SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The Sacramento State Hornets roster looks a little different than it did at the start of the year.
“It was shocking. It was sad. We didn’t know what was really going on, so we were scared,” Hornet guard Zach Chappell said.
Following Sac State’s first exhibition game of the year, Head Coach Brian Katz announced his immediate retirement due to medical reasons after 14 seasons of leading the program.
Katz’s associate head coach, Brandon Laird, has since taken over with full support from the team.
“Coach Laird is a great leader. He’s grown up under coach Katz, so it wasn’t too much of a change,” Chappell said. “We’re all still on the same page. We have the same goal and we trust Coach Laird.”
“I think it’s been a really smooth transition, and we’re grateful to have had Katz for as long as we did,” Hornet guard Bryce Fowler said. “And we’re grateful to have Coach Laird now.”
Coach Laird has over 20 years of coaching experience under his belt, and he spent an entire decade of his career with Katz and the Hornets.
“We’ve tried to keep things pretty consistent in terms of how we play, what we value, our preparation and the core values of what our program stands for,” Laird said.
While coaching styles between the Hornets former and current head coach feel very familiar, Laird is putting his own stamp on the program by bringing new energy to the position and his own conditioning routine.
“He’s a little different from Katz, a younger guy, a little more upbeat, ready to go and kind of keeps us on our toes,” Fowler said. “We do this Spurs drill where we’re on the sidelines and we run back and forth for 10 minutes or so. And we get a chance to make a free throw to cut a minute off and if we miss we add a minute.”
The comfort level and chemistry of the group are all there, along with the new coach. Now, the hope is that it will translate to success on the court.
The first couple of months of the season have been up and down so far.
“We’re facing some challenges. We have had 12 days to correct some of the things we’re not doing well and we’re excited to get out and play here,” Laird said.
The Hornets will play another three games before the start of the new year.