BOBBY JORDAN – WAGNER COLLEGE MEN’S BASKETBALL ASSISTANT COACH – EPISODE 456

Bobby Jordan

Website – https://wagnerathletics.com/sports/mens-basketball

Email – robert.jordan@wagner.edu

Twitter – @BobJordan1

Bobby Jordan just completed his second season as an assistant coach with the Wagner College Seahawks men’s basketball program after joining the team in June of 2019. 
 
Following his playing career at Drexel, Jordan become part of the Dragons coaching staff, first as an operations assistant for two years and then as assistant coach for three seasons.  

Jordan came to Wagner following one season at the prestigious IMG Academy as head basketball coach. He led the Ascenders to a 26-4 record and saw four players sign with Division 1 schools, along with five others signing on to play college basketball.

Prior to IMG; Jordan served as head coach at Philadelphia area prep school Girard College where he guided them to a 23-6 record as three of his players went onto sign with Division 1 schools. 

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Grab pen and paper before you listen to this episode with Bobby Jordan, Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York.

What We Discuss with Bobby Jordan

  • Leaving IMG Academy for an opportunity with his former teammate Bashir Mason, the head coach at Wagner
  • Why he asked about the culture at Wagner during his interview
  • The family atmosphere at Wagner that permeates the entire athletic department
  • The importance of communication, being present, and time management in balancing the demands of coaching and the demands of family
  • How high school film being available on hudl has made it easier to see more games/players
  • What is missed when watching a recruit on film as opposed to online.
  • Why high school coaches, AAU Coaches, and players should contact college coaches in their region of the country first in the recruiting process
  • Why he prefers getting a highlight tape via email or social media as the first avenue high school coaches should use to contact him about a recruit
  • Building relationships with high school coaches when you’re NOT recruiting one of their players
  • Talking to opposing coaches to get an unbiased opinion about a recruit
  • His take on the extra year of eligibility granted to NCAA basketball players, the transfer portal
  • “Recruiting” the players already in your program
  • The number one reason players transfer in his opinion? Culture and relationships.
  • Holding everybody accountable for the same things on and off the court is extremely important
  • Why transparency helps build trust and strengthen the relationships between players and coaches
  • How the staff at Wagner built their culture this past season around “toughness”
  • Empty your tank every day
  • What toughness means for Wagner College men’s basketball
  • The challenge of Covid Testing throughout the season and not knowing when you got to the gym if practice could go on as scheduled
  • The impact of Covid on the schedule, on travel, and on practice
  • Handling the back to back games on their schedule this season
  • The challenge for players not having a normal college experience due to Covid
  • Having more time for player development and film work this season
  • Looking forward to the return of team bonding activities
  • A quick preview on what Wagner has coming back next season

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THANKS, BOBBY JORDAN

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TRANSCRIPT FOR BOBBY JORDAN – WAGNER COLLEGE MEN’S BASKETBALL ASSISTANT COACH – EPISODE 455

[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle tonight who is still down in Disney World for spring break. So Jason is hanging out while I am back here, plugging away at the podcast tonight. We are pleased to welcome back to the Hoop Heads Pod Bobby Jordan, who is currently an assistant coach at Wagner college.

Last time we talked to Bobby, he was at IMG. Bobby, welcome back to the Hoop Heads Pod, Mike.

Bobby Jordan: [00:00:28] Thanks a lot for having me back on. I feel honored to be a repeat guest right now on the Hoop Heads Pod.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:34] That’s it, man. You’ve joined an exclusive club. I’m going to have to go back and see how many repeat guests we’ve had.

It’s not a huge list. So we are glad that you are one of our repeaters. You’ve been one of our most loyal supporters from the very first time that you came on the show. And that’s one of the things that we really have come to appreciate about the coaching community is just how much support there has been out there for what we’re trying to do and grow the [00:01:00] game and give coaches a platform, not only to share their story, but hopefully for our audience to be able to learn something.

And that’s certainly what we hope to do with you tonight is to be able to give you an opportunity to talk about your transition back from IMG Academy, back into the college ranks with Wagner. Talk a little bit about the unique situation that everybody across the country in the game of basketball, went through, dealing with COVID and figuring out how to navigate that.

So we’ll get into all of that. Want to start out by just give us the quick story of how you leave IMG, how the opportunity at Wagner comes to pass. And then we’ll dive right into the experiences that you’ve had there.

Bobby Jordan: [00:01:39] Well, I mean, it came about actually pretty quickly while I was down at IMG.

I went there for pretty much a year, pretty much from June to June and we had finished up our season. We finished up around the same time college does in March, and we were kind of going into our off season training, end of April, early May. And I got a [00:02:00] call from one of my former teammates, Bashir Mason, who’s our head coach.

And he had an opening on his staff and he wanted to go through an interview process and bring in a couple of guys as well as myself that he was thinking about for the position. So I went up to New York kind of saw the Wagner campus meant a lot in the administration.

Met with a couple of the guys on staff. Most of which I was already familiar with. But it was a chance to kind of sit down with them in a more unique environment going through an interview process and get to know them a little bit better and they can get to know me a little bit better.

And as that process went on, Bashir had called me one night. I was down in Florida at the time and offered me the chance to, to join the staff at Wagner. And it was a great opportunity to go back with family and go to work for a guy who I played with in college, who I respect and also to go work at an unbelievable place in Wagner College, where they’ve had a lot of [00:03:00] success on the court, off the court and as a college as a whole.

Mike Klinzing: [00:03:05] So when you go into that interview process, what are some questions that you have in mind when you’re thinking about making that jump back? Do you remember a specific thing or two that you asked of them? I think people always ask the question. Well, what did they ask you?

I’m always curious. What did you ask them? What were some things that you wanted to know more about before you could really determine whether or not this was the right place for you? Obviously, you had a previous relationship with Coach Mason, but just talk to me a little bit about what some of the things were that you wanted to know more about before you committed.

