May 18, 2016
Like most freshmen, it seemed just a matter of time before Randy Bissen was able to get his shot at playing varsity. Unlike most freshmen, Bissen surprised many with his talents, despite the fact that in three years he hadn’t scored a single point for the Carroll High Tigers.
There was a good reason for that.
Mostly because it’s against every rule of basketball for coaches to take shots.
On Monday night, Randy Bissen, who had spent three years coaching the Tigers freshman squad, learned that he would be the head coach for the Tigers after Chris Molinsky, had stepped down from the position.
It was a quick turnaround for Bissen, who just interviewed for the position last Thursday.
“I interviewed for the position, probably last Thursday,” Bissen the 6-foot-7-inch former basketball star said. “It took just a couple days to find out that they wanted me to be the head coach, all they needed was approval from the board. It was nice to find out Monday night that I was approved, and move on, and get excited about what the future holds.”
When Bissen steps onto the court as the head coach for the Tigers next winter, he’ll be stepping into familiar territory. Not only had he spent his high school days playing basketball throughout the area for Harlan, but his players next year are familiar with his style of coaching.
Next years senior class, for the most part, all got their high school basketball start playing for Bissen when they were freshmen.
With one exception.
Kolby Molinsky, the team’s second leading scorer last season, has never played for Bissen, since he started varsity when he was a freshman.
“I’ve coached the freshmen 3 years now, so the seniors this year were the first class that I was able to coach in Carroll,” Bissen said. “Having the experience of knowing me, and what I expect should help. I’ve told my freshmen that I’m going to coach them like a varsity team. Hopefully it won’t be a huge adjustment for them, because I expected a lot from them as freshmen.”
Having been able to build a relationship with the players, and being familiar with the style of play was one thing that CHS athletic director, Keith Stribe liked about Bissen. It also helped make a clear choice for the next basketball coach.
“He’s very well respected, and has clear expectations for his players and is a very hard worker,” Stribe said. “He has developed very good relationships with younger players and parents.”
Being familiar with the Tigers, and having a similar coaching style to Chris Molinsky are two things that could help continue the success that the Tigers found near the end of last season, which helped them advance to the sub-state game.
“Sometimes when a new coach comes in the biggest challenge is getting the players to buy in to what the coach wants,” Bissen said. “I’ve already instilled what I’ve wanted from my players and how they play the game since they were freshmen. We’re continuing to build on what Molinsky has taught. Both he and I were on the same page in terms of playing fast and things like that. It shouldn’t be a huge adjustment.”
Another thing that helps Molinsky coming into the season is the fact that he’s been a head coach before.
During the 2012-13 school year after spending five years as an assistant coach for Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Bissen took over the coaching position at Alta-Aurelia, then a 1A school in the tough basketball conference then known as the Northwest Conference.
Two of his opponents that season were historical powerhouses of Newell-Fonda and Storm Lake St. Marys.
Bissen’s year as the head coach of Alta-Aurelia finished with a record of 10-13, they lost in the district semi-finals to Storm Lake St. Mary’s, who would go on to finish as a runner-up at the state tournament.
That year, Bissen learned a lot about what it takes to be a head basketball coach.
“You learn a lot every single year, I’m still learning things by trying, and seeing what did and didn’t work,” Bissen said. “Every year you get more experience.”
Coming into the season, Bissen feels that his team has a strong core of returning players. Three of the top five leading scorers, Dayton Ross, Kolby Molinsky and Cooper Ross are all underclassmen.
“I’m looking forward to the talent we have on the team,” Bissen said. “[Kolby] Molinsky has done a great job, Dayton Ross has done a great job. Cooper Ross is starting to step in there. You also have guys like Austin Schrik, Peyton Raymond, Zach Promes and Soren Jensen have all had a chance to play a little bit. I feel like there is a good core there. Now the next step is to come together and figure out how to buy into the systems and beliefs so we can accomplish what we want to do.”
Bissen also has help in his corner from his own experience playing basketball. He was one of the stars for Harlan in his high school days, and he still keeps in contact with his high school coach, Mitch Osborn. Many times Osborn has given Bissen advice.
Bissen later earned a spot playing for BVU, and under Coach Brian VanHaaften, who is nearing 400 career wins. While with the Beavers they won 100 games. Bissen was also named as a 1st team selection to the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference basketball team while playing for BVU.
“He was also an assistant of mine for five years, and was tremendous,” VanHaaften said about Bissen. “I got to see him first hand as a head coach in 2013, when he coached my son Jayson in his senior year in high school at Alta-Aurelia. He did a wonderful job. Jayson’s team was not a great team, and Randy got them to be a .500 team, which is way better than we all figured as parents. He has a great ability to be there for all of his players, and get the most out of them.”
Before Bissen makes his first appearance as the Carroll High head coach, he still has another team to manage.
In addition to being the freshman basketball coach, Bissen has been the CHS girls golf coach. This year his team finished third in the Raccon River Conference, and will play next Monday for a chance at qualifying for the state golf tournament.
“Randy is a star as a coach, and he will do great things with his teams at Carroll High School,” VanHaaften said. “I guarantee you he will get the most out of the kids, that dedicate themselves to the program. Carroll Basketball is lucky to have Randy Bissen.”