Nov. 23, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
The man does not like pizza. Everybody has his imperfections.
But more important than what first year assistant men’s basketball coach Mike Jaskulski eats at the table is what he brings to the table, and that is so much more.
After a four-year stint as the head coach at Towson University, coach “Jaz” has been reunited with first year head Seminole coach Leonard Hamilton to help lead the Seminoles return to the upper echelon of men’s college basketball.
Jaskulski was part of Hamilton’s staff that led the University of Miami from 1993-97. During that time, the Hurricanes made their first post-season appearance in 31 years. Miami also ranked among the nation’s leaders in numerous statistical categories and increased their victory total by nine over the four-season span. Those teams were characterized by a toughness on the defensive end of the court.
While serving as an assistant to Hamilton at Miami, Jaskulski helped the Hurricanes to the fifth-best won-loss record in the Big East Conference. Miami advanced to post-season play twice in his final three seasons and had a 21-8 conference road record (72.4 winning percentage) during that time. While at Miami, Jaskulski helped engineer four victories over nationally ranked teams including only the third victory over a top-10 ranked team in school history.
During his final season at Miami, the Hurricanes finished in third place in the league standings, sixth in the nation in field goal percentage defense and first in the league statistics in 3-point field goal percentage defense.
He looks forward to working with Coach Hamilton again this season.
“I think anytime you have a situation where you worked with someone before, you know what to expect,” said Jaskulski. “There is a certain level of comfort. Also, I’m pretty set in the way I think things should be done not only in terms of the X’s and O’s, but even more importantly, in terms of how you handle people and deal with the development of young people. When you put that all together I couldn’t be in a better situation, or happier, because I had the opportunity to come back with coach Hamilton. We see things very much alike”
Obviously Jaskulski feels comfortable in his position as an assistant and has no intention of leaving anytime soon. Those feelings are in part because of the new basketball training facility at Florida State.
“I think [the facility] speaks volumes to the commitment the university has made to the basketball program, and that we indeed are serious about being one of the elite programs in the country. That message rings loud and clear and it has helped us do what we need to do to take this thing to the next level, and that is to recruit high – caliber student athletes.”
Jaskulski went to school to be a lawyer, but soon after changed his mind.
“I think I was at the end of my second year and started to think about what I was going to do with my life. I could not see myself leaving the field of competitive athletics and education in general. It became very easy for me to change my whole thought process and say, ‘I think I’d like to be a coach and a teacher just like my father’.”
Jaskulski’s father has been a major influence on his life and has been very successful in the process. Earlier this year, his father was inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
It appears Jaskulski has come from a supportive family, and at the age of 48, he is supporting a family of his own.
He has been married to his wife, Marcia, going on 20 years, and has two daughters, Katie (11) and Carly (6). While his daughters are not quite ready to don the Lady Seminole jerseys, both of them enjoy playing basketball. And according to Jaskulski his 11-year old, Katie, “loves competitive basketball.” She will definitely like what she sees in Tallahassee this winter.
Entering this season, Jaskulski has already compiled 25 years of college coaching experience under his belt. If it was not for the pastor at a Catholic Grade School in Milwaukee, he may never have gotten his chance in the first place.
Jaskulski took his first coaching job while teaching 7th and 8th grades. He coached not only basketball, but also football and track. He was offered only $6,500 and it took some convincing from the pastor over lunch for him to accept the position. Jaskulski was given free room and board.
“I was a 23-year old bachelor living with the priests in the rectory,” he recalls.
His living conditions may have cost him a date or two, but it was well worth the price.
“When my college coach (at St. Norbert) found out that I had taken a job teaching in the area, he asked me if I would come and assist him,” said Jaskluski.
For $300 Jaskulski agreed to be the assistant coach at St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisc., and remained there for seven years.
That was the beginning of what has been a long and successful career for Jaskulski. Although he’s had to move around a lot, so far Jaskulski says it hasn’t affected his family too much.
“I think this last move was maybe the toughest one because it’s starting to affect my 11-year old (Katie). My wife, Marcia, she’s a professional mover now. We have moved from Dubuque, Iowa to Bangor, Maine. We did that one in a U-Haul ourselves. Then we went from Bangor, one end of I-95, to Miami, the other end of I-95. Then up to Baltimore, where we finally found ourselves a moderate climate and now here we find ourselves in Tallahassee.”
“I think we feel we’ve found a home here and we’re hoping we can make this our home for a long time.”
Jaskulski’s coaching journey has taken him from the Midwest to the Northeast to the Southeast. From Maine to Miami, he has left his mark on and off the court. Perhaps one day he shall follow in his father’s footsteps once more.
This time to the Hall of Fame.
By Tony Suarez
Sports Information Assistant