Minot State University athletic director Rick Hedberg announced the hiring of Matt Murken at a press conference Wednesday in the MSU Student Center.
Murken, a 35-year-old native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will be the 15th head men's basketball coach in school history. He coached at Jamestown College the past two seasons, compiling a 46-16 record and earning the 2012 Dakota Athletic Conference coach of the year award.
"It's an exciting time to be at Minot State," Murken said. "Officially accepted into the NSIC, officially a member of (NCAA) Division II. There's a lot of momentum going forward."
Daniel Allar/MDN • Matt Murken, previously the men’s basketball coach at Jamestown College, was introduced Wednesday as head men’s basketball coach of Minot State University.
The hiring comes just 16 days after Peter Stewart resigned as coach. MSU received more than 80 applications and hosted four candidates for on-campus interviews last week before selecting Murken.
Murken met with nine of MSU's returning players Wednesday morning before his press conference. He said it was a fitting way to spend his first minutes as head coach.
"Coaching young men is my favorite part of being a college basketball coach," Murken said. "I get to be around guys every day that have a passion for the game of basketball that are in a stage of their lives where they are growing and developing as young men, and I'm really happy that I got to kind of kick off the day with those guys."
Thomas Korf, a 6-foot-5 rising sophomore who averaged 10 points per game last season, said the Beavers are eager to audition for Murken.
"There's gonna be a lot of competition because no spot's guaranteed with a new coach," Korf said. "It should be fun battling with each other to see how we all fit in."
Murken served as an assistant coach at Wayne State College - a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference, which the Beavers join this season - from 2003-2009.
"The six years he spent at Wayne State was really important for us during the whole process," Hedberg said. "He knows what to expect in the Northern Sun. ... He knows a lot of the assistant coaches and he knows a lot of the head coaches, he's spent a lot of time on the road evaluating players at that level and I think he can hit the ground running."
Among Murken's first tasks as head coach will be finding an assistant and evaluating the Beavers' returning players. Murken said he'll take his time in hiring a top assistant but plans to add graduate assistants more quickly.
"I have a good list (of potential assistants) started and I've talked to a lot of those guys over the last four or five days to gauge their interest level," he said. "There's some really talented young coaches out there that wanna be a part of this program."
Murken didn't share an ideal win total for the Beavers' inaugural season in the NSIC, but said he wants to establish a style of play and effort level.
"The first year, I think I'd be lying if I said I thought it was gonna be easy," Murken said. "There's gonna be bumps and bruises along the way. There's gonna be a little bit of growing to do, but I can promise you that we're gonna go at it full speed.
"There will be some challenges, but at the same time, that leads to excitement. If you're playing against good competition and you're competitive, that only raises your level of play."
Korf said the players are relieved to have a coach in place and that Murken is "a good hire."
"We're excited," he said. "New coaches, new conference - we're just ready to get after it and get the season going already."