Stewart: I bring vision
Parshall native excited for potential homecoming
By CHRIS BIERI, Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
POSTED: April 23, 2010
Peter Stewart has a vision for creating a successful men's college basketball program.
The Parshall native wants to take that vision to Minot State University.
Stewart was on the MSU campus Thursday to interview as one of three finalists for the MSU men's basketball head coaching position.
Stewart has spent the last seven years as the head men's basketball coach at Peninsula College in Por Angeles, Wash., where he has led PC to three North Division Conference titles.
"Wherever we've been, we've had success in creating a vision, putting together a plan, and really getting a committment out of the kids, the community and putting those things together," Stewart said. "We've stuck with that. You have to make adjustments with kids, but the biggest thing is just selling kids and letting them know your vision, showing them the plan and finding those kids that want to have the committment to get there."
Stewart graduated in 1989 from University of North Dakota, where he was team captain and earned the NCAA Academic Player of the Year.
He said the opportunity to return and working in the state was a big draw.
"I think for those of us from North Dakota, it's obvious, it's not winter in January," Stewart joked. "It's the people. Obviously, I'm very familiar with the program, the community. Very familiar with the athletic director. To team up with (Athletic Director) Rick (Hedberg) again in something that could be really special for the community and the university really is attractive."
Stewart said the university's transition to NCAA Division II athletics will make for an exciting future.
"Firstly you have to secure the job," Stewart said. "Secondly, you have to put together a vision to get kids to come here and commit to what you're going to do. It's going to be a historical time for Minot State. To bring up some of the past history to help you go into the next phase of the program in Division II and create your own history. It's a unique time. There are a lot of fun challenges and that's really what they are, they should be fun."
Stewart's said the style of basketball he brings to his teams depends on the student-athletes that they have each year.
"I don't like to lose," Stewart said. "We're going to find kids that have that same mentality. In my years, we've played with tall, short, skinny, wide, fast slow. We've played all styles. With recruiting today, with the athletes you can get in, you have to make adjustments. No. 1, we're going to play defense, you'll see our teams work hard. We'll play a style of ball that will win basketball games. It may not look the same, year to year."
Stewart was a finalist for the MSU men's head coaching job the last time it was open. He said he hasn't changed significantly since that time, but is learning on a regular basis.
"You learn, you learn daily," Stewart said. "You learn from kids, you learn in your program, you learn in the community. I don't know that I've changed a great deal. Probably, some of my methodologies have changed... You really have to adapt to the level of student-athlete you can bring in. I think probably if anything, I've got better at adapting."
Stewart has a plethora of head coaching experience at a number of venues. He has operated as an assistant at MSU, MSU-Bottineau and Adams State College. He was a head coach in the Malaysian Professional Basketball League and the Australian Professional Basketball League. At Peninsula, he has twice won conference coach of the year and has led his team to the postseason in six of the past seven seasons.
"It's tremendous," Stewart said of his various coaching experiences. "I didn't take a normal career path probably out of Parshall, North Dakota that most people do. I went to the University of North Dakota and I had an opportunity to go overseas. As you look at my resume, I've coached everywhere but Africa. It's been a unique opportunity but as I've told people, it's time to come home and to bring my family back and be a member of the community."
He said community and facilities at MSU should ease the transition to Division II.
"We've talked about that a lot," Stewart said of the move. "Until I get to meet President Fuller and spend a little more time with Rick and start talking about specific numbers with budgets and so on, I think mainly, it's just a mentality. We have a community that will support it and facilities that you can recruit to. You have a community that's very supportive of basketball, but I think the biggest thing is just a vision."