Twitter – @Coach_Korn
Email – email@example.com
Casey Korn took the helm of the Lawrence University men’s basketball program in September 2021.
Korn came to Lawrence after spending three years as the top assistant at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. In Casey’s first season at UW-Oshkosh in 2018-19, he helped guide the Titans to a 29-3 record and the program’s first NCAA Division III title. During his three seasons, including an abbreviated 2020-21 campaign, UW-Oshkosh made two appearances in the NCAA Division III Tournament and compiled a 54-14 record.
Korn is a graduate of Cornell College where he played two seasons of basketball for the Rams before serving as a student assistant coach for his final two seasons.
Korn started his coaching journey at Calamus Wheatland High School in Wheatland, Iowa, where he served as the head varsity boys basketball coach from 2009-12. Casey then served as varsity boys basketball coach at St. Clair High School in St. Clair, Mo., from 2012-15. Korn also coached varsity boys basketball at Rockwood Summit High School in Fenton, Mo., from 2015-18 before reuniting with college teammate and UW-Oshkosh head coach Matt Lewis.
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Listen and learn from Casey Korn, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.
What We Discuss with Casey Korn
- Starting his career as a high school coach
- Working with his good friend, Matt Lewis, Head Coach at University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh as an assistant for three years
- “The best time to get a job is when you’re not looking.”
- Zach Filzen, the former head coach at Lawrence, letting him know that would be leaving and there would be a job opening
- The speed of the interview/hiring process for him at Lawrence
- Getting a new job and not having to move
- His conversation with the players at Oshkosh before he left
- Trying to build trust with his new players at Lawrence in the 30 days between getting the job and the start of practice
- Why he retained an assistant coach from the previous staff
- The key people he spoke to about the program at Lawrence as he was getting started
- Recruiting will be the key to long term success
- “Just saying it isn’t enough.”
- The geographic diversity of his roster and recruiting locally
- Figuring out the profile of the student-athlete that fits at Lawrence
- The financial piece of recruiting players in D3
- Letting his players play to their strengths offensively
- Waiting to “see what he had” before making decisions on style of play
- Realizing that he had to be himself and not to try to completely replicate what Matt Lewis had done at Oshkosh
- Giving players and coaches the freedom and responsibility to grow
- Feeling confident in what you’re teaching
- His email overload as a head coach
- Spending more time on administrative tasks as head coach
- The impact of Covid and how Lawrence has approached having fans at games
- “It’s all those little things that when you look at them, they’re not really little things at all.”
- Conversations over “talk-ats”
- “I think you can say things and you can hang up signs in your locker room and you can have your quote for the day or your mantra. You know, people figure out really quick if that’s not who you truly are.”
- What happens on the floor doesn’t affect the relationship off the floor
- “Building trust is doing what you say you’re going to do over and over and over.”
- Bring your teammates with you
- “We do not settle for okay. Our standards are high.”
- This team plays hard. They never quit. They play the game the right way.
- “Every single day is an opportunity to do something right.”
- “We gotta put in the work and you just can’t skip steps.”
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THANKS, CASEY KORN
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TRANSCRIPT FOR CASEY KORN – LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 578
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host, Jason Sunkle tonight, and we are pleased to welcome back to the Hoop Heads Podcast for the third time, which Casey, I have to say that puts you in a pretty exclusive club. I meantt Jason to tell you to do a little research. So now you’re going to have to do a little research right now to see how many people we’ve had on three times. Cause Casey is joining an exclusive group, but for our audience who maybe don’t know who Casey is yet, Casey Korn is the head men’s basketball coach at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Casey, welcome back to the Hoop Heads Pod, excited to have you, on glad you’re here. And we’re going to dive into your latest journey in your coaching experience, which is becoming a head coach at the collegiate level for the first time. But first of all, welcome.
[00:00:50] Casey Korn: On those first two, I just wouldn’t quit talking. So you had to cut me off. He said, Hey, we’ll bring you back later. And I just keep popping back up on here, but I appreciate what you guys are doing. Listen to your podcast all the time. I actually, I haven’t gone back and listened to any of mine. So hopefully those, those turn out.
All right, well, this is the first one. Yeah, that’s the plan, right? A different title this go around which is exciting, but no, it’s, it’s I appreciate you having me on.
