Monthly Archives: October 2008

Interview With Lorenzo Romar

Lorenzo Romar

Interview Conducted 10/27/2008

Robert Beck/SI

Robert Beck/SI

Lorenzo Romar, entering his seventh season as head coach of the Washington Huskies, has been able to influence many lives through the game of basketball, whether it be through sports ministry or coaching.

Romar and his family grew up in Compton, California, one of the most dangerous cities in America. Street gangs, violent crime, and abject poverty are all prevalent.

Romar and his brother Wayne were able to avoid the allure of street life for teens growing up in Compton.

ROMAR: “Between my parents and sports, those two things kept me from getting involved in anything like that. We just wouldn’t come home if we did something dumb and our parents found out about it. It wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience.”

“Our sports meant too much to my brother and I to get involved in anything that was going to take away from us or not allow us to be as good as we can be.”

Romar received a basketball scholarship to two-year Cerritos College. Wayne signed to play basketball with Sterling College, an NAIA school in Kansas. Continue reading

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Interview With Steve McClain

Steve McClain

Interview Conducted 10/21/2008

AP/Isaac Brekken

AP/Isaac Brekken

Steve McClain, now in his second season as Colorado’s Associate Head Coach, has not been a stranger to success throughout his coaching career.

McClain compiled a 157-115 overall record in his nine seasons as Head Coach at Wyoming from 1998-2007. He led the Cowboys to one NCAA Tournament appearance and three NIT bids.

He was noted for his ability to recruit talented out-of-state players to a school that a Chicago Tribune sportswriter once referred to as “The Siberia of Division-I college basketball.”

Larimie, Wyo. is a remote town of just over 27,000 residents. Laramie has long, cold winters and is over 100 miles from Denver, the nearest large city. None of these factors were conducive to landing highly-touted recruits. In addition, few Few Division-I basketball recruits hail from the state of Wyoming.

MCCLAIN: “We tried to go find kids who had a great desire to get a college degree, but were more worried about how they could become a better basketball player, how they could develop the goals they wanted to reach, and they weren’t worried about how big the city was or how the night life was.”

“We had to focus on getting kids that were serious about getting an education and who wanted to play college basketball on the highest level. We didn’t sugarcoat it. We told them exactly how it was, because you’re not going to trick a kid.”

“Once we got a player to Wyoming, we knew we had as good of facilities as anyone in the country. If we could get them on campus, we’d have a great shot to get them.”

McClain’s contract was terminated on March 12, 2007.

When former Denver Nuggets and Air Force Head Coach Jeff Bzdelik accepted the Colorado job in April 2007, he hired McClain as his top assistant. Continue reading

Interview With Cazzie Russell

Cazzie Russell

Interview Conducted 10/21/2008

Bentley Historical Library

Bentley Historical Library

Few athletes can lay claim to having an arena or stadium affectionately named in their honor. Cazzie Russell is one of them.

A legendary basketball prodigy from Chicago’s Southside, Russell arrived onto the city’s basketball scene when he led Carver High School’s Junior Varsity program to the Chicago city JV Title in 1960.

By his senior year, Russell paced Carver High School to the Chicago city title in 1962, averaging over 25 points a game.

As one of the most coveted senior prospects in the country, Russell received offers from over 50 college basketball programs. He narrowed his choices to UCLA, Marquette, Cincinnati, and Michigan.

Cincinnati sent Oscar Robertson, by then an NBA star with the Cincinnati Royals, to Carver High School to visit with Russell.

RUSSELL: “I had a tough decision because Oscar Robertson came to my high school. I idolized the way he played of course because we were the same size.”

Russell visited Michigan in the spring and developed a friendship with his tour guide, freshman Bill Buntin.

RUSSELL: “I was comfortable with Bill Buntin who was my host. As a young player coming out of high school, it was important to feel comfortable with [another] guy being from a predominantly black area.”

Russell ultimately chose Michigan because the basketball program was in a rebuilding stage.

RUSSELL: “It was basically a football school, so there probably wouldn’t be a lot of pressure. That was one of my major decisions.”

Russell led Michigan to three Big 10 titles, averaging 27.1 points per game in his career. He was a three-time AP All American. Continue reading

Interview With Jimmy Tillette

Jimmy Tillette

Interview Conducted 10/17/2008

Getty Images/Doug Benc

Getty Images/Doug Benc

The Samford Bulldogs run a variation of Pete Carril’s Princeton Offense.

And it’s all because 12th year Head Coach Jimmy Tillette doesn’t play golf.

