FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Former Akron head coach Dan Hipsher has joined Arkansas’ basketball staff as an assistant coach, head coach Stan Heath announced on Friday.
Hipsher, a native of Lancaster, Ohio, compiled a record of 238-182 in 15 years as a collegiate head coach before being reassigned to the University of Akron’s office of public affairs and development following the 2004 season.
“We’re fortunate to have a coach with Dan’s credentials and ability available this late in the process,” Heath says. “We were already somewhat familiar with each other because we coached against each other when I was at Kent State. He is very knowledgeable and I have a lot of respect for his coaching ability.”
In four years at Wittenberg, 1990-93, he was 97-18; in two years at Stetson, 1994-95, he was 29-27; and in nine years at Akron, he was 112-137. He earned conference coach of the year honors at each school and has a total of 27 years of coaching experience.
“Stan did a great job in the MAC and I like what he’s building at Arkansas,” Hipsher says. “He’s laid the groundwork. This is an exciting opportunity for me. I have a lot of respect for Stan, and the kind of coach and person he is. Coach (Frank) Broyles, the university and that basketball program – I know what they mean to the state. Plus, you’re competing in the SEC. It doesn’t get any better than that. All of those things appealed to me. It’s a great situation.”
In December, he accepted an offer from Rick Majerus to be part of the staff at Southern California, but remained at Akron after Majerus turned down the USC job a few days after accepting.
“His strengths include strong offensive techniques and he has utilized zone defenses, which was of particular interest to me,” Heath says. “He also has a tough-love mentality, which our players will respond to. I’m excited to get him on board. He will be involved in the day-to-day operations and he will have a role in recruiting, but his main areas right now, and this could be adjusted later, will be on-court coaching and player development.”
Before getting his head coaching start at Wittenberg, he worked as an assistant for nine years at Dayton.
“Dan Hipsher received a great coaching background while working for Don Donoher at Dayton,” Texas Tech head coach Bobby Knight says. “He has developed a superb understanding of the game at both ends of the floor. I have watched many of his practices and several of his games over the years and he does an excellent job in teaching his players how to understand and play the game. He is an extremely good teacher as a practice coach and a very good tactician as a coach. Dan will be a tremendous addition to basketball at Arkansas.”
At Wittenberg, Hipsher, who also coached for USA Basketball at Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1997, maintained an already successful program while he showed the ability to rebuild at both Stetson and Akron.
Wittenberg was an NCAA Division III power, going 305-76 in the 13 years prior to his arrival. Hipsher posted records of 29-2, 26-3, 23-6 and 19-7. He won the North Coast Athletic Conference regular season title each year, the tournament title twice and advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times. Wittenberg led the nation in scoring defense in 1992 (56.9 ppg) and Hipsher was named NCAC and Great Lakes Region coach of the year in 1990.
When he moved to Stetson for the 1994 season, the Hatters had suffered three losing seasons in the four previous years. He went 14-15 his first season, but took Stetson to the championship game of the Trans America Athletic Conference Tournament. After a 15-12 mark and TAAC coach of the year honors in 1995, he moved to Akron, which had posted three straight records of 8-18.
The Zips were a combined 11-41 his first two years, but beginning with the 1998 season won 17 or more games for three straight years.
The 1998 squad went 17-10 and won the Mid-American Conference’s East Division with Hipsher earning MAC coach of the year accolades. He was also named Ohio’s college coach of the year by the Columbus Dispatch, edging Cincinnati’s Bob Huggins. In 1999, the Zips were 18-9 and finished 17-11 in 2000. After 12-16 and 10-21 seasons in 2001 and 2002, respectively, Akron was 14-14 in 2003 and 13-15 in 2004.
While Hipsher was at Akron, attendance for Zips games doubled at the James A. Rhodes Arena and his non-conference schedule included games against Alabama, Cincinnati, Purdue, Syracuse, Western Kentucky, Wyoming, Xavier and North Carolina, among others. The Zips led the nation in three-point shooting in 2001 (.433), and led the MAC in overall shooting in 1998 (.472) and 2004 (.466), and in free throw percentage in 2000 (.763).
Hipsher was a first-team all-state selection as a senior at Fostoria (Ohio) Senior High before playing at Bowling Green. He was named to the MAC All-Academic team twice and also lettered twice as a pitcher on the baseball team.
After graduating from BGU with a bachelor’s in chemistry/biology in 1977, he worked as a graduate assistant at Miami (Ohio), earning his master’s in education a year later. Miami won the MAC title and beat defending national champion Marquette, 84-81, in the first round of the 1978 NCAA Tournament.
After two years at Miami-Dade South Community College, he returned to Ohio as an assistant at Dayton. In nine years with the Flyers, from 1981-89, Dayton was 152-114, earned two trips to the NCAA and three to the NIT.
Overall as a head coach and assistant, his teams have earned six NCAA Tournament bids.
Hipsher is filling the opening on the staff created when assistant Rob Flaska left to become head coach at Centenary. Bill Herrion was hired to fill the position on April 18, but left on May 26 to take the head coaching job at New Hampshire.