[00:01:20] Mike Klinzing: So what we thought we would do for people, maybe you haven’t listened to those first two episodes is just go back and give us a quick synopsis of kind of how you’ve gotten here in your coaching journey.
And then we’re going to dive into the specifics of how you went from an assistant coach at Oshkosh, where you won a national championship to a rebuilding program at Lawrence. And we’ll just talk about that whole process. And I think coaches are going to get a lot of value out of it, but first kind of give people an idea of how you got here.
[00:01:50] Casey Korn: Yeah, absolutely. So I actually started my coaching career as a high school coach, right out of college. Got a varsity high school job. We had some success continued to move. I guess a little larger schools. I, I went from, started in Iowa, ended up back in St. Louis, where I was born and raised and to a really good two high schools down there.
I was. With my final kind of high school stop. It was one of those destination type of jobs. And until Matt Lewis, who is the current head coaches at Oshkosh, and one of my best friends, we met each other at Cornell college at 18 years old. He picked up the phone and he called me and said, Hey, I just transitioned to the head coach.
And I would like a guy that I can trust and wants to do this with me. And so about four years ago, a little over four years ago, I, I packed up the car. I moved my wife up to Wisconsin where I visited, I think one time in my entire life. And we hopped on board before we ever actually saw the states all the school and, and, and drove up and had three really successful years.
I doing it with a wonderful program. I learned a ton, but the coolest part about it was doing it with maybe your best friend going through those ups and downs together. And then all of a sudden, this year in September head job opened up and a place that’s very, very close to where we are.
Location-wise and actually there’s a lot of ties between me and this university. It had Lawrence University and it opened up late and I hopped on board and, and we’re learning on the fly, I guess you could say, but you know, been a head coach now for a couple months and, and enjoying it, enjoying it all every step of the way.
[00:03:31] Mike Klinzing: So let’s start with one. As you mentioned, when you’re at Oshkosh, you’re working with a guy who’s been your friend for a long time, which obviously is not something that everybody always gets to do. Now. Maybe you become friends with people on your staff, but it’s not often you get to work with somebody who’s been your longtime friend.
So obviously that’s not a situation that. Necessarily actively looking to get out of. Plus Oshkosh has been a perennial division, three power. You know, that you’re in, you’re out, Matt’s got the program where you’re probably going to win and then this opportunity comes up. And as you said, coming up in September, it doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to get out on the recruiting trails and put together your team.
And you’re kind of coming in and just, Hey, I got this, I got this group of guys and we got to figure it out. So, first of all, how does that opportunity come across your desk? How do you find out about it? And then what about it really peaks your interest? Because you’re obviously already in a good situation.
[00:04:31] Casey Korn: The best time to get a job is when you’re not looking, I think is, or there’s some type of a phrase like that, but I was, I was content I’m I’m so happy for Matt and his wife, Galen. They, they adopted twins kind of the end of last season. And so my responsibility at Oshkosh had just stayed on up.
You know, not that Matt would ever be a hands-off type of coach. He’d never just said, Hey, go, go do it. But I was the one pretty much going in and seeing all the recruits, he just couldn’t get out of the house with newborns in the house. It’s almost next to impossible.
And so I’m giving them recaps and so I was content. I was happy. I love the guys on the team. I thought we had a great recruiting class. We had a great team coming back. So there wasn’t really an act of, Hey, I got to get out of here. And so all of a sudden, September rolls around actually to take you back Old coach at Lawrence Zach Filzen and took the job at Bethel that opened up late.
And so whenever he got the job over there you know, he kind of gave me a heads up. Me and Zach have known each other. I actually currently live in Appleton. I lived in Appleton, which is where Lawrence University is located while I was working in Oshkosh. I actually lived a mile and a half away from campus.
While I was at Oshkosh. So there, there wasn’t any moving for me to do, but meet me. Zack got along real well. We actually went on those out of town, recruiting trips, me and him shared expenses. You know, I would rent a car and you would get the hotel and vice versa. So I I’m pretty familiar with the program.
