Jerod Haase, FInal Four go hand in hand |

Jerod Haase, FInal Four go hand in hand

What Jerod Haase worked so tirelessly for as a college basketball player back in the 1990s has become commonplace for the University of North Carolina assistant coach.

While playing under Roy Williams from 1994-97, the Kansas Jayhawks were repeatedly stopped short of the Final Four. But since the former South Lake Tahoe resident became part of Williams’ coaching staff at Kansas and now at UNC, making the Final Four has become routine.

In the past eight seasons, including eight with the Tar Heels, Williams and his assistant coaches have gone to five Final Fours. In 2005, the Tar Heels won 33 of 37 games and won the NCAA title. This weekend, the Tar Heels will try to win another championship.

North Carolina (32-4) will meet Villanova (30-7) at 5:47 p.m. Saturday in the national semifinals. The winner will play either Michigan State or Connecticut in Monday’s national championship.

During the 10-year period that Haase has been on Williams’ staff, those Kansas and North Carolina teams have combined to win 287 of 353 games (81.3 percent).

Because Williams’ staff has remained intact, Haase and C.B. McGrath, a former Kansas teammate, have rotated the bench assistant position. This season, Haase has handled the administrative and team duties as the director of basketball operations.

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“There’s nothing you can give him that he can’t do,” Williams said about his former player in the school’s media guide. “If you put him in charge of camp, he’ll do a great job. If you put him in the gym with a 6-year-old, he’ll do a great job. Our players love him, and he’s as competitive a kid as I’ve ever been around. He’s the only player I’ve ever coached who I thought hurt as badly as I did when we lost, and that includes 10 years as an assistant here.”

Haase, who celebrated his 35th birthday on Wednesday, said before the season that he has learned to control a competitive streak that went all the way back to his playing days at South Tahoe High School. During his final two years at STHS, the Vikings advanced to the Nevada state championship, winning the school’s last title in 1992.

“I think I’ve grown as a person,” commented Haase in the Tar Heels’ media guide. “When I was young, I’d be miserable no matter what game it was if I lost. I was so competitive that it was destructive. Now, I’m just competitive in the things that I work at. If I go play ping-pong right now and lose, I’m pretty low key. But if I put a lot of work into something, like this basketball team, I take it hard. The more you invest in it, the more it feels good if you win, and the more you hurt if you lose.”