Insider View: Who is new UW Huskies coach Danny Sprinkle?

Mar 25, 2024, 4:00 PM

UW Huskies Danny Sprinkle coach...

Utah State coach Danny Sprinkle talks with Great Osobor during a 2024 NCAA Tournament game. (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Danny Sprinkle is the new UW Huskies men’s basketball coach, making the move from Utah State to Montlake only a day after his Aggies lost to No. 1 seed Purdue in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

UW Huskies hire Utah State’s Danny Sprinkle as men’s hoops coach

While Sprinkle has been a popular name going into this round of the coaching carousel, and even though he’s a Washington native with strong UW ties, he’s still not all that well known up here in Seattle. So who is Danny Sprinkle?

On Monday’s edition of Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy, hosts Michael Bumpus and Stacy Rost talked to Utah State play-by-play announcer and KSL Sports radio host Scott Garrard to get a better sense of what the Huskies have in the successor to previous coach Mike Hopkins.

What UW Huskies’ Sprinkle did at Utah State

The 47-year-old Sprinkle comes to Washington after just one year with the Aggies, but he’s been successful ever since getting his first chance as a head coach with his alma mater Montana State. He led the Bobcats to the NCAA Tournament in both 2022 and 2023, then did the same this season with Utah State.

How he pulled it off in the 2023-24 campaign may have been the most impressive of any of those runs.

Here’s what Garrard had to say.

He got thrown into a really difficult situation, and I think that’s why he’s appealing to the University of Washington and so many other schools that came calling is the fact that that roster was absolutely gutted. It was a good team last year (at Utah State), they were an NCAA Tournament team under Ryan Odom, who left to VCU. Ryan took several players with him to VCU, a couple other players hit the portal, and then other players just ran out of eligibility. So he had to completely rebuild the roster with no returning points on that team, and essentially no returning minutes… So he had to rebuild a roster on the fly, they hired him late – it was after the Final Four so a lot of the quality players had already been gobbled up in the transfer portal. He built that roster from scratch and ended up winning for the first time ever an outright conference championship, and (then earned) a win in the NCAA Tournament, the first time Utah State has had one of those since 2001. So fabulous head coach.

You knew it immediately with him – and I’m not blowing smoke, I know I’m on the air up there in Seattle – but this dude’s a winner. I know that Husky fans are a little frustrated with the overall direction of that program right now, but that dude is a grinder, he’s going to work his butt off, he’s good in the community. He’ll work well with boosters, he’ll work well with the media. You’ll absolutely love him up there. I could not give this guy a bigger endorsement of who he is as a person and as a coach, and I think Husky fans are in for an absolute joy with him leading that program.

What will Sprinkle’s Huskies teams play like

When it comes to playing style, Garrard expects Sprinkle will be looking to do something different than at Utah State.

They were very low post-oriented (this season at Utah State), but I assume that he would adjust based on the talent that he’s able to get. I think deep down he wants to run a more fast-paced offense than he was able to run this year just based on the limitations that he had with his roster. But I do think based on his ability to acquire players in NIL, with the collective and the money and the resources that are available in Washington, I think you’ll probably see a more up-tempo, more athletic team than what you saw at Utah State. If you’re busting out film of this Utah State team and thinking that’s what he’s going to have at Washington, I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case. That’s going to be an interesting question to see how that plays out. When he has the ability to really put together a roster the way he wants to put it together and not just cobble something together with a band of misfit toys, what he would envision that to look like, that’s something that I don’t think we really got to experience here at Utah State. And when he has the ability to really mold the roster the way he wants it, then I think we’ll get a better idea as to what he wants that that system to look like.

Making the move

Sprinkle was born in Pullman – yes, home of UW’s rival WSU Cougars – and his dad played football in college for the Huskies in the 1960s, but there’s probably more behind him coming to Washington than just that. Garrard mentioned that next year will be his eighth year calling games at Utah State and his fifth basketball coach in that time, so he’s well suited to explain why no one was all that surprised in Logan to see Sprinkle leave.

We’ve had so much turnover here that you just kind of felt like that’s the way it was going to go because we’ve seen it so much here. There’s just not a lot of stability in terms of coaching … (Utah State gets) more out of out of less than anybody else because they don’t have a huge budget, they don’t have a ton of resources. It’s not an easy place to get into – most teams have to fly into Salt Lake and bus up there. When you get your recruits in, you have to fly them into Salt Lake and drive the hour up north. It’s like Pullman a little bit, you know, it’s not easy to get to. … I’m not speaking for Danny here, I’m just speculating, but when you do have some success, you worry about how sustainable it is and do I need to cash out while I can and move on to greener pastures? So that might be part of his thought process. … I would say when he beat San Diego State at home and when he beat Boise State and obviously ended the season with a big win against New Mexico to win the outright conference championship, I think there were a lot of people in that Cache Valley area that kind of felt like, ‘We ought to enjoy this while we can.’ And that certainly was cemented when they beat TCU in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Hear the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Utah State broadcaster Scott Garrard in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

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Insider View: Who is new UW Huskies coach Danny Sprinkle?