The coaching portion of Kris Arkenberg’s basketball career has raised more eyebrows than the playing portion did.
Earlier this month, Arkenberg, a 2001 graduate of Indian Creek High School who played three sports for the Braves, completed his sixth season as an assistant men’s coach at the University of New Orleans.
“I was a very poor basketball player; I played very minimally,” Arkenberg said with a laugh. “At 6-foot-2, I was an inside player who set a lot of screens and was the only enforcer we had.
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“I once had two points, two rebounds and two assists against Edinburgh — and told people I had a triple-double.”
Arkenberg is one of three Indiana natives on the five-man Privateers coaching staff — head coach Mark Slessinger (Edgewood High School) and assistant Bil Duany (Bloomington North) being the others.
This core helped lead New Orleans to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 21 years this season. Champions of the Southland Conference tournament, the Privateers lost to Mount St. Mary’s 67-66 in a First Four matchup in Dayton, Ohio.
That game concluded a three-games-in-five-days whirlwind in which the Privateers defeated Sam Houston State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in Katy, Texas, flew back to New Orleans and were on a plane aimed at Ohio by 10 a.m. Monday.
The senior-dominated Privateers finished 20-12; four of the team’s top five scorers have exhausted their athletics eligibility.
“I really liked this group of seniors,” Arkenberg said. “Even when we were winning 10 games and eighth place in the league, we said, ‘Wait until these guys are older.’”
Before joining Slessinger’s staff in 2011, Arkenberg served as an assistant at Panola College in Texas and Lincoln Trail College in Illinois.
Once at New Orleans, Arkenberg found recruiting an arduous task, with memories of Hurricane Katrina (August 2005) still fresh in the minds of potential players and their families.
Nothing has been easy in the Big Easy.
“When you talk about rebuilding projects, this was basically from scratch,” he said. “We had a kid from Indianapolis come for a visit, and his mom wanted to know how often hurricanes happened and whether sharks eat people when it flooded.”
Arkenberg, who also competed in football and track at Indian Creek, performs myriad tasks for the Privateers.
He works with the Privateers’ guards during practice, organizes team travel plans and is the program’s academics liaison. Arkenberg added recruiting coordinator to his already long list of responsibilities midway through the 2015-16 season.
He is, in a word, indispensable.
On Thursday morning, the Privateers’ coaching staff flew to Phoenix to attend the NCAA Men’s Final Four and take part in various meetings and coaching clinics.
As is the case with the majority of those Arkenberg meets and greets this weekend, he’s motivated by the idea of one day coaching at such a massive venue.
“The Final Four is an unbelievable event,” Arkenberg said. “I’m a little biased toward Indianapolis and New Orleans as host cities, so I’m interested to see how Phoenix does.”
Name: Kris Arkenberg
Family: Wife, Davlenn
High school: Indian Creek (2001)
College: IUPUI (2009)
Major: General studies