After being named head coach on Thursday, May 30, Paul Sather is formally introduced.
GRAND FORKS — For Paul Sather, the past two weeks of his life has been going at a break neck pace.
“With all that has shaken out and my family on vacation, it’s been an absolute blur,” Sather said.
From a three hour trip from Aberdeen to Sioux Falls to watch his son, Sam, compete in the shot put in the South Dakota High School Activities Association Class A track and field meet to vacationing on the East Coast, to player meetings at two different locations, Sather finally slowed down enough to be introduced as the North Dakota men’s basketball coach Monday, June 3, from the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Sather takes over for Brian Jones who after 13 years left UND for the associate head coach position at Illinois State.
Sather is only the fourth person to take over the Fighting Hawks program in 48 years.
“I can not be more excited to welcome Paul, Kelsie (wife), Sam and Becca (daughter) to UND and to Grand Forks,” UND’s Director of Athletics Bill Chaves said. “Ultimately all searches come down to one thing, trying to find the right person at the right time and I believe without a doubt that Paul is the right person to lead our men’s basketball program.”
“I am so incredibly thankful for this opportunity,” the 47-year-old Sather began. “I want to thank you Bill for that vision. You know the philosophy of how we want to do things and it’s a philosophy that is important to me, it’s a vision that is important to me cause I really try, along with the people I’m working with, to try to do things in a way that you can really be proud and with the kind of people that can make you proud.
“And when I look at a place like the University of North Dakota, I believe in my core that this is a place you can do it.”
Sather comes to UND from Division II Northern State where he compiled a 188-89 record in nine seasons, including an 84-19 record over his final three seasons in leading the Wolves to consecutive Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championships and a NCAA national runner-up in 2018, falling to Ferris State in the title game by two points. Before Northern, Sather spent five seasons as the head coach of Black Hills State.
“Challenges. I’ve never been a guy who likes to be too comfortable. I love challenges and opportunities and things that kinda get your blood going a little bit. But I am so excited about this opportunity, about these guys and the challenge of competing in a terrific league like the Summit League,” said Sather. “As far as I’m concerned, let’s go. Let’s go play.”
When asked why now after the recent run of success with Northern to take on the challenge of coaching Division I basketball, Sather said it’s about the combination of timing and opportunity.
“I don’t know if you always get a chance just to pick or things play out the way you want them too and this kind of a perfect timing for this whole thing. I just felt in my heart that I was maybe open and looking for a different opportunity and then one came up as good as this one,” Sather said.
Sather continued, “It’s a combination of a lot of things and sometimes you get a little lucky with timing because I felt it, like I was looking for a different kind of challenge, a different kind of opportunity and when this came open and available, it was a good fit for me.”
Sather is taking over a Fighting Hawks team that went 12-18 this past season cumulating in a loss in the Summit League quarterfinals. Returning will be last season’s leading scorer Marlon Stewart who averaged 14.3 points per game and was second on the team in assists with 72 while starting 15 games.
Chris Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