NOTE: Be sure to check out a special offseason edition of the Coach’s Corner featuring interviews with Mark Dannhoff and David Qualls as they look ahead to next season! You can watch the special on YouTube at this link.
SHAWNEE, OKLA. — The Potawatomi Fire will have a new face patrolling the sidelines in 2023. Mark Dannhoff, a highly successful coach at both the professional and collegiate levels, was recently hired as the new head coach of the Potawatomi Fire.
Dannhoff joins the Fire after serving one season as head coach of the Enid Outlaws, also a member of The Basketball League (TBL). Dannhoff guided Enid to a regular season TBL Central Conference championship and a first-round bye in the TBL Playoffs with a 20-4 win-loss record (83%). The Outlaws advanced to the Central Conference Finals only to fall short in the third game of the best of three series to the eventual champion Shreveport. In addition to having a very exciting, fast-paced, and explosive offense, the Outlaws finished first in the Central Conference for fewest points allowed per game and tied for sixth overall in the entire TBL. Dannhoff guided the Outlaws to wins in five of six hotly contested games versus the Fire.
Coach Mark Dannhoff on why he joined the Fire:
“After talking to (Fire general manager) David Qualls and members of the Potawatomi leadership and doing my own research, it became obvious that this was where I needed to be. There are so many things about the Potawatomi Fire. While they were watching me coach, I was also paying attention to them. This is, without question, a first-class organization. How we were treated as visitors, the environment, the dance team, fan support, the marketing and social media — so many things are first-class. And when you have conversations with the players on their experiences and how they were treated, that’s what really stood out to me. Even when I came here for a playoff game, the fans went out of their way to have a conversation and welcome me. It felt like family before we even got here. It’s an honor and privilege to be here. I’m thankful to chairman John “Rocky” Barrett, vice-chairman Linda Capps and general manager David Qualls for giving me this opportunity.”
Dannhoff takes over a Fire team that features the reigning TBL Most Valuable Player in Deshawn Munson, who earned the honor after nearly averaging a triple-double for the season and leading the first-year Potawatomi Fire franchise into the second round of the TBL playoffs.
Fire general manager David Qualls on why he hired Mark Dannhoff:
“Organization. I asked a couple of questions and he opened his laptop and showed me a basketball syllabus. Here’s how I teach my players, what to expect and how I go through practices throughout the season. This is obviously a coach with a lot of structure and someone who could get us to the next level.”
Over the course of his career, Dannhoff has accumulated 30+ years of basketball experience, mainly as an assistant on eight Division I collegiate coaching staffs, including Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Georgia State, and Tulane.
Dannhoff has coached 70+ players who have moved on to play at the professional level, including two players in the NBA (Linton Johnson and Sam Dekker) and four in the NBA Developmental League (Including Ra Shawn Thomas, John Jordan, and Bronson Koenig). In addition, he served as a member of the NABC D-I Assistant Coaches Committee representing the Southland Conference. During his time at Corpus Christi, Dannhoff served as the lead recruiter for some of the top players in the conference including Ehab Amin, John Jordan, Jake Kocher, Zane Knowles, Kareem South, and Tony Lewis.
Dannhoff spent eleven years (2010-2021) as an assistant coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and served as the interim coach during the coaching transition following his first year. During his time on the Island, Mark helped to rebuild the culture and success of the program. In 2016-17, the Islanders received their fourth straight postseason invitation including a trip to the CIT Championship game. Over a four-year period from 2013-17, the Islanders won 87 games, had three straight 20+ win seasons, had three second-place and one third-place finish, played in back-to-back conference championships and recorded their only postseason victories in school history.
Prior to joining the Islanders staff, Dannhoff spent a year each at Texas-Pan American and Mercer as well as two years with the Panthers at Georgia State University. Before joining the Panther staff, Dannhoff was an assistant coach at Tulane University for four seasons under head coach Shawn Finney, who left to return to the University of Kentucky, as the entire Tulane staff changed in the summer of 2005.
In 2000-01, Mark was on the staff of the University of New Orleans Privateers team led by head coach Joey Stiebing, the 2001 Sun Belt Coach of the Year. That squad finished 17-12 and was second in the Western Division of the Sun Belt Conference. Dannhoff spent the previous season with Centenary under head coach Kevin Johnson. While he was at UALR in 1998-99, Dannhoff was on the staff of with legendary coach “Wimp” Sanderson with that Sun Belt squad. Dannhoff has also spent a year as assistant with Arkansas Tech under coach Marty Barnes.
Dannhoff gained valuable experience for five seasons as the head coach at Northland (Minn.) Community College. He guided the team to a division championship and a MCCC Regional Tournament berth. The 1996 team won the Northern Division championship and ranked No. 2 in the state and in Region XIII.
A graduate of Division III Wisconsin-La Crosse, Dannhoff first began as an assistant coach at his alma mater, where he earned his master’s degree in education with an emphasis on physical education and athletic administration.