Bobby Jordan: [00:03:38] Yeah, I mean, for me one of the questions that I was big on asking was the culture of the team, the culture of the staff, the culture of the athletic department because coming from a place like IMG the one thing that I loved was just the culture around our staff that we had there.

You know, how everybody worked well [00:04:00] together. So that was one of the biggest questions I had was what was the culture like at Wagner? You know, what were they about and what were they looking to do in the future?

Mike Klinzing: [00:04:08] What was the answer that they gave you that made you feel like, Hey, this is the right place for me.

What were the, what was the answer that you were looking for? What was the answer that they gave you that convinced you that, Hey, this is going to be a good place for me.

Bobby Jordan: [00:04:21] I think the best thing was the family atmosphere that they had there, it’s a small college in terms of size.

And we’re really connected athletic department in terms of the administration and the coaches. It’s not a place where half the department is in one building, half of the department is in another building. We kind of all operate in the Spiro center. So you get that family atmosphere.

That’s something that I was used to, people just really connected and not only care about each other in a professional way. But care about each other in a personal way as well. And just asking how your family is doing, how your kids are doing [00:05:00] that, that type of stuff is really important.

Mike Klinzing: [00:05:03] Did you feel like heading back to the Northeast kind of like to your roots, was that important to you in any way?

Bobby Jordan: [00:05:10] Yeah, that was that was really important to me as well. You know, the weather’s a lot nicer down in Florida. I know that I experienced that this year where we got our first taste of snow.

I hadn’t had that in a while. Cause actually my first year back we didn’t get any snow. So I had a real taste of that this year. But yeah, getting back to the Northeast, I have two young daughters three and a half and two and a half years old chance for them to be near their family, their grandparents.

My wife is from the Northeast, so that was a big deal for us as a family was kind of getting back closer to home. Although we loved our time down in Florida there’s nothing like being closer to home.

Mike Klinzing: [00:05:46] All right. Talk about navigating being a coach with the responsibilities that you have at the division one level, balancing that with your family.

I know that’s one of the things that I think coaches at every [00:06:00] level have to figure out how to navigate that, how to be a great husband, how to be a great father and still be a great coach and put in the kind of time that we all know is required in order to have success. So talk a little bit about what that’s been like for you and your wife and your daughters.

Bobby Jordan: [00:06:19] Yeah, I mean, I think one of the biggest things is just communication. Just having a direct line of communication with your family on really like what’s going on in your program, when practices are, when games are coming up, when you’re going to be away on road trips you know, as an all different issue and we can’t really go out and recruit.

We’re watching more stuff on film I’d have to watch this live feed of a game coming up. You know, really being in communication with that. And then also just time management really just when you’re home and your kids are coming home from school, or you just pick them up from school, just being present in the moment with them not being attached to your phone kind of putting that away for a little bit [00:07:00] and then saving those calls or reviewing that film at maybe a later time in the night when they’re already in bed and you can kind of sit down and get some more work done.

So I think it’s really just being present in the moment when you’re with them.

Mike Klinzing: [00:07:15] Is that easy or hard for you?

Bobby Jordan: [00:07:18] It’s easy for me. My kids are great sleepers, they go to bed around eight o’clock every night. So you know, it can get stressful at times during certain times of the year, when maybe the recruiting’s picking up or you got a road trip coming up and you’re preparing for games, so that can be a struggle, it’s always on your mind. You never let it go. But you really just got to work hard to kind of be with them during those times.

Mike Klinzing: [00:07:48] All right. So you mentioned recruiting, let’s talk a little bit about what recruiting looks like during this period of COVID and how it’s been different [00:08:00] and how it’s been challenging and just how you’re going about it day to day. What does recruiting look like maybe compared to what it looks like normally for you guys?

Yeah, I mean,

Bobby Jordan: [00:08:10] Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of positives and negatives to covid.  There’s new norm and recruiting on the positive side I feel like from a top management standpoint, you can kind of see more prospects on a given day than you might during the course of the season. No normally you know, in a normal year of practice ends or a game men’s and you can rush off to go see one game now, and you can kind of see as many games as possible in a day with high school coaches have done a great job of the ones that have been playing of sending their games out on hudl, or any other type of video source that they use, so you can watch a multiple number of games in a day that you might not have been able to do on a regular year. So it really kind of helps from a time perspective and [00:09:00] being able to see more prospects in a given week than normal on the negative side you know, it’s really, I think beneficial from coaches to see players live because not only do you on film, you can’t see warm-ups on before the game.

How do they interact with the team? How do they really interact with the coach? You can’t see those little things on film that you can, when you go to a game live you know, also when you go to a game live, you can kind of see maybe how do they interact with their parents during a game? Is there something there that might be a warning sign?

So that’s kind of one of the negatives of not being able to kind of go out live and see somebody. Everything now is kind of either on film or we do virtual visits on zoom. So it’s kind of taken out, I think, the personal touch that you get a lot of the times when we’re able to get out on the road and go see guys live.

Mike Klinzing: [00:09:56] What will stay once this whole [00:10:00] thing passes?

In other words, do you think it’ll be more of a hybrid model than it was in the past in terms of you’re still obviously going to want to get out and see. Players in person, but do you think there’ll be more acceptance or do you think it’s going to be easier to maybe evaluate a player on film because you’ve been doing it so much more than maybe it was in the past?

Bobby Jordan: [00:10:26] Yeah. You know, It’ll be interesting to see if the calendar changes in a different way. At certain periods of the year now become dead mainly during our season. You know, especially early on, I’m thinking those November, December when you’re kind of in your non-conference because you’re kind of scattered all over the place a lot of times and traveling a lot anyway in the non-conference like, do those periods become dead now?

Other than that, I don’t think any serious changes will be made. I think what this has done though, is it has helped high [00:11:00] school coaches, AAU coaches to really realize the importance of promoting their players to schools and kind of reaching out to colleges to get tapes out. I think a lot of coaches around the country have done a great job of, of getting the word out about their guys, especially the high school guys this year, because it’s been such a tough year for them.