And when it opened up, he said, Hey, there’s, there’s going to be an opportunity if you want it. I think they want to move fast. You know, the, the first phone call I made was to Matt and he said, Hey, that’s Matt’s wife actually works at Lawrence university. And so she’s like, it’s a great place. You know, I’ll do everything I can to help you get the job.
And 48 hours later, I am named the head coach at Lawrence University. What’s that interview like was quick. And I’m not, I’m not kidding. What I, when I tell you that Zach called me at 10 o’clock on Saturday morning and said, Hey, I’m taking the Bethel Jack. I call Matt. I put in a quick phone call saying, Hey, I know this thing is opening up.
I’d be very interested in talking about it. And then me and my wife, like my head’s racing. And so I don’t know what to do. And so me and my wife go to the state park near us and we start walking through the Hills. And the next thing you know, I come back into
service and I got three text messages, one from alum at Lawrence and a current college coach and, and another one from, from Zach and finally from the athletic director who says, Hey, if, if you’re interested in this, let’s get together sooner.
Rather than later, I give her a call on my, my drive home from the state park. And she says, no, you have time to interview. I said, yeah, let me you know, I’ll, I’ll gather some stuff together. She’s no, no, like right now I said, yeah, let’s go. And then she met,
[00:07:26] Mike Klinzing: She saved you a lot of prep time.
[00:07:27] Casey Korn: Oh my gosh. The funny thing was, she goes, wait a minute, you live close to here, right. As a guest I’m five minutes away. She goes, all right, I’ll see you in 10 minutes. And she’s like, don’t change. You don’t have to dress up. You know, just come over here. Let’s have this conversation. I was like, all right.
So I did change cause I was wearing all my Oshkosh gear. You know, when you’re a coach, that’s your wardrobe. My entire closet changed real quick. So I threw on a neutral color t-shirt and you know, hopped in the car and I drove over there and we just started talking, we had a, it was kind of a casual conversation.
Kim’s been wonderful and, but I’ve never been an athletic director, but as a head coach, you, you have an idea. If all of a sudden your assistant coach is going to move on with your happy, they’re going to, you have a list the people that you might call in in case of, you know of that scenario.
And it sounds like Kim had that list. She obviously knew Zach had an opportunity to get that job, and she’d been doing some research behind the scenes, but part of it, right. It’s it’s right place, right time. I live in town. I don’t have to move. My wife doesn’t have to move and I can, I can start in in three days, whenever the paperwork signed, I don’t have to worry about all this other things that are going on.
And obviously I come from a school, I graduated from Cornell, which is a school in the league and it’s a similar type of school or liberal arts education. And I’m familiar with the area as I was just an Ash passion with some success. So I feel like it all worked out well.
At least it worked out well for me, I’m, I’m very happy about, about this opportunity. And, but it was, it was a whirlwind for, for 48 hours and in maybe a little bit longer than that while I, I get hired. And the next thing, you know I have a recruit coming on campus 48 hours after I signed the paper.
So it was, it was, it was wild, but you know, it is better than sitting around and thinking about it for Well, we had, we
[00:09:17] Mike Klinzing: We just had Pete Moran on from John Carroll here in Cleveland and he succeeded his father. He’s been the head coach at John Carroll for five years and he succeeded his dad who had been there for 25 years.
And he said that he he had never wanted really to do anything else besides first play basketball at John Carroll. And then eventually. Be the head coach there. And when he realized that his father was going to step down, he didn’t want people to think that he was getting the job just because that he was the son of his father.
And so he spent nine months putting together a coaching portfolio to prepare for his interview at a place that he had already been an assistant coach for five years and where he had already played. So his experience, I would say was slightly different from your experience of throwing on the t-shirt after you get a phone call and two days later he got the job.
So it just goes to show you can happen lots of different ways
[00:10:11] Casey Korn: That’s fair. I mean, it’s not like this hasn’t been thought about having success at Oshkosh and Matt being the leader that he is he’s told me to get prepared and ha has helped me through and all these types of interview questions.
But until you do. Until you go through the process, you don’t know what you don’t know. And so that’s what I’ve been the last couple of years. I’ve, I’ve wanted to go through the process. I’ve wanted to sit down and interview and figure out what, what answers are sufficient and want answers I need to work on and, and where, where are my holes?
