ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
The future came sooner than later for the Tabor College men’s basketball program.
In keeping with a plan envisioned a year ago, head coach Don Brubacher announced Monday he will be switching roles with assistant coach Jeff Luster, effectively immediately.
Luster, a 1996 Tabor graduate, was hired as a full-time assistant coach this summer with the intent that he would assume leadership of the program down the road.
Following a season where the Bluejays finished a close second in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference and competed in the NAIA Division II tournament in Missouri a few weeks ago, the two coaches felt the timing was right for the move.
“I was hopeful that it would work out to make the change after one year back in the program,” said Brubacher, who also is athletic director and head coach for women’s soccer.
“I felt Jeff has shown the capability of handling the responsibilities, so we were glad to make the move now. It did seem like a good time to make the change.”
Brubacher said the program will be in good hands.
“Jeff is very knowledgeable of the game to begin with,” Brubacher said. “I think he teaches the game effectively. I believe he makes good decisions about what the team needs to focus on to play their best basketball.
“I think he also understands the priorities of Tabor, the kind of people we need to recruit into Tabor, how we need to work with them, and the demands we need to make of them while they are students at Tabor.”
Luster said he is excited to accept the new assignment, but also aware of the standard Brubacher has set in some 25 years of building the program.
“I just don’t want to disappoint Coach in anything that I do,” Luster said. “Not much is going to change. It will just be a different voice that the kids are hearing it from.
“I played for him,” Luster added. “He has been, and still is, a very important person in my life. I hold him very high regard.”
Luster said he will continue the fundamental system Brubacher established at Tabor, but is prepared to make a few adjustments.
“It all depends on who we sign, and how much the kids we have now improve their game,” he said. “I would like to play a little bit faster than what we played this year, trap a little bit more, full-court press, shoot a lot of threes, and just go out and leave everything on the line.”
He said Brubacher’s involvement as an assistant will be a huge advantage for him as a new head coach.
“He just wants to teach the game, and what better guy to help teach your system than the guy who created the system,” Luster said. “He loves being around kids. He’s nothing but an asset to the program.”
After graduating from Tabor, Luster worked as an assistant for McPherson College, Central College of McPherson, Lamar Junior College, and then the Air Force Academy.