When the Crusader men’s basketball players arrive on campus this coming weekend ready to start a new school year, they’ll make new friends, meet new professors, and take on new challenges.
But Northwest Nazarene men’s basketball players won’t have to wonder about a new head coach as NNU athletic director Kelli Lindley took the interim tag off Paul Rush’s title, naming him as the new head men’s basketball coach for the Crusaders.
Rush, the top assistant and recruiting coordinator for the Crusaders the past two seasons, takes over after former NNU head man Scott Flemming announced his resignation on July 31 to become the Senior Director for Basketball Operations for NBA India.
“I have learned so much from Coach Flemming over the last two years and I am thankful for the opportunity he gave me here at NNU,” Rush commented. “His depth of knowledge and experience allowed me to learn and grow as a young coach at the college level.”
“It is so incredible to see how God has worked to put me in this position,” Rush added. “It is so clear to me it is not from my strength or capabilities but His plan.”
Working alongside Flemming, Rush helped lead NNU to a 20-32 overall record the past two seasons, including a tie for sixth-place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference last winter.
“As an assistant coach here at NNU, Paul has been a tireless recruiter who pours himself into every facet of collegiate coaching,” NNU’s athletic director said. “Beyond that, it has been obvious that Paul cares deeply about his players, investing in their academic, spiritual, and personal growth.”
“The opportunity to work for Northwest Nazarene University, with the incredible leadership we have with Kelli Lindley and President Pearsall is so exciting,” Rush added. “I love the challenge of building a program here at NNU. The young men currently here are special and we are going to build the culture of our program around loving each other, holding each other to a high standard and learning how to respond to adversity together.”
Named interim head coach last month, Rush now returns to a role as head coach, but for the first time at the collegiate level.
Prior to joining NNU’s staff in the summer of 2015, Rush spent six years as the head coach for 5A powerhouse Capital High School in Boise, Idaho.
In 2014, Rush’s Capital boys basketball team completed an undefeated season and claimed the Idaho 5A State Championship. His 2015 team followed that historic performance with a third-place finish in the 5A state tournament.
“As a head coach, Paul is a proven winner who has shown he can develop a championship team,” Lindley said. “I am confident Paul has the qualities needed to lead NNU men’s basketball to great success and make an impact in our community.”
Rush began his coaching career in 2003 as an assistant coach with the Capital HS sophomore boys basketball team, working his way up the coaching ladder and taking over as head varsity coach for the Eagles in 2009.
“The brand of basketball we will put on the court is going to be a lot of fun to watch,” Rush commented. “Our tenacity, energy and defensive toughness will become a trademark of NNU basketball. Maurice Jones is a player coming back who embodies this and we both return and have recruited some really talented playmakers which makes for an exciting group to come out and see.”
The NNU men’s basketball team begins its 2017-18 season on Friday, Nov. 10, hosting Multnomah University at 8 p.m. in the annual NNU Homecoming game.