Basketball at Nevada is getting a makeover, as both the varsity boys and girls will be bringing in a new head coach for the 2018-19 season.
Tyler Struck is coming over from Beatrice High School in Nebraska to take over the Nevada boys’ basketball program. Jordan Bentley will be the new Nevada girls’ head basketball coach, after coaching stints at Turkey Valley, West Marshall and Washington.
“It isn’t often that schools replace both the girls’ and boys’ basketball jobs in one season,” Nevada Athletic Director Dustin Smith said. “Having both positions open gave us a great candidate pool to select from as we set up interviews. Since both are new, I will work closely with both coaches to get their feet on the ground. Afterwards, we believe that we will have a lot of exciting boys’ and girls’ games in the Nevada High School Fieldhouse for years to come!”
Struck is a disciple of current Creighton and former UNI and Iowa State head men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott. He was a graduate assistant coach and administrative assistant at UNI from 2003-06.
At Beatrice, a Class B school in Nebraska, Struck went 105-37 over six seasons. His teams won four straight River Cities Conference titles and reached state in both 2013-14 and 2014-15.
“I worked with Greg for years and I’m a big believer in that you have to be flexible and see what the strengths of your kids are,” Struck said. “I want to get kids in positions where they can be successful. I want them to get as good a shot as they can get and use the team to get those kinds of opportunities.”
Nevada High School Principal Kody Asmus has a longstanding relationship with Struck, who will also teach physical education at Nevada. They’ve known each other since middle school — Asmus is best friends with Struck’s cousin Jake — and they coached football together at NU High in Cedar Falls from 2005-09, where Asmus was also the AD.
“I have followed Tyler’s career after we went our separate ways from NU High in 2009-10, and have always been impressed with his demeanor, both on and off the court/field,” Asmus said. “His ability to connect with kids and develop a sense of family amongst his players have always been qualities of Tyler’s that I have admired.”
“His teams are known for playing hard, being fundamentally sound, and prepared for each and every game,” Asmus said. “The exciting thing for us is that in doing our research about Tyler in the classroom, he is an even better PE teacher. So, this is truly a win-win for us. Not because I know him or know the quality of his teaching/coaching, but because other people around the states of Nebraska and Iowa are seeing and saying the same thing, based off of their first-hand experiences with Tyler. “
Struck said he heard a lot of great things about Nevada from Asmus, which helped lure him in, along with his wife Lindsey and their three-year-old daughter Sadie. He is also impressed with the dedication the Nevada community has shown to its high school athletic programs.
“There has been a lot of athletic success at Nevada,” Struck said. “Hopefully I can take (boys’ basketball) to that next level like a lot of the other programs have been able to do.”
One of the programs to reach that next level at Nevada is girls’ basketball.
Under the direction of Kristin Meyer and Tony Neubauer, the Cub girls put together quite a run over the last six years. They’ve won five straight Heart of Iowa Conference titles, made six-consecutive trips to the regional finals, reached the state tournament three times and won a Class 3A state championship during that time frame.
“Definitely one of the drawing factors for me was how successful they’ve been the past five to six years,” Bentley said. “I coached at West Marshall and had an idea of what the Nevada program was about.”
Bentley and his fiancé, Hailee Halverson, arrived at Nevada from Washington, where he coached from 2015-18. Prior to Washington, Bentley was the head coach at Turkey Valley from 2009-12, leading the Trojans to a regional final in 2012, and an assistant coach at West Marshall from 2012-15, where he also was the head softball coach and an assistant coach in cross country.
“When a successful head coach (Neubauer) and the school’s leading scorer and rebounder (Lexy Koudelka) are departing the program, you need to find a coach that is the right fit,” Smith said. “We believe that Jordan Bentley is that coach. Jordan has been the head coach at two schools, successful at building programs from the ground up. With the departure of a stellar senior group, Jordan will get an opportunity to showcase his program-building skills in Nevada, with an experienced group that will need to play new and different roles than they did in the past.”
Bentley said he plans on taking things he learned in all of his previous head coaching stints and applying them at Nevada. He wants to get after it defensively and run the floor.
“We will press a lot (and) I love transition, so those are the opportunities I’m going to look for,” Bentley said. “But we are also going to have to find a way to score when the game slows.”
Losing four-time all-state performer and Illinois State recruit in Koudelka and jack-of-all-trades post Hattie Rhodes presents Bentley with an immediate challenge at Nevada. But it is one he is looking forward to facing.
“There is still a good core group of girls that knows what Nevada basketball is all about,” Bentley said. “It’s a team and school that continues to grow and a program that’s established itself as one of the best in 3A. That excites me.”
Bentley, a 2011 Upper Iowa graduate, said he plans on going back to school to add additional endorsements to his teaching license. At Nevada, he will be an associate either at the high school or elementary.