New SEMO coach Brad Korn is surrounding himself with winners
Photo courtesy of Kansas State Athletics
The history of Southeast Missouri State men’s basketball at the NCAA Division I level has been one of mostly mediocre to poor results (21 losing seasons in 29 years), with a handful of flashes of success sparingly sprinkled in. However, recently-hired Redhawk coach Brad Korn made clear from his first day that accepting a fate of non-success was going to be unacceptable.
“You obviously know the history,” Korn said, “and you respect the history, but I don’t think that has to define you moving forward.
“I don’t know why (the losing) has happened, but I do know there are things in place here to have success.”
One of those “things in place” now is the hiring of a coaching staff that knows how to win.
Korn hired Cal State San Bernardino associate head coach Dustin Yoder last month and he completed his staff by hiring Missouri Southern associate head coach Sam McMahon on Wednesday.
Both have not just years of coaching experience, but proven successful coaching experience.
“All Sam has known or been around is a winning culture,” Korn said in a release.
McMahon has worked in college basketball for 12 years and in 10 of those, his teams have won at least 18 games (eight with at least 20 wins).
The Jefferson City native has enjoyed seasons of 24, 25, and 28 victories (twice) at various times.
"Sam has all the qualities you look for in an assistant coach," Korn said. "He is loyal, hard-working, and values relationships in addition to having a great basketball mind.
“He is a great teacher and communicator that pours his heart and soul in every aspect of his job."
In the past three seasons, McMahon has been the top assistant for a program that has won 68 games.
Yoder has exhibited those same traits with similar results.
The Illinois native has been in college basketball for nine seasons and only once have his teams endured a losing record – and that was barely (15-17 at Kansas State in 2014-15).
“I’ve been blessed,” Yoder said. “I keep getting lucky with really great (head coaches) that I’ve been able to do this thing with.”
“Luck” plays a part in everything in life, but it doesn’t fully explain six seasons of at least 19 wins, two of which Yoder has guided student-athletes to 26- and 27-win seasons. At some point, diligence and knowledge are the reasons for continued success.
Korn too has experienced success.
His teams have had winning seasons in seven of his 16 years in the business, including winning 25 games (twice), 27 games (twice), and 29 games.
“I know some people look at (the SEMO job) and say ‘Oh man, look at the record over the years,’” Korn said. “But I see it as great room for opportunity, great room for growth, and a great way to put your fingerprints on something because when we do have success, you can look back and say ‘Look at what we did.’”
Korn knows what works when things are going well, but he has also learned the painful lessons of failure.
His eight-year stint at Southern Illinois ended with four consecutive non-winning seasons, and his final two years at Missouri State were not successful either.
“I would even add to that,” Korn interjected, “this year, too.”
His most recent season at Kansas State (11 wins) was the least successful for the Wildcat program in two decades.
“Sometimes when you have so much success,” Korn said, “and (Kansas State) had won the Big 12 a year ago, and we had all of that success at SIU, it’s the same thing in academics, it’s the same thing when you have a good game, and it is the same thing in life, you can naturally forget, or let things that you know, slip a little bit.”
As a player at SIU, Korn was part of the most successful era in program history and that carried over in his first years as a Saluki coach. However, things became progressively worse.
“Unfortunately, in basketball, as to other sports” Korn explained, “you have one game on top of the next game on top of the next. The time in between isn’t as large. So if you don’t correct things right away, and you think maybe that it will self-correct, and it doesn’t, that is when you can get into some trouble.”
The message from Korn to his staff – regardless of their prior achievements – will be a need for daily focus.
“Of course, you’ll have a bad day or a bad game,” Korn said, “and there is always that feeling in your gut that maybe this isn’t right. Instead of letting it go one more day, let’s correct it right now.”