The CSUN Matadors spent the past summer filling various assistant coaching vacancies.
The men’s basketball team has been the busiest, filling two vacant assistant positions and its vacant director of basketball operations position. The women’s basketball and men’s volleyball team also filled vacant positions.
Men’s basketball head coach Bobby Braswell reached into the Matadors’ past to find one of his replacements, bringing back Mike Johnson, who was on Braswell’s staff, and also added Louis Wilson and Kyle Taylor, who will serve as the director of basketball operations.
“It’s one of the oldest, more mature staffs that I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Braswell said. “They (Johnson, Taylor and Wilson) all bring a lot of credibility, but also bring a wealth of experience that we think is going to benefit our players this year.”
Matador fans who recall Johnson remember him as a long-time assistant at CSUN from 1992 to 2001. Johnson was also Braswell’s associate head coach from 1998 to 2001, when the Matadors were a rising force in the Big Sky Conference. CSUN’s rise culminated in 2001 when the Matadors won the Big Sky tournament on its home court, defeating Eastern Washington 73-58.
“He knows our system and the way we do things,” Braswell said.
Johnson worked with the post players during his first stint with the Matadors, trying to perfect the skills of Brian Heinle and Jeff Parris, and his role will be the same this time around. Braswell said Johnson will also be in charge of the Matadors’ offense and the day-to-day operations in the office.
“It just feels like I’ve come full circle and I’m really happy to be back,” Johnson said.
Louis Wilson also joins Braswell’s staff for the upcoming year. Wilson had previously spent time at Idaho State and Idaho. Braswell said Wilson will handle the defensive side of the ball and also work with the Matador guards.
The women’s basketball team also added to its staff with the hiring of Monica Maxwell. Maxwell will assist head coach Staci Schulz on the defensive side of the ball, recruiting and scouting and working with the Matador guards.
“She is a high-level competitor,” Schulz said of Maxwell. “She’s played in very high levels in the guard position, so she will bring the most experience to that position than we’ve ever had.”
Maxwell comes from Tulane University, where she spent last season as an assistant coach. Maxwell played at Louisiana Tech from 1995 to 1999 averaging 10.4 points per game. Maxwell also played five seasons in the WNBA and also enjoyed a fine rookie campaign in 2000, averaging 10 points a game. Maxwell replaces Margo Clark, who left to pursue interests outside basketball.
“I’m excited about it,” Maxwell said of her position at CSUN. “I think it will be a great opportunity for me to grow and to learn and to have some fun. I think we have a great staff here, so I’m excited, excited to get started.”
Men’s volleyball head coach Jeff Campbell also had to fill a vacancy, and like Braswell, he too dug into the Matadors’ past, hiring Jeff Conover to fill the position held by Dan Conners, who left to become the top assistant coach for the UCLA women’s volleyball team.
“We’re very excited because he’s already seen what it takes to be successful,” Campbell said. “He knows the commitment level and he can come in here and really step in.”
Conover was a two-year setter for the Matadors from 2003-2005. Conover averaged 12 assists in 2005 and was a major contributor for the Matadors that season, as they went 19-14, defeated Stanford in the opening round of the Mountain-Pacific Sports Federation and pulled off a major upset the following round, as they erased a two-game deficit and came from game-point to shock No. 2 UCLA at Pauley Pavilion.
Like Johnson, Wilson and Maxwell, Conover is also excited about the opportunity to be a coach at Cal State Northridge.