Who is Mike Rhoades? 3 Things to Know About New Penn State Basketball Coach

Penn State Basketball
New Penn State Basketball Coach Mike Rhoades.

According to multiple reports, Penn State Basketball hired Mike Rhoades as its head basketball coach on Tuesday March 28th.

Rhoades arrives in the aftermath of former head coach Micah Shrewsberry returning to his home state of Indiana to lead the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, in the aftermath of taking the Nittany Lions into the second-round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.

Here are 3 things to know about Penn State Basketball coach Mike Rhoades

1. Rhoades brings a wealth of coaching experience with him to Happy Valley

Mike Rhoades began his coaching career in 1996 as an assistant for Division III Randolph-Macon College. At Randolph-Macon College, Rhoades spent 3 seasons as an assistant coach and then 10 seasons as the head basketball coach, posting a record as a head coach of 197-76 with the Yellow Jackets.

During his tenure, Rhoades led Randolph-Macon to four NCAA tournament appearances and two Sweet Sixteen appearances.

After 10 years at the helm of Randolph-Macon, Rhoades transitioned to Division I, as an assistant head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), where he was later promoted to associate head coach in 2011. During Rhoades tenure at VCU, VCU made five NCAA tournament appearances and made a Final Four appearance in 2011.

In 2014, Rhoades was named the head basketball coach at Rice, where in his four seasons at the helm he led Rice to the program’s first 20-win campaign in over a decade.

Rhoades returned to VCU as the head basketball coach in 2017 after four years with Rice. Rhoades has posted a 102-53 record with VCU in five seasons and led VCU to three NCAA tournament appearances, one NIT tournament appearance, two A-10 conference regular-season championships, and one A-10 conference tournament championship.

Overall, Rhoades has a career record of 373-189 over 19 years as a head coach.

Rhoades also received the coach of the year award for the Atlantic 10 conference in 2019. Rhoades certainly brings a wealth of coaching experience and knowledge with him to Penn State.


2. Rhoades is a defensive minded head coach

As a head coach, Mike Rhoades has a record of being a defensive minded coach.

In 2022, VCU ranked 23rd in the country in scoring defense and 6th in defensive efficiency. During Rhoades tenure at VCU, in every season other than his first season in 2017, VCU has ranked in the top 30 in team defensive efficiency, including being ranked 2nd in the country in 2018.

Mike Rhoades’ Full Court Pressure Defense System with Breakdown Drills: Get an in-depth understanding on the press defenses that have made VCU a nightmare to play against!https://t.co/0g932beh1Z pic.twitter.com/vf9hVhb3Ew

— Scott Peterman (@coachpeterman) June 5, 2018

This defensive focus however, has come at the cost of offense, as VCU has failed to be ranked in the top 100 teams in offensive efficiency under Rhoades during Rhoades tenure.

Rhoades defensive philosophy has been successful in the Atlantic 10 conference, however. Since taking over as the head coach at VCU, Rhoades has not posted a losing season and has led VCU to three NCAA tournament appearances and two conference regular-season titles.

VCU’s defense literally sucks the will out of its opponents. Could be a dangerous double-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament. Mike Rhoades is my pick for Atlantic 10 COY.

— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 9, 2019

3. Rhoades is from Pennsylvania

One of the reasons for Micah Shrewsberry’s departure from Penn State after just two seasons was reportedly his desire to return home to his home state of Indiana.

In Shrewsberry’s replacement, Penn State also created a homecoming of sorts for Mike Rhoades, who originally hails from Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania.

Rhoades also played college ball at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania. While Rhoades basketball career took him outside of Pennsylvania, mainly to Virginia with a brief stay in Texas, Rhoades return home to Pennsylvania should be celebrated by Penn State fans who hope that Rhoades will have a long and successful career in Happy Valley.

Rhoades and his wife Jodie will bring two sons, Logan and Chase, and a daughter, Porter, with him to Happy Valley, hopefully with a handful of VCU players as well, as Penn State’s roster has been severely depleted from players leaving via graduation, the NBA draft, and most recently the mass exodus to the transfer portal.

Penn State fans will look to get to know Mike Rhoades better in the coming weeks as he fills out a staff and starts to search the transfer portal to fill the massive holes in Penn State’s roster.

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Robert Casturo

Robert Casturo

Expertise: College Football, Penn State Football Education: Saint Vincent College, Penn State Law School Location: Washington, DC Experience: Robert Casturo has covered Penn State football for NittanyCentral since 2022. Casturo previously covered Penn State football through a social media presence (@PSU_FB_Thoughts on X) since 2019. Casturo earned his bachelor's degree from Saint Vincent College in 2015, where he was a punter for 1 season on the Saint Vincent College football team and worked in the athletic department for 2 years as a student manager. Casturo earned his JD from Penn State Law in 2018 where he was a senior editor of the Penn State Law Review.