AS Jim Shaw was contemplating stepping down after 20 years as Rose-Hulman’s men’s basketball coach, he knew he had a capable assistant ready to take over the program.
The presence of Columbus native Rusty Loyd helped sway Shaw, who has had health concerns. Loyd was selected Monday as the Engineers’ head coach.
“He wanted me to get the job, and he worked with the administration to make that happen,” Loyd said. “He wanted to know that the players were in good hands. I think if he felt like I wouldn’t have been the head coach, he would have stayed on.”
Rose-Hulman athletics director Jeff Jenkins took Shaw’s advice about his successor.
“He knew it would be a great transition,” Jenkins said. “Rusty recruited a lot of the kids. One of the things that played into Jim’s decision is that he thought Rusty was ready to take over.”
“Rusty was the perfect fit,” he said. “He’s been here. He’s gotten comfortable with the program, so it will be a nice transition for us.”
Loyd has been an assistant under Shaw for the past five years. During that time, the Engineers have gone 89-47, won two Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season titles, three HCAC Tournament titles and made three NCAA Division III Tournament appearances.
“It’s a little bit bittersweet,” Loyd said. “It’s sad to see coach Shaw move on to other things, but I’m excited about the opportunity. We’ve had a lot of success the last few years, and to take over a team like that is a great opportunity.”
A 1994 Columbus North graduate, Loyd is believed to be the only Bull Dog to play on four sectional championship teams. North, then coached by Bill Stearman, won the regional Loyd’s junior year.
Loyd played collegiately at University of Chicago, leading the school to a pair of Division III Sweet Sixteen appearances. He is still Chicago’s all-time assists and steals leader and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2010.
After college, Loyd spent two years as an assistant at Earlham, two years as a graduate assistant at Lewis and four years as an assistant at Chicago. He became the head coach at Illinois Institute of Technology for three years until the school dropped its basketball program, at which point he came to Rose-Hulman.
The Engineers lost two-time All-American and HCAC Player of the Year Julian Strickland, who led the team in every offensive statistical category, along with two other starters, but return two other starters this season.
“One of the big reasons we’ve been successful over the past few years is, we have a lot of big-school kids,” Loyd said. “When you have the fourth- or fifth-best players on those teams, they can help you win at the Division III level. Our recruiting philosophy is to get the best players we can, but we tend to recruit a lot of the big schools.”
That includes Columbus North. They tried to get Evan Henry, who ended up picking St. Francis.
“We really recruited Evan Henry hard, but he ended up going to a scholarship school,” Loyd said. “We at times lose kids to those NAIA schools and Division II schools. But kids who want a great engineering degree and want to play at a high level of basketball, we can get some of those kids.”