SUNY Potsdam Athletic Director James Zalacca has announced James Bechtel as the Bears men’s basketball program’s 10th head coach. Bechtel comes to SUNY Potsdam after building a strong program at SUNY Canton. He has NCAA Division I, II and III experience.
“Jim’s proven success and experience as a head coach clearly separated him from an otherwise extremely strong pool of candidates,” said Zalacca. “He has demonstrated an ability to establish strong relationships not only with his athletes, both current and former, but also with the campus at large. His knowledge of the game is outstanding. His passion for teaching the game and recruiting high caliber student-athletes is unparalleled and his energy and work ethic are infectious. We’re thrilled to have Jim join our team and look forward to him beginning his work with our program. ”
Bechtel spent the last four seasons coaching the Kangaroos, overseeing the program’s transition into the Division III ranks. Canton posted a 54-36 record for a .600 winning percentage under his leadership. Bechtel’s Roos broke out this season with a 20-4 mark, the most by a Canton team in 30 years.
“I’m very honored and humbled to be chosen as the next head men’s basketball coach at SUNY Potsdam,” Bechtel said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead such a storied program and compete in the SUNYAC conference. I look forward to building a program that the Potsdam community is proud of.”
Before joining the Kangaroos, Bechtel spent two seasons across town as the assistant coach and strength and conditioning coordinator for St. Lawrence University. With his tutelage, the Saints defense thrived, finishing 2011-12 in the top five for all defensive categories in the Liberty League.
Bechtel began his basketball coaching career as the graduate assistant for Division I Coastal Carolina in 2004-05. He spent the next three seasons as an assistant coach and assistant director of summer camps at Susquehanna University. There he helped the Crusaders capture the 2008 Landmark Conference regular season championship. His last stop before the North Country was a two-year stint as the assistant coach for Division II Shepherd University from 2008-10. Bechtel also served as the assistant strength and conditioning coach and an academic counselor at his alma mater Penn State from 2000-2002. With the Nittany Lions he was responsible for monitoring the academic progress of the football and men’s basketball teams throughout the year.
During his 16-year collegiate coaching career, Bechtel has recruited and coached nine All-Americans, multiple all-conference selections as well as a conference player of the year and rookie of the year.
Bechtel earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Penn State in 2000 and a master’s in advanced level coaching from Springfield College in 2006.
Photo Courtesy SUNY Potsdam Athletics