Bennie Seltzer was introduced as Samford’s new head coach this morning. The transcript of that press conference follows.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Samford University held a press conference Thursday morning introducing Bennie Seltzer as its new head men’s basketball coach. Below are quotes from University President Dr. Andrew Westmoreland, Director of Athletics Martin Newton and Coach Seltzer.
University President Dr. Andrew Westmoreland
“I understand that I am the least important person in the lineup today so my comments will be brief. We have homecoming at Samford University in the fall but, it strikes me that in Birmingham, this is a great homecoming for a great man. For the honor of introducing that man, I would like to recognize the hardest-working athletic director in college athletics: Martin Newton.”
Director of Athletics Martin Newton
“First of all I want to thank Dr. Westmoreland not only for this past year putting up with me but for his vision, his leadership and his commitment to excellence. I want to thank our athletics staff especially for putting up with me over the last three weeks. As they will attest we haven’t slept much and we’ve gone through plenty of white board markers, but we’ve had a great time through this process. I really appreciate all they’ve done and I hope they get some sleep this weekend.
“I’d like to recognize any former athletes that are here today. We really appreciate what you’ve done to lay a foundation for this program and what you do to continue to support it. I want to point out this group of young men and have them stand up, our current men’s basketball team. They’re the reason that we’re here. This isn’t about me or Bennie Seltzer, we’re here because of these guys right here. I want to thank you guys for your patience and your trust over this process.
“I want to introduce the coach’s family and we’ll start over here with his lovely bride DicQues, whose a Birmingham native. We’ve got his sons over here, Bennie Jr. and Diamond. Welcome home.
“When we made the decision to have a change in leadership in our men’s basketball program, we had three criteria in mind when hiring a new coach. Number one was that we wanted somebody that could do the job. We wanted somebody that could coach. We wanted somebody that could recruit locally as well as nationally. We wanted somebody who could develop players both on and off the court. Most of all, we wanted somebody who could win SoCon championships.
“The second criteria was that we wanted somebody that understood the job and understood the mission of this great university, someone who understood the importance of campus and community relations and someone who understood the expectations we have for winning the right way.
“Number three was that we wanted someone who really wanted the job. I was pleasantly surprised with the national candidate pool we had. It was very impressive. What we’ve built here was recognized by the nation of coaches. The coach we’ve hired can do all three of those. He can do the job. He’s won at every level that he’s been on, as a high school player at Parker High School, as a player at Washington State University, at the University of Oklahoma, as an assistant coach at Marquette University and at Indiana University. He can win and he can coach. He’s recruited nationally and he’s also recruited locally, and he does it the right way.
“I really think his strength is developing players, and I think that’s where we’re going to see the most improvement, from when they come in as freshmen and leave their senior year with a degree. He understands the job. He grew up in Birmingham. We had conversations about when he was in high school, he would come and spend time in the summer playing on this campus in Seibert Gym and the respect he felt when he got on campus. I’ve known Benny for over 14 years and he’s a family man, a God-fearing man and he’s a man of great integrity and faith. He wants the job, there’s no doubt about that. If you spend 15 seconds with Bennie Seltzer you realize he wants it. Bennie, we want you too. It’s an honor to welcome home our new basketball coach, Bennie Seltzer.”
Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bennie Seltzer
“First of all, thank you guys for coming out. I would like to take this opportunity to first, thank God for such a tremendous opportunity to be the head basketball coach here at Samford University. I would also like to thank Dr. Westmoreland, Martin and the rest of the senior staff for your tremendous vote of confidence for me to coach your basketball team. I’m so proud to be a part of something that’s so special to Samford University. I’m also extremely proud not only to live, but also to teach the Samford mission, one of nurturing young people. Let’s think about that, the mission is to nurture young people. It sounds like it was written by a coach.
“The mission is to nurture them in the development of their intellect, which simply stated, means to help them learn. Nurture them in their creativity which again, simply stated means to help them think. Nurture them in their faith. Let’s make sure we help them have a sense and belief in God. Help them in personhood. Let’s help them become a man.
