At Tarleton State, head coach Lonn Reisman’s list of responsibilities includes his role as athletics director, a challenge that makes Chris’ role with the program even more important.
Chris, the team’s associate head coach, played point guard for his father for four years, serving as an extension of his father on the court before starting his coaching career as a Tarleton State graduate assistant. Reisman never handed him anything so Chris had to work his way to his current role step by step.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that Chris has the ability to be a head coach,” Reisman said. “He has a lot of head coaching ability because I’m also the athletics director. If I’m busy running an athletics department there are a lot of things that he does that is way above being a typical assistant coach. He works on budgets, has the ability to make the final call on recruiting and has the ability to run the basketball program, which is a real relief to me when I’m dealing with other issues.
“He’s only 28 years old and that’s pretty young but he has the mind of a coach who’s been in this a lot longer. He has a basketball savvy and IQ that’s way above his years right now.”
Of course, that means Chris also has his own ideas about the way things should be done sometimes.
“I’m not the average assistant coach but I’m not a yes man, either,” Chris said.
“I disagree with Dad quite frequently but it’s been a good relationship and it’s been healthy for both of us. Whether we agree or disagree that bond is still there. We always have the same purpose in mind.”
Chris understands that his father has to make the final call, but Reisman has learned to listen with an open mind.
“I’ve been in this a long time - 30 years - and I really think he’s helped extend my career,” Reisman said.
“If you talked to other coaches whose sons are working with them they’d probably say the same thing. We tend not to want to change with the times. We’re stubborn and we’re set in our ways.”
For example, Reisman’s teams have rarely pressed, but with the way the shot clock has changed the game Reisman took his son’s advice and installed a press last season.
“I wasn’t really for it but at the regional we were down against Central Missouri by 11 points with about six minutes left. We got in our press and we won,” Reisman said. “In the finals to go to the Elite Eight last year we were down to Northwest Missouri State by about 10-11 points and we got in our press and we won.
“He had the insight that we needed to do this. If I hadn’t given him a chance we wouldn’t have made it to the Elite Eight last year. When you have the trust and loyalty of someone like your son, you tend to listen more. He’s helped me open and change more.”
Folks at Tarleton State suspect Chris will make an excellent choice to replace his father when Reisman finally chooses to retire. In the meantime, Chris is where he wants to be - coaching basketball with his father.
“The program is something my dad has helped build and I feel like I’ve helped, too,” Chris said. “I’ve been here for 10 years - four as a player and six as a coach. We’ve had some special times here.
“My fiance’s been great about it because even when I go home my dad will call and say, ‘hey, do you want to go out to dinner.’ Then we’ll go to dinner with Dad’s wife and my fiance and they just sit there while we talk basketball. I’m sure they would rather us talk about anything else but that’s just who we are.”