But I think coaches have just gone above and beyond doing that this year for their kids. And I hope that stays.

Mike Klinzing: [00:11:30] What’s your best advice for, let’s say a high school coach who has a player that has the potential to play at the division one level and on any college level, what’s the best way for a high school coach in your mind to reach out to a program that they think might be a good fit for their player, how should they go about reaching out to a coaching staff?

Bobby Jordan: [00:11:53] Yeah, I think that the first thing is, is kind of looking at your region because I think that’s another way that. [00:12:00] Kind of this whole pandemic has changed from recruiting. I think you’re starting to see a lot more kids stay within their region, stay within a two to three hour drive of their home, more so than it has been in the past.

A lot of that could be relationship based and not being able to go get on a plane and visit schools and we’re getting an official visit, paid to visit somewhere, so first I would look at the schools in your region first because those are the schools that are going to know you the best.

And they’re going to have an idea of who your guys are the best. For instance it doesn’t necessarily benefit a kid living in, let’s just say Oklahoma for their coach to reach out to somebody in Pennsylvania. I know you want to get his film out to as many schools as possible, but it’s going to be really hard for us to even know you or know of that kid, if [00:13:00] we’ve never recruited that area before.  So I think it’s best to kind of stay in that two, three hour radius and go all scholarship levels. The way this has kind of changed is everybody’s you know, now with the transfer portal being what it is, players being able to get an extra year of eligibility.

I think coaches need to basically explain to parents and players that they need to be open to any type of scholarship level at this point. Just because of how everything is kind of changing the recruiting landscape.

Mike Klinzing: [00:13:36] Two questions there first. When a high school coach first reaches out to you, would you rather hear from them with a phone call, would you rather get an email from them?

Would you rather have them send you whatever the link, the hudl link, what’s the best first method of contact for a high school coach if they’re trying to get you to look at one of their players?

Bobby Jordan: [00:13:58] I think kind [00:14:00] of, for me,I would say either email or social media actually and kind of give a highlight tape first cause that kind of gives me an idea of who the guy is and kind of how he plays.

And then usually I’ll look at that highlight tape and then I’ll reach out to the coach and say, listen, can you send me two or three games of the guy? And then I probably want to watch a couple games and then jump on a phone call with them. Kind of get to know the player a little bit more and get to know his family a little bit more and ask the coach, what they think of him. So kind of reaching out with that initial contact with maybe a highlight tape to kind of get the ball rolling through email or even social media, I think is a good way to kind of get the attention of a coach right away.

Mike Klinzing: [00:14:47] And how do you as a college coach build relationships with the high school coaches in your region so that when they do have a player that fits at your level, that could be a good [00:15:00] fit, that they keep Wagner top of mind.

What are you guys doing as a staff to build those relationships day in, day out with the high school coaches in your area?

Bobby Jordan: [00:15:09] I mean, for us, being in New York, the other three guys on our staff have all played for great programs and in New Jersey and St. Benedict, St Anthony’s and St.Pats. Those guys do an unbelievable job of keeping relationships in the New Jersey area. Me being from Philadelphia, just keeping those contacts and even doing it when those guys don’t have a player. You know, for example the Head Coach of Archbishop would thrown off the Catholic league champs this year.

We’re not recruiting any of his players. But I talk to John at least once every two weeks kind of just check in on him, see how he’s doing more so than anything else, see on his family’s doing. And that in kind of asking him about his program, like how you guys doing, what are you guys doing on the off season, what are you doing for the summer?

And a lot of [00:16:00] the times guys will ask you questions. What’s going to go on with recruiting, what’s the calendar going to look like? If they have a player who is maybe going to the Big East, like, well, what do you think about them? Do you think you’ll be okay there? So really just talking to those coaches when you really don’t need to recruit one of their players, I think is the biggest way to kind of develop your relationship with them.

Mike Klinzing: [00:16:24] Do you talk to those coaches at all ever about kids that they’re playing against that you might be recruiting? So again, you’re, you have somebody that has been an opponent of a player that you recruiting?

I would think that you could probably get a pretty good feel for a kid from an opposing coach who has a lot less incentive to be, I don’t want to say dishonest, but isn’t going to maybe exaggerate the good qualities of a player, but just kind of maybe give you a more honest opinion of what that player is that they’re competing against.

You ever get an opportunity to do that. Do you guys utilize that as a tool to [00:17:00] help you in recruiting?

Bobby Jordan: [00:17:02] All the time, all the time? I think it’s great to go. And as you know, a coach in that league you know, about a guy that’s there’s tons of Scouts. In the Northeast area of the country who we kind of we’ll ask as well, cause they go out and see a lot of games and they they’ll give you an unbiased opinion as well.

We all want to support our players and we all want them to be great. But I think t’s very beneficial for us as a college coach to kind of ask other people of what they think of a potential prospect.

Mike Klinzing: [00:17:37] What is the impact in your mind? And maybe you can address this on a bigger college basketball wide scale, and then maybe address it specifically to your situation at Wagner with the extra year of eligibility and the way the transfer rules are changing.

What is the impact you think across the college basketball landscape and then [00:18:00] what is it specifically to Wagner and your mind? What are these changes going to mean in real life?

Bobby Jordan: [00:18:08] I think that the biggest impact. This year of extra eligibility will have on players in these 2021 class, whether it be high school junior college or even transfers is now it becomes a numbers game.

You know, obviously we’re, we’re limited to the certain amount of scholarships that we can give out per year. And now if you’re a school that went into the year, maybe with five seniors and you have four coming back now that was for less scholarships, you’re going to give out now to the 2021 class.

Now things can change and you can have guys go into the portal and that might free up some scholarships, but you know, really what this did was it kind of made a lot of teams. You know, the biggest thing in college is stay old getting all the stakeholders. I think that’s one of Notre Dame’s philosophies in the ACC.

