LSU Names Trent Johnson 20th Men's Basketball Head Coach
BATON ROUGE — Trent Johnson, who served as the head coach at Stanford for the past four seasons, has been named the 20th head men’s basketball coach at LSU it was announced on Thursday.
In his nine years combined as a Division I head coach at both Stanford and Nevada, he has won 159 games and taken teams the last six years to post-season play, including four NCAA appearances. Both his 2004 Nevada and 2008 Stanford teams reached the NCAA Sweet 16 and he has been named Coach of the Year in both the Western Athletic Conference and Pac-10 Conferences and was a finalist this season for the Skip Prosser Man of the Year Award given at the NCAA Final Four to the Division I head coach who best represents the high standards of the coaching profession.
Johnson, 51, took the Cardinal to the NCAA Sweet 16 this past season, recording a 28-8 overall record, earning a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Stanford had wins over 22nd-ranked USC, 22nd-ranked Arizona State and an overtime victory at No. 9 Washington State during the course of the year. Stanford finished 13-5 in the Pac-10 Conference, finishing second to UCLA, earning Johnson Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors.
He was the only head coach in Stanford history to guide the Cardinal to the postseason in each of his first four seasons, going to the NCAAs three times and the NIT in 2006.
Johnson was named Stanford’s 16th head coach on May 25, 2004. In his four years, the Cardinal has compiled a record of 80-48 (.625) and 87-71 (.551) in Pac-10 play.
In Johnson’s first season at Stanford (2005), he displayed his leadership in the face of adversity as Stanford dealt with a season-ending injury to its leading scorer while having only nine healthy players able to compete at the end of the year. Despite that, Johnson led the Cardinal to the NCAA Tournament and a third place finish in the Pac-10.
In 2007, the Cardinal squad again reached the NCAA Tournament taking sixth place in one of the nation’s top conferences. One of the biggest wins that year, among five wins over Top 25 clubs, was when Stanford overcame a 17-point first-half deficit and dispatched of No. 2 UCLA, 75-68.
Prior to becoming head coach at Stanford, Johnson revitalized the program at Nevada during his five-year tenure from 1999-2004. During the 2004 season, Johnson led Nevada to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time in school history as the Wolf Pack tied a school record with 25 wins. Nevada posted upset victories in the 2004 NCAA Tournament over Michigan State and Gonzaga before being edged by national runner-up Georgia Tech. Nevada also tied for a share of the WAC regular season crown for the first time in school history and captured the WAC Tournament Championship.
Johnson displayed his coaching and recruiting expertise as he transformed a struggling Nevada program to a conference powerhouse and national contender. Prior to Johnson’s arrival, Nevada had made just two NCAA Tournament appearances in school history and never won an NCAA Tournament game. In 2003, he was named the WAC Coach of the Year when his team won 18 games, advanced to the championship of the WAC Tournament and an NIT bid.
Johnson was 79-74 at Nevada and 42-44 in WAC play. His overall record in nine years as a head coach in Division I is 159-122 and 87-71 in conference play.
Prior to becoming a head coach, Johnson had his first stint at Stanford as an assistant coach from 1997-99 during which the Cardinal made an appearance in the NCAA Final Four (1998) and won the Pac-10 title (1999). He also served four years an assistant at Rice from 1993-96, helping the Owls to an NIT appearance. His coaching resume’ also includes assistant stops at Washington (1989-92) and his first Division I coaching job at Utah from 1986-89 where he first established his abilities as a top recruiter.
During his coaching career, Johnson has had great success with talent on and off the floor. This past season Brook Lopez was on the Pac-10 First Team as three other players earned honorable mention honors. Several student athletes in his Stanford tenure have also earned academic honors, including Dan Grunfeld who made the CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American team twice.
As a Stanford assistant, Johnson contributed to the development and recruitment of some of Stanford’s greatest players. Future NBAers Brevin Knight, Mark Madsen, Casey Jacobsen and Jarron and Jason Collins highlight this group.
At Nevada, among his stars developed included Kirk Snyder, a WAC Player of the Year, and Nick Fazekas, a three-time WAC Player of the Year. Snyder was the 16th player chosen in the 2004 NBA Draft, while Fazekas finished his career the leading scorer in Nevada history.
