It was not easy for Rod Jensen to leave the College of Idaho, but the chance to work with WSU men's basketball and make a dream of his come true was not something he could pass up.
Last month, Jensen was hired by WSU men’s basketball as the new director of player development after the departure of Jeff Hironaka, who left the university to become associate head men’s basketball coach at Portland State University.
“Just the opportunity to work at Washington State is very exciting,” Jensen said. “I have really enjoyed working with (head coach) Ken Bone and the entire staff.”
After three seasons at the College of Idaho, Jensen led the Coyotes to their first winning season (15-14) in four years and secured the university’s first home playoff game since 2007.
While serving as the head coach at Boise State University, Jensen went 109-93 in seven seasons with the Broncos and recorded the third-most wins in the school’s history.
“In this business, there are certain people you want to work for and there are others you don’t want to work for,” Jensen said. “Ken Bone is one of those guys I feel comfortable with and I appreciate his values. To me, this is a dream come true. ”
Ken Bone, WSU head basketball coach, said Jensen has a great understanding of defense, and the goals for next year include applying more pressure on the ball defensively and blocking passing lanes.
“His experience allows him to be a great educator,” Bone said. “Everywhere he has been has been about defense intensity and aggressive play.”
Bone said he will be looking forward to having Jensen on the staff this season because he has a great knowledge of the game, similar to Hironaka.
In discussions with Jensen, Bone said they feel the team is deep at the guard spot and has great depth on the bench, but added they would like to pick up the tempo this season.
During team workouts, Bone said Jensen has been most impressed by how coachable the team appears to be.
“The way he relates with people is going to be very beneficial on the court and in the office,” Bone said. “He is a great communicator.”
In addition, Jensen also served as assistant head coach at the University of Virginia for two years in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
In two seasons, the Virginia Cavaliers made two appearances in the NIT and led the conference in defensive goal percentage.
“Over the years you create reputations, and my reputation is on the defensive side of the ball,” Jensen said. “Hopefully I can bring some ideas and concepts that will bring some benefit.”
This season Jensen said he has not seen much tape on the Cougars, but he plans to make more visitations with Bone and the coaching staff.
Jensen has been watching the team in-group workouts, and his first impressions of the team include having a good work ethic and togetherness off the court, he said.
“The guys have been very receptive thus far,” Jensen said. “We have had some guys trying to stay the course right now, and over time this is going to evolve into a pretty good basketball team.”
In one trip to Beasley Coliseum, the team explained how the Cougar fans filled up an entire section of the arena, which gave him goose bumps, Jensen said.
At most universities, Jensen said he has seen sections of fans behind the basket and behind the bench, but he got the feeling the Cougars fans took up half the floor.
“I really believe in my heart that the students, faculty and the people who live in this area take great pride in Washington State Athletics,” Jensen said. “I can’t wait to see their support at our games.”