BOWLING GREEN — Chris Jans was on the sidelines for the NCAA tournament game between Wichita State and Kentucky Sunday, a game considered one of the most exciting in college basketball this season.
Jans, then the associate head coach for the Shockers, was on the losing side. But he left the floor with mixed emotions.
“Walking off that floor after [the Kentucky game], after we had experienced our first loss of the season, was hard,” Jans said. “We put a lot into that program … and it was hard to tell those kids I was leaving.
“But it was exciting for me personally because I knew, walking off that floor, that I would be here starting a new chapter in my life. I can’t tell you how excited I am.”
Jans was introduced as the new head men’s basketball coach at Bowling Green State University on Tuesday, and he wasted no time expressing his excitement for the job.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life,” he said. “This is the right time for me, and this is the right place for me.
“The more research I did, the more excited I became about the opportunity here at Bowling Green. I think it is a gold mine.”
Jans, 44, has been a basketball coach for 22 seasons, including six seasons as a head coach where he put together a 159-45 record and won a National Junior College Athletic Association Division II national title in 1998.
“It’s been a long road for me — I started at the bottom,” Jans said. “You can’t start in this profession any lower than I did: I was a volunteer assistant at a Division III school.”
Nine stops later, Jans was the top assistant to Gregg Marshall at Wichita State. There Jans and Marshall combined to lead the Shockers to three straight NCAA tournament appearances, including a Final Four appearance last season and an undefeated regular season that led to a top seed in this year’s tournament.
During his introduction, BG athletics director Chris Kingston laid out a long list of qualities and characteristics he sought in the 16th men’s basketball coach in school history.
“As I laid those out, what I found is that I simply wrote Chris Jans’s bio without putting his name on it,” Kingston said.
Kingston said he first sat down with Jans 12 days earlier, and, “He blew me away with his energy, his expertise, and his drive for excellence.”
A deal was struck, with Jans receiving a six-year contract worth $325,000 annually, and on Monday Jans flew to BG with his wife, Sheri, and daughter Maddie.
“I felt it like Christmas morning when I opened up my laptop and watched the players I was inheriting,” Jans said. “And my first impression with those young men [in a team meeting Monday] night was a positive one.
“They were focused and attentive, and they had good body language. That excited me.”
Anthony Henderson said he and his teammates quickly understood that their new coach is passionate.
“It was different, it was really intense, but it also was quick and to the point,” the Start High School graduate said. “He didn’t beat around the bush. He told us what he wanted, and I respect that from him.”
What does Jans want?
“He asked us if we were willing to do what it takes to win a MAC championship,” Henderson said. “When we said yes, there wasn’t much else to talk about.”
Henderson said he was excited following the meeting, and junior Chauncey Orr was as well.
“He brings success to the table,” Orr said of Jans. “I want to experience that.
“I think he has what it takes, and I think we have what it takes as a team. Leaving that [meeting], we were confident we can do that. And we’re ready for it.”
While Jans said his goal is to bring BG it’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 1968, he said he would not put a timetable on reaching that goal.
“My responsibility is to win championships here,” Jans said. “I can’t promise you when it’s going to happen, but it’s going to happen.
“I’m not a patient person. We’re going to get after it.”