Johnson got his coaching start at the prep level, serving as an assistant coach at Boise High School from 1980-85. While at Boise High School, Johnson coached the sophomore “B” team while also serving as an assistant to Greg Hordemann on the varsity squad.
During his successful playing career at Boise State (1974-78), Johnson finished in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding. In his sophomore season (1975-76), the Broncos won the Big Sky Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. He also earned Big Sky honors in his senior season. Johnson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education from Boise State in 1983.
Johnson also played professionally for the Washington Lumberjacks of the Western Basketball League.
Johnson currently serves on the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) Special Committee on Recruiting and Access. This committee is comprised of a select group of prominent coaches who suggest ways to provide a more equitable and informational recruiting process for the potential student-athlete and to enhance the educational opportunities for student-athletes while in college.
Johnson and his wife, Jackie, have two children: a daughter, Tinishia, 24 and a son, Terry, 21.
Trent Johnson File
Birthdate: September 12, 1956
Birthplace: Berkeley, Calif.
Hometown: Seattle, Wash.
High School: Franklin HS
College: Boise State, 1983
Children: Tinishia, 24; Terry, 21
College Coaching Career
1986-89: Utah, Assistant Coach
1989-92: Washington, Assistant Coach
1992-96: Rice, Assistant Coach
1996-99: Stanford, Assistant Coach
1999-04: Nevada, Head Coach
2004-08: Stanford, Head Coach
Head Coaching Record:
NIT First Round
NCAA Sweet 16; WAC Tournament Champion
NCAA First Round
NIT Second Round
NCAA First Round
NCAA Sweet 16
LSU BASKETBALL PRESS CONFERENCE
APRIL 10, 2008
LSU CHANCELLOR WILLIAM JENKINS
“Thank you to members of our platform party and members of the media and so many of our LSU family that have assembled today for what I think is a very significant event in the history of Louisiana State University. It’s obviously a very exciting time and a very dramatic moment for us and I am pleased to be a part of it. Now, what I’d like to do is I’m going to ask Skip to introduce Joe Alleva who will in turn introduce our new basketball coach. We’re also graced by the presence of our mayor, Kip Holden, who will also take the microphone.
“I’ve asked [Associate Sports Information Director] Kent Lowe to permit the media to have the opportunity to ask the first questions, but I don’t want to deny those supporters whose faces I see and know so well from places like the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Tiger Stadium and other venues ? you need an opportunity to ask questions; particularly of our new men’s basketball coach.
“With that, Skip if you wouldn’t mind coming up and introducing your successor.”
ATHLETIC DIRECTOR SKIP BERTMAN
“Thank you, Bill. I, too, want to say to the distinguished basketball alumni, of course the team and our LSU staff; it’s wonderful to see you all here and I’m very proud to take part in this.
“Over the years, LSU has had many great coaches and many great sports winning championships in just about any venue. I’m confident, personally, that LSU has found another championship coach to lead our men’s basketball program. Today we welcome a new coach to the staff, but to introduce him is my ?DS’ ? my designated successor ? Joe Alleva, who will become the athletic director officially on July 1st. Joe was at Duke University for 31 years. He was an excellent athlete himself and a coach as well. But he brings more with him than that. He brings a distinguished amount of administrative skills that range from the ticket office to some significant fundraising. In speaking with Joe yesterday and other times, he is a significantly wonderful human being and one that will fit in and do well for us here at LSU. So I’m pleased to introduce to you our next athletic director, Joe Alleva.” (Applause)
ATHLETIC DIRECTOR DESIGNATE JOE ALLEVA
“Thanks, coach. It’s an honor and a privilege to be the next athletic director at LSU and to follow in the footsteps of a legend like coach Bertman is tremendous. What he has done in his seven years as athletic director is outstanding and he leaves this department in such good shape. The reason that I came here is that I view LSU as one of the outstanding jobs in the country and part of the reason for that is the excellent work that coach Bertman has done. So thank you, coach.
“I want to take a minute to thank Dr. Jenkins [LSU President] Dr. John Lombardi for having the confidence to offer me this job. I won’t let them down. We have a great department and we’re going to continue to get better.
