When you look down at the bench and see a coach barking instructions to their team on the court, putting their arm around a player on the bench or grabbing a dry-erase board during a time-out, that’s only a small part of what that coach has done, is doing or will do the rest of the day.
Although they are trying to find a way to win a game in that moment, usually coaches have spent a lot of time away from the court to help maintain and build a successful program.
The best programs are able to balance more than just basketball on game day. Winning is not always about the X’s and O’s; a lot of times it is also about the Jimmys and the Joes.
To win consistently it is vital to have several things in place. You need good coaches, good players, a supportive administration and a fan base that wants to feel as though they are part of the team.
There are things a coach must do on the day of the game to bring all of these things together. A stop by an alumni function, a local radio station or a student group to show appreciation for the support typically takes place. On the way to and from some of these events, coaches are also organizing their rival recruits, their parents, maybe a high school coach who is invited to attend the game. Since recruiting is the lifeblood of the program, the coaching staff will arrive to the gym early to visit with these recruits and their support systems.
There’s an art that goes along with hosting a recruit, their parents and any coaches that attend the game. Being able to balance the upcoming game while also making sure the future of the program is being secured is a huge responsibility of any coaching staff.
Win or lose, after the game, there are handshakes with boosters, administrators and any recruits that were in attendance.
When the gym finally empties, the work continues. Coaches will begin the process all over again. They will evaluate the game that was just played, try to look for improvements and adjustments that must be made. Most likely scouting reports for the next opponent are being finalized. Phone calls and texts to the team take place about practice and film times for the next day.
Follow-up calls with recruits and families to make sure they made it home are made. Possible student group or booster functions need to be attended. Ultimately you always have to have a team-first mentality.
The people in the locker room are what dictates the success of the program but the process to fill that locker room goes far beyond the 40 minutes of game that was played.
Brian Barone played basketball at Texas A&M University and Marquette University and holds a master’s degree in communications. He now coaches men’s basketball at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.