And [00:19:00] that’s really what this kind of extra year of eligibility has kind of done for some teams is it’s allowed them to stay old. You know, for us to kata becomes a roster management thing. Now you got to look at you know, how many scholarships with guys coming back. Are you going to have for the 2022 class even looking into 2023 because now really what this has done is it’s kind of shaken up a lot of rosters throughout the country.

You know, programs that thought that men might be losing guys. But now they’re, they’re having those guys back for another year.

Mike Klinzing: [00:19:33] Yeah. I got to imagine that it’s difficult all the way around. I mean, it’s difficult for you guys to kind of manage and you’re clearly have to have conversations with your guys who were kind of fitting into this extra year slot and then.

It’s gotta be tough for those kids who are high school kids that are coming out and they’re thinking, Hey, we got whatever X number, a number of scholarships are going to be available across the country because guys are graduating. And now all of a sudden, those [00:20:00] kids have an opportunity to come back, which you completely understand why.

I mean, you completely understand why that was done. And yet if you’re a high school kid and you’re a senior at this point, you gotta be sitting there thinking, going, man, I just, I was born in the wrong. I was born in the wrong year. Cause my opportunities just aren’t as wide. And I think it’ll be interesting to see just what those ramifications are for all the kids.

And maybe it ends up that some of the lower levels end up getting players that might’ve been D one players might end up going D two or it might end up in AI or maybe they even slipped down to division three, simply because the opportunities that might’ve been there previously at the division one level simply aren’t there because some of the current players are taking advantage of the opportunity to take that extra year.

Bobby Jordan: [00:20:45] Yeah, I agree. I mean, it’s going to, I think strengthen a lot of teams at the low major level, the mid-major level. They’re going to be probably more experienced next year than they have been in the past, and it’s just going to for sure help them. And you also are [00:21:00] going to see, like you said, a trickle down effect to division two because right now there’s over 1200 kids in the transfer portal.

And you know, a lot of those guys will wind up not staying Division 1, and they’ll have to go to D2. You know, so hopefully it can strengthen the division two and division three and NAIA ranks as well.

Mike Klinzing: [00:21:20] What’s your take on how the loosening of those transfer rules, what’s your take on how that impacts let’s just stay with the division one level.

How does that impact high major schools and how they recruit? How does that impact schools that are maybe at the mid-major level? Just. Well, give us an idea of how you think this is going to play out with the transfer rules changing and allowing kids to have, to be able to go without having to sit out a year.

How do you think it impacts the different levels within division one?

Bobby Jordan: [00:21:54] Yeah, I mean, I think one of the biggest things that’s, it’s going to do [00:22:00] is  you’re going to see the numbers that are in the portal this year. I think you’re going to see that continue and the biggest thing that I think you’re seeing is what has been happening for a couple of years is guys moving up levels.

But you’re also seeing guys move down levels as well. So I think there’s a lot of give and take with that between high major level, mid major level, and low major level as you’re seeing the, went to that high mid-major level now are transferring down and there’s guys that are transferring up.  I think it gives kids the opportunity to kind of chase their dreams and do what’s best for what they think is right for them.

And I think they should be afforded that opportunity. And I think you’ll kind of see a lot of the same patterns that we’ve seen recently. Now it might get magnified a little bit just because of the rule being put in place. And the numbers might go up a little bit. But kind of what we’ve been seeing the past couple of years and [00:23:00] guys transferring up or grad transfers.

I think you, I don’t think there won’t be much change in that besides kind of just a little increase in numbers.

Mike Klinzing: [00:23:12] So any, any adaptations that you guys have to make as a coaching staff, or it’s pretty much, you’ve kind of been living under this system to some degree for the past couple of years, and you’re just going to continue to do what you do and continue to work hard at recruiting. It is there, is there anything that you’re going to adjust as a result of this, or it’s just kind of, Hey, we’re going to keep going.  We get along and do what you’re doing.

Bobby Jordan: [00:23:34]  You know, it’s really about the culture of your program the relationships that you have with your players and your program.   I think that can’t take a back seat to recruiting the next class. That’s always important. It’s always important to look ahead and recruiting and who’s not in your program, but it’s also important to recruit the old guys in your program and their experience and the relationships [00:24:00] that you have with them.

I think that that becomes. It’s always important. I think it becomes a little bit more important even now with this rule change. But that, that’s the biggest thing that we’ve kind of heard from kids that are looking to transfer is I want a good culture. I want to have a good relationship with not just one coach on the staff.

I want to have a good relationship with every coach on the staff. So that that’s, I think some of the things that you’ll kind of see staffs make adjustments on in the next couple of years.

Mike Klinzing: [00:24:34] All right. So that being said, how do you guys at Wagner go about building those kinds of relationships with the kids that are in your program?

And clearly this year was not a normal year, so maybe let’s just talk about what you guys did this year, where it’s maybe a little bit more challenging to be able to build the kind of relationships that you’d like to and spend as much time in direct [00:25:00] contact with your guys. And clearly you guys were able to have a season and a very successful one at that, but still there were challenges that you’ve never faced before.

So how did you guys go about making sure that you kept your team together and that you built the types of relationships that are required in order for you to keep those kids a part of your program and keep building on the success that you currently have?

Bobby Jordan: [00:25:24] I just kind of go back to culture.  We kind of changed our mantra this year.

And one of the things we always talked about was that that has to be preached every day. And that also has to be preached everyday, not only on the court, but off the court. So I think just being transparent with your guys. Holding everybody accountable for the same things on and off the court is extremely important.

You obviously don’t want to let things go from one player that you won’t let go from another player. You know, so really just having that transparency of this is how we operate. I think that’s [00:26:00] big for kids and that kind of builds a relationship because now they know they can trust you.

They can trust everybody on staff that we’re all on the same page. We’re all looking to go to the same place. And we’re all looking to achieve the same goals together, so just keeping that culture every single day, day in and day out you know, I think that really helps with the trust, the building of trust with your players and your staff.

Mike Klinzing: [00:26:31] So do you build that out initially and have a discussion with them? The team sort of about those, those standards, that accountability, and then you build on it day by day, over the course of the season where they come to trust you. In other words, is there something, a team meeting and idea where you’re going through with everybody and saying, look, here’s the kind of team you want to be.

Here’s our expectations. You’re getting buy-in from all of them. And then [00:27:00] over the course of the season, you’re continuing to build on those things every day, by building up the trust, is that how?

Bobby Jordan: [00:27:05] We talked about with the weird COVID year, we kind of started this and in the summer, coach kind of introduced this culture of toughness that we were going to have.

And we talked about it. We talked about it every week. You know, we had guests come on it that talked about toughness like Jay Bilas or Fran Fraschilla, talked to our team about the tough times that you’re going to go through during the season. And those were beneficial to our guys throughout the year.

And those were things that we could touch back upon during the season. So really it didn’t start the culture of toughness start the first day of practice. It had started in July. We had talked about this is who we are. I want to be these are our objectives. These are non-negotiables in the culture of toughness.

And we need guys to follow this, not only on the court, but off the court as well. Like I talked about just what we do every day, what we do [00:28:00] every day on campus, how we approach academics, how we approach how we’re acting in the dorms, everything, how we approach, how we interact with other people on campus that goes into not just only helping your team keep that culture going, But then also pretty much allows your team to get a feel of how you’re going to operate on the court as well. And that was kind of really a big thing for us was those, those meetings that we had in the summer to kind of lay the foundation for our culture of toughness.

Mike Klinzing: [00:28:39] So before you meet with the players, why toughness?

What was the process like behind the scenes with you guys as a coaching staff coming up with toughness as being the guide word that was going to take you through the season and allow your kids to have that roadmap for the type of success you wanted to have,

[00:29:00] Bobby Jordan: [00:29:01] might have to cut this one out. Why this is a tough one for me?

Cause I can’t really answer this one to be honest, like coach came up with it and he was a tough player himself and I think he just thought we, the year before that…

Mike Klinzing: [00:29:21] might’ve been what was lacking. Gotcha. That makes sense. No, that makes complete. That makes complete sense.

I’m always just curious again, when you think about, and as I’m talking to coaches on the podcast and you hear them share different standards and no, there’s some that get repeated and then there’s other ones that are kind of outliers that you haven’t heard before. And I’m always curious about just where what the process is like, how does a coach come up with, these are my four things, or this is my one thing for this season.

That’s going to be the most important that I’m going to focus on. And I do think that each individual coaching staff for each individual head coach, you have [00:30:00] things that you value. And then you’re also looking at your personnel and saying, what. What types of things do I want to encourage our players to do that is going to help us to have the most success.

And so when a, that’s why I’m always curious about sort of the process behind that. So when you think about toughness, how do you go about recognizing that? In other words, what behaviors are you telling the players that you want to see from them? How are you praising them when they exhibit toughness?

What does that process look like? Because you can easily throw a word up on a bulletin board and you can say, Hey, we gotta be tougher. But if the players don’t understand exactly how that translates into what they do on the practice floor, what they do in a game or what they do in the classroom or what they do in the community, then it becomes just a buzzword and it really doesn’t have an impact.

So what did you guys look for and [00:31:00] praise when you saw from your players in any of those settings that I mentioned?

Bobby Jordan: [00:31:03] We kind of talked about, one of our key things was empty your tank just every single day, empty your tank, whether it’s in the weight room whether it’s in practice obviously during the games, just give everything you have go all out.

You know, play hard, play hard. We want to be known as one of the toughest teams in the league, from a defensive standpoint from a rebounding standpoint, hustle plays we did we did a toughness chart during practice. We would have confidence plays of the week during the pre-season just to kind of emphasize, this is what we’re looking for.

It could be as simple as just telling somebody they threw you a good pass. You know, that’s tough. That’s tough to have the wherewithal to tell one of your teammates and practice that they threw a good pass and point to them. Those are little things that teams really kind of [00:32:00] lack at times, or you see that happen on good teams.

You don’t see that happen on bad teams. You know, and then the obvious things taking charges, diving for loose balls. You know, we want to win every 50/50 battle every game. Those are kind of just some of the tough things we talk about. And then just caught him just preaching that word every single day, if we’re in the huddle and it’s kind of like an emotional meeting and a guy is saying something kind of personal to himself or about something else.

Just follow that up with that was tough. That kind of just gets in their mind that it’s okay to, to share what you’re feeling during certain times too, because that’s part of toughness.

Mike Klinzing: [00:32:43] Yeah, I think toughness is a word that can encompass so much when you think about, I think typically when you hear it, you think physical toughness, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind when I hear that word of, of toughness is just being physically tough.

So that’s taking [00:33:00] the charge, that’s diving for a loose ball. That’s being willing to play man to man defense and taking pride in stopping your player and being willing to help and all that, just the physical piece of it. And then I think there’s obviously there’s mental toughness and being able to step to the free throw line and make free throws and big moments or being a guy that wants the ball in critical situations.

And then I think what you just described is just having that personal toughness sort of in terms of your. Interpersonal relationships and being able to have difficult conversations, which is difficult sometimes for us as adults, to be able to confront somebody. And then you start talking about trying to get your kids to be read or write a better leaders.

And you’re talking about an 18, 19, 20 year old kid, and you want them to step up and sort of demand or encourage their teammates to, to be the type of teammate that they want them to be. And to put the poor, put forth the kind of effort that you need them to have. And that’s, that’s tough. That’s really [00:34:00] tough to do as a player to, to have those kinds of interactions with your peers.

And so I think when you, when you talk toughness, you’re talking about something that goes a long way, and there’s a lot of different avenues that you guys can take it. You mentioned about kind of tracking that stuff in practice when you’re tracking that, what does that look like? In terms of responsibility for who’s right.

