Hayes inherits talented team

A Hamline alum is picked to try to turn the men’s basketball team around after a scandal rocked the program earlier this year.

Gino Terrell, Reporter

Jim Hayes, former Piper athlete, has been named head coach for the Hamline men’s basketball team.

On Saturday, March 23, Hamline hired Jim Hayes to lead the program. Hayes is a former player for the Pipers who played four seasons, was captain for two and honored as an All-MIAC player in one. Hayes was an assistant coach for St. Thomas’ basketball team the past two seasons and, prior to that, coached seven years at Carleton.

“I’ve really enjoyed my experience here [as a player]. That’s why I was excited for the opportunity to potentially come back and be in this spot,” he said.

Hamline alum and teammate of Hayes, Kyle Green, has voiced his support of confidence of Hayes becoming the leader of the program in s press release on the Hamline Athletics website.

“Having played with Jim, I can say his work ethic is what you want in a coach. He’s got all the skills you want,” Green said.

Last Friday, the team held their first meeting; which was a chance for Hayes to get know his players and vice versa.

“There will be some adjustments for everybody,” Hayes said. “I think the guys are excited, and I’m certainly excited about the group we have coming back. I think there are definitely some pieces in place.”

His philosophy is simple: he wants his team to continue to improve as students and players.

“[It’s about] being better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we were today,” Hayes said. “I think if we keep that focus and continually try to get better each and every day, then we will have the type of success that we want not only on the floor but also in the classrooms.”

The past two seasons, Hayes has learned under St. Thomas’ head coach John Tauer. The two have known each other for a while and have even competed against each other as athletes when Hayes played for the Pipers. Hayes felt that working under Tauer, who was in a similar position as a longtime assistant coach making the adjustment to head coach, served as a valuable learning experience for him as he is now making that same transition.

Hayes has been in the conference for over two decades and has a lot of support from Hamline’s alumni who’ve reached out to him via email, text messages and phone calls.

“That’s really been one of the more fun pieces of my early transition here; reconnecting with [alumni]” Hayes said.

According to the Hamline Athletics webpage, Hamline alum Dave Thorson has given Hayes a vote of confidence as well.

“Jim has consistently demonstrated the passion, knowledge and diligence that signal future championships for Hamline. Jim is a leader I respect, and it’s exciting to know he will steer the Piper program which so many former players like myself value so dearly,” Thorson said.

Hayes’ focus is to prepare the players through the off-season to get the team ready for opening day on Oct. 15. Hayes said his team’s mindset is to pursue excellence both on and off the court.

“If we take care of that and can build every single day and work together and really become a cohesive unit, I think the wins and losses piece will take care of itself,” Hayes said.