JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Tony Jasick Era officially made its debut on Thursday. In front of a large contingent of media, supporters, distinguished alumni and fans, Chief Athletics Officer Brad Edwards introduced Jasick as the 16 head coach in the storied history of Jacksonville University men’s basketball.
Recently named the Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year by CollegeInsider.com as the top Division I mid-major coach in college basketball, Jasick served as the head coach at the Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne (IPFW) for the past three seasons.
A nine-year veteran of the IPFW program, Jasick oversaw the Mastodons as the school transitioned from a Division I independent into one of the Summit League’s elite. Moving up the bench from assistant to associate to head coach, Jasick recently completed his third season in charge of the IPFW program, one in which the Mastodons set a school record with 25 victories and nabbed the program’s first-ever postseason victory in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament against Akron.
Tony Jasick, Jacksonville University Head Coach
“I certainly appreciate everybody being here. The turnout is phenomenal. Obviously it stretches generations with the past, a lot of the current people who are involved in the program and certainly our players who are current and future and I appreciate each of you being here.”
“I’d first like to thank two people that are probably most responsible for today; Brad (Edwards) and President (Tim) Cost. I don’t take lightly the opportunity that you’ve given me and certainly will work every day, as I told Brad, to prove you both right with the hire. So for that my family and I truly appreciate it.
“I’m going to do a couple of more thank you’s because I think I’d be missing the boat if I didn’t. I need to thank everybody back in Fort Wayne. They’re what made this decision tough. Had nothing to do with where we were going. I think this is a great place, a great opportunity, but the people in Fort Wayne have been phenomenal to us, the administration at IPFW for entrusting me with their program, certainly our current players who did all of the stuff that Brad talked about. Like I tell them and like I told our guys, I didn’t score a point. So all the credit and stuff we got done is truly a tribute to them. And then obviously the three most important people to me: Melissa, Reece and Rowan, who are along this great ride.”
“This morning I had the opportunity to meet with our team and kind of share my vision for JU basketball. That vision is very basic but I also think it’s encompassing in exactly what we’re trying to do. First and foremost we’re going to handle everything that we do with great class, whether that’s on the floor, in class, around campus, in the community. First and foremost we’re going to represent JU, we’re going to represent this town the way that we all think it should be represented. Once we take it to the floor we want our team to play with great energy, an unbelievable level of toughness, and be the most unselfish team that we play. I think that if we can accomplish those three goals, the rest, all these videos, will follow. You’ve got to break it down to these three things and they’re going to be the pillars of our program. Great energy, unbelievable toughness and have guys that play the game in an unselfish manner.
“This program has a very storied history. One that I don’t take lightly at all. I’m excited about adding some stories to that history. I hope the videos that we show continue to include what we’ve seen today, but also hopefully what we’re going to accomplish with some of these guys that are in here and the other ones who are in class during this time. So with that I want to say thank you again for today, I want to thank you for support as we move forward and look forward and like I told Brad, this isn’t the press conference that we’re trying to have a lot of fun at. The press conference that we’re trying to have a lot of fun at happens in March. And hopefully we can get there sooner than later and have a good time. So with that I want to say thank you again to everybody.”
“Here’s where we’re at. The most important recruits that we have, in my opinion, are the guys that were in the locker room this morning. We’re going to recruit our team and make sure that we move these guys forward because at the end of the day they’ve been here and laid a foundation and we’re going to make sure that we get those guys the opportunity to achieve their goals. This afternoon we’ll be on the phone with the current signees and then we’ll move forward form there. My idea with recruiting is first and foremost we’re going to recruit good people. I think every program has kind of a ceiling and I don’t think that you can get to that ceiling with bad people. We were fortunate at Fort Wayne to go way, way, way above our ceiling and I think it was because of the character of our guys.”
On the challenges that present themselves here at JU:
“We lost a large number of guys to graduation this year, so continuing to build our roster. I think we need to, and again I should also, I meant to do it earlier, but I think I should also thank Cliff [Warren] and his staff. I know things didn’t go the way they wanted to, but I’m sure that those guys and their families made sacrifices to try and make this program better and I wish those guys nothing but the best in the future. But we’ve got some holes to fill on our roster, so we’ve got to get in and get to work and bring in some guys that fit what we’re trying to do and then move forward from there.”
On what it was about Jacksonville that brought you and your family here:
“Brad (Edwards) and Tim (Cost). Bottom line. I thought that they had great vision, great energy. I think when you have … I’ve been around a number of different universities and I think that President Cost brings a very unique skill set and background in that I think that if you cut his arm right now he would literally bleed green, JU green, and when you put a guy like that that has that much pride in a university, to go along with his great vision, his energy, and what I believe a great work ethic, it provides an environment that I think can build success and that can grow, and I think you guys all see that when you walk around campus.”
On playing a large number of guarantee games:
“Brad and I have obviously discussed that and I think at JU it’s an important part of our funding process. I think you don’t want to get carried away, but it is an important part. The other that I think people may not value as much as I do is it’s also a way for our guys to get a unique experience. I think we’re going to get a chance to travel around the country playing some great venues against some storied programs and things of that nature plus it also gives them the opportunity to see where they’re at on the national stage.”
Basketball is a religion in Indiana. Basketball is not a religion in Northeast Florida. Could you talk about that challenge?
“You have to start building it with your students and your people on campus. When you go to any campus, any event, the student section, the more energy they bring the more fun everybody has. So we’ve got to grow that and continue to get our students involved in what we’re doing. And that’s obviously me having a presence on campus, our guys going handling all their business with class, building relationships, students want to be friends and support their friends, so we need to make sure that we’re out there building those relationships. In the community we’re going to be involved. Please, when you see us, stop us and say hello. We want to meet all of you and hopefully bring you into our family. I think part of your fan base is watching a product that you like to see and hopefully our style of play is one that, like I told our guys, there’s a fine line, we talked about we’re going to play a fun style, well that’s great, but you probably ought to play an effective style too. So we’re going to try and do both and I think build it that way.
The Atlantic Sun has had some success here the last few years … is there something there for you to mirror or are you out to create your own identity here?
“I think mirroring their success is the way to go. Now how we do that is going to be our way and … with our style of play, with the pillar of our program, that’s how we’re going to build it. We would certainly love to match the success of the schools that you just mentioned.”