SHERIDAN — The Sheridan College men’s basketball team knew all along that next season would stand as a rebuilding year. Sophomores made up the entire starting five and two-thirds of the Generals’ roster.
But the news earlier this week that head coach Matt Hammer would also be moving on makes the rebuilding effort that much more difficult. Hammer officially accepted the head coaching position at Division II CSU-Pueblo Tuesday after a five-year stretch at SC.
“The success of the basketball program since (Hammer) has been here speaks for itself,” SC athletic director Richard Hall said. “… The players have done well. They’ve been successful on the court and in the classroom. There haven’t been any major conduct issues, and so it has always been my philosophy that the personality of the team is very much a reflection of the coach.”
Hammer ended his SC career with a 108-53 record (.671 winning percentage).
Aside from his first two seasons, he increased the team’s win total each year. Hammer, and many of the aforementioned sophomores, went a combined 59-9 over the past two years, earning an at-large bid to this season’s National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament.
The high level of success makes the shoes for the next head coach to fill quite large. Hall wants a individual that will step in and sustain the momentum the program has enjoyed over the last couple of seasons.
“It’s very critical,” Hall said. “We are wanting somebody to definitely come in and keep the standard. … To me, it’s very important that we hire somebody that fits all three of these qualifications — help fundraising, build some community relations and interact well with our campus, both our student body and faculty.”
Hall posted the job opening Tuesday and has already received a significant number of inquires about it. The success — not only under Hammer but the coaches before him — has made the SC head coaching position sought after.
Hall said that the search will encompass the entire country. The first review process will take place May 3. At that time, the administration will narrow its search and invite potential head coaching candidates on campus for a more in-depth vetting process.
Hall hopes to have a coach in place by mid June but will fast track the search as much as possible without sacrificing quality.
Jay Lewis and Elijah Blake represent two players that have eligibility remaining that played a significant role this past season. Lewis averaged 6.5 points per game, while Blake chipped in three points per contest.
Dominique Jackson — who, for the most part, played in lopsided contests — along with redshirts Dante Gonzales and Hayden Peterson can also elect to return.
The Generals will have to replace 87 percent of their scoring from this year along with their head coach.
Mallory Hammer, SC’s women’s soccer head coach, will make the move to Pueblo with her husband Matt but not until after the 2019 season.