Missouri State men’s basketball coach Paul Lusk has finalized his staff for the upcoming season with the addition of Mike Howland in the position of director of basketball operations and Keith Pickens in the role of graduate manager, Lusk announced recently. Lusk’s team will also utilize the services of new Strength and Conditioning Assistant Coach Collin Crane who rounds out the list of new staff working with the Bears’ program.
“I think all three guys bring something unique and valuable to our program,” Lusk said. “We’re really excited about the upcoming season, and having an experienced and motivated cast around our team is a huge plus for us.”
Lusk will begin his fourth season at the helm of the MSU program with assistant coaches Jermaine Henderson and Derrick Tilmon in their third year, while assistant Brad Korn begins his second season on the Bears’ staff.
Howland comes to MSU after three years as the varsity basketball coach at Saint Viator High School in Arlington Heights, Ill. During his tenure there, he led his teams to a combined 69-19 record with three regional titles and three 20-win campaigns, including a 25-4 ledger in 2012. He also earned IBCA District 4 Coach of the Year honors in each of his three seasons while garnering East Suburban Catholic Conference Coach of the Year laurels in 2012.
“I am extremely thankful to Coach Lusk for giving me the opportunity to join the basketball staff here at Missouri State,” said Howland. “My wife, Shannon, and I couldn’t be more excited to join the Bears family. I believe that Coach Lusk and his staff are building something special, and I’m excited to jump right in and get to work.”
The 2002 graduate of DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., also built the AAU Chicago Lockdown 14U-16U program from the ground up, helping accumulate a 115-13 record and top 25 national ranking in 2013. Lockdown was 27-1 with four tournament titles during the 2013 live periods.
As a player at DePauw, Howland was a four-year starter and helped lead his squad to the NCAA Division III Elite Eight in 2002. He earned NABC All-America honors in 2002 as well as SCAC Player of the Year.
“Mike has been a very good high school coach as well as starting and operating a very successful AAU program. He has great energy, he’s well organized, and he will make a great fit for our program.
Howland replaces Sam McMahon who started July 1 as an assistant coach at Missouri Southern.
An on-court standout for the Bears from 2009-14, Pickens will serve as the team’s graduate manager this season while pursuing his master’s degree in Sports Management. His duties will include oversight of the program’s student managers, assisting with video and film and providing support for the coaching staff in a number of capacities.
“Keith has meant a lot to our program as a player and we’re excited to have him in a new role,” Lusk said. “It’s a great opportunity for him to continue his education and get some experience in coaching.”
The St. Louis native graduated from Missouri State in August 2013 with a degree in Sports Administration. The rugged forward played 19 games his senior year in 2013-14 at the end of an injury-laden career that saw him produce 568 points and 253 rebounds in 111 games. He ranks 10th in school history in blocked shots (70) and led the Bears in rebounding in 24 games during his career.
Pickens was part of the 2010 CIT championship team his freshman season and was a member of the 2011 Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship team in 2011, although a knee injury sidelined him for the season. Pickens’ best campaign came in 2012-13 when he started 19 times in 30 appearances, scored a career-high 183 points and logged 142 rebounds as a fourth-year junior.
“I may be done on the court, but I’m not done giving back to the Bears,” Pickens said. “This place has treated me great, and I look forward to doing the same for Coach Lusk and the program in any way I can.”
Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach Collin Crane started at Missouri State on July 1 and will be assigned to the sports of men’s basketball, tennis and golf while assisting Director of Strength and Conditioning Terry Sauerbry’s operation on a daily basis.
Crane is a 2013 graduate of Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn., and comes to MSU after two years at the University of Florida. He worked with men’s basketball at Florida, including the 2013-14 season as assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Gators.
“Our players have already connected with Collin and have bought into his system,” Lusk explained. “They’ve had a great summer together to this point. We’re very excited to have him working with our players and have him as part of our program.”
Crane was a four-year starter at forward for Carson-Newman and was team captain three years. He is a certified specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and also has professional CPR and first aid certification.
“I’m grateful to join Terry (Sauerbry) and his team on the strength staff at Missouri State,” Crane said. “Coming to MSU has been a great experience, and we’re trying to put us in a position to compete for Missouri Valley Conference championships. It’s a great place with great support, and I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Story courtesy of MissouriStateBears.com