Steve Lutz holds introductory press conference as the new WKU Men’s Basketball Head Coach
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - After being announced as the new WKU Men’s Basketball Head Coach on Saturday, Steve Lutz held his first press conference as the new helm of the Hilltoppers on Monday morning.
President Tim Caboni kicked things off by thanking former head coach Rick Stansbury for all that he did for the program. Caboni talked about the expectations, not only in sports but in economic development, academics and everything in between. He said that Lutz is the guy to meet those expectations.
“Steve Lutz and his family are going to be tremendous additions to the Bowling Green community, to our university and to our Men’s Basketball team,” Caboni said.
After Dr. Caboni spoke, WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart took his turn to share a few words about Lutz. “It’s always nice if you can hire somebody as your head coach who has head coach experience but it’s even better if you can hire somebody who has winning head coach experience and that is exactly what we have here right now,” Stewart said.
Lutz led the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders to the NCAA Tournament in back to back years. A&M-Corpus Christi had four consecutive losing seasons before hiring Lutz and finished 5-19 in 2020-21, the year prior to his arrival. He then made the largest turnaround in program history with a 23-12 record in 2021-22. Lutz brought in the most transfers by any NCAA DI program at 10, with 12 total transfers on the roster.
“What was really unique about this as the search unfolded, as I talked to more and more people and we did more and more research, there was never a ‘yeah, but...’ every conversation, every piece of information made it better and better,” Stewart said. “It just continued to be positive and positive, and it just got to the point where he clearly to me was the number one person for the job. Thankfully when he was asked to take it over, the answer was yes.”
Lutz then took his turn to speak and first talked about what it means to be the head coach of WKU Hilltopper Basketball.
“I fully understand what it means to be the head coach at Western Kentucky University. If it wasn’t for the vision of these two gentlemen (Caboni and Stewart), I would not be here today. They have a vision of excellence in everything they do and I share that vision,” Lutz said. “I would like to make sure that you understand, I am not shy about what we’re here to do. We’re here to win games, we’re here to win conference championships, we’re here to go to the NCAA Tournament and win games. And all the while doing that, we’re here to do it the right way and we’re here to do it with integrity.”
Lutz then went on to talk about WKU Athletics as a whole including all the titles WKU Basketball has won over the years, the amount of titles every other sport has won in Conference USA and how winning culture of WKU Athletics intrigued him into coming to Bowling Green. Lutz also talked about how important the fans are to the program and said Diddle Arena is one of the best arenas to play in when it’s packed.
“What’s more impressive to me, and this is why I say my vision aligns with doctor Caboni and Todd, we have 37 Conference USA titles so that shows you there’s sustained excellence across the board. That not only is men’s basketball is important but football is important and volleyball and softball and on down the line. And that’s what you want to be a part of. If you are going to go somewhere you want to go somewhere where it means something to everyone to be successful.”
The conversation then transitioned to the roster. Lutz said he met with most of the guys on the current roster and he says it seems like there’s a lot of good people in the locker room. He told the guys the goals of the team is to win the league, win the league tournament , and to go to the NCAA Tournament and win games. His personal goals are to recruit good people and players, retain them, develop them, and then make sure they graduate.
In terms of play style, he wants to be aggressive on both ends of the ball, and if possible on offense to score within the first 12 seconds of the the possession, and if not, find to find the best shot possible.
Some of the players were in the crowd for the press conference including Jordan Rawls, Dontaie Allen, and Jaylen Dorsey. Lutz was very appreciative of the guys who were able to show up.
“They don’t know me, but they are here today and that shows me that they are committed to being great players and great people at Western Kentucky,” Lutz said. “So the next few days and coming weeks will be great for both of us.”
Lutz talked about the difficulty of changing coaching and the moving parts of the coaching staff. At A&M Corpus Christi, he only had three players return from the previous staff before him. So he’s unsure how many players from the WKU roster will return.
“You know, it’s just the the nature of where we are in college athletics today with the transfer portal. They’re all welcome to stay. Obviously, I’ve discussed what our standards are and what our expectations are. And you know, some of them will embrace that and some of them won’t, that doesn’t make them bad people. This is not going to be for everyone. Our standard of work our standard of excellence is not going to be for everyone. So let’s not mistake that but we’ll move forward here in the coming weeks and see where it goes.”
You can catch the Hilltoppers and their new head coach, Steve Lutz, on the court next fall.
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