The first head coach in RiverSharks team history is one that brings a long history of player development at the collegiate and professional levels, in alignment with the Midwest Professional Basketball Association’s mission to help players reach the next level in their careers.
Al Grushkin, of Jonesboro, Arkansas, takes over the reins effective immediately, the team announced today.
“I’m excited to join the MPBA, especially in St Louis,” Grushkin said. “I spent some time here as a boy, and I’ve always loved the city—especially the Cardinals—so I look forward to coming here.”
Grushkin cut his coaching teeth as an assistant at the University of Tulsa and the University of Arkansas under Nolan Richardson in the 1980’s before moving on to Western Illinois, Idaho State and the University of Texas-San Antonio in the 1990’s. In 2000, he landed his first head coaching job at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, where he led the Cardinals to the NCAA Division II Regional Semi-Finals and a top-20 ranking in 2002.
Upon leaving Incarnate Word, Grushkin became First Assistant and then Interim Head Coach at Arkansas State in 2006. Then, in 2008, Grushkin joined Marty Blake & Associates NBA Scouting as a regional scout covering Conference USA, the Sun Belt, the SEC, and the Ohio Valley Conference. In 2009, while continuing to work with Marty Blake & Associates, Grushkin became a consultant with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies.
In 2010, Grushkin was named Head Coach at Indiana Institute of Technology in Ft. Wayne, where he led the team to three consecutive 20-win seasons, with fourteen wins over top-25 teams, and an upset of the #1 defending NAIA national champions in his first year at the helm. His Indiana Tech teams were consistently ranked in the national top 25, and boasted the #1-ranked defense in the nation in 2011.
“We are thrilled to have a coach with the background and qualifications of Coach Al Grushkin,” said Tim Padgett, general manager for the RiverSharks. “His proven ability to develop and improve the skill-set of basketball talent will tremendously benefit our players. Furthermore, his work with Marty Blake and Associates as well as time spent consulting with the Memphis Grizzlies will serve to enhance the contact base of the MPBA within professional basketball,” Padgett said.
Grushkin’s coaching style relies on intensity, especially on the defensive end. “Our teams will defend every night, play extremely hard, and play together to create an exciting style that fans will enjoy watching,” Grushkin said.