Tom Saltzstein has been named the new boys basketball coach at Tempe, he said Friday.
Saltzstein was an assistant coach at Mountain Pointe this past season and had been an assistant with Phoenix College the two years prior.
He replaces Paul Long, who went 18-8 in his one season at the helm. Long resigned after the season to spend more time with his family.
It is Saltzstein’s first head coaching gig since 2009-10. He led Mesquite to a 25-5 record and the Central Region tournament title that season but was forced to resign in March.
He said the presence of principal Mark Yslas and athletic director Shelly Arredondo drew him to the Tempe opening.
“I’m very excited,” Saltzstein said. “What appealed to me was their administration. They’re very supportive.”
The Buffaloes return seven of their top eight scorers from a season ago.
Leading scorer Delano Jones (15.8 points per game) and Emanuel Gant (13.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.3 steals, 3.5 assists) are only sophomores.
Saltzstein’s teams at Mesquite liked to play pressure defense and push the tempo, and he expects to run the same style at Tempe.
“I definitely think the style is predicated on the student-athletes in your program,” Saltzstien said. “One thing I believe we’ll be fortunate to have is (that type of player).”
Saltzstein said he learned a lot as an assistant coach the past three years but is looking forward to head coaching again.
“I had a phenomenal time working with Aaron (Windler) and the previous two years with Matt Gordon at Phoenix College,” he said. “They allowed me the opportunity to teach the game and work with kids. It’s what I love to do. The only difference (as head coach) is being the decision-maker instead of the one giving suggestions. I think everyone enjoys being the decision-maker.”
Saltzstein has not yet met with the team but expects to early next week. He currently teaches at Compadre High but would like to get on campus at Tempe for next season.