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For Concordia and His Country: BJ Alzaid's Unique Journey to Coaching
Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT
South by Southwest is not the only attraction bringing people to Austin. The Concordia University men's basketball team is one win away from the NCAA Division III Sweet 16. Three of the Tornadoes top four scorers started their careers at another school.
"We all have something in common," said Concordia's leading scorer Dwayne Patterson who transferred from Jacksonville Junior College. "We come from different schools and find a common ground."
Senior guard Nick Haynes is the only Tornadoes player averaging double-figures in points who has played more than one season in Austin.
"It's not as difficult as it looks," said Haynes. "We all communicate well. The chemistry is awesome. It just works."
Coach Stan Bonewitz is the architect of Concordia's rise to prominence. But seventh year assistant BJ Alzaid gets credit for building the roster.
"West Texas to east Texas," said Alzaid. "If it's on a Sunday, if it's a church league, I'm trying to scope it out to see if I can find players."
In charge of most of Concordia's recruiting: Coach Alzaid knows what it takes to build a winning team. He spent eight years as a member of the best team in the world - the United States Military.
"I just basically said, 'I want to serve my country," said Alzaid.
Alzaid served as a specialist for the U.S. Army Reserve. He was responsible for transporting wounded soldiers from Black Hawk helicopters to the combat support hospital. He served his country while finishing his degree at Concordia.
"I was doing drills for the Army Reserve on weekends Friday to Sunday while working at a BBQ restaurant here in town 30 hours a week," recalled Alzaid. "I was also taking classes and making phone calls to recruits. I look back now, it was all worth it."
Saturday night, the team Alzaid helped assemble can punch a ticket to its first ever NCAA Sweet 16. It's going to be a battle. But you won't hear Alzaid call it a war.
"I used to worry about bullets flying over my head and trying to figure out how we are going to get from Point A to Point B with 30 troops," said Alzaid. "The only thing we're talking about here is losses in a game."
He helped build the most decorated team in program history and helped protect the most powerful country in the world. Just one of the reasons why Concordia is turning into another Austin attraction.
by Adam Winkler