And so all that stuff was prepared. I had it ready to go. I have no idea how much it was looked at because I did write whenever she called me up, I sent everything over. Cause it’s it’s there, it’s essentially a generic, I didn’t get to put the pretty logos on it and things along those lines, but you know, the nuts and bolts of who I am and what I want to do what was all there.
But again, it’s, it’s better than interviewing and they have six other interviews going on and you’re waiting two and a half weeks later for an on-campus and you know, you’re, you’re in limbo. There, it was, Hey, you got this opportunity. It’s it’s time to go.
[00:11:15] Mike Klinzing: So think back to that first 24 hours after you got the job.
What are some things that you’re thinking about obviously specific to Lawrence, but maybe even just as you thought about becoming a head coach at some point in your career, what do you remember in terms of thoughts going through your head that first day after you get the job?
[00:11:35] Casey Korn: So me and my wife are just laughing or it’s like this, this is wild.
Because you know, she’s really happy in her position and part of being a coach’s wife and significant other is, is just you got to put up with what we do. And sometimes it’s 16, 18 hour days, and sometimes we’re on the road constantly. And she knew my dream was to be a head coach and she didn’t want to end up in the middle of nowhere where she didn’t having to move again.
And, and just how lucky we got for this opportunity, that that was first. And then it hit me that I had to go tell a team that I think can go in a national championship that I’ve been with every day. For three years and fought through a pandemic and did all these things with it.
I had to go tell him that, that I was leaving knowing that they would be happy for me, but that’s not an easy thing to do. So, and then having to meet your team, your, your current team of guys that you’ve never recruited, you’ve never really talked to. And then what are you going to do, do as a coach?
Lawrence did not play a single game last year and they only had, I think, three guys, four guys back that had had any experience at all playing college basketball. So I, I don’t know what the roster makeup looks like, and I can’t even go back and watch film. So all those things are running through my mind.
And that night was laugh with my wife and then write down a couple notes on what I want to tell the guys at Oshkosh and then search on hudl for junior year hudl, highlights for my two guard. And so all of those things were just kind of a bouncing back and forth. And you know, w we got through it all.
But it was it was a mixed bag of emotions. That’s for sure.
[00:13:21] Mike Klinzing: What was the talk like with your guys at Oshkosh? What you remember about that talk that you had with them?
[00:13:26] Casey Korn: It was short and sweet. They, it was kind of blindsided them to, to be fair. If you treat people and this is, this is what I’m glad happened.
And it did that. Every single person in that room was, was so happy for me and me getting that opportunity. They were, they were sad. I think, I hope at least that’s what they, they seem to like that I, that I was leaving. But they knew what I wanted to do. And they wanted me to achieve my goal and a dream of mine.
And I think if you’re, you’re treating people the right way and you’re doing right by people that that’s what they want for you. And so. You know, there were some tears shed, mostly probably when, not mostly a hundred percent for me you know, a lot, a lot of hugs. And, and then I kinda got out of the room and let them continue and move forward.
And we matched up later on I’ve gone and I’ve watched him play. I’ll watch him play online, but I try to keep stay hands-off they know that I’m I’m there, I’m a text message. I’m a phone call away. Heck I haven’t moved. So I could still help them out in any way, shape or form.
And I I’m here for them and I, and I want to be part of their lives is as much as they want me to be part of their lives. And so I thought we left on great terms. But it was a lot of deep breaths before I went up there because I knew how much I cared for those guys and how much I care for that program, that it was not going to be an easy conversation
[00:14:51] Mike Klinzing: Then to transition to the conversation from the guys who you are leaving, who intimately and know very well. As you said, you’ve spent three years with a lot of those guys, and now you go to the place where you’re going to be with guys that you don’t even know. So what does that conversation look like? Did you have a team meeting with everybody?
Did you start texting and calling individual players? How’d you go about making the connection with the new team?
[00:15:18] Casey Korn: So they technically, I was hired before the other coach had announced he was leaving. And, and so how it all worked was they wanted to the timelines, they wanted it to work out and so on.
I think it was Monday night, I think on Sunday night I got we did the whole interview process and by, by Monday morning I was, I was offered the job and then. Monday evening. They had a exit meeting with, with the previous coach and he got to tell his team. And after the coach got off the call the eighties said, Hey, we already have the next person in place.
