Passion for hoops brings success for Lorensen

Friday, November 9, 2018
New BVU men’s basketball coach Todd Lorensen celebrated a championship win at Southwestern Community College. Lorensen’s success as SWCC helped lead him to Buena Vista to take over the program.
Photo courtesy of Southwestern Community College

Love for sports, in general or a specific one, can be ingrained from an early age. Basketball was the sport that BVU men’s basketball head coach Todd Lorensen grew up with, saw the game first hand from when he was a young boy and continues to see his professional life revolve around.

Lorensen grew up in Monroe, Iowa which is east of Des Moines. His father, Fred, is entering his 40th year of coaching PCM High School. Lorensen grew up around the game and said that he is always been around basketball, that it’s who he is and what he knows. Despite his father being a long tenured coach, Lorensen never felt pressure to play basketball.

“From what I can remember I always loved being around the game. I think naturally no matter who you are or what your upbringing is, if you’re around something on a consistent basis, you’re going to develop a desire for it,” Lorensen said. “On the flip side, I’d say as I got older my dad was so concerned about being that overbearing parent/coach that I wish he’d been a little more demanding on me to spend more time in the gym.”

Through his high school career, Lorensen played with future Iowa Hawkeye Brandon Myers as PCM made it to the State Tournament his sophomore through senior seasons. In his sophomore season, they bested Eagle Grove in the first round before losing to Ackley Geneva Wellsburg Steamboat Rock in the semi-finals. His junior season they bowed to Danville in the semi-finals.

Finally, in his senior season, the team was once again bested in the first round by Council Bluffs St. Albert, who at the time were coached by current Newell-Fonda boy’s basketball coach Shad Coppock.

With his time in high school over, Lorensen headed to Quincy University in Illinois but only stayed there for a year. He transferred to Grand View citing the chance to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond and to be closer to home.

“We had a quality team. Our records weren’t as good as we liked,” he said. “We made conference semi-finals once. Statistics would say I had a good career but ultimately didn’t win as many games we would have liked.”

He scored over 1000 points through his time at Grand View while being a team captain and garnering honorable mention for Academic All-Conference for his three years there.

He majored in business administration with a sports management certificate. He wanted to open his own sports store but early in his college career he knew he didn’t want to teach. Instead he started to think about coaching at the collegiate level instead.

Lorensen said that high school coaching is a tremendous profession, but had no passion to be a teacher. He geared himself to the college level where he could get a position where he didn’t need to teach to support himself.

The beginning came at Grand View for a season while he was working on starting his master’s program. He liked coaching at Grand View and was the only assistant coach.

“I got to recruit, do scouting reports, player development, camps, fundraising. You name it, if there was something that needed to be done I did it,” he said. “Looking back at it now I didn’t do any of it very well. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I was a great initiation to the profession and an opportunity to get my feet wet right away.”

He then when to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, then a Division II school. He spent three seasons there and went to one NCAA tournament during his tenure there. They won 68 games as his time as an assistant and made the announcement they were moving up to Division I.

Lorensen moved on to Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri as a recruiting coordinator and assistant coach. The program, in his words, hadn’t been very good. The first season they went 8-20 and kept improving every season. Going into his third season, he got the chance to be a head coach at Iowa Wesleyan. In that third season, Truman State won 20 games as Lorensen was unable to see the fruits of his labor.

Iowa Wesleyan was like Truman State, a downtrodden program that had seen little success. They were in transition from NAIA to Division III and Lorensen was only able to guide them to six wins in his lone season. He knew they were not going to be good, dealing with mostly freshmen, but thought the future was bright.

Southwest Community College offered not only the head coaching position for basketball but an administrative position as the Director of Athletics. He felt like it was too good of a chance to pass up at the time and was entering another rebuilding program.

Through his four seasons they won over 100 games along with a national championship. He took home numerous coaching accolades for turning around the Spartans through his four seasons.

Lorensen stated that success put him on Jack Denholm’s radar along with Denholm’s own junior college background, helped him get the job at Buena Vista.

“It’s difficult because you have a new roster year in and year out. I thought our success came through the fact that we played differently,” Lorensen said of his success at the junior college level. “I think our five out offense and our pack line defense, along with having some really great players, we just found a niche that made us different. I thought they way we prepared and played defensively made it tough on other teams offensively.”

Through the success at SWCC, Lorensen never had one of his players go to Division I, but saw 12 go on full scholarships to a Division II school. He tried to preach to his junior college players to go to the place that fit you best that allowed you to play.

Lorensen also wants to reach his players on a personal level and impact them. He stated that one of the most enjoyable parts of his time at BVU has been getting to know the players and believes them to be great young men. He added that over four years he can build that relationship with players.

“Even looking back at my previous tenure as an assistant at a four year level, I’ve stayed in touch with so many of those guys. I’ve had a former player be an assistant coach. I’ve gone to their weddings, if they have a kid they’ll send me a picture,” he said. “You don’t see the fruits of those things until five, 10 years down the road, but I know that’s going to be an enjoyable part of my experience at BV.”

He has a philosophy on basketball that sometime individual stats are overrated, instead believing that people associate a winning team means more than how many points are scored by a specific player.

“At the end of the day, if you play on a team that hosted an NCAA Tournament game, people don’t care if you average 13 points a game or two points a game. You were a part of that group that was a winner,” he said. “With our current guys that’s something we really try to preach and value. If we win a lot of basketball games, you’re going to be associated with a group forever that’s considered a winner. Do you want to be a double digit scorer on a team that goes 12-13 or a guy that scores eight points a game that went 18-7 that eventually goes to the NCAA Tournament.”

While wanting to build a winner on the court, off the court Lorensen is a family guy. He has an 11 year old son, Hudson, who he has tried not to force basketball on, and yet Hudson is a fanatic about the game.

“He is in love with the game. He plays it all the time and loves being around our guys,” Lorensen said. “He knows more about what’s going on in the NBA and Division 1 level than I do, just because I’m so busy with my own stuff I don’t pay attention to it. He’ll message me asking if I saw that score last night and I won’t know what he’s talking about.”

Despite being from Iowa, Lorensen grew up in the Michael Jordan era of the game and latched onto anything Jordan that he could which meant becoming a North Carolina fan. He did add that he cheers for all the Division I teams in the state, but trends towards the Hawkeyes if the state teams play.

He has been extremely thankful with the Buena Vista and Storm Lake communities. Lorensen has felt welcomed and respects what Brian Van Haaften built.

“Everyone including Coach VH have welcomed me with open arms and given me every piece of advice and help that was within their means,” he said. “Just been very thankful for people who have made my transition easier.”

The Todd Lorensen era is just beginning for Buena Vista University. He brings success and a passion for basketball to the court.

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