Interview Conducted 9/10/2008
VMI Head Coach Duggar Baucom took a unique path to becoming the coach of a unique offense in NCAA Basketball.
After graduating from North Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, N.C., Baucom went into law enforcement. He became a city policeman and later a North Carolina State Trooper.
While he was a policeman, Baucom received some experience coaching basketball.
BAUCOM: “I was a School Resource Officer at North Mecklenburg High School. My head coach who I played for asked me to be his Junior Varsity coach in 1987, and I did that for him.”
When Baucom had a heart attack at just 30 years old, his career in law enforcement ended. The state would not let him return.
BAUCOM: “I went back to college [UNC-Charlotte] to get my degree. I went back to North Mecklenburg and became a JV coach again, so that’s how I got my start.”
After graduating from UNC-Charlotte, Baucom received his first job as an assistant basketball coach for Bob McKillop at Davidson College. He also had stops as an assistant at Mars Hill College, Northwestern State, and Western Carolina.
His first head coaching job was at Division II Tusculum College in Tennessee. VMI hired him two seasons later in 2005.
Baucom missed half of his first season after a heart procedure went awry and he had to spend 48 days in the hospital. The team would finish 7-20 for the season.
Before Baucom’s second season even began, his starting post player and starting point guard were both dismissed by the college for honor violations.
Only two weeks before VMI’s season opener, Baucom implemented an offense similar to Paul Westhead’s run-and-gun teams at Loyola Marymount in the late 1980s.
BAUCOM: “I figured if we’re going to an extreme, let’s really go to an extreme and utilize our quickness.”
“We can take a shot six seconds into the shot clock that other guys will work 30 seconds to get.”
“It’s pretty avant-garde. It’s a different way of playing and a lot of coaches don’t want to give up that much control.”
Baucom’s risk paid off and VMI (14-19) made an improbable run to the finals of the Big South Conference tournament where they lost by just three points to perennial conference powerhouse Winthrop.
They averaged 100.9 points per game for the season.
Short Video About VMI Basketball
Each season, Baucom is faced with a difficult task finding prep talents who want to attend a military college.
BAUCOM: “Very few kids in a time of war want the military experience, and if they do, they’ll look at the federal academies. So we look for kids who fit our style [of play] and we introduce them and educate them to what our school is all about. Of course there is a military component to our school, but none of my kids I’ve had are in the military. A lot of them have great jobs. That’s what we sell them on – VMI’s Alumni Network.”
Baucom added that every player who has graduated VMI under his tenure already had a job lined up through the Alumni Network before they even received their diploma.
While many would think that coaching basketball would be stress-producing rather than stress-reducing for someone with a history of heart problems, Baucom thinks otherwise.
BAUCOM: “I think I’m a pretty lucky guy. I have got to do the two things I’ve loved – law enforcement and coaching … I view the poor guy who has to go to work from 8 to 5 as having a lot of stress. I love what I do, so I don’t view it as stressful.”
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