If you are familiar with NKU basketball, then you are certainly familiar with the men’s and women’s head coaches, Ken Shields and Nancy Winstel.
You may not be as familiar with Shields and Winstel’s assistants, however. You may also be less familiar with the importance of the work that these individuals do.
On the men’s side, Shields is flanked by two long-time assistants. Dave Bezold, who is second in command under Shields, is in his fourteenth season as an assistant, and is expected to be a strong candidate to replace Shields when he retires at the end of this season.
Pat Ryan is in his sixteenth season under Shields and coaches part-time. Donnie MacFarland and David Marshall also serve as assistants to Shields.
These assistants are responsible for many different duties, from recruiting to keeping track of fouls during games.
“To be successful you have to have committed players and a great coaching staff,” Shields said. “I’ve been blessed throughout my career with both of these.”
“Recruiting is a big part of my job,” Bezold said. “During the game I’m primarily responsible for giving defensive suggestions and trying to find the correct matchups.”
Bezold, who knew Ryan from his playing days, coached two years at Viterbo College before coming to NKU.
“The day he (Bezold) became a full-time coach here,” Shields said, “was the day things started to turn for the better for this program.”
Ryan has served as an assistant under Shields for his entire tenure as head coach.
He was formerly the head coach at Holy Cross High School and still serves as the school’s assistant principal.
On the women’s side of the ball, Winstel has surrounded herself with three very capable assistants: Brian Neal, Michelle Wolf and Mandy Sterling.
“You really have to be a jack-of-all-trades to be a successful assistant,” Winstel said. “If the truth be known, they carry me big time.”
Neal is in his sixth season under Winstel, after serving as an assistant at Wilmington College and working in the Sports Information Department at NKU.
“I really value what he has to say,” Winstel said. “We wouldn’t have near the success if it wasn’t for him.”
Neal, much like Bezold, is responsible for a lot of the recruiting for the Lady Norse.
He also is responsible for finding successful offensive matchups and doing a lot of individual player coaching during the game.
“I started coaching as a hobby,” Neal said. “After I kind of developed a niche in recruiting, I decided that this job would be a real good fit for me.”
Wolf is a graduate assistant under Winstel and is taking nine hours of class per week to earn her MBA.
She is responsible for breaking down a lot of the game tapes and scouting what other teams are trying to do.
“Michelle has really come into her own this season,” Winstel said.
“These coaches help to develop our entire system, and without them, we really wouldn’t be able to put it all together,” Shields said.