BOZEMAN, Mont. – Montana State University head coach Danny Sprinkle took a step towards solidifying his staff ahead of his first season leading the men’s basketball program. Sprinkle announced Thursday, April 25, that veteran coach Shawn Dirden will join the staff as an assistant and Chris Haslam remains on staff in his current assistant role.
Dirden makes a return to Bozeman as part of the Montana State staff for the third time in his coaching career. Dirden spent the previous three seasons as the head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State. The Rangers compiled a 42-42 overall record under Dirden’s watch, including a 22-7 campaign during the 2017-18 season. That overall mark was the fifth best in the program’s history and featured the Rangers’ first postseason berth as an NCAA Division II team.
“I’m just extremely blessed and excited to return to MSU,” Dirden said. “This is both a great career opportunity and personal opportunity because of my family and our experience in Bozeman. It’s one of the best places we’ve ever lived. The people, the fans, the college, the community, it’s a place that holds a deep place in our hearts.
“With Danny I have played against him, worked with him and made it a point to stay connected to him. I’m looking forward to working as hard as I can to help him and the Bobcat program reach new heights. I’m excited about our staff and to work again with all the great athletic department staff members and coaches throughout MSU.”
Before becoming head coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State, Dirden completed stints as an assistant at MSU, South Dakota and North Dakota. Dirden previously served as a member of the Montana State coaching staff from 2004-06 and 2012-14. He spent one year at South Dakota prior to his second stop in Bozeman. Dirden worked on the North Dakota staff before his first experience as a college head coach, where he contributed to UND’s rise in the win column, improving from 8-22 to 17-16 overall during a two-year span.
In over 10 years of collegiate coaching experience, Dirden has aided in a variety of roles. He’s served as recruiting coordinator at both the high school and junior college levels. He’s also been in charge of player development and overseen scouting and development of game plans.
Dirden’s coaching career began in his hometown of Denver where he served as head coach at George Washington High School from 2002-05. During that time, he operated an AAU squad and Focus on Basketball, a Denver youth organization. His next stop came as an assistant at Indian Hills Community College.
Dirden’s coaching career began following his college and professional basketball experience. Direden played overseas in Holland, Sweden, China, Lebanon and Venezuala for several years. He was MVC Donar (Holland) Team MVP in 2001-02. Dirden spent his first two years in the college ranks at Otero Junior College before competing in two successful seasons as a standout forward at the University of Idaho. He started 46 of his 54 games played at Idaho and scored 596 points, averaging 11.0 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Dirden holds a bachelor’s degree from Idaho in secondary education.
The son of former NFL player Johnnie Dirden, Shawn Dirden and his wife Sierra have a son, Damien, and daughter, Taylor.
“I worked with Shawn and I loved every minute of it,” Sprinkle said. “I thought he did a tremendous job relating to the student-athletes. He can sit on the phone with a kid for two hours. He loves the relationship part and he was one of the best skill development guys that I ever worked with in my 19 years as an assistant.
“I think he’s going to be very beneficial to our student-athletes. He’s not only invested on the court in their development, but he takes pride in developing them off the court.”
Haslam has spent the previous six seasons on the Bobcat coaching staff and will retain his position in Sprinkle’s inaugural campaign as head coach.
The England native has mentored Montana State’s big men over the course of six seasons while helping bring European talent to the MSU program. Prior to his coaching career, Haslam played at Wyoming and started most of his sophomore and junior seasons before injuries limited him to 18 games as a senior. After completing his career as a Cowboy in 1997, Haslam enjoyed a 13-year professional career in Greece, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Great Britain. Haslam played for the British national team for 10 years.
Haslam coached at Lamar Community College in Colorado from 2010-13. He served as a player-assistant for the professional Everton Tigers (2008-10) and as a head coach at Everton Academy (2009-10). Haslam earned his bachelor’s degree from Wyoming in 2010. He and his wife Melanie have two daughters.
“I’m very excited to keep Chris on staff,” Sprinkle said. “I’ve seen him work, seen him on the road recruiting and I’ve really respected the job he’s done. Obviously, he’s done a great job recruiting players to here. He has connections not only in the junior college ranks, but a ton of connections overseas which I think can be really beneficial to us.
“He’s really connected to Bozeman, which I love. He loves Bozeman, his daughters and wife are here, and they’re ecstatic to stay.”