SLIPPERY ROCK — The Slippery Rock University men’s basketball team saw its long-time head coach Kevin Reynolds suspended prior to the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
With vague speculation to the reasoning behind the suspension, The Rock turned to nine-year assistant coach and Cranberry Township resident Ian Grady to step in as acting head coach while the university sorted things out.
“I think there are difficulties all the time, especially when change happens,” Grady said of his transition from assistant to head coach. “It’s never really smooth. You kind of do it on the fly and make adjustments. I enjoy coaching this group and working with them on a daily basis.”
On Jan. 25, the university officially parted ways with Reynolds and in mid-February the interim tag was removed from Grady.
Grady now carries the title of head coach of SRU men’s basketball.
He came to SRU prior to the 2009-10 season, after finishing his collegiate playing career at Fairmont State University, where he averaged 7.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game during his senior year.
He left Fairmont State with a bachelor’s degree in business, and completed his masters degree in sport management in 2011 at Slippery Rock University.
Grady settled in Cranberry Township.
“I like the area, I love the school, the university, the town here in Slippery Rock,” Grady said. “It means the world to me, so I bleed green and white. The surrounding area of Western Pennsylvania is beautiful, Cranberry is a nice area, but I think the community here in Slippery Rock, the people who work at the university and the student body is what makes this place something special.”
Grady’s first taste of head coaching was a bit rocky.
Early in the season, The Rock hit a few bumps, compiling a 1-4 record.
Grady, who was installed as the interim head coach only a few weeks before the season tipped off, said that was part of the reason for the slow start.
“We didn’t have enough practice time and scrimmages against the other teams to fix things,” Grady said. “There was a bit of rust so to speak, but that first weekend the guys played very hard and we had late leads in those games. We had to look ourselves in the mirror and see who we are and get an identity as a team.”
SRU kick-started a 12-game win streak that lasted nearly two months. The winning streak included a 74-69 upset win over then No. 3-ranked Indiana (Pa.).
SRU ended its season with a 19-10 overall record, and 16-5 in the PSAC.