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WSU hires Rod Jensen to hoops staff


Washington State added a member to its basketball coaching staff on Wednesday, announcing the hire of veteran coach Rod Jensen as the team’s new director of player development.

Jensen, a former head coach at Boise State and most recently at the College of Idaho, replaces Jeff Hironaka, who left WSU to become an assistant coach at Portland State.

“We are excited about the addition of Rod Jensen to our staff and want to wish Jeff Hironaka the best at Portland State,” WSU coach Ken Bone said in a statement. “I’ve known Rod for many years and he is an outstanding basketball coach. I love the passion and energy he brings to the game.”

Jensen is known as a defensive-minded coach, and began his career in 1980 as an assistant at University of Redlands. He went on to spend 12 seasons as an assistant at Boise State before taking over as head coach in 1995, a position he held until 2002.

After that, Jensen moved on to an assistant job at Virginia, then was an assistant at UNC-Greensboro before becoming the head coach at NAIA school College of Idaho in 2010.

The school chose not to retain him at the end of the 2013 season despite COI’s 15-14 record, its first winning mark since 2009.

As director of player development, Jensen, like Hironaka before him, won’t be allowed to have on-court contact with players during practices. But he will be allowed to help devise game plans, and can sit on the bench during games.

And here's the full release from the school:

PULLMAN, Wash.– Washington State University men’s basketball has hired Rod Jensen as director of player development to replace Jeff Hironaka, who left WSU to join Portland State University as associate head men’s basketball coach, WSU Head Coach Ken Bone announced Wednesday.

“We are excited about the addition of Rod Jensen to our staff and want to wish Jeff Hironaka the best at Portland State,” Bone said. “I’ve known Rod for many years and he is an outstanding basketball coach. I love the passion and energy he brings to the game.”

Jensen comes to WSU after three seasons as head coach at The College of Idaho. In his final season with the Coyotes, Jensen led C of I to its first winning season in four years (15-14), its first home playoff game since 2007 and earned the program’s first win over a No. 1-ranked team, an 83-82 victory at Eastern Oregon in February of 2013.

Jensen has earned notoriety as a defensive coach, especially during his 19 years as a coach at Boise State University. From 1983-95, he was the top assistant to head coach, Bobby Dye, helping the Broncos rank among the top 15 in the NCAA Division I in scoring defense for four-straight seasons, winning Big Sky regular-season championships in 1988 and 1989, along with Big Sky Tournament titles in 1988, 1993, and 1994. BSU teams advanced to the National Invitational Tournament in 1987 and 1991, and the NCAA Tournament in 1988, 1993, and 1994.

In 1995, Jensen became the head coach at Boise State, compiling a 109-93 overall record in seven seasons at the helm while recording the third-most wins in BSU history. During his tenure, the Broncos ranked among the NCAA top 25 in scoring defense in 1998 and 1999, while winning the 1999 Big West East Division Championship.

Jensen headed east in 2002, becoming an assistant coach for Pete Gillen at the University of Virginia, where he helped the Cavaliers to NIT appearances in 2003 and 2004, leading the Atlantic Coast Conference in defensive field goal percentage. In 2005, he headed south to UNC Greensboro, working for Mike Dement, where during his tenure, every player who exhausted their eligibility, graduated. He spent five years at UNCG, his final four as associate head coach.

A graduate of the University of Redlands in California, Jensen began his coaching career at his alma mater in 1980, serving as an assistant for two years, before spending one season at Penn State.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Sean Kramer Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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