Hoffman Happy To Be Home

In college sports, it can be hard to leave your stamp on a program at any level lower than division one. That is simply the truth because everyone at any level below that wants to work their way up to that level. As much as you can still make lasting and significant bonds with teammates and coaches at the lower level, many come into a situation like that knowing they have aspirations of getting to the highest level. Especially when you have been at the division one level at one point, and had to go to a lower division for one reason or another. Because of this, often times you have individuals who leave their stamp on a program at multiple levels. Cam Newton with Blinn College (JUCO) and Auburn. Aaaron Rodgers with Butte Community College (JUCO) and Cal. The list goes on and on across all sports. Not just players though, coaches as well. Also not just on the football field, but on the hardwood too.

When thinking of college basketball coaches, there are some obvious famous ones that come to mind. Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewkski, John Wooden, Jim Boheim, just to name a few. However, often times some of the best basketball minds do not receive the recognition they deserve, simply because of where they are coaching. You see it even at the division one level with some of the small schools. It is for sure apparent below that though. But there are so many coaches leaving their mark on a program in a good way that deserve recognition, and one of those coaches is University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) men’s basketball coach Bob Hoffman.

Hoffman, who has been head coach since 2019, took over a program that really lacked in a lot of areas, and turned them into one of the more consistent NCAA division two programs. Before UCO though, there were a lot of pitstops on the way to Edmond, OK. Hoffman is actually an Oklahoma native growing up in Oklahoma City and playing high school basketball at Putnam City High School. Following his high school playing days, Hoffman attended Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU) where he spent four years on the basketball team there. He scored over 1,000 points in his time playing (1,017 to be exact). After his playing days were over, Hoffman transitioned to coaching as an assistant coach at OBU before taking his first head coaching job as the head women’s basketball coach at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, OK. It was a successful first stop as he would go 88-16 over a three-year stretch at SNU and lead them to their first ever NAIA national title.

Following that, Hoffman returned to his alma mater where he would be the head coach for the next ten years, reaching the NAIA National Tournament six out of those ten years. Although he would have two teams make the championship game, Hoffman never won a title coaching at OBU. After his time at OBU, Hoffman spent some time as an assistant coach at Oklahoma, and even took a hiatus from coaching college ball to go coach for the ABA’s Arkansas Aeros and NBA development team, the Rio Grande Valley Club. Hoffman then returned to college basketball, where he would leave his mark at the division one level with Mercer. During his time there, Hoffman led Mercer to their first ever NCAA tournament win. A first round upset that shocked the college basketball world. One of six trips Mercer made to the tournament with Hoffman at the helm.

Certainly a storied a career thus far to say the least, but Hoffman is in a position now at UCO where he could be looking to make his mark on a program yet again. While UCO has won over 1,200 games in their history and has 17 national tournament appearances, they have never been able to call themselves national champions. Many former players believe that time may be coming though, and they credit that to the job Hoffman has done. One player that feels that way is former UCO forward Camryn Givens.

“Coach Hoffman was 100% the reason I transferred to UCO” said Givens. “I remember pretty much having my mind made up once me and him got off our first phone call. That feeling was felt even more when I came to campus for the first time. Just kind of like ‘yea this is the place for me.’”

Prior to coming to UCO, Givens played his freshman year at Grayson college in Texas. He credits Hoffman’s leadership skills as one of the main reasons he chose UCO.

“His demeanor man” said Givens. “Best way I describe it is he always knows the right reaction for each situation as a leader. He knows when to stay calm, and also when to turn it up a notch. He just always seems to make the right judgment call in that regard.”

Givens is not the only player who felt how important Hoffman is to the program. Even those who did not spend as long as Givens playing for him can speak good on his behalf. One of those players being former UCO guard Ashford Golden. Golden had some life troubles prior to his transfer to UCO but credits coach Hoffman and the UCO staff for allowing him a second chance.

“I hit a few road bumps on my way to UCO” said Golden. “I won’t go into details, but I made some bad decisions following my freshman year that kept me away from basketball. After that time period, I thought basketball was done for me. Coach Hoffman had other ideas. And let me tell you, it’s not like he just brushed it under the rug. He made it very clear that behavior like that would not be tolerated and I heard him loud and clear. I stayed out of trouble during my time there and I can’t thank him enough for the second chance.”

Even following the second chance, UCO still was not a good fit for Golden, who would end up transferring after just one season at UCO. However, he credits Hoffman for his playing days continuing after UCO.

“I genuinely was done mentally. He’s actually the reason I kept playing basketball after UCO. He has such a passion for the game it is contagious. And that passion reminded me of my passion as a kid. He talked with me and just reminded me my love for the game. I ended up playing one final season at MACU (Mid-America Christian University) and I’m so thankful I did.”

Coach Hoffman certainly gets a lot of praise from people pretty much everywhere he has been. However, only one man can really know why Hoffman has been able to consistently have success wherever he goes, and that is Hoffman himself.

“Obsessed” said Hoffman.  “That’s really the one word I would use to describe my coaching style. It’s honestly not really even with just coaching though. I pride myself on not doing anything without 100% effort. I’m like that with everything I care about in life. Family, Basketball, faith, all of it. For the things I care about, I’m all in.”

To go on the journey Hoffman has been on, you have to nothing short of obsessed with what you do. To start over that many times, and consistently be able to take programs to the top is something that is worth all of the praise from former players of his. When players have good things to say about a coach that have nothing to do with the game itself, that just shows how much of an influence that coach had. Hoffman seems to have the best of both worlds in terms of basketball knowledge and just general life knowledge. Something you won’t always get from a coach.

“You know ultimately, I’m happy that my journey has brought me back to Oklahoma. Born and raised here, so I always considered it ‘home’. I still have a lot of my family here, so it is nice seeing them more often than I have been used to in the past. But I wouldn’t trade my experiences elsewhere for the world. I learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way. Lessons that play a part in the success we have had thus far here [at UCO].”

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *