When Matt Roth was draining three-pointers at a 54.5 percent clip as a senior on the Indiana basketball team in 2012, he knew he wanted to become a coach one day. That dream to lead a program became a reality this week when Roth was hired as the head coach of the Blackhawk Christian boys basketball team on Wednesday.
“It was a no-brainer for us,” Roth said of his new job at the Fort Wayne basketball powerhouse. “It’s a position we feel is calling not just myself but my family, too. I very much look forward to being able to grow in my faith and continue to lead and mentor these young men.”
Roth, 32, steps in for legendary head coach Marc Davidson, who stepped down from his position because of his ongoing battle with cancer. Across nine seasons, Davidson coached Blackhawk Christian to a 197-55 record with two state championships. He established Blackhawk Christian as one of the premier basketball programs in the state, and coached 2021 Indiana Mr. Basketball Caleb Furst, who just finished his freshman season at Purdue.
Roth graduated from Indiana in 2012 after playing four seasons under Tom Crean. He saw the most game action as a freshman when he averaged 6.7 points per game. And as a senior on an Indiana team that went 27-9 and reached the Sweet 16, Roth was first in the Big Ten with a 54.5 three-point shooting percentage.
Roth moved to Fort Wayne in 2013 when he married Lindsay Enterline, who played basketball and volleyball at Indiana. At the time, Enterline coached the Blackhawk Christian volleyball team, highlighted by a 2016 Class A state championship. The two Indiana graduates now have three children, ages 7, 5 and 3.
Roth got his coaching start as an assistant under Davidson from 2013 to 2016. During this time, Roth learned three simple traits that helped his mentor, Davidson, build an elite program — a genuine love for the kids he coached, the Lord and basketball.
“When you tie those three things together, it’s no wonder he’s created such an amazing program,” Roth said.
One night early in Roth’s time as an assistant at Blackhawk Christian, he remembers a text conversation that helps define Davidson’s style as a coach. Davidson, a diehard Chicago Bulls fan, asked Roth, also a diehard Bulls fan, if he was watching the game. Of course he was.
“What do you think of this play?” Davidson asked Roth.
“Well I really like it, but do we have Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah?” Roth responded.
“Well, no, but we could change it,” Davidson said.
Roth always thought Davidson’s teams ran the best sets, and this was because Davidson could find something he loved from college or the NBA and tweak it to his personnel.
Roth’s role as an assistant at Blackhawk ended in 2016, and he stepped away from coaching for a few seasons to focus on his role with Optimum Performance Sports (OPS). Roth works with athletes who were recovering from injury and reimplemented sports with them. Aside from training with athletes in the weight room and on the turf, he has also run a basketball academy at OPS for the better part of four years.
Roth works with athletes from kindergarten to high school, building relationships with high school coaches throughout Indiana and Ohio. Many high school players train with Roth at OPS during the offseason with an emphasis on skill development and the procession from high school to college. He also said it’s important to build players’ confidence and emphasize that basketball should be fun.
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When working with high school athletes, Roth believes it’s important to make everything a competition, whether it is ball-handling, shooting or one-on-one drills. He also makes a point to have conversations with the athletes, parents and coaches to figure out what is best for their individual development.
“When we do that, we tend to see the athletes really enjoy their time [at OPS],” Roth said. “They really want to be in the gym, and it changes their outlook on the game to where they might enjoy it, but they don’t love it, to where they love working on the game and they love getting better. The more we can do that for kids, the more they’re going to love sports, and I think that’s a great thing for our society in general to be active and engaged in sports at a young age.”
Roth’s main basketball focus now shifts to running the Blackhawk Christian program. It’s only May, and Roth is still watching Blackhawk Christian film from last season to get a grasp on his team’s personnel, but he’s already starting to implement coaching strategies he learned from Davidson.
Roth said one of his favorite teams to watch is the Spanish national team, and he might steal some of their action for next season.
“Maybe pretend I’ve got Pau and Marc Gasol out there for me,” Roth said.
Roth met with his team a few times the last week. He has been impressed with the intensity level and passion from his team, and he’s noticed a genuine love for being in the gym.
He wants his teams to compete for loose balls, play as fast as their talent allows, have fun and pick each other up on a nightly basis. Fortunately for Roth, he thinks many of these traits are already ingrained into the program’s culture because of the foundation Davidson built. Roth will also continue Blackhawk Christian’s tradition of praying before and after each game.
Roth said he is working on scheduling a few shootouts during the summer to give the players a chance to compete, but his goals for the offseason go beyond the basketball court, which is another aspect of coaching he learned from Davidson.
The biggest focus for Roth as he gears up for the summer is building relationships with his players. Roth wants his players to get to know him and his family in order to build a level of trust.
He noticed an unbelievable relationship between Davidson and his players every season, which will be important to sustain through the coaching change. Roth said this will allow his team to have each other’s back when things get tough, whether that’s in life or basketball.
He’s also excited to return to a school setting in the fall, helping students develop both their athletic skills and faith. Aside from having a top basketball program, Roth was attracted to Blackhawk Christian because it’s an opportunity to grow his faith and become involved with the school.
“There’s going to be days when you walk into school and you provide all the energy,” Roth said. “There’s days when you walk into school and the kids’ energy is just bubbling over right off the bat, and I look forward to that. It’s kind of like a natural cup of coffee.”
Roth said his identity for so much of his life was basketball, but that changed when he found Sherwood Oaks when he was a student at Indiana. He began attending church regularly and integrating faith as a priority in his life. And now, Roth sees his identity as faith and family.
Davidson will still be around the Blackhawk Christian program as much as his health allows, and when Davidson returns, Roth said the basketballs will be on the rack to give his team a chance to learn about life.
“Even though [Davidson] is in a battle, he still sees it,” Roth said. “He still loves it, he loves to talk about the game, he loves to talk about the kids and ultimately as we saw all year, he loves to talk about the Lord. Any time he’s there and he wants to talk about those three things, we’ll be all ears as a program.”
Matt Roth photo gallery
Matt Roth looks for a teammate while several Michigan State defenders close in on him. (USA TODAY Sports)
Matt Roth shot 54.5 percent from three-point range during his senior season at Indiana in 2012.
Matt Roth, Cody Zeller, Jordan Hulls
Matt Roth walks up the court with teammates Cody Zeller and Jordan Hulls. (USA TODAY Sports)
Matt Roth, Verdell Jones
Matt Roth puts his arm on Verdell Jones’ shoulder during a game. (USA TODAY Sports)
Matt Roth played four seasons at Indiana, and is one of the best shooters to ever play at the school. (USA TODAY Sports)
Matt Roth chases a Michigan player (USA TODAY Sports.)
Matt Roth knocks a ball away from a Michigan player (USA TODAY Sports)