Who’s writing that stuff down. Is that a manager’s job? Is that one of the assistant coaches? How are you guys, do you chart it after the fact like during like watching film or practice? What’s the process

Bobby Jordan: [00:34:34] you were in practice? You know, on manager kind of tough talk. We would call it, like, I talked to doc kind of if you’re you get a nice assist and you’re, you’re rewarding the guy who through the paths you know, kind of just talking to them, that’s considered tough talk.

If a guy takes a charge we’re big on everybody running to pick them up, touch them whether it be a pound a handshake, whatever [00:35:00] you know, little things like that, diving for loose balls, that’s charted offensive, rebounds you know, basically tough plays, but also like we talked about tough talk you, that can be in a huddle.

Where we’re doing a situation and you’re down, how’s the huddle interacting. How’s the positive energy that’s coming out of that huddle that they’re going to come back more? Is it negative energy guys with bad body language? You know, those are certain things you look for you know, on the chart.

Mike Klinzing: [00:35:32] Do you guys have, how are the responsibilities broken up amongst you guys on the staff in terms of what you’re watching for, what you’re looking for is everybody kind of coaching everything or do you have it broken up where you have a guy who’s watching offense, a guy who’s watching defense, somebody who’s specifically dialed into those toughness plays.

How do you guys go about dividing up sort of the roles? Yeah, I mean, in a practice setting,

Bobby Jordan: [00:35:58] We’re kind of just all on the same page. [00:36:00] All the coaches watching everything that’s going on. You know, the things that we divide up are kind of positional based just in terms of you know, on the breakdown before practice individual skill, work, player development you know, all that stuff is broken down.

But really practice everybody on the same page, same voice, same message and really just preaching our culture every single day.

Mike Klinzing: [00:36:26] All right, let’s get into some COVID changes things you had to adjust this season. Let’s start with practice itself. How was practice different in this COVID era than it was typically?

Bobby Jordan: [00:36:41] One of the things we actually heard from our players this year in terms of practice was we had to be tested three times a week you know, for COVID.

So those days that we’re going in for practice, and that’s a testing day our guys said to us like, coach, one of the hardest parts, is when we’d [00:37:00] be going into practice. Or walk into the gym and never even know if we weren’t going to have practice that day. Because you just never know, you never knew if somebody was going to test positive or, or anything.

So that was really difficult. You realize kind of the mental part that guys went through in terms of that. And every time we were having a testing day of, they didn’t even know if they were going to be practicing that day. And then if something happened, they wouldn’t be probably practicing for another, at least two weeks.

So that’s one of the difficult things we went through early on kind of just the protocols of guys having to wear a mask during practice. You know, I know that was very difficult for the players now that eventually stopped us as coaches having to wear masks during, at all times.

This year was a little different just in terms of a practice setting. [00:38:00] But the biggest thing was, I think mentally for guys was where are they going to practice that day? That’s, that’s kind of the biggest sentiment that we heard from our guys throughout the year.

Mike Klinzing: [00:38:14] Was there anything you guys could do to mitigate that in terms of conversations that you were having with the kids about kind of staying safe?

Bobby Jordan: [00:38:18] Really, to be honest, our guys did a great job all year. We were fortunate to not have a positive test in our program the entire year. So our guys did an unbelievable job of kind of staying laser focused on the year.

They knew what they wanted to do. And they, they, they stayed the course with it. They, they didn’t put themselves in any situations where. Well, anything possibly could happen. They were great about that. Because the one big thing we saw in year was that first week of practice, just the joy that the guys had on their face just to be back and kind of being able to play.

And then obviously once you start to season and once you kind of [00:39:00] get it going, you start getting on a roll on winning some games. Now it really gets flowing and now it’s like, all right, we’re here, we’re here.

Mike Klinzing: [00:39:12] Yeah. That had to be, I’m sure a thrill for your kids because you go back to August, September of last fall. And I think there was some real concern amongst everybody at all levels of basketball. Whether or not there would be a season at all. I know my son is a freshman in high school or was a freshmen in high school this past season.

And you asked me back in September, how many games I thought he was gonna play. And I would have said that there was only theoretically they could have played 22. And if you would have said, give me a number, is it more likely they’re going to play 22 or is it more likely they’re going to play zero?

I think I would have definitely picked zero and it ended up that they got an opportunity to play 22 games and play out their whole season. And so I [00:40:00] think, like you said, everybody was just happy. Coaches, players were just thrilled to be able to, to be on the floor because nobody knew whether or not that was going to happen.

And I’m sure that for you guys, as coaches too, just the opportunity to be back on the floor and, and coaching your kids had to be a thrill. How about. The travel situation. So I know that you guys played the two game series within your league. And so talk a little bit about how that was different from what you’re used to, just in terms of preparing as a coach for back to backs, which oftentimes as a college program, you’re not in a normal year, you’re probably not playing any back to backs, maybe, maybe one or two a season.

And then what the travel procedures were like when you guys went on the road and how that was different, just in terms of how you handle again, keeping everybody distance and all the things that go along,

Bobby Jordan: [00:40:54] The back-to-back games was extremely difficult. Something that [00:41:00] at first we kind of didn’t think about how difficult it was actually going to be.

Just in terms of you’re not, if you’re on the road, you’re kind of staying put, it’s not like you’re going to another place to play another game. But really just in terms of travel. So how our league is broken up. We had four home series four way series, and then we had one series where we played one game at home, one game away.

And that was against our closest opponent, which was Farleigh Dickinson. So really on the road, it was very different in terms of, we weren’t able to shoot around. If you were at a road game, you couldn’t do a shoot around the day of the game. So that was kind of different in a way.

Now we had some games where at the time got moved up where you really wouldn’t have a shoot around that second day anyway. You know, just being in the hotel really our guys like to hang out in the lobby and stuff like that, when we’re on the road [00:42:00] in a normal year, they were trying to just…

Had to stay in their room, came down for a meal, came down when we were leaving. And that was it. So that was kind of a little different of really just being in your room for the entire time you were on a road trip was really different especially not being able to go to the gym neither.

