Drury Basketball Camps
Steve Hesser has established the Drury men's basketball program as an annual contender for both Great Lakes Valley Conference and NCAA-II honors in his eight seasons at the Panthers' helm.
Hesser owns a 164-71 mark in his time at Drury, a .698 winning percentage that ranks among the top in the nation and in Drury's storied basketball history. His Panthers have won 20 or more games in six of his eight seasons and captured at least a share of four GLVC West titles in seven seasons as a league member.
But more importantly, Hesser has guided the Panthers into NCAA Division II Tournament field five times in the last seven seasons, including a 2010-11 campaign in which seventh-seeded Drury opened eyes immediately by knocking off second-seed Southern Indiana 65-64 in the first round of the Midwest Regional to reach the regional semifinals (and national round of 32) for the first time in Hesser's tenure at DU.
Hesser's top season at DU came in 2007-08, when his Panthers compiled a 25-5 overall mark and won their only GLVC championship, a run of league success that continues to this day.
Hesser's GLVC regular season mark since the Panthers joined the prestigious 16-team league is now 86-42 (.672 winning percentage), which includes a 45-38 record on the GLVC road (.542).
Hesser's Panthers also have continued their tradition of success at home in the new, 3,100-seat O'Reilly Family Event Center, where a 12-3 mark this past season - including an upset of previously unbeaten and nationally eighth-ranked Northern Kentucky - pushed DU's record to 26-4 in the two-year-old arena, one of the finest in the country.
Hesser's squads finished with a 78-13 record in his six seasons in Weiser Gym before the move, giving Drury a 104-17 mark - an .868 winning percentage - when Hesser's on the home bench with the Panthers.
Drury's winning ways have continued along much the same path as Hesser took when he fashioned a stellar coaching career at Springfield's Glendale High School before taking over the Panthers in 2004-05.
The results make it clear that the former long-time high school coach has had no problems getting young athletes at the next step to understand that basketball is basketball, whatever the level.Then again, that’s what then-Drury athletic director Dr. Edsel Matthews believed all along when he tabbed Hesser as the 19th head coach in the history of Panthers’ basketball in the spring of 2004, after the latter had put together a lengthy, successful run at Glendale.
His five-year stint with the Falcons produced a 14-12 mark in his initial campaign, then a stretch where Glendale won an average of 21 games over the next four seasons. But Hessser’s run of coaching success started long before he arrived in Springfield, which explains why in 2007, the Stillwater, Okla. native was elected into the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Most of his most famed work was done as head coach during a seven-year run at Bartlesville High School, where his teams won state titles in 1989, 1991 and 1992 and twice earned state Coach of the Year honors for Hesser. His Bartlesville teams also finished second in the state in 1988 and made the state quarterfinals in 1986 and 1990. He also coached the prep programs at Pauls Valley and Stillwater, leading the latter to four conference titles and two state tournament appearances in six seasons. His prep coaching record in Oklahoma was 262-142, including a 147-47 mark at Bartlesville.
As a result, Hesser was enshrined into the Bartlesville Sports Hall of Fame in October of 2011.
Hesser, a 1980 Oklahoma State University graduate, also picked up valuable college experience early in his career as an assistant coach for one season with Billy Tubbs at the University of Oklahoma for one season before he accepted the job at Bartlesville.
After the 1992 state championship campaign, he decided to return to the college ranks to serve as an assistant coach to Jim Kerwin - his high school coach - at NCAA Division I Western Illinois University, before a family illness led him back home to take the job at his alma mater, Stillwater High School. There, his Stillwater teams won four conference titles and made two state tournament appearances in six seasons before Hesser moved to Springfield to accept the Glendale position, where his Falcons annually ranked among the best teams in the Ozark Conference and southwest Missouri.
As a player, Hesser was a two-sport standout at Stillwater High, excelling in both basketball and football. He started his college playing career in both sports at New Mexico Military Academy before moving on to finish his college education, and playing days, at the University of Central Oklahoma.
His playing career ultimately cut short by a leg injury, Hesser finished his undergraduate degree work at Oklahoma State, then earned his master’s degree in secondary education from Oklahoma in 1985.
Hesser and his wife, Patti, have one son; Tyler is a Drury graduate and former a student assistant basketball coach for the Panthers who now is an accountant in Springfield.