Don’t, don’t worry. You know, we think we made a great hire, but we can’t tell you who it is right now, because he is, he has to tell his team tomorrow. And so then on Tuesday I told the guys at Oshkosh and then knowing that how hard it was for me just to have that conversation with guys that I’m going to be walking in, really excited, trying to tell these guys what, what I’m about and who I am and what we’re going to try to get done in the 30 days before practice starts.
But understanding that the person that recruited them there is no longer going to be their head coach. And so I have to tread lightly on this, right? I have to tell them who I am and what we’re going to be. You know essentially it was just trying to get to the home. And in the next 30 days, we’re going to try to build as, as much of a relationship as you can build in 30 days.
And, and trust can’t be built in that short amount of time, but you can start, the building blocks can get there. And so those are the conversations that I had and told them what we’re going to try to be about. And you know, what we’re going to try to do. And right there in that meeting. And I told them that guys, if you don’t like what I’m selling here, I’m going to, I will be there to help you find another, another spot.
You’re in a tough situation. I can do everything in my power to help you find somebody, if this isn’t what you want to be. But if you want to be part of this, this is who we are. And there’s no there’s no wavering of it. This is, this is what we’re going to establish from day one. And we had some people that ended up choosing to go a different route and there’s no hard feelings, it’s they?
They did not come here. Under my philosophy. They can came up here under a different philosophy and we move forward and we helped them out. Like I said, we do right by people. That’s that’s our goal here is to make sure that people are treated properly.
[00:17:49] Mike Klinzing: So the second key piece beyond the players is putting together a staff.
So how do you do that? Under short notice, and again, at such a time where it’s pretty late in the game to be able to figure out who’s going to be a part of it. So how did you go about what was your thinking on how you’re going to put together a staff?
[00:18:08] Casey Korn: Well, again, with the advantage of being so close, I’ve gotten to know my current assistant, who was the assistant last year.
He was a part-time assistant for them last year. And so through the recruiting process, I got to know him a little bit and whenever this was possibly happening, the head coach called me the former head coach in Lawrence called me and said, Hey, this guy’s he’s gotta be good. You gotta give him a chance if you want them, you do you, what you’re gonna do, but he’s in, he’s bought in.
He knows you. He knows the pedigree you’re coming from. He’s going to be a good asset for you. He knows the school, the understands, the nuances of recruiting here. You know, give them a look. And so I picked up the phone and I started talking with them and before we hung up the phone, I said, if you know, if you’re interested, I’d love to have ya. It will, we won’t always see eye to eye there. There’ll be times where you’re going to be learning and it’s my job to make sure that you are successful and from day one Kevin jumped right on board and he’s learning what I’m trying to do and who we’re trying to become.
The, the biggest difference Just based coaching philosophies is just some of the recruiting side of things, but he had a relationship with some guys that were already interested in Lawrence to begin with. I brought the list of, of guys that I have seen that I felt would be good for us fits and we dove in right away for that.
And then we, we went and got a, a, a local high school assistant coach. Who’s been doing it at a high level for a long time. I actually coached a couple of his Former players whenever I was at Oshkosh you know Ben Boots and Levi Borders both the all American type of kids came under his he was part of that program and winning pedigree and a guy that wanted to try it at the next level.
And he jumped in as well. He sees still teaching in the area and wanted to mix it up a little bit. And, and he’s been an unbelievable asset for us. Just, just another, another guy that’s willing to give everything he’s got and, and tell me things that I don’t want to hear sometimes and give me a difference of opinion.
But he he’s been doing it for such a long time at a high level. It it’s just always done the right way with, with Jeff and I couldn’t ask for on such short notice to get two better guys to help me kind of get this thing done.
[00:20:22] Mike Klinzing: So you got players. You’ve got your coaching staff, who are some of the other key people in the Lawrence community that you felt you needed to talk to, or that you did talk to, to get, to get a feel for where the program has been, where it is now, maybe where you want it to go, where there’s some other key pieces.
The AD or just people in the, on the faculty, people in the community, who’d you reach out to, to kind of find out more about what they saw for the program and maybe help you to get some insight on what you needed?
