UAB Basketball Enters a New Era
By Grant Martin
After spending more than 15 years on the coaching staffs of two of college basketball’s winningest programs, Jerod Haase is putting his stamp on the program Gene Bartow built as the fifth head basketball coach in UAB history.
Haase played and coached at the University of Kansas before spending the past nine seasons on the staff at the University of North Carolina, where he helped lead the Tar Heels to national championships in 2005 and 2009.
Haase says he expects to bring that same winning tradition to his first job as a head coach. “This job has everything I could hope for,” Haase said when he was introduced to a room full of Blazer supporters last spring. “This is an ideal situation for me personally and professionally. UAB is a place where I can recruit at a high level, and this is a fantastic place for me to raise a family and be a part of the community.”
A native of Lake Tahoe, California, Haase played one year at the University of California before transferring to Kansas. He started 99 of 101 games with the Jayhawks, finishing his career with more than 1,200 points and ranked in the top 10 among school leaders in assists, three-point field goals, and steals. He was a two-time Academic All-American and was the Kansas Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1997.
“Winning is in his DNA,” says UAB athletic director Brian Mackin of Haase. “He is a great person and will be a great coach for UAB.”
Haase is taking over a Blazer team that has experienced success in the recent past, having won the Conference USA regular season title as recently as 2011. But with only three starters returning, Haase will face the challenge of finding new on-court leadership as he introduces the team to his aggressive style of play.
Haase recently sat down with UAB Magazine to discuss his move to Birmingham and his expectations for the upcoming season.
UAB Magazine: If people were looking for you to bring something different and exciting to UAB basketball, they didn’t have to wait long. Tell us about “Hoops on the Haasephalt.”
Haase: I have been a part of some big preseason events at Kansas and North Carolina, so I wanted to do something here around the start of practice to introduce the team and the coaching staff and to get the fans involved and excited for the coming season. I wanted to do something unique, so we decided we would build an outdoor court and bleachers on 14th Street near the Campus Green.
We had free food and a lot of activities for the kids, and then the men’s and women’s teams both came out and put on a show for everyone with slam-dunk and three-point shooting competitions.
We had a great turnout, the players had a good time, and I hope it’s something our students and fans will remember for a long, long time.
(See a slideshow of "Hoops on the Haasephalt" below. Story continues beneath slideshow.)
UAB Magazine: You played and coached under Roy Williams at Kansas, then followed him to North Carolina. How much of his coaching style should we expect to see implemented at UAB?
Haase: Quite a bit. I believe pretty strongly in the way we did things, so fans can expect to see an up-tempo, exciting style of play. It will be the players’ jobs to raise their intensity to my level. We are going to pressure people defensively, deny passes, hopefully rebound the basketball well, and force turnovers so we can get our secondary break and primary break. We’re going to run the basketball and try to score it quickly—but that doesn’t mean taking rushed or bad shots. I think the guys understand that how the team does is more important than how each individual does. It is amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.
UAB Magazine: You’ve been a part of two historically great programs in Kansas and North Carolina. What kind of steps have you taken to form a connection to this program’s history beyond your current team?
The Haase File
Jerod Haase is one of five brothers and sisters to play intercollegiate sports. He is married to the former Mindy Meidinger of Lenexa, Kansas. The couple has two sons, Gavin (five) and Garrett (two), and a daughter, Gabrielle, born earlier this year.
In addition to his coaching resume, Haase also co-authored the book Floor Burns, chronicling the 1996-97 season at Kansas. The title refers to a statistic the Kansas stat crew created in honor of Haase, who had 165 “floor burns”—abrasions from diving for loose balls—as a junior.
Haase: Well, you can’t really talk about any specific college basketball team without looking at it in the context of the overall program, and there wouldn’t be a program here without Gene Bartow. Although I never had the chance to meet him, I am certainly familiar with Coach Bartow and what he built here. One of the things that was very important to me when I took this job was that I reach out to the Bartow family and to all the former players who had a part in building this program to what it is today.
I had lunch with [Bartow’s widow] Ruth Bartow over the summer and got to know her a little bit. I wanted her to understand that this will always be his program; I’m just the guy who happens to be sitting in his office right now. I wanted her and all of the former players to continue to feel at home here and know that they’re still a big part of what we’re doing.
UAB Magazine: You have some experience returning on this year’s team, but there are some big holes to fill, particularly the loss of leading scorer and rebounder Cameron Moore. How do you see this year’s team shaping up?
Haase: The guys we have returning are a fantastic group who have produced at this level, so they are going to be the core. Then we’ve added some new players, some of whom have a lot of experience and should be able to help us right away.
We don’t have a lot of depth up front, but we have flexibility with several guys who can play multiple positions, and that kind of plays into what we want to do with an up-tempo style of play.
UAB Magazine: One of the highlights of the non-conference schedule is a game against your mentor, Roy Williams, at North Carolina. Can we expect more marquee games like that in the future?
Haase: The North Carolina game is part of a three-year deal. We will play there twice, and they will play us at Bartow Arena next year. It’s a big deal for us to be able to play them, but in the future we plan to play home and away games against the best teams we can find. We’re going to welcome those challenges and build our program so that we can compete at an extremely high level.