Bunky Harkleroad

2004: M.S.S. Sports Management

Bunky Harkleroad

Bunky Harkleroad doesn’t hesitate when asked about his goals for the Sacramento State women’s basketball team that he recently took over as head coach.

“We want to win a Big Sky Championship and be the most exciting team in women’s basketball,” Harkleroad declared upon arrival.

Harkleroad, who earned his master’s in Sports Management from the United States Sports Academy, is used to success.

He previously coached at Glenville State College, an NCAA Division II school in Glenville, W. Va., where he compiled a 91-30 record over four seasons and made two NCAA Division II Tournament appearances. He was also a finalist for NCAA Div. II Coach of the Year.

Harkleroad also served as head coach at his alma mater, Berea College in Berea, Ky., where he led the Mountaineers to five 20-win seasons in his nine years there. Berea College made three straight NAIA National Tournament appearances between 2005 and 2007. His overall record in 13 seasons—258-120. He takes over a Division I team at Sacramento State that matched a school record with 19 wins last season and reached the Big Sky Conference semifinals. The Hornets return both starting guards Fantasia Hilliard and Alle Moreno who have become accustomed to playing a fast-paced style of offense.

A run and gun style of offense is exactly what Harkleroad likes and it has proved to be extremely effective. Last year, his team averaged 95.3 points per game, made 433 3-pointers and outscored the opposition by an average of 18 points. His Glenville teams broke every offensive record at the college.

With Sacremento State’s first game against UC Santa Cruz less than three weeks away, Harklewood took a timeout to discuss with the Alumni Network becoming a Division I head coach, running an up-tempo offense and his experience at the Academy as a student.

Alumni Network: Ok, we have to ask you about your unforgettable name?

Bunky Harkleroad: It’s the only name I’ve known, so I like it!

Alumni Network: How do you feel about the team you inherited and coaching in Division I?

Bunky Harkleroad: I’m just very excited about the opportunity and am looking forward to continuing our work with the players. I think there’s tremendous potential to have a great season here. (Coaching in Division I) is the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m excited and it’s just a tremendous opportunity that we’re going to take advantage of.

Alumni Network: How hard is it to take over right before the season is scheduled to start and what do you think is the key to a smooth transition?

Bunky Harkleroad: It’s just a great opportunity. We’re not looking at how hard it is but we’re looking at it as doing our best to improve as much as we can in the shortest amount of time and get ready to compete.

Alumni Network: Explain your offensive coaching philosophy and why you like the up-tempo game.

Bunky Harkleroad: Our offensive philosophy is based on an up-tempo, fast-paced attack that relies on aggressiveness on both ends of the court. It’s based heavily on the 3-point shot, frequent substitutions, and dictating how the game is played.

Alumni Network: How do you feel about moving to the West coast?

Bunky Harkleroad: It’s exciting to get to go to a lot of places we’ve never been. It’s really easy to get excited about the weather and the location and I think there are a lot of resources here. It’s a great fit and it was a no-brainer to make the move.

Alumni Network: How did getting your master’s degree from the Academy help you in your career?

Bunky Harkleroad: It opened doors for me and I learned a great deal in the process of getting my master’s degree. It was pretty rigorous and I had some experiences that I won’t forget. I learned some good habits and I still refer back to classes I had. It’s helped me be a better coach and I’m very proud to have earned that degree at the Academy.