[00:20:52] Casey Korn: Well, the best thing that happened is Pat Juckem. Who’s the head coach at Wash U was the former coach at Oshkosh.
Gosh, before he left in that took over and hired me. He’s a Lawrence alum. He played at Lawrence. Then he coached at Lawrence and since where he started his coaching career as an assistant coach, and he knows he was there. When, when Morris was a powerhouse in the two thousands to 2000. They were number one in the nation at one period of time, they’d made NCAA tournaments there you know, competing, they got player of the year and, and things like that.
And so I, that he was my, he was a resource for sure. Kind of going through this, this transition process because he knows both Hashcash and, and, and Lawrence. And he gave me some great advice you know, on some different people to reach out to our director of developments for athletics is a basketball alum.
And so I picked up the phone and I called him and he’s like, Hey, here’s some guys that care about the program pick up the phone and call these guys. And they’ve been, you know phenomenal just, just given me, they’re telling me their stories and in why Lawrence is important to them, then what, what made their experience so unique in self-fulfilling.
So those guys, those guys sharing their stories with me has helped me kind of build my little Corinne philosophy and then, and then go on across I stayed across the river. Our facility is just right across the river. So that’s how I refer to it. But to the academic side, I guess you can say, and, and starting to have lunch with just different professors and, and I’ve met with in that first week, I, I think I had lunch four or five times with some different professors and, and just hearing what they’re doing and sorry about that.
What they’re doing and what, what Lawrence is all about and what we need to do. You know, moving forward to, to, to build the relationship Between the Batman’s basketball program and just how, how academics is, how important it is to a place like Lawrence and you know, what kind of students have succeeded here in the past and just picking their brains and asking their advice and you know, what majors do we have here?
And what’s a good career path. Whenever a kid says he wants to go to law school or wants to be a doctor, or wants to run their own business. Like all these things that I just don’t know yet, they’re just feeding me information. I took so many notes in that first week. But everybody’s so willing to help.
And that’s what I think made it, it as special as anything else is people would, there, there was no hesitancy. They just said, yeah, here’s, here’s what I know, take everything I know and use it to your advantage. And, and that was just the openness of everybody was, it was outstanding.
[00:23:36] Mike Klinzing: After having had those conversations. As you started to look ahead to the season and putting the program together, what did you foresee or think was going to be the biggest challenge to have a successful season? And again, you can define success, whoever you want to, however you want to define it. And then did that challenge proved to be the one that actually was the biggest challenge.
So I guess the question is what did you think you were getting into and then did that prove to be what you actually were getting into? Or was there something else that proved to be a bigger challenge than maybe what you thought originally?
[00:24:20] Casey Korn: The answer to that is still to be determined. I think it’s as far as success this year and maybe even just moving forward, I think we have you know, a good plan in place. I think we have like I said you know, there there’s coach fills in who who’s there before me. He started recruiting some of the similar type of guys you know, competitive guys that want to win it at a very high level and do things the right way and a great teammates and all those different things that, that we are continuing to implement.
And, and maybe going a little bit different direction, but the nuts and bolts were there. It was, it was the biggest challenge is going to be the recruiting piece. And I think that’s where it, anybody outside of it. And if it’s at this level we’ll probably say the same thing. I was lucky enough to work at a place like Ash cash, where they had started when, when pat and Matt took over that program they were at the bottom of the whack and I was fortunate enough to jump in after all of those pieces have kind of been in place where they had that success. And I was able to help sustain that success and see it and continue to grow it.
Sustain success is really, really hard to do. But you have to have, you have to have the right people on the bus to, to make that go and, and figuring out what the right people are, who the right people are and getting them in. It’s not just do they like what you have to offer it’s will they fit in academically?
Do they have the majors? Can they afford it? You know, all of these different factors. Are different at the private school education compared to the state school education? It are things that I’m, I’m still learning about. I think we have an unbelievable product to sell. You know, it’s, we can sit here on a \ basketball podcast, but if you want to start talking to academics, I think we are one of the top in the state of Wisconsin.
But it’s also there there’s other things that, that you have to fight w when it comes to recruiting and getting the people into your institution, I mean, just in general, less people are going to college. Anyway and so all those factors are, are things that I still think we’re trying to figure out.
