Bringing Out The Best
What is your best motivational tactic?
Playing time. Any coach will tell you that. In addition to playing time I will often use sarcasm to make sure a player is getting my point and understands the message I am trying to get across. I have no problem telling a player the truth and will occasionally hit them with a “zinger”. The comment may be sarcastic yet loaded with the truth.
You like to teach the players with “zingers”- can the players ever dish the zingers back your way? Or does it only go in one direction?
Hey- a player can tell me if I’m messing up. In the heat of the battle, I have no problem with a player letting me know what they need or just hollering at me. We’re out there battling together.
How will you adjust to the different personalities on the team?
Every player has a different way to handle not only criticism but also praise. As a coach I have to identify that and work with that player appropriately. I’ll use Plenette as an example. I know that I can be tough with Plenette. She doesn’t take it personally. She’s very hard nosed and will respond. Some players can get bent out of shape with the same approach. The only way to learn is through trial and error.
What was the bond like between the players and staff of your past teams?
All of the teams that I’ve coached or played on have had strong camaraderie. The players have each other’s back. I’m a coach- but gosh, if I could play, I would love to! But I can’t. So I trust my players. I leave them to do their job. I lead them, however, I respect their ability to do their job. And it they don’t… I make a sub.
What types of players do you tend to connect with and work well with?
Most coaches will say the point guard. I think it is important to be connected with your point guard as they are in charge of how you get into your offense. Outside of that I’m not necessarily a “point guard coach”. I like the dogs, the players that will dive on the floor and do anything to win basketball games, the players that could care less about anything else.
There is some rebuilding that needs to be done in New York. How will you approach the games in which the Liberty are the underdog?
My teams will always play with a chip on their shoulder. Not many people will be cheering for us outside of NY Liberty fans. People will learn that we are a hard nose team and we will always play to win. I have no hesitation in leading a team into someone else’s gym and pulling off the upset.
How flexible are you as a coach?
You have to be flexible as a coach. Changes must be made every single minute. As a coach it is your job to watch, digest, make decisions, change the style of play, and change personnel. I will often go with the player that is hot over the player that thinks they “should” have the ball.
You have a reputation for being tough, however, Plenette Pierson told us you have a fun side, too. How do you incorporate fun into your coaching?
The game is about having fun! If the game isn’t fun, why play? I’ll tell you what though, winning is fun. But as much as it is my job to lead it is also my job to alleviate the stress. I have to find ways to break up the monotony.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a coach?
Understanding when to take a step back. Sometimes I get in so deep I have blinders on. I need to be able to steer, or have someone else help steer me, in the right direction when I’m going the wrong way. As a coach, you have to be able to catch yourself, adjust, and find the correct direction. It isn’t always a straight line.
What is the most rewarding aspect of coaching?
We play to win championships. That’s all that matters. Winning championships is rewarding. Another rewarding part of coaching is seeing a player blossom under a different system. I remember when we brought Plenette into Detroit from Phoenix. It wasn’t working for her there, but we were able to help her rehabilitate her reputation in this league and become a good player. I take pride in that.
What do you want/expect from New York Liberty fans?
Passion. That’s all you can ask for from any fan base. Fans need to find a way to motivate their team. I know from experience as both a player and a coach that fans can motivate players at crucial times during the game and have a big impact.