Siena Heights University is proud to announce the hiring of the school’s new men's basketball coach, Joe Pechota. Pechota will lead the Saints after seven seasons as the head coach for Brescia University, an NAIA Division II team in Owensboro, Ky.
Under Pechota's watch, the Bearcats appeared in the last two Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference finals. Pechota has also coached six NAIA All-America honorees and three NAIA Scholar-Athletes.
Prior to coaching at Brescia, Pechota was at Indiana-Fort Wayne where he graduated from assistant to associate head coach to interim head coach during his six seasons at IUFW. He was also an assistant at Ferris State for one season and at Alma for three seasons.
Pechota is no stranger to the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference; he graduated from Concordia in 1995 with a Bachelor's degree in Physical Education. In 2001, he earned a Master's degree in Sport Administration from Central Michigan.
"We believe Joe can get our program back to where we want it to be," SHU athletic director Fred Smith said, "based on his recent success at Brescia and his familiarity with the WHAC."
"I'm excited about the opportunity to be back in Michigan and back in a conference I played in," Pechota said of his hiring.
SHU Athletics has had an eventful school year -- two new facilities, three new teams, a new indoor floor and several turnaround seasons -- and Pechota now aims to turn the men's basketball program back into a powerhouse -- not only within the WHAC, but in all of the NAIA.
"I like what I see in the vision of the university and with what's going on with the athletic department," he added. "When I was a player, they (the men's basketball team) were a wrecking ball.
"I'm going to do everything that I need to do to get the program back to that level. It's a process, but I want to make our gym the place to be again."
Daniel Yatzek will coach at his alma mater for a fifth year as an assistant coach. He ended his playing career after the 2005-06 season. Yatzek will also be head coach of the SHU junior varsity men’s basketball team.
During his playing career, Yatzek provided a strong defensive threat in the middle, contributing better than a block a game during his senior year. He played in 70 games, shooting 50.3 percent from the field while pulling in 161 rebounds.
Yatzek’s best season was his last as he averaged 4.29 points per game as a senior. He is originally from Morenci, Mich., and has his bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Aaron Kleersnyder comes to the Saints after spending the past two seasons as a program assistant for NCAA Div. I Toledo (Ohio). Prior to his time with the Rockets, Kleersnyder served in various coaching capacities with the Grand Rapids Storm AAU program.
Kleersnyder has also served East Grand Rapids High School as a freshman boys’ head basketball coach and varsity assistant coach.
Kleersnyder is originally from Alto, Mich., and is a graduate of Caledonia High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in professional sales from Toledo.