Former MCHS hoops coach tackling new challenges at Adams State
December 23, 2011
“I don’t run practice like I used to, so it took some adjusting. But, I get a chance to work with the scout team and play them against the varsity and I get individual time with the players.”
Former Moffat County High School basketball coach about his role as an assistant coach on the Adams State College girls basketball team
Craig Mortensen joined the Adams State College girls basketball team in October, albeit in a different role than he's accustomed to.
Mortensen coached Moffat County High School basketball teams for 34 years — 19 years in charge of the boys team and 15 at the helm of the girls team.
But in Alamosa, Mortensen is an assistant coach to Grizzlies head coach Kelly Kruger for the 2011-12 season.
"I am enjoying this," Mortensen said Thursday of his new gig. "Coach Kruger is an excellent coach, runs a good program and is very detailed in what he does."
In his new role, Mortensen' main responsibilities are overseeing recruiting from junior colleges, scouting opponents and promoting home games.
Mortensen said he makes phone calls and sends emails to numerous junior college coaches across the country to identify prospects.
Sitting in an office all day is quite different than his time as a physical education teacher at MCHS, Mortensen said, but he likes helping build the Grizzlies squad for the future.
"We just went through an early signing period in November that (included) recruits before I came," he said. "I get to see a lot of different types of basketball players and I enjoy being able to help the program get players for the future."
Mortensen said fellow assistant coach Kendra Coveal works closer with the varsity squad in practice because she is a year removed from being a player, giving Mortensen a chance to further build the program through the scout team.
The move from head coach to assistant wasn't easy for Mortensen, who won 500-plus games at MCHS, but he has embraced the new duties.
"I don't run practice like I used to, so it took some adjusting," he said. "But, I get a chance to work with the scout team and play them against the varsity and I get individual time with the players."
A similarity to Mortensen's head coaching days is scouting opponents.
Watching film, looking at player personnel and watching for sets teams run is necessary when preparing for a game, Mortensen said.
"All us coaches meet every day and talk about personnel and identify things we have seen with the team," he said. "We get to break down film and look at what system would best work against opponents.
"Coach Kruger always wants suggestions and input to help make our team better."
A difference from high school to collegiate basketball, Mortensen said, is players' skill level.
But, no matter the player, Mortensen said the importance of fundamentals are still the same.
"All the ladies were standouts in high school, so they all have to tackle the challenge of working together and overcoming what they all did in high school," he said. "But, the fundamentals don't change and they win games for you or a lack of them losses games for you.
"Every player, top to bottom, is skilled, so it is a great experience to work with them."
The Grizzlies are 2-9 early in the season and host Nebraska-Kearney on Dec. 30.
Being away from Craig is hard at times, Mortensen said, but he is thankful for the opportunity.
"I get to work with great coaches and great players on this team," he said. "At my age, it is great to be able to still learn about the game of basketball.
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