Dannhoff was born on Sept. 7, 1967, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to Richard and Mary Dannhoff, who still reside in La Crosse. Mark has two brothers, Darren and Steve, both younger. He is married to Chantal (Dubois).
MARK DANNHOFF COACHING EXPERIENCE
1990-92 Asst. Coach, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
1992-97 Head Coach, Northland (Minn.) Community College
1997-98 Asst. Coach, Arkansas Tech University
1998-99 Director of Operations, University of Arkansas-Little Rock
1999-00 Asst. Coach, Centenary College
2000-01 Asst. Coach/DOB, University of New Orleans
2001-05 Asst. Coach/ DOB, Tulane University
2005-07 Asst. Coach, Georgia State University
2007-08 Asst. Coach, Mercer University
2008-09 Interim Head Coach during transition/Asst. Coach, University of Texas-Pan American
2010-21 Asst./Interim Head Coach during transition, Texas A&M Univ.-Corpus Christi
2021-22 Head Coach, Enid Outlaws
2022-present Head Coach, Potawatomi Fire
1996 Region XIII NJCAA
2014 College Insider Tournament (2nd Round)
2015 College Insider Tournament (2nd Round)
2016 College Insider Tournament
2017 College Insider Tournament (Championship Finalist)
2022 TBL Playoffs (Central Conference Finalist)
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT MARK DANNHOFF
Tony Bennett, head coach University of Virginia–
“Mark makes an excellent head or assistant coach because he loves the game and is a student of basketball. He has strong leadership abilities. His experience as a high-level college assistant coach will give him instant credibility with the young men he coaches. Mark evaluates talent better than most. He has a knack for uncovering hidden gems and developing great relationships with the young men he recruits. Mark cares about his players and wants them to succeed on the court, in the classroom, and ultimately in life. The best compliment I can give him, or any other coach is that I would want my son to play for him.”
Roy Williams, former head coach University of North Carolina–
“In the short time I have known Mark, he has always impressed me as a man of integrity, character, and loyalty. He is an excellent teacher of the game, a tremendous floor coach and recruiter. Not to mention his ability to communicate with today’s athletes. He possesses all the characteristics needed to be successful in this profession.”
Bo Ryan, former head coach University of Wisconsin–
“I have known Mark for several years and have watched him grow and mature from a player at the Division III level to one of the most respected young coaches in the game today. He has always impressed me with his basketball knowledge, work ethic, loyalty, integrity, and rapport with his fellow coaching peers as well as the student-athletes he’s worked with. Mark possesses all the necessary qualities to have a very bright and successful career at any level of our profession.”
Willis Wilson, former head coach Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi —
“Mark is an excellent college basketball coach. He is outstanding at the X’s and O’s portion of the game when it comes to strategy and game planning, and he is an even better teacher and communicator. Mark has proven to be a thorough administrator and recruiter over the course of his career.”
Daylon “Chuck” Guy, former Enid Outlaw & 2022 All-TBL First Team–
“Coach Dannhoff is a great coach, who works extremely hard. One of the things I love most about him, is that he listens to his players and is receptive to their suggestions. He cares about us and has our backs no matter what. Even when we didn’t seem to be on the same page, he always helped me see the bigger picture. I loved playing for Coach D. He is a great mentor. If the opportunity presents itself, I want him to be there with me.”
ABOUT THE FIRE AND THE BASKETBALL LEAGUE
The Potawatomi Fire concluded their first season in June, winning 21 of 29 games played including the playoffs. They were 18-6 in the regular season to earn the third seed in the Central Conference portion of the playoffs. They won their first round playoff series versus Rockwall before falling to the eventual TBL champion, second-seeded Shreveport Mavericks in the conference semifinal round. In addition to Munson (East St. Louis, Ill. / Harris-Stowe) earning the MVP award, Munson was named to the All-TBL First Team and All-Central Conference First Team and was a finalist for Newcomer of the Year. Seven-foot center Anthony Allen (Kingston, Jamaica / Oklahoma State) was named to the All-Central Conference Second Team and was also a finalist for TBL Defensive Player of the Year. Guard Deon Lyle (Hastings, Neb. / UTSA) was sixth among the league leaders in three-pointers made with 79.
The Potawatomi Fire are the first professional basketball team owned by a Native American tribe (Citizen Potawatomi Nation) in Oklahoma. The Fire compete in the Central Conference of The Basketball League (TBL), a men’s professional basketball league with 44 teams in over 20 different states across the country. The Fire organization was named the winner of the Jim Koch Award as TBL’s Best Ran Business, despite the Fire being a first-year franchise. The TBL season began in March and ran through June, concluding with a championship playoff tournament. The players that make up the rosters of the TBL teams are former NCAA (Division I, II or III) or NAIA athletes. Many have played in the NBA or NBA’s G-League as well as professionally overseas for several years and are continuing their careers closer to home or seeking a larger contract in another professional league.
Story by Justin Wollard • Photo by Braden Edwards