UTPA basketball coaches discuss working together
In his 37 years coaching basketball at universities such as the Alabama, Stetson, and Akron, current UTPA head Basketball Coach Dan Hipsher has seen it all. And that includes having spent the last two seasons alongside his son, Andy Hipsher, a Bronc assistant.
Andy Hipsher played for his father for five seasons at Akron from 1999 to 2004 and became one of the best athletes in UA history, finishing his career with 1,136 points according. But while playing against Western Kentucky University in 2000 he was undercut – when one takes the legs out from under a jumping player – twice. The accident ignited wear and tear of his back causing him to have disk replacement surgery that ended his playing career; he has since had four surgeries.
Dan Hipsher told The Pan-American his son’s duties as a coach include understanding offensive and defensive principles, recruiting philosophies and contributing ways for the betterment of the program.
Andy Hipsher started his coaching career in 2004 as an graduate assistant while making his way through graduate school at Texas Tech University and then made his way to Utah Valley University followed by the University of South Florida and joined the Bronc staff for the 2013-2014 season.
The 33-year-old admits going from playing for his father to working with him has been a unique experience that he wouldn’t trade for the world. He explained that being away from family for nearly seven years made his decision to take on the position of associate head coach at UTPA a lot easier.
“Having once played for him I understood that my father was going to have to be on me just as much if not more than the other guys on the team in terms of being an extension of what he wanted done on the court,” the Akron alumnus said. “Now coaching with him is different from playing for him because you see things one way as a player and another way as a coach. Managing a team on a day-to-day basis I see it on a different angle so I’m very fortunate to have worked with some very good coaches in the past leading up to this time working on my father’s staff.”
Before joining the Bronc staff he worked alongside Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Bob Knight and former Pan American University and current University of Oklahoma’s Head Coach Lon Kruger. Kruger is also a member of the Bronc Athletic Fund, a foundation whose proceeds go directly to student-athletes by providing athletic scholarships and their sport programs. He was the Bronc coach from 1982 to 1986.
Dan Hipsher has carved out his own niche in college basketball, having earned conference Coach of the Year honors three times and regional Coach of the Year twice in his career. He feels his son has a good background in the industry that has helped the son show the father a different side of coaching.
“He probably teaches me a little more compassion. He tends to grab me and say, ‘Whoa, slow down on this,’ you know?” the head coach said. “He’s got a good temperate attitude to settle me down. He played for me, he knows how hard it is for kids to succeed.”
The Bowling Green State University alumnus explained that working with his son is similar to the way he’s built relations with other coaches in the past.
“We’re probably a little quicker to argue with each other than normal people would because we feel normal in saying things to each other because we know it’s meant in good way,” the 59-year-old said. “So even though you may bring things up you don’t feel uncomfortable about it’s because you know there’s a trust there.”
Family aside, Andy Hipsher believes working alongside a coach who makes decisions on a day-to-day basis and has had a successful career makes his job as an associate head coach easier.
“Just like in any family we have our fair share of agree to disagree moments, but we’re all working towards the same goal and we know that,” he said. “Bottom line is that we want to win, we know the way we want to win and we know the type of program we want to run. In doing that sometimes there might be a disagreements here or there, but it’s all with one common goal which is the betterment of the program.”
Prior to joining UTPA’s athletic staff Dan Hipsher spent four seasons as associate head coach at the University of Alabama. He feels the opportunity to be a head coach again and “run (his) own ship” was something he couldn’t pass up. He took the Bronc job two years ago, replacing Ryan Marks.
“Coaching this team is great and it’s not just because it’s alongside my son. Of course it’s great to have my son here and that keeps momma happy, but more than that he’s a good coach,” he said. “He’s got a good background, a good basis and a good understanding of what I want to do which is to build a program that year in year out that you know is going be competing for Western Athletic Conference championship. That’s what we want to do so it’s great to have him as a son but better to have him as a coach.”
Now in his second season coaching at UTPA Andy Hipsher explained that it’s a rare situation to work with family, but admits it’s an opportunity not many people are afforded.
“I prefer working with my dad because it’s family and when it’s family it’s human nature to work that much harder to want it that much more,” he said. “And when you get to be able to celebrate together and enjoy things together is, even when you’re going through tough times together, you still got each others back and you’re not going to turn on one another and a lot of this business consists of that and that’s not happening here.”
The Broncs kicked off their season Nov. 8, and have won five out of the seven games. The team will be in Houston playing against University of Houston Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. Their next home game will be against Lamar University Dec. 13 at 7 p.m.