The Iowa Western men’s basketball program will have a familiar face roaming the sidelines next season.
After four years as an assistant coach for the Reivers, Chad Van Riessen will slide over a chair to become the new head coach. Van Riessen succeeds Michael Johnette, who resigned to pursue other opportunities at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season in February, according to a release from the college. Johnette was an IWCC assistant for 10 seasons before taking over as head coach in 2016-17, guiding the Reivers to an overall record of 90-36. IWCC finished 16-15 last season.
Van Riessen is a DeMotte, Indiana, native and earned his bachelor’s degree from Central College in Pella before becoming head coach at Putnam County High School in Union, Missouri. In the three seasons at the helm, he led the program to record of 61-19, a 2006 Tri-Rivers Conference Championship and 2007 district title. Van Riessen then made assistant coaching stops for four years at Northwest Missouri State University and five seasons with Missouri State University-West Plains prior to joining IWCC.
“My four years (as assistant) at Iowa Western has been extremely valuable. It allowed me to gain an understanding of the needs of the program and what I can implement from a leadership standpoint for the program to be successful,” Van Riessen said. “Along with coach Johnette, I’ve been able work for and take things away from all the other coaches I’ve had the opportunity to work for. Steve Tappmeyer and Ben McCollum at Northwest Missouri State and Yancey Walker at Missouri State West Plains. All those guys were huge in my development as a coach. I’ve learned a ton from them that I’ll apply as a leader for this program.”
Van Riessen looks to apply the knowledge gained as an assistant in his new role.
“It’s extremely exciting. You spend 13 years preparing for the opportunity to become a head coach, so I’m super excited,” he said. “I think this position is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m really looking forward to building on the successful tradition that’s already in place and taking the program the new heights.”
Although it’s a new role, Van Riessen’s familiarity with the program and players it something he views as a leg up.
“When you have familiarity with returning players, you have that relationship aspect from working with the players on a day-to-day basis. You have an idea of what their needs are in order for them to become the best basketball players and people they can be,” Van Riessen said. “I think that’s a huge advantage for me as a coach.”
With plenty of recruiting experience, Van Riessen has developed some core traits he will look for in future Reivers.
“We want guys that are committed, coachable and very competitive,” he said. “We want guys that will allow us to compete for championships year in and year out, and ultimately, the most important piece of it is getting the right people. We want guys who are willing to do what it takes and sacrifice for the team and establish daily habits that will allow us to be successful as a program and for them to be successful individually as well.”
Van Riessen also wants to put forth a winning brand of basketball for Reiver fans.
“We’re going to play a style that fits our team and allows us to play to our strengths on a year-by-year basis. We’re going to really focus on the defensive end while also being efficient offensively,” he said. “I’m a big believer in playing within a team concept. I think people who love Iowa Western basketball want to see a team comradery and guys working for each other and that leading to wins.”