Dan Krauser’s 31 years of experience of coaching in travel basketball did a lot to earn him consideration for the boys basketball head coaching job.
But Krauser’s one season as Harvard’s sophomore coach might have meant even more.
“What I really care about is how you handle our kids, and watching him last year and the way he presented himself in the interviews was impressive,” Harvard athletic director Andrew Walters said. “He is able to relate to the kids and has a lot of experience. He understands what it takes, but at the same time, when he needs to be hard on them, he’s going to be hard on them. Our kids respect that.”
Krauser was recently hired as the Hornets new varsity boys basketball coach. He ran the feeder program for Conant, under legendary former coach Tom McCormack, and also started World Class Basketball, his own travel program, a few years later.
Krauser takes over a program that has not had a winning season since 1995, when the Hornets were 15-12 and won a Class A regional championship.
Former coach Donnie Nolen, who coached the Hornets for eight years, resigned because of work commitments away from school. Krauser, like Nolen, does not teach at the school. The Hornets finished 5-24 last season.
“I want to change the culture of Harvard basketball,” Krauser said. “They’ve been down for a really long time. I learned the history. I don’t want Harvard to be that school that everyone thinks they’re just going to come in and beat.”
Krauser felt like the sophomore team was successful, although it did not have a winning record. He used the Hornets’ two games against Richmond-Burton as an example.
“We played Richmond-Burton, who they had never beaten at any level, and we lost by 18 points (the first time),” Krauser said. “They won the (Kishwaukee River) conference and everything, It was their last game and they were trying to win 20 games and we prevented that. As we were going through the handshake line, I heard a couple (R-B) players say, ‘I can’t believe we lost to Harvard.’ My goal is that’s going to stop. I want them to be in a fight. It’s not going to be an easy game anymore.”
Krauser played point guard for McCormack before helping run the Cougars’ feeder program. He remains close to the retired coach and considers him his first mentor.
“I saw first-hand how he took a struggling program and built it into a powerhouse,” Krauser said. “We were one of the worst programs in the state. We were terrible.”
Walters and the search committee were impressed with Krauser’s vision for the program.
“He worked with our sophomores, so he’s very familiar with our kids,” Walters said. “The way he worked with his group and the way they responded to him was a positive in the process. We’re looking forward to Dan having a clear plan going forward.”
Krauser said he is stepping aside from World Class Basketball in July and concentrating on his high school job.
“AAU basketball has changed a lot,” Krauser said. “The youth sports landscape has changed a lot. I thought it was getting way too negative. There was a big lack of loyalty, jumping from team to team. For a long time, I enjoyed it. I thought I’d give high school a shot last year and I just loved it. The kids were great, the school was great, I felt really comfortable. I felt very welcomed and enjoyed it a lot.”
Walters was grateful for Nolen, a Harvard graduate, and the commitment he made to the program.
“Donnie was just a great individual,” Walters said. “We’re going to miss him. I completely understand his situation and why he had to step down. I hope all of our coaches wear that pride of Harvard, Donnie definitely did that. That’s a big piece we’re going to miss for Harvard sports.”