Coach Brendan Suhr is joined by the Head Coach of the Southern Utah Thunderbirds Todd Simon. Coach Simon is in his fourth year at the helm of the Southern Utah University men’s basketball team after being named the head coach on March 24, 2016. Simon’s third season with the program was one for the record books, and one of the most successful the program has experienced in recent memory. The Thunderbirds qualified for postseason play for the first time since 2001, and won the first postseason game in the program’s Division I history in the First Round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. The T-Birds defeated the Drake Bulldogs, who were Co-Regular Season Champions of the Missouri Valley Conference. The 2018-19 season provided several milestones. SUU finished .500 for the first time since the 2006-07 season with a mark of 17-17. The T-Birds won nine Big Sky Conference games, which was the most the program had earned since joining the league. They also secured back-to-back winning non-conference records.
Prior to Southern Utah, Simon was named interim head coach of the UNLV men’s basketball program in January 2016 and immediately led them to three consecutive victories. During Simon’s 17 games as interim head coach, the Runnin’ Rebels ranked as the number one team in the nation in adjusted tempo, scoring more than 100 points in four games. UNLV finished with a 9-8 record, despite playing with as few as five scholarship players. While he was associate head coach with UNLV he also played a critical role in assembling UNLV’s roster, which Rivals.com ranked its 2014 recruiting class No. 5 in the nation, while the 2015 class was ranked No. 11.
Prior to his tenure as a Runnin’ Rebel, Simon served Findlay Prep for seven years in both head and assistant coaching roles. As head coach at Findlay Prep in 2012-2013, he led the team to a 35-1 record, including eight wins over top-25 ranked teams. The 35 victories are the most wins in school history. During Simon’s tenure at Findlay Prep, they accumulated an overall record of 192-9.
During his career Simon has helped develop and coach several players that have become top NBA draft picks, including Anthony Bennett, who was selected as the top overall pick in 2013, Rashad Vaughn, who was picked No. 17 in 2015, and Avery Bradley. Other NBA player’s Simon has coached in his career include Christian Wood, Jorge Gutierrez, Cory Joseph, DeAndre Liggins, Nick Johnson and Tristan Thompson.
In this episode, Coach Simon discusses how he has went about building his program and culture at Southern Utah; what he learned as an interim head coach that prepared him for this opportunity; the art of coaching elite players; how he arrived at his current style of play; the importance of player development at any level of coaching; how he prepares his team for success in “buy games” this time of year and what it was like to take his team on the road to Nebraska a few weeks back and secure a win vs a well-coached Big 10 opponent.
All that and more on Episode 160 of the Coaching U Podcast with Coach Brendan Suhr!