“My family is also extremely excited about coming home. I told my wife about the possibility and we’ve gone through the process a couple of times so we tried to contain our excitement because this is the place. We’ve had other opportunities at other places around the country but this one was different. This one was special. We felt that if this came true, not only are we going to an unbelievable academic institution but we’re going home. That’s where our people are, where we grew up, where our values were started. That excitement was really hard to contain. Once it all got started, it was very difficult to sleep. There were a lot of sleepless nights, tossing and turning thinking that this might have a chance. My wife and I prayed about it and got together as a family and knew it was possible. Then, we got the phone call and those were some very happy times in the Seltzer house.
“Now, onto a little bit of basketball. The other part that really excited me about coming here was the possibility of this team in this conference. I watched them a little bit during the season but, once this opportunity came about, I really dug into their film and watched those kids. I’ll tell you right now, there’s a lot of exciting basketball inside of those kids. One thing I will guarantee you here is that this will be the hardest-playing basketball team you’ll ever see. We’ll be the most dedicated basketball team you’ve ever seen. We’ll be the most `together’ team you’ve ever seen and when we step on that floor, they’re not only representing themselves and their families, they’re representing all of you. Trust me, the name on the front of that jersey is far more important than the name on the back, and that’s what we’re going to teach here.
“Another reason why I thought this was a tremendous opportunity was because of Dr. Westmoreland and Martin Newton. I knew Martin and he told me about the vision that he and Dr. Westmoreland shared together. It was a vision of sold-out crowds. It was a vision of conference championships. It was a vision of NCAA berths and it was a vision of advances. When he told me about their vision and what I knew about Samford and what I knew about those guys, it was clear and I shared that exact same vision. There’s no doubt that we can make a staple in this conference and win conference championships. We can get NCAA berths. Why not Samford? Why not us? It’s been done numerous times other places around the country. There’s no doubt that we can. I told the team last night that every time I walk in the door, it’s to win championships. I told them that when they walk in the door, they need to make sure they’re doing the same. We’re not going to take anything less.
“It will be a very fun brand of basketball, one that all of you will be extremely proud of to put on that t-shirt with the Samford logo on it. That, I do guarantee. I’ll say it to you guys, there’s a new era of Samford basketball and it’s going to be fun. So I say, strap your boots on and let’s go have some fun.”
On style of play
“First of all, I think you have to start defensively to have a championship team. You have to be able to stop your opponent. Therefore, one of the things we talked about leading the conference in is defensive shooting percentage. If you can stop the team you’re playing against more time than they stop you, you have a pretty good chance of winning so that’s where we’re going to start. Along with our tenacious style of defense, we’re going to get in the passing lanes and try to wreak a little havoc on our opponents causing turnovers. We want to lead the league in turnovers caused, which gives you an opportunity to lead the league in fast-break points because now we’re trying to get points off turnovers. Rebounding is a toughness element. There’s not a team in America who rebounds well and isn’t tough. We’re going to have a tough basketball team each and every day on that court and rebounding will play a big part of that.
“Along with the tenacious defense and unbelievable rebounding, we’re going to have an up-tempo offense. We’re going to get up and down the floor a little bit. I tell these guys it’s going to be a lot of fun but, to get to that fun, that’s the end result. That’s the far end result. What they’re going to have to understand from day one is that, to get to that point, it’s going to be a lot of hard work. We’re going to ask these guys to do some things that they’ve never done before. You have to do things you’ve never done before in order to go places you’ve never gone before. I’ll ask those guys every single day to give me everything they have.”
“The style of basketball is going to be fun, I guarantee that.”
Describing himself as a basketball coach
“Discipline, I think you have to start there. I think you need a good sense of discipline to be a head coach and to be a good player. You have to sacrifice a lot of things that you may want but there are certain things that you need to do to make things better. I think I’ll be a fun guy to play for, simply because I’ve played the game at a certain level and I tend to know what these guys are going through. They may not think so at a certain time, but I do understand. It hasn’t been that long since I was a player. I understand a little bit about what they’re going through and the struggles they’re going to endure. I think those things describe me as a basketball coach.”