Thursday, March 1, 2012


Brett Ballard has BU ballin’

Baker University Head coach Brett Ballard Watches his team as it plays Evangel on Dec. 7 in Baldwin City. Ballard, a former Kansas University player and assistant for coach Bill Self, has coached Baker to a 9-3 start in his second year with the program.

Baker University Head coach Brett Ballard Watches his team as it plays Evangel on Dec. 7 in Baldwin City. Ballard, a former Kansas University player and assistant for coach Bill Self, has coached Baker to a 9-3 start in his second year with the program.


— Now director of basketball operations for Kansas University’s third-ranked basketball team, Barry Hinson knows how to evaluate college basketball coaches, having been a successful one himself.

In nine seasons at Missouri State, Hinson had three 20-victory seasons, made the postseason four times and became the poster child for NCAA Tournament selection committee injustice.

To say Hinson was impressed with the coaching job he witnessed Wednesday night from the top row of bleachers at the Collins Center on the campus of Baker University would be an understatement.

Hinson was on hand to support his friend and former co-worker, Brett Ballard, Baker’s second-year head coach.

“It’s a mini-Kansas,” Hinson said. “They’re running all of our stuff, and they’re running it great. Matter of fact, I’m sitting here thinking, ‘Gosh, some of the stuff they’re running better than we are.’ And, obviously, you can see he’s got a touch of coach (Bill) Self in him because here we are with two minutes to go in the ballgame and the other team has 38 points.”

Ballard’s third-seeded Wildcats advanced to the semifinals of the Heart of America Athletic Conference tournament with a 55-41 victory against No. 6 seed Benedictine College. Baker plays Friday night at No. 2 seed Evangel.

It was Baker’s first victory in a conference tournament game since 2000.

“It’s never easy to leave a place like Kansas,” Ballard said. “But this place has been incredible. These guys have really bought in, and they compete at a high level. They practice hard every day, and they’re good guys to be around.”

Three schools from the HAAC will advance to the 32-team NAIA national championships, played March 14-20 at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. The only way Baker isn’t one of the three is if fifth-seeded Graceland pulls off consecutive road upsets to win the HAAC tourney.

Ballard’s players play extremely hard — without the benefit of TV timeouts to catch breathers — and are especially effective defensively. Going into Wednesday, the Wildcats ranked fifth in the nation in opponents’ field-goal percentage (.390). Benedictine made just 30 percent of its shots Wednesday.

Ballard has made a smooth transition to calling the shots, even if it’s difficult for some to comprehend that winning two-thirds of your games is a good thing.

“I’ll talk to KU people who don’t know a lot about Baker, and I’ll say we’re 20-10, which is pretty good, and they’ll look at you like, ‘Aw, (I’m sorry.)’ Because in coach Self’s and KU’s insane standards, that would be the worst season in the history of time. I’m joking, but thanks to coach Self, he’s put unbelievable pressure on me to win every game and win conference championships every year because that’s what he does.”


dw3c 8 years, 3 months ago

20-10 is a good year. I think a lot of us tend to forget how many schools would give up an arm and a leg to have just a 2 year run like KU has had these last 2 yrs. At KU though, we expect that and more EVERY year. Keep up the good work Brett. Mike McCarthy started his football career at Baker and look where he is now

Ben Kane 8 years, 3 months ago

i thought the same think but i think he means a 2 year run for Baker.

Scatterhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Mike McCarthy, also a basketball coach you may have heard of? Phog Allen.

Jonathan Allison 8 years, 3 months ago

20-10 is especially a good year in a division where recruiting is essentially a non-factor. What I mean by that is there are no NAIA schools that have the tradition of Kansas, or to a lesser extent Kentucky, UNC, or Duke (heck there may be no NAIA schools that have any baketball tradition at all!). Kansas is a school that sells itself to the top recruits in America (no disrespect to Coach Self, who competes in recruiting at a very high level), but in the NAIA you take what you can get, and the best coaches are the ones who win more games than they lose.

Ballard is clearly a good coach if he can take a school that hadn't won a post-season game in over a decade and get them to 20-10 in an environment where recruiting matters very little.

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago

Ballard's got it.

Anyone that can in his second season in the wildness of NAIA ball get a team to hold opponents to 39% FG has got it.

Next stop a mid major on a rec from Self and Barry.

Ryan Mullen 8 years, 3 months ago

Next stop Kansas? When Bill leaves is Ballard the replacement?

nicka 8 years, 3 months ago

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.....ummmm no.

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago


When the virtual President speaks, some respect is order.