“One of the most important ingredients in a successful athletic department are coaches. They set the stage, climate and culture. They are role models for all of our student-athletes. We are blessed her to have outstanding coaches. I really believe that we have found another one. We have found a man who can lead this basketball program to greatness. He is a family man, he believes in the student athlete and he came here to win ? winning in all regards; winning on the court, winning in the classroom and winning in the community. I believe that he is going to be an outstanding role model, teacher and educator. He also has the utmost integrity. It really gives me great pleasure to introduce our new men’s basketball coach, Trent Johnson.” (Applause)
LSU MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH TRENT JOHNSON
“I want to thank Joe and I don’t think any of you have any idea how honored and excited I am to be here. Before I get into it, without further ado, Go Tigers! Go Tigers!
“You know, it’s been a whirlwind this last week for me. But, when this opportunity arose, the first question I was asked was why and it was a really simple answer for me. The opportunity to recruit the best student-athletes across the country and the opportunity to compete for championships year-it and year-out and, as Coach Miles just showed me, win a national championship trophy. That is the mission. That is the goal.
“It’s been really interesting meeting President Lombardi and I can do the math. He was at Florida and hired [Florida Head Coach] Billy Donovan who won national championships. I was hired by Joe who has been at due for 27 years. I get the message, I really do. For me, the athletes are what make the coaches. The most important part of the day for me was to have the opportunity at two o’clock to sit down and talk to the players that are coming back on this basketball team and hear them talk about their goals and what they want to accomplish. That’s what excited me. That was the most important part of the day. The facilities that surround LSU and the state of Louisiana are exceptional. The idea of the tradition of former players that have been in this program from Bob Pettit to Shaquille O’Neal to players like Chris Jackson; you can go on and on. Just that excited me about having the opportunity to meet and greet and be able to bring those guys back into the program. The idea that this a 100-year celebration of LSU basketball excites the living heck out of me.
“You know, there was ever a question. The only mistake I thought I made throughout the interview process was when I wanted to know if the committee was really serious about hiring me and wanted me to be a part of this so I asked them a loaded question to see if they would just kick me out the door. And the question I asked was, ?You know I think USC in the Pac-10 would have beaten LSU in football.’ They just looked at me and said ?I’m just joking, now! I’m just joking!’ When I got past that part I was OK.
“We have a lot of work in front of us, without question the SEC is one of the premier conferences in the country if not the premier conference. From a standpoint of being able to keep the best players in the state of Louisiana at home; this is their state, this is their school. The Idea of having no academic restrictions in terms of being able to recruit kid and being able to go into homes and sell that really excites me to the point that I think we have an excellent chance to get this team turned around. Again, I can’t express to you how excited I am about being here. At this point in time, I’d like to turn it over to questions because I know many of you have questions. The one thing you’ll learn about me is that I’m extremely candid and upfront. I’d like to entertain any questions that you may have right now.”
On if he’s ever been through a process this fast before…
“No, I have not been through anything like this before. Without details, I was at an awards banquet last night. Prior to that, there was contact two days before. It was a situation for me where I knew there was a lot of interest in me and a lot of interest in this program for myself, but that’s the type of whirlwind it’s been. You just don’t be around a group of young men for four or five years and have separation come in. It takes a special place for me to leave to go to.”
On being the first full-time African American to coach a men’s team at LSU…
“Quite frankly, I didn’t know that until earlier. I understand the significance of it, but also, I understand that competition has no race or no color. I would like to be known and respected as a basketball coach and a good coach, but I understand what goes on there, and that’s fine.
On his style of basketball…
“It’s like what I mentioned to the team. You defend, you rebound, you take care of the basketball with a sense of urgency. Ultimately on the half-court offense, you have to play and make good decisions. To me, that’s how you compete for championships; that’s how you win championships. In this day and age, everyone talks about your style of basketball. I don’t talk about transition basketball. If you defend and rebound, you’re going to generate your fast break opportunities, but more importantly than all that, our basketball program moving forward doesn’t want to be known as a bunch of athletes or a bunch of kids who play hard. I think it’s an insult to the coaches when your team just plays hard. That means they don’t do anything else very well. It’s an insult to a player or a team when you say they’re just athletic or skilled. Well, the best teams and the best players can flat out play. That’s our goal, and that’s we’re going to achieve, and it’s going to be some hard work, but make no mistake about it. I think you can ask any coach across the country, if you defend, rebound and take care of the ball with a sense of urgency and commitment in terms of accountability.
