Grass is Green-er for WSU baseball

New coach looks for team success, to bring Cougars back to NCAA regionals

Coach+Brian+Green%2C+right+%2C+holds+a+Cougar+jersey+with+WSU%0AAthletics+Director+Pat+Chun+at+a+press+conference+on+June+5.

WINSTON O'NEIL | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE

Coach Brian Green, right , holds a Cougar jersey with WSU Athletics Director Pat Chun at a press conference on June 5.

VASILI VARLAMOS, Evergreen baseball reporter

When WSU hired head coach Brian Green to lead its baseball team, the Cougars were looking for a spark.

The team has not been to the NCAA Regionals since 2010 and has not won more than 10 games in two seasons. After firing former head coach Marty Lees in May, WSU looked for a coach who can turn things around.

Before coming to WSU, Green took over the New Mexico State University Aggies in 2015 and completely reshaped the program. The Aggies went from 7-19 in 2015 to 17-7 in 2018 and won their first conference championship since 2002.

Before New Mexico State, Green was an assistant coach at UCLA from 2005-08 and was an assistant coach at Kentucky from 2009-14. Green reached the NCAA regionals as head coach of New Mexico State in 2018. Green also reached three NCAA regionals 2006-08 with the Bruins and reached the NCAA tournament with Kentucky in 2012 and 2014 as assistant coach.

Green said that his experiences at Kentucky and UCLA taught him that locker room continuity and team culture are huge for team success.

“It was clear that in the SEC, being such a meat grinder of a conference, if you didn’t have locker room stability and trust within the coaching staff your team is going to break apart,” Green said.

In his first season at New Mexico State, the Aggies record was below .500. The next four seasons, Green’s team won over 30 games each season.

Locker room stability and a good team culture is what Green brought over at New Mexico State and that’s what he is trying to bring to the Cougar baseball team. Green also said he has confidence in both his team and himself that he can turn around a program and recruit the right players.

“I knew this opportunity would be challenging, just to apply those things and be really confident,” Green said.

The job at WSU is Green’s first Power Five head coaching job. The potential for the program persuaded him into taking the job at WSU and he did not want to pass on the opportunity, Green said.

“I was really comfortable and happy with our progress at New Mexico State,” Green said. “It was time for a new challenge.”  

As for goals in his first season, Green is focused on improving the players and changing the work ethic. The team goal right now is to reach the NCAA postseason and to get nationally-ranked recruiting classes for the future, Green said.

Tyler Lasch, junior infielder and catcher, said Green is there for the team and pushes them to improve, and there have been a lot of culture changes on the team.  

“Everything is changing,” Lasch said. “Last year we didn’t have a good coach until Green came. He’s changing a lot of things here, which is good.”

Stability, consistency and continuity are the three most important things for him as a coach, Green said. It is important to him to always be honest with the players and for people to look on the field and see a team playing with integrity and class.

Players are embracing the new culture change Green is bringing to the team. Junior pitcher Hayden Rosenkrantz said the culture change has affected the team’s morale.

“We got guys 100 percent invested in the team, which is cool,” Rosenkrantz said.

The team is already battling with opponents this season and looks to be improved after last season’s 11-42-1 record.

For him, this was an opportunity with everything in place for him to be the first coach in 10 years to win 30 games and make postseason, Green said.

“That’s what makes me tick. That’s what gets me out of bed every day … That’s my personality,” Green said. “I’ve got a little bit of the little man’s complex, and I love that runt mentality.”