Kevin Millikan 8 years, 3 months ago

Holy cow, he sounds just like Coach Self...

nb4ku 8 years, 3 months ago

Another Jayhawk making us proud after his playing days @ KU. Great job Mr. Ballard!!

Off subject, but this will be interesting how it play's out.

rtwngr 8 years, 3 months ago

I went to the link. Very interesting. When will these parents and these athletes understand that you can't take any financial assistance from outside of your family without raising some eyebrows at the NCAA offices.

NH_JHawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Potentially not good news for Shabazz.

Personally, after watching him play several times this year, I would love to have Jakarr Sampson at KU. For those interested in high school/prep school recruiting by D1 programs, this is a good read. KU mentioned in this article too. Jakarr was at the KU/MU game.

nb4ku 8 years, 3 months ago

Very interesting read. How do these families pay the $48K/yr tuition? Can the kids get scholarships just like college?

These type of schools have always seemed "shady" to me.

Tony Bandle 8 years, 3 months ago

Jakarr is getting a huge push from Kansas recruiting. Rumor has it that he was blown away by the entire weekend experience. has been reporting for a couple weeks that Kansas was in the lead for this kid.....and that was before the Mizzou game and KU campus visit!!

Alex Berger 8 years, 3 months ago

This is great news for Mr. Ballard! I would love to see him be successful and make it to D-I coaching (if that's what he wants).

KGphoto 8 years, 3 months ago

Interesting that Brett was the Director of Basketball Operations before Hinson. They basically switched jobs.

He definitely does have "it" jaybate. He has all the ingredients. Experience playing for a big time program, experience working for a big time coach, work ethic, media savvy and now success in his first HC stint. He even has the look of a guy who knows the path he's on. He knows where it leads, and he knows why he's on it.

If he makes much more noise with the team this year, I think it would be time to go ahead and jump to a Division 1 school. That would give him enough time to have some success at that level, and either jump to a major conference, or if the time is right, slide in when Bill decides he's done. Hopefully that's not for another decade or more. No offense Brett.

I can't believe I'm saying this but, go Wildcats!!

That felt weird to type.

REHawk 8 years, 3 months ago

Who knows? In the next few weeks, the Wichita State job might pop open. Brett is on the chessboard, moving himself into striking range.

riverdrifter 8 years, 3 months ago

I've met Brett and his wife and they are classy and wonderful people. Congrats and thanks to Brett for improving our Baker BB progam. I think at lot of people don't know how intertwined in history these two programs are. In 1917, Baker's team took the train from Baldwin to Lawrence to play Kansas. Baker was coached by Phog Allen. KU was coached by James Naismith. Baker won.

KGphoto 8 years, 3 months ago

I know this won't get much read here. Not now. But I'm going to post it around the site for awhile just so it reaches as many people as possible. Simply the best article on the Border War I've ever read.

riverdrifter 8 years, 3 months ago

That is a great column and thanks for posting it.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 3 months ago

That is a fantastic article. I hope we get to play those &^%%^^'s again in the tournament and rip their hearts (if they have hearts) out again.

One thing in the article that really made me recognize how great we have it here is when they mentioned that Duke and UNC have a * COMBINED * 57 Conference Championships. hahaha

jaybate 8 years, 3 months ago

Don't bet on them having hearts. :-)

JayHawkFanToo 8 years, 3 months ago

Nice write up. However I have a problem with the last sentence:

"Mizzou fans may never again have to endure an atmosphere so vicious, and that really is a shame."

I would not use the word "vicious" to describe the atmosphere at AFH. That word is reserved to describe the MU antlers.

nb4ku 8 years, 3 months ago

CBS still has Robinson at #1 for POY. There is a place to vote at the bottom. I know it doesn't matter, but I still don't like seeing TRob behind him in any poll. Go Vote!!

08Champs 8 years, 3 months ago

Ballard is classy guy -and doing a great job at Baker. Went to a couple games last year and this year and you can really see the difference. Baker's "other" winter sport, wrestling is doing really well too. They started a new program 3 years ago, and are ranked 5th in the country this year (NAIA). Lots of good stuff happening south of town!

Michael Auchard 8 years, 3 months ago

As a Baker alum, I think the school hit the ball out of the park with the hiring of Ballard. Awesome story. Brett's keeping Phog's tradition alive in Baldwin.

FreddyinLA 8 years, 3 months ago

Zinger, offer this young man the head coaching position of the Lady Jayhawks.

BCRavenJHawkfan 8 years, 3 months ago

Yahweh, Looks like you guys won the tie breaker. I believe we were one and one on the season. Good luck Wildcats.

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