How and why did you get into the field of coaching?
The game is an impossible puzzle, a metaphor for life, my career choice, and a refuge. If it were a person I’d have to thank it as though it were a mentor. It’s taken me across the world, given me a style, a vision, and chance to hopefully impact the lives of others. The head coach I work under took a chance on me when I was a 22 year old kid, just trying to honor his commitment to me.
Who in the field has influenced or helped you the most? Influenced your philosophy? What have you learned from them that you can you share?
Two people have had the deepest impact: the first is my high school coach John Martino. He was a true teacher of the game. I was merely a decent high school player, but came away with such a thorough understanding of the game when I left for college.
Since college and my first position out of school, Northeastern Head Coach Bill Coen has been my mentor. He’s influenced my philosophy on the technical side of the game, but even more from the standpoint of running a program, treating those around me with respect, relationship building and most importantly – preaching patience.
Name 3-5 books every basketball coach should have in their library.
Stuff Good Players Should Know: Intelligent Basketball from A-Z, by Dick DiVenzio. One of the better books highlighting tricks of the trade and nuances of the game.
My Personal Best: Life Lessons from an All-American Journey, by John Wooden. The game’s most respected gentlemen sharing his story.
Basketball FundaMENTALS, by Jay Mikes. A great read for the player interested in preparing for competition through mental exercises and visualization.
What is the last book you read and why?
The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. I rarely find myself reading fiction, but this book teaches you how to listen, pay attention, and support unconditionally – good lessons for a young coach.
What are the top three (3) training tips you would give to a basketball athlete beginning a strength and conditioning program?
1) I think it’s very important that incoming freshmen understand the role that programs play in addressing deficiencies and preparing the body for the rigors of a season. It’s not merely about being stronger or adding to your vertical. No player can be effective when injured or tired. Bad habits creep in with fatigue and team play suffers when focus and efficiency is compromised.
2) From a coach’s perspective, it boggles my mind to see a kid make a leap in athleticism over his four year college career. That only happens with a commitment to every level of conditioning - including rehab and nutrition.
3) Don’t be so caught up in numbers. Kevin Durant couldn’t bench press to the NBA standard, but, he can get you 30 points a night. Engage in open discussion with your strength coach to match your aspirations with your potential, then put in the work to meet those reasonable goals you’ve both set.
What are some of the challenges you experience when training a red-shirt player?
My boss has an interesting philosophy on this matter that I’ve adopted. Red shirts, freshmen, walk-ons, really any player who does not play big minutes in game situations must recognize one thing: The head coach is simply a mirror. What you put into practice is reflected in what you receive in games. There are certain intangibles that differs from player to player – experience and potential for example. But for the most part, your productivity, effort, focus, and intensity in practice is how a coach decides your level of preparedness for a game.
Any player fighting for playing time, especially red shirts, who are new to a program, must recognize that practice is their game day. Treat it with respect and be ready to work, the coach’s decision to call your number will be a direct reflection of what you bring to the table in practice.