“I talked to these guys about this today: the five ?A’s.’ You need to have an attitude. A positive attitude can sometimes be a nasty attitude between the lines. You need to be very aggressive. You need to be accountable to each other, your institution, your family. You need to be able to adjust to your environment, to the circumstances when you’re on the road or at home, or to the officiating. You need to understand angles both offensively and defensively. If you are guarding a superior athlete, then you are not going to be as quick as him so you have to understand the angles to the basket. All those kind of things are important. The sixth “A” was, without question, the academic part of it. Good academics and good social habits lead to success on the court. “
On the history of LSU basketball…
“I was amazed with the history and tradition of LSU basketball. Some of the players that have come out of here ? the likes of Pete Maravich, Rudy Macklin and Bob Pettit, it doesn’t get any better than that. This generation is very familiar with guys like Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Jackson, but it is my responsibility, from a community and outreach standpoint, any former LSU basketball player I will call and make some contact as soon as possible.”
On what his strong point as a coach is…
“My strong points are my honesty and candor. Do I demand our players to rebound and defend? I don’t demand anything. I ask my players. The guys who respond in a likeable fashion are the ones that will play. On the offensive end, do I want to go up and down the court play and the kids the freedom to make plays? No question. That has to be determined to the personnel you have. The most successful teams that I have been a part of are the ones that are balanced. That have been able to play in transition. I think you have to be able to adjust according to your personnel. I think if you believe that anyone can trust you and I can trust them, which will take some time, then you can look forward to all the other things like drawing diagrams.”
On keeping players in state…
“Recruiting is building relationships and sustaining relationships and hard work. There’s no question that I, along with the staff, have to do an excellent job, not a good job of keeping the in state players home. As soon as I get through with today, I’m going to be off and running.”
On his sideline demeanor…
“It’s really overblown. I’m pretty intense and passionate. There’s a student trainer that worked in our office back at Stanford, and she put it like this. ?Coach, I really don’t understand why you make such a big deal about that.’ Well, when I’m studying for a final, I’m not the happiest person in the world, and when I take that final, I’m not the happiest person in the world. She says, ?Well, what’s the big deal.’ Why don’t you tell the press that because when I’m in a game or practice, I’m not the happiest person in the world if they are not making the right plays. If we’re not making the right plays, I’m certainly not the happiest person in the world. I do wear my feelings on my sleeves sometimes, and I don’t know if that’s all bad.”
On talking to the players…
“We talked about any and everything. We talked about style of play. I tried to get them to understand in a short period my philosophy on everything. I thought their questions were really good. I asked them what they felt their strength and weaknesses were, and they asked me. Having seen some of these guys play in the Final Four, they have the same goals that I have. They want to play at the highest level and win championships. I just thought the dialogue was very good. I hope they feel the same way. I also asked them all, to a man, how many are really excited about coming back? I’ve had two players leave on me since I’ve been a head coach. One of them left after two years in Nevada, and he went to Morehead State to play with Kyle Mason and married my daughter. She said, ?Dad, I don’t want disrespect you, but Craig Lewis, I really like him.’ I told her, ?Lewis is one of my all-time favorite guys, but he can’t play. I think that speaks volumes to honesty. I was really excited just to have an opportunity visit with them, and that’s the fun part of the day. Practices are the most enjoyable part of the day for me. It’s never going to be easy. One of the things I’ve always talked about with my teams in the past is family, but during the course of talking about family, you’re going to argue, but as long you all are able to come back to some common ground, those are the kind of things that we are going to talk about and continue. They’ll understand with time. They may not understand at the time in practice when there’s a lot of tension or may think that I don’t care, but they’ll understand.”
On putting together a staff…
“Right now, there’s one gentleman who I definitely want to have on board, and that’s Keith Richard, who coached at Louisiana Tech who I competed against when I was at Nevada. I’m going to talk to everybody that’s on the staff now and a couple of guys I’m going to talk to that have worked for me. I have nothing set in stone other than I want to retain Keith Richard at this point. I’m going to take my time. The most important thing besides the staff is to call the players who are on the team now and their parents, and then, the four kids that have been committed, if I can get hold of them. If time permits, get on a plane and see some guys. In terms of a staff, I’m going to talk to everybody.”