So we didn’t even get that release of being able to get away for an hour, two hours kind of just to go over to the gym and shoot around. So those procedures were really different. The difficulty of the back to backs in a way is just the recovery time, the recovery time of playing, playing a game 24 hours later we had some times where we had less than 24 hours, we would play a seven o’clock game and then we played four o’clock the next day.

You know, so just really how you kind of got around that was. No, from a strength and conditioning standpoint from a medical standpoint, just making sure your guys are getting the proper treatment the [00:43:00] night after the game. You know, ice baths recovery boots making sure they’re getting the proper food.

And then that became, I think, a little bit more magnified than it is in other years where you’re really not thinking about that. Now we handled the back to backs pretty well. I think we probably had to be up there in the country in terms of teams that played back to back games in terms of sweeps winning both games.

So I think our guys handled that pretty well. And just the whole preparation around it was different. You gotta make adjustments on the second day the first game you kind of have your scout and you know what you’re going to do and now it’s all right. We saw what happened now, what kind of adjustment are we going to make?

What kind of adjustments do we think that they’re going to make? Because the personnel and pretty much everything else in terms of scouting stays the same the second day, except now it’s what kind of adjustments are they going to make him, what are we going to have to do as well?

Mike Klinzing: [00:43:59] What does [00:44:00] that 20 hours or so in-between the buzzer of the first game and the tip of the second game. What does that look like for you guys as a coaching staff? Are you, obviously you go through the entire game film and you’re talking, but how much sleep are you getting and what does that 20 hours left for?

Depending

Bobby Jordan: [00:44:16] on the time of the game. So I believe our first series of the year we played at four o’clock the first game and then four o’clock the second game. So that kind of allowed the staff to kind of sit around you know, probably around six 37 after we got back to the hotel and got dinner and kind of review the tape as a staff then bring the guys back down you know, to watch it and kind of talk about what we’re going to do the next day.

So the timing of the game was really important. The times where you played seven o’clock at night game and then a four o’clock day game the next day. You know, you’re pretty much in the office to midnight 1:00 AM reviewing the film and then you’re going home and you’re, and you’re getting back up the next day.

And you’re probably [00:45:00] having like a mid day film session. If you’re at home you’re doing a shoot around so that the timing of everything was kind of short and condensed. You know, which really can kind of affect your preparation in a way with your team.

Mike Klinzing: [00:45:16] And how do you look at it with your team when you win the first game versus you lose the first game in terms of kind of their mental state and what you have to do as coaches to make sure that they’re prepared to play. That game the next day. Cause one of the things that I would think, and just thinking back to my time as a player, so if I played that first game and I didn’t play well, and then I had to go, just sit in my hotel room by myself for the next whatever number of hours, like I think that would mentally be kind of difficult.

And so I’m wondering if you experienced any of that with your players and if you had conversations with them and conversely, if you win the first game and you’re like, Oh [00:46:00] man, we got this now we can come back out. We feel pretty good that we beat them last night. We’re going to just beat them again.

So just talk maybe about how you handled it mentally with your kids to make sure they were prepared for that second game and that they weren’t getting too high.

Bobby Jordan: [00:46:14] That was definitely a thing that we saw a lot. The second game like I said, we won the first game a lot of the times. So the second game for us kind of becomes like, you talked about like a mental game.

We want to make sure our guys aren’t too satisfied with the win in a way whether we won by, I think one time we won by 30, the first game, and then we lost in double overtime the next game. So you want to make sure you guys don’t get too high, too low. Luckily for us, we were competing for a regular season championship towards the end of the year.

And that kind of was a carrot to kind of hang over guys was how important the second game [00:47:00] is, how important it is to get a sweep in the series, and really just focusing in on what made us successful in the first game. Why did we win the first game? And then how are we going to translate that again in the second game?

Just really motivating them in that way to kind of get ready for that next day.

Mike Klinzing: [00:47:23] If you had to ask or think about what your players would say, what do you think they would say to you? It was the biggest challenge that they face or the biggest struggle with the whole situation. Do you think it was that not knowing about coming into practice or was there something else?

Bobby Jordan: [00:47:41] In terms of the games or just practices?

Mike Klinzing: [00:47:46] I think just overall in terms of COVID, what do you think was the most challenging part of it for the players? If you took a player survey, what kind of answers do you think you get back about? What was the most challenging piece of it for them challenge

[00:48:00] Bobby Jordan: [00:47:59] For these guys all year was just not having that normal college experience that, that release that you get in a normal year of just being on a college campus.

I know our semester stopped two weeks before Thanksgiving. And our guys and the women’s team were the only basically people on campus, students on campus at the time up until the end of February start of March. You know, so just that struggle, I think for them of kind of just being there by themselves and pretty much counting the women’s team, 30 students on campus.

I think that was the struggle of not having the release of a normal college atmosphere for them. And I think like I said, credit to our guys who fought through that all year and had a lot of success with it, but I think that’s what a lot of kids struggled with this year was just not having that normal college [00:49:00] experience that they’ve had.

Mike Klinzing: [00:49:03] Yeah. I mean, I can only imagine what that was like. I know when I played we’d get the two weeks at Christmas time where all the students would be home. And my first two years when I wasn’t living off campus, we just got, we actually moved out of our dorms and moved into a hotel and you’re talking about, but that time we were doing two practices a day, and then you’re just going back and sitting on a bed in a hotel room.

And that was like, that drove me. I still remember that vividly. And that’s 30, some odd years ago. So I’m sure for your kids, that, that was definitely a challenge. Did you guys try to do more maybe team activities or getting guys together more than you did or more than you would on a normal circumstances?

Or was it just because, Hey, we want to try to keep guys apart a little bit because of again, social distancing and the covid thing.

Bobby Jordan: [00:49:52] It was great from a player development standpoint  with the kind of longer break in terms of school this year [00:50:00] is you were able to get guys in for film a little bit more normally than you might not be able to in a normal year, get to get some more skill development and with them just because of the timing of everything, just having a lot more time on your hands to be able to do these things.

