McMurry hires new men's coach

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Jerry Isler
Jerry Isler was introduced as McMurry men's basketball coach.
McMurry athletics photo 

Jerry Isler coaches champions. And Wednesday, McMurry athletic director Ron Holmes asked Isler to carry on that legacy as he was named the 13th head men’s basketball coach in school history.

Isler will carry the program into a new War Hawks regime, but will be expected to grasp the Indian tradition of past coaches, and the highly successful basketball program that the athletic department has been known for, for decades.

The Grady, N.M., native departs Clovis (N.M.) High School, where he was the the coach for 10 seasons. There, he posted a 209-70 overall record (.749), won five district titles, made the state tournament all 10 years, and reached the state title game in 2008.

For one year at McMurry, he will be re-united with his son and former Clovis High School point guard, Jaden Isler. Isler, helped McMurry to a 21-8 record in 2010-11 under coach Matt Garnett, who stayed one season before departing last week to take the head coaching vacancy at his alma mater at Wayland Baptist.

Prior to his arrival at Clovis, he was the head women’s basketball coach at New Mexico Junior College where he was named the WJCAC Co-Coach of the Year after leading his team to a No. 1 national ranking during the regular season. He also took the team to the conference tournament.

Then, he made a three-year stop at NCAA Division I UT-Arlington where he was the women’s head coach and helped UTA reach the conference tournament two times. From there, he returned to his hometown and coached Grady High School’s boys for eight seasons. His accoladesthere included a state title in 1995 and four state championship game appearances.

At the high school level, he is the 10th all-time winningest coach in New Mexico history, and has compiled a 533-160 record between high school and college for a .769 career-win percentage.

The father-son combo helped Clovis High School reach the state championship game in 2008, and Jerry said he is excited to get to spend one more season with his son at the controls.

“I sought his advice a little bit, there’s always extra pressure when you’re the coach’s son, and I wanted to make sure he was good with it,” said Jerry. “He was excited, and it’s not something that he hasn’t done in the past, so he’ll be used to it. When he was excited, that made me even more excited.”

As far as the transition back to the college game, and the first men’s head-coaching job at the college level for Jerry Isler, he said he’s ready for the challenge.

“It really brings a lot of excitement to something that I do already; something that I love to do,” said Isler. “It’s going to be a challenge. Challenges motivate me and I’m glad to get back to that level.”

McMurry’s athletics department has and will go through transition. In March, after a four-year span without a nickname after dropping “Indians” as a result of pressure from the NCAA, McMurry named its new nickname as “War Hawks.” In December the McMurry Board of Trustees announced its intention to transition from NCAA Division III to NCAA Division II.

Holmes said finding someone who could help with the transition was one of the key factors.

“I’m excited that we’ve got coaches in every position that can take us into Division II, now to include Jerry,”said Holmes.

In addition to Jaden Isler, the starting point guard, the War Hawks will return the ASC West Division Player of the Year in Steven Jones while Bryant Taylor, Christian Scofield, Anthony Johnson, Darius Coleman, Cameron Quinton, Christopher Cerny, Mark Garza, Alfred Perez and Cameron Saville have eligibility remaining.

“I think that’s a tremendous start and that’s another thing that was appealing,” said Isler. “I followed them more closely than most people this year because I had an interest in them. I think that it’s not only a good nucleus but the freshman have developed and I think will be able to make a contribution.”