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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Back Talk: Stan Gouard

Education: Bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Southern Indiana

Resume: professional basketball player, Sweden, South America, and Mexico; academic advisor, John A. Logan College; assistant men’s basketball coach, University of Southern Indiana; assistant men’s basketball coach, University of Indianapolis; assistant men’s basketball coach, Indiana State University; head men’s basketball coach, University of Indianapolis; head men’s basketball coach, University of Southern Indiana, 2020-present

Hometown: Danville, Illinois

Family: Wife Chasity; daughter Kennedy (12)

University of Southern Indiana men’s basketball coach Stan Gouard often avoids the second level of Screaming Eagles Arena.

On the wall near the entrance is a mural depicting him hoisting the 1995 Division II National Championship trophy surrounded by his teammates. It was the climax of his college career playing for USI from 1993 to 1996.

“It’s intimidating walking past that,” he says.

A former professional basketball player and two-time National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II Player of the Year while at USI, Gouard nevertheless has little intimidation entering his 22nd season coaching college hoops and third year as head coach of his alma mater. His .663 winning percentage ranked in the top 30 among active DII coaches and his University of Indianapolis squads made six consecutive NCAA DII Tournament appearances from 2010-2016.

The prestigious portrait serves as a motivator and a reminder of the program’s accomplishments as it enters its first season of Division I competition in the Ohio Valley Conference.

When did you realize you wanted to coach?

My coaching interest stemmed from the coaches whom I have played for as a young man.  Every coach that I had the opportunity to play for has impacted my life in a major way.  I used to always watch the demeanor of Coach (Rick) Herdes and Coach (Bruce) Pearl, and I wanted to be like those guys.

Coaching became my Plan B if my basketball career did not work out. I remember sitting down with Coach Pearl one day. We were playing in the national championship game in ’95 in Louisville, Kentucky. I think that was my first realization that I was going to be a coach, but I always knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to be a coach because of my love for the game of basketball and the ability to impact the lives of young people.

He asked me, ‘What do you want to do if you don’t want to go play pro basketball?’ And I told him I wanted to be a coach. He told me I was crazy — only because of how hard it is as a coach, dealing with so many different attitudes, backgrounds, and coaches. That’s hard bringing them all together on the same page.

What made you want to return to USI and take the head coaching job after 12 years coaching at the University of Indianapolis?

This place is pretty special to me. If you walk downstairs and look at the trophy cases, the hall of fame induction on the wall with my name on it, the mural with myself and my teammates with the championship trophies, how can you not want to come back? That was a great selling point for me to come back here and coach at this place.

After I played, I stayed in touch with so many people here — former boosters, teammates, people in the community — but it was tough for me to leave the University of Indianapolis after 12 years.

Now that USI is transitioning to Division I, how have you been preparing your players to compete at a higher level?

The one thing I can say about the OVC is how talented that league is. They’re well-coached and they play hard. When I watched those tournament games back in March, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking everybody has to step their game up: the coaches, the managers, the players, everybody.

If we’re going to be competitive, we have to do some things differently. What we’ve done in practice is we try to make every day as intense as possible. We tell our guys every day in practice, “We’re competing for a championship. We can’t have a bad day.” You’re going to have a bad day from a talent standpoint, but you can’t have a bad day from a competitive standpoint. You have to play hard and compete at a high level. We want to be the toughest team in the league. Last year, we were one of the top defensive teams in the country at the DII level; that’s a goal for us.

Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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