So I think from a player development standpoint, it really helps guys out a lot. It allowed us to spend more time with our guys and it allowed us to be around them a little bit more than normal. You know, just in terms of like with the school year ending early, you work with them maybe doing classes online, it kind of changed up a little bit of from a timing perspective of how much you can be around your guys.

Mike Klinzing: [00:50:44] What’s something that you guys learned or did as a result of COVID that. You feel like is going to stick around and become a part of what you do on a regular basis. Is there anything that you tried that you learned that [00:51:00] you worked on this year, that you did differently, that you liked? Ooh, man, I like this.

This is something that we’re going to keep and it’s going to stick around. It could be whatever, something that practice wise, meeting teams, whatever, take that, any direction you want, but just something that you guys learned or did during COVID, that’s going to stick.

Bobby Jordan: [00:51:19] Like I said, a little bit more player development this year and kind of changed up our practice.

You know, I would say not scheduled, but kind of how we operate it from a practice standpoint which has added more player development, more skill development stuff in the beginning, and I think that really helped us. I think that really helped us. It allowed guys to get better throughout the course of the year you saw the guys becoming better shooters guys being more sharp with the little things in terms of footwork. And I think it really helped our guys develop throughout the course of the year.

Mike Klinzing: [00:51:56] What’s the biggest thing you’re looking forward to [00:52:00] hopefully when things return to normal, whether that be sometime later this summer or fingers crossed, hopefully next fall things are going to look a lot more normal. What’s something that you’re looking forward to returning that maybe either did, didn’t get to do or didn’t get to do as much of this year as a result of COVID

Bobby Jordan: [00:52:19] We’ve been great with kind of getting our guys out with a lot more team activities, whether it be going to dinners together or going to an amusement park and guys riding go-karts and stuff like that and competing against each other.

I think what this year did was it kind of took away a lot of those team bonding activities that you would normally do in a year. So I’m actually looking forward to getting back to that a little bit more. I think it allows guys to really bond with each other you know, kind of not be separated and secluded from one another kind of like they were this year.

[00:53:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:53:00] So obviously you guys had a really successful year this year and you’ve built a really good foundation on what you have moving forward. So before we wrap up, give us an idea of what your team looks like, what you have coming back and what you anticipate this summer on into the fall. And then next season, what you guys are going to be able to put out on the floor?

Bobby Jordan: [00:53:22] the guys we have coming back for next year starting with Alex Morales who was the player of the year in our conference this year, he’ll be returning as well as Elijah Ford, who was a first team all league guy. Will Martinez who I believe had an all league season this year. We’re also going to read turn rookie of the year in Delonnie Hunt who was a freshman for us this year who had an unbelievable freshman year.

And also a couple of guys that have been with us for a long time and Nigel Jackson who have really helped our program throughout his four years here, he’ll be going into his fifth year. [00:54:00] A couple of guys that were looking to step up guys that were, I guess, technically, sophomores this year, but they really have three years left.

They can really step their game up there next year and kind of take that next jump of their career. And then we’re looking to add some pieces now just to the team, we have four open scholarships now hoping to bring, bring some guys that can help us not only win the regular season can help us get to that conference championship game and win that third game of marching hopefully propel us to the NCAA tournament.

Mike Klinzing: [00:54:33] Yeah. Be a lot of fun, great tournament this year. I think everybody missed the tournament. Not being there last year and then having it come back this season, obviously we had a lot of exciting NCAA tournament games as always. And. Baylor’s performance in that championship game, I think was something that not necessarily surprising because of the talent that they have on that team and how well coached they are.

But certainly I think the result, I don’t think anybody saw them doing that to [00:55:00] Gonzaga, especially with the success that Gonzaga had over the course of course, of the season. And if you guys could get your way in there and be able to have you have an opportunity to get and play on the play on the big stage you know, for your kids, I’m sure that’d be tremendously exciting for you guys as a coaching staff.

Anything else that we didn’t hit on Bobby that you can think of in terms of COVID that you want to share with the listeners, things that you guys have done learned? Maybe just give us a quick wrap up on what the season what the season meant to you guys and just being able to have it and then I’ll.

Bobby Jordan: [00:55:34] Yeah, I mean, Mike, getting it out to all the student athletes throughout the country this year, in terms of those that played college basketball, the sacrifices that these kids had to make, the sacrifices that their parents had to make the sacrifices that the unsung heroes on coaching staff, such as your trainer, your strength coach your director of basketball operations just a job that these [00:56:00] kids and, and these people have done throughout the year, I think has been great.

You know, it’s something that really should be recognized for their efforts as well. Because there was a lot of sacrifice that went into this season, both mentally and physically for a lot of people. And I just really appreciate everybody’s efforts this year and looking forward to the next year, like you said,

Mike Klinzing: [00:56:26] That’s well said, share how people can get in touch with you, how they can learn more about the program there at Wagner.

And then I’ll jump back in.

Bobby Jordan: [00:56:36] The best way is to follow me on social media is with Twitter at @BobJordan1 and then also on the Wagner athletics website. And I got to give a shout out to our hashtag toughness for the season.

Mike Klinzing: [00:56:53] Absolutely. Bobby, I cannot thank you enough for jumping back on as a two time guest. We appreciate you taking the [00:57:00] time out of your schedule to share with us. What you guys went through and both the joys and the challenges that you guys face this year, as we all did, anybody who was involved in a basketball season.

And I think to be able to hear the story of what you guys went through and how you were able to adjust and, and still try to provide a great experience for your kids and just really have the kind of success that you guys were able to have. And as you mentioned, you got a lot of guys coming back that you’re looking to build and hopefully next year, around this time, we’ll see, we’ll see the Wagner Seahawks in the in the NCAA tournament.

So Bobby, thanks so much tonight for jumping out with us and to everyone out there, we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.

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