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Eric Peterson, Published May 20 2010

MSUM athletics: Newest Dragons coach makes face time

The waiting was the most difficult part for Minnesota State Moorhead point guard Jake Driscoll.

That two-month wait ended recently for Driscoll and his teammates when former Iowa assistant Chad Walthall took the vacant Dragons men’s basketball head coaching job.

“We just wanted to get a guy in there so we can start working towards next year and also the recruiting thing,” Driscoll said.

“We’d like to bring in a couple more guys to help fill in some spots and it’s hard to when you don’t have a coach.”

Walthall was officially unveiled as the new MSUM head coach Wednesday, making his first face-to-face meetings with most of the local media since he accepted the job Saturday.

“I think everyone is pretty excited,” said MSUM shooting guard Andrew VanHavermaet. “I think a majority of the team liked him, like what he brought to the table, liked his enthusiasm and optimism for the program.”

Walthall said he’s had phone conversations with the current players and has met face-to-face with some since he accepted the job.

Walthall hasn’t been able to have a full team meeting since he took the job as some players have already gone home for the summer.

“My other priority was definitely to start recruiting to see if we could gain some ground in that area,” Walthall said.

Walthall said assistant coach Eric Peterson has done a good job keeping in touch with recruits while the Dragons were looking for a new head coach.

The MSUM head coaching job was vacant for two months after MSUM didn’t renew Stu Engen’s contract in March.

“We’ll definitely follow up on that and see if we can add more pieces to the puzzle,” Walthall said of the recruiting leads.

Walthall said he would be willing to add a junior college or transfer player to provide immediate help.

“I’m certainly open to that,” said Walthall, who said adding athleticism to the roster will be another recruiting focus. “There are a few out there that we’re actively recruiting.”

Walthall likes that the Dragons return a number of key players from last season. MSUM went 10-17 overall and had a 7-13 mark in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

The Dragons return their top four scorers – Driscoll (15.8 points per game), Dennis Williamson (11.3), VanHavermaet (9.5) and Alex Novak (7.6).

Driscoll, Williamson and VanHavermaet will be juniors, while Novak will be a sophomore. The 6-foot-8 Novak led the team in rebounds (7.3) and blocked shots (2.6) as a freshman.

“I like the fact that they were young and they maybe got knocked around a little bit last year just because they were a little inexperienced,” Walthall said. “I mean this is a great league. You’re just not going to go in that league young and win a lot of games. I like the fact that we seem to have a lot of guys that are pretty good players that are going to be juniors.”

Walthall meet/greet scheduled for Friday

Minnesota State Moorhead basketball coaches will host a meet and greet to welcome new head men’s basketball coach Chad Walthall from

9-10 a.m. Friday at Moxie Java in Moorhead.

Dragons head women’s basketball coach Karla Nelson will also be there along with other MSUM coaches and staff members.

The meet and greet is open to everyone.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.