University of Washington’s new men’s basketball coach Danny Sprinkle meets the news media Wednesday in Seattle. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times via AP)

University of Washington’s new men’s basketball coach Danny Sprinkle meets the news media Wednesday in Seattle. (Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times via AP)

Taking over at Washington personal for men’s basketball coach Sprinkle

Danny Sprinkle spoke about his connection to the school during his introductory press conference Wednesday.

SEATTLE — It was personal for Danny Sprinkle when, after a decade as an assistant coach, his first chance at being a head coach came at his alma mater, Montana State.

The feelings were very similar for Sprinkle after accepting the head coaching job at Washington.

“This is personal, too. And not just my dad playing here, but like all of his friends that he played with. My sister, we grew up on Husky football. We still do. We watched the national championship game,” Sprinkle said Wednesday. “They’re probably going to get mad, but I would leave some Montana State and Utah State games to go watch the Husky game. I’m a fan of Husky football and athletics like everybody else is here too. So there is a personal touch.”

Sprinkle’s affinity for Washington is tied to father Bill playing football for the Huskies in the late 1960s. His family sat in the front row Wednesday; his dad wore socks with a Washington ‘W’ on them and was chatting with Washington football coach Jedd Fisch afterward.

But that connection with the school will forever be different now that Sprinkle’s being tasked with turning around a program that’s been to the NCAA Tournament once in the past 12 years.

For a school that reached the NCAAs six times between 2004-12, that lack of appearances in March Madness is unacceptable. And Sprinkle’s job is to now go from a casual fan of the school to being the one responsible for bringing change.

The rise for Sprinkle has been rapid and that wasn’t lost on the 47-year-old during his introductory press conference filled with boosters and some current and former Washington players. One player in attendance was Marysville Pilchuck High School graduate RaeQuan Battle, who started his career at Washington before transferring to Montana State and playing for Sprinkle there.

Sprinkle noted that at the end of the 2018-2019 season, he was still an assistant and living in “a one-bedroom apartment” in Southern California before finally getting his break to be a head coach at Montana State.

He won one Big Sky Conference regular season and two tournament titles in his four seasons at Montana State. He parlayed that into the job at Utah State where the Aggies won the Mountain West regular season title this past season and beat TCU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

In his five seasons as a head coach, Sprinkle is 109-50.

“Has it come fast? Yeah. But I’ve been dreaming about stuff,” Sprinkle said. “I was dreaming about winning championships at Montana State 10 years before I got hired. I had no idea I was going to end up at Utah State; Logan, Utah, I’m glad I did because it’s all part of preparing me for a job like this.”

Sprinkle said he’s confident the foundations to the success of his teams the last few seasons can translate to Washington and its pending move to the Big Ten, even if the style of play will be different.

“We have to have our system and formulate it, and we got to make people adapt to us. But I think our system with some of the talent we’ll be able to get with some elite level players, no doubt we will,” Sprinkle said.

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