On bringing crowds back to the Maravich Center…
“I take defense to that comment because that goes back to sideline demeanor. I’m a big time dodgeball champ with students, the sixth-man club. We have to get that going. I don’t know what they call that here, but first and foremost is to put a product on the floor. We need to compete at high level, support each other and do the little things, and people will come out. Again, what I’m hearing is what I’ve always felt. There’s got to be a community outreach. There’s just too much basketball tradition here, and it’s going to take some time. For me, it’s not necessarily me being the focal point of reaching out to people but our basketball team: our assistant coaches, myself and our players. More interaction with the student body. One of the most disappointing aspects as a player is that I didn’t interact with the students enough. I hung around guys on the team. I’m going to encourage and at times, force the players if they have not already, to interact with other students.”
On how much improved attendance was a priority during the hiring process…
“Actually, that wasn’t brought up. The thing that was brought up the most was championships and the whole part of the program about the tradition, history and the 100 years. Once they asked me a question, I pretty much did all the talking because I was just so excited. What you’ll find out is that I don’t do a lot of talking after this. That speaks volumes to my level of excitement. In terms of the history and tradition of this program, you can go on and on talking about it.”
On if he sees any advantages coming from the Pac-10 to the SEC…
“First of all, for you to be known as a basketball conference you better be winning national championships and the power conference in basketball I have to believe is here [the SEC] because Florida has won two national championships. Because I’ve been in the WAC, the Big West and the Pac-10, every coach is going to say that the conference you’re in is the toughest conference. I don’t know that there are any advantages or disadvantages. The hurdles for me have always been the same. Here, you have a distinct advantage in that you can recruit a variety of players. That’s the thing for me. At Stanford, I was limited. At one position in any given year we probably had five players we could recruit who could get into school and compete at a high level. Here, you might have 15 at one position. So that’s the biggest difference. It’s what excites me the most.”
On if he sees it as a challenge recruiting in the southeast…
“I don’t want to say I’m not familiar with this part of the country because at Stanford you recruit nationally and at Rice you’re in Houston. When I was an assistant at Utah if a kid was a heck of a player like Watkins Singletary from New York, I wasn’t concerned with what anyone else was doing, I was concerned about my ability to go recruit that kid and that’s what it’s about ? the relationships. It’s just about going back and talking and communicating to people and then having assistant coaches who are from this are, and that all takes time. For me as a head coach I have not a good sell, but an excellent sell. This is the institution in the state of Louisiana. My goodness, there are enough players to go around. We’ve just got to stop all the great ones from going somewhere else and stay here. That’s what the goal is.”
On what kind of player he was…
“I’m not going to lie to you. I’m going to articulate this because I told the kids on the team about being honest and having character. One of the biggest compliments that I had as a player was that I played extremely hard and I was always under control. I never took a possession off or missed practice and I was always on time. No, my statistical numbers at Boise State, I think I’m still in the top 10 in rebounding and in points scored, but Boise State isn’t a basketball Mecca.”
On who has had the biggest impact on him as a coach…
“I’ve been so fortunate to be around so many guys and I’d be willing to mention them all starting with Mike Montgomery and Chris Wilson, who I learned a lot from at Rice because it was his first year as a head coach and I was an assistant; Len Archibald, who hired me as an assistant at the University of Utah. Probably the biggest influence I had was Len Nance, who I worked for at the University of Washington as an assistant coach and Jordan (Sp?) Hall, who won a national championship as an assistant at Kentucky and is a guy that gave me the opportunity to learn more about the game from an X’s and O’s standpoint. But make no mistake about it, the one person who has had the biggest influence on my substance and how I am every day is my mother, like any kid’s parent.”
LSU BASKETBALL PLAYER QUOTES
On new head coach Trent Johnson‘s first meeting with the team…
“My first thoughts were that I really liked his approach. I like his philosophy to basketball .When he met with us, he stood in front of us with a suit on for about 15 minutes. He told us about his background.”
“After a while, he took his jacket off, sat down and opened himself up to questions from (the team). He was candid with us, which I really like about him. I also like his approach to players in terms of asking players to do things instead of commanding. I think people will respond well to this coach and I’m looking forward to my senior season.”
On the hiring of Coach Trent Johnson…
“I like him. We saw eye to eye and he really got to know us. (The team) wants the same things he wants, to win games and to win championships.”