“We can win a national championship,” Highlights from the intro presser for Jerrod Calhoun and Wes Brooks | Sports

LOGAN — Utah State got the unique opportunity to introduce two head coaches in one press conference, allowing fans to meet with new women’s basketball head coach Wes Brooks and men’s basketball head coach Jerrod Calhoun in the Wayne Estes Center Tuesday morning.

The two coaches are taking over programs that are at very different stages. The men’s side just won an NCAA Tournament game and is on a six-year run that’s included five qualifications to the Big Dance, two regular season titles and a pair of conference tournament titles. The women’s team is on a five-year run where the average yearly win total is in the single digits (and the highest single-season win total in that span is 11).

Brooks and Calhoun are very aware of those facts and their respective comments reflected as much.

Calhoun said it pretty bluntly that “this is not a rebuild, this is a reload.” He even went above and beyond with his goals for the program, bypassing talk of repeating as Mountain West champions and going all the way to the top.

“I told (the players) if they come back, they run it back, we can win a national championship. I truly believe that,” Calhoun said.

That rather bold declaration appears to be his main pitch to the players — and every player on the men’s roster was in attendance — and Calhoun made it clear that the current athletes are his priority.

“My sole focus is our current players,” Calhoun said. “I think so many coaches come in and talk about the next recruit. The best recruiter, those guys sit right over there. The team is really, really talented. The team is connected. So, we want to retain all of those guys and the high school guys. We’ve had great conversations with all of them.”

Keeping the roster together won’t be an easy task. Incoming coaches are often faced with an exodus of players looking to control their future and not leave things up to a coach they’re not familiar with.

Already, there have been two portal entries, Landon Brenchley and Mason Falslev, along with three high school recruits — Kase Wynott, Christopher Cox and Terrence Hill Jr. — that have de-committed since former head coach Danny Sprinkle departed for Washington.

Naturally, the topic of USU’s turnover with men’s basketball coaches came up and Calhoun cited his family as a reason he isn’t eager to be a frequent mover.

“I knew this question would come up,” Calhoun joked, “I’ve read quite a bit about this place and the number of changes. But I can tell you this. My girls are at an age where we don’t want to move. We like to stay where we’re at.”

Brooks faces a much more sober situation than his counterpart. His job will be rebuilding a program that’s won nine games across the last two seasons. The style Brooks plans on should, in theory, allow for the program to make a turnaround.

“You can expect us to play hard. You can expect us to play fast. You can expect us to play smart. You can expect us to play together,” Brooks said.

Fast-paced, high-intensity basketball seems to be the two biggest things Brooks wants to bring to Logan. He emphasized again later that he wants to “play fast, really fast. Shoot a ton of threes. Press for 40 minutes.”

It won’t just be about pace, though. Brooks’ initial statement included a note on playing “smart” and he noted that turnovers were a big thing he wants to eliminate as much as possible (Utah State ranked 326th in turnovers per game last year).

Utah State Athletic Director Diana Sabau called Tuesday a “transformational day,” and it’s sure to be that. The immediate, and perhaps even long-term future, of the men’s and women’s basketball teams are now in these two coach’s hands.

Time will provide the answer to whether the said transformation will be positive or negative.

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