for
CHN: Talk about which coaches really helped you reach the level of
success youíre at today? Do you still keep in touch with them?
Rich Glas and
Greg McDermott have been the two most influential men in my
coaching career. Having played and worked for both Coach Glas
and Coach McDermott, I have learned valuable lessons in what it
takes to be successful in both basketball and life.
Coach Glas has
won 490 basketball games. He is a tremendous teacher of the
game. However, he is an ever better person, and has taught me
more about the game of life than the game of basketball. His
priorities and values are exactly right. He has been a
tremendous role model for me and Iím excited to have him on
staff as I begin my head coaching career.
has really prepared me to be a head coach. Over the past six
years, he has taught me the importance of building
relationships. The quality of young men weíve had on our teams,
and Macís unique ability to connect with people, have our
program at a place where itís never been. Macís attention to
detail in all aspects of a basketball program is second to none.