TILLETTE: “I needed something to do in the spring, so when I was an assistant coach [at Samford in the mid 1990’s], I decided I was going to investigate the Princeton system. I spent four or five hours a day looking at tapes. I initially took 99 pages of notes trying to figure out the Princeton Offense.”

“It has Plato’s definition of good judgment, the ability to discern theĀ  difference in similar things and similarity in different things. So many things look the same, but are different, and vice versa.”

Tillette put together 20-30 offensive concepts on transparencies.

However, he ran into difficulties getting in touch with legendary Princeton head coach Pete Carril. During his coaching career, Carril refused to consult with opposing coaches about the Princeton Offense due to concerns that they would work to implement defenses designed to stop it. Continue reading

Interview With Rich Zvosec

Rich Zvosec

Interview Conducted 10/15/2008

Photo/M. Al-Kassim

Photo/M. Al-Kassim

Rich Zvosec was called into the UMKC Athletic Director’s office on March 13, 2007. He was fired. On his birthday.

ZVOSEC: “As I look back, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. It gives me a great story.”

“I leave with the highest winning percentage in UMKC history, If he had brought me back, I probably would have screwed that up.”

“It also gave me the opportunity to really go into some areas that I probably wouldn’t have done.”

Zvosec, who compiled an 84-91 record in his six seasons at UMKC has now branched into many other fields.

His firing coincided with the creation of the Big Ten Network, where he became an analyst for games. For the 2008-09 season, he will provide color commentary for Big 12 basketball games on the ESPN family of networks.

He also works a motivational speaker, and one of his talks can be found on his official website: Coach Z: Drink, Swear, Steal and Lie Your Way to Success.

He has also gotten into the acting industry, appearing in an episode of Friday Night Lights, several independent films, and Formosa Betrayed, which is currently in post-production.

ZVOSEC: “The irony is I always play the chief of the Secret Service, or an FBI agent, or a detective. It’s always been something of an authoritative figure.”

Zvosec intends to act in more films.

ZVOSEC: “I’ve got an agent in Los Angeles who has got me some auditions and we’ll see what happens.”

Zvosec has also written a book entitled Birds, Dogs, and Kangaroos: Life on the Backstreets of College Basketball which will hit stores in late October.

The title of the first chapter? “Happy Birthday, You’re Fired.” Continue reading

Interview With Scott Drew

Scott Drew

Interview Conducted 10/7/2008

The son of legendary Valparaiso Head Coach Homer Drew, Scott Drew is developing his own legend at Baylor University in Waco, Tex.

When he accepted the Baylor Men’s Basketball Head Coaching job in 2003, he inherited one of the largest rebuilding projects in NCAA athletic history. Just five years later, he led the team to the NCAA Tournament.

The sport of basketball runs deep in the Drew family.

Homer Drew has won 593 games in a 31-year coaching career at Bethel College, Indiana University-South Bend, and most notably, Valparaiso.

Both of Drew’s younger siblings were basketball talents. Bryce played six seasons in the NBA and is remembered by basketball fans for his game-winning three pointer for #13 seed Valparaiso in the opening round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament. Drew’s sister Dana was a two-time MAC player of the year for the University of Toledo.

Drew only played basketball through his sophomore year in high school because he chose to focus his efforts on tennis in hopes of receiving a college scholarship, which did not pan out.

He still stayed close to basketball in high school. He worked his father’s basketball camps at Valparaiso. He also coached both Bryce and Dana’s teams in what were called “State Games” in Indiana, a precursor to what AAU basketball is today. Continue reading

Interview With Dr. Oliver Eslinger

Dr. Oliver Eslinger

Interview Conducted 10/6/2008

Photo/Stanley Hu

Photo/Stanley Hu

The California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) Men’s Basketball program has not won a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game in 23 seasons.

In September 2008, the school hired a doctor to remedy the situation – Oliver Eslinger.

Eslinger, who was previously an assistant basketball coach for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Engineers, brings a wealth of knowledge in both basketball and sports psychology.

He was a starting guard at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. and possesses a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University with a specialization in sports psychology.

He was a co-founder of Top Game Sports Consulting in 2003 and has worked with athletes and teams as a sports and performance consultant. He served as a consultant to the 2003 United States Women’s World FIFA Cup Soccer Team.

For a student body with some of the greatest young minds in sciences and engineering and faculty rife with Nobel Prize winners and world-renowned researchers, Eslinger has already realized that members of the Cal Tech community are equally interested in the Men’s Basketball program. Continue reading