Clarksville, Ark.-Matt O'Connor has been named Head Men's Basketball Coach at the University of the Ozarks.
O’Connor, 32, brings an impressive resume which includes stints as an Associate Head Coach and an Assistant Coach at the NCAA II and NCAA III level. O’Connor, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, held the Associate Head Coaching position at Colorado School of the Mines (NCAA II) in Golden, Colorado last season. O’Connor helped the Miners reach the conference tournament for the first time in three seasons with a 12-14 record a year ago. He also served as an assistant at CSM from 1998-2000. Under the direction of O’Connor, the Miners steadily improved and produced three all-conference players during his stay. Previous to CSM, O’Connor was the Assistant Coach at NCAA III powerhouse Maryville College in Knoxville, Tennessee from 1995-1998. Maryville had a 53-23 record with O’Connor as an assistant. He was later appointed Junior Varsity Head Coach for the 1997-1998 season. O’Connor has also coached at the High School level at Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tennessee where he served as an assistant coach from 1994-1995. "I was attracted to University of the Ozarks for several reasons," said O’Connor. "I was impressed with the commitment from the administration towards athletics. Everyone from Dr. Niece (President) to Coach Jones (Athletics Director) were very supportive of the athletic programs. University of the Ozarks is certainly a school on the rise, both academically and athletically. I also think the Clarksville area is beautiful." O’Connor will continue to promote an up-tempo style that Eagles’ fans have been accustom to for more than 10 years. "We want to play up-tempo basketball and push the ball up the court. Defensively, we will play man-to-man defense and take people out of their offensive sets. Our defensive style will set the tempo for our offensive game. And we will be a hard working team." O’Connor received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Davidson College in North Carolina and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Tennessee. "We are very pleased to have Matt as our Men’s Basketball Coach. One of the things that our search committee stressed is the importance of having a strong recruiter. Matt has proved himself as a strong recruiter during his time at Colorado School of the Mines and Maryville College. He will bring in quality student-athletes who can succeed in the classroom and on the court. I think he will bring a lot of positive ideas with him and we feel like he will continue the success in Eagles basketball. We are happy he and his wife Gina will be part of the Ozarks family," said Athletics Director Jack Jones. O’Connor was one of 98 applicants who applied for the position. "I was very pleased with the number and quality of applicants we received, especially for an NCAA III school. We had 98 coaches apply and that is a reflection of the athletic department, the university and the community," said Jones. O’Connor replaces Johnny Johnson, who coached at Ozarks for 11 years and accepted a job as athletics director of the Little Rock School District in June. The Eagles return one starter and several lettermen from last season’s team that earned a berth in the American Southwest Conference Tournament.