As far as having success this year, it was number one. Was all about the relationships with the guys. I wanted to come in and, and show them that I cared. It’s just who I am as a person I believe is it’s why I got into the business. It’s, it’s why I almost didn’t take the Oshkosh job when Matt offered it to me.
I had 154 kids in the classroom that I thought I was doing a good job and making an impact on and in something that I truly cherish. And when Matt, I told him that, I don’t know if I’ll have the same impact. He said, you won’t have as many, but you’ll make more of an impact on people. And he was completely right.
And so. Just making sure that those relationships were grown and fostered. And, and I could show the guys that need just saying it isn’t enough. We want it. We want to do it. We want to, I want to put the, I essentially the money where my mouth is, right. Like I want to, I want to show them that I care and help them get better and help them find their internship if they need help finding their internship and holding them accountable in the classroom.
And so all of those different things that were what was going to be our first priority. And we figured we had enough talents to go out and compete. I don’t know what the record’s going to end up, but we’re, we’re knock on wood. We have a chance to play post-season basketball this year. And that would be a huge step for where the program has been in the last couple of years.
[00:28:07] Mike Klinzing: So when you think about recruiting and getting the job in September, I’m assuming that the recruiting that you started doing from day one. Was pointed towards next season as opposed to this season, correct?
[00:28:21] Casey Korn: Well, yeah, we, well, we’re going after 2022, right there a real chance that any 2021’s, the freshmen this year where we’re coming in.
So we are geared towards that 2022 class.
[00:28:33] Mike Klinzing: So when you start looking at those players and you think about the type of player that you were able to recruit at Oshkosh, I’m assuming that you want to get to the level where you can recruit that same type of player. So when you think about being able to identify those guys, take us through the process from, you’ve never heard of a guy to, it’s a guy we want to recruit.
How do they get on your radar in the first place? Is that through connections with high school coaches? Is that, how are you finding the name of those players initially? And then. Once you find the name and you go out and look at them, what’s the process for narrowing it down to a guy that you really want to recruit and bring in to have be part of your program.
[00:29:26] Casey Korn: So I’m going to take you the long way around. That’s why, so I can get on podcasts Number four is kind of perfect. It was Oshkosh. We recruited locally. That was kind of our thing, right? We wanted the best players within the, the two hour radius. If you could play high level division, three basketball in the state of Wisconsin we wanted G now that didn’t mean we wouldn’t go to Illinois or Iowa, Missouri, or Minnesota, but that, that was kind of where we narrowed, you know things in we have currently in a Wisconsin division three institution, we currently have zero Wisconsin kids on the roster at Lawrence.
The, just the dynamics of where we are getting a players from is completely different. And you’re familiar with the, the level of division three basketball, not only in the Midwest, but Wisconsin in general. It’s high. I mean, the, the, the whack is arguably the best division three league. When I was in it, I would argue it was the best division three league.
You play in that league to win national championships. And I say all of that is because. We do need to go get a couple of Wisconsin kids. So we’ve got to bring some of the local kids and keep them, keep them at home. But it’s hard to do whenever you have, you’re going up against a really good league.
That’s in your backyard that you’re competing with. And so then you have to start branching out and you have to start finding players what I’m realizing and what I’m really working on is the professors have helped me. The former players have helped me is, is there’s a, there’s a niche in Lawrence. I know what a, what a high level basketball player looks like.
Somebody that can help you win conference tournaments and even NCAA tournament games, because I was with them and we have to go out and find guys that can compete at that level. And that look like that. And to compete that whole. But that fit our little niche at Lawrence that maybe one, a little bit higher academic institution or that prestige, or maybe they, their, their parents both went to two private liberal arts colleges or you know, something along those lines where there’s that, that little niche where we start by having just casting the net out there where we’re going to look at anybody that that can play basketball.
And then the first thing we’re going to look at is at your GPA, because if you cannot get in, we are not going to spend the time looking at you. And then it goes to. You know, even maybe more so where if you are not going to get this certain level of scholarship, then depending on where you’re at.
So that’s a, that helps us narrow down the list pretty early, but we’ve got a pretty lean, we have students from 48 of the 50 states at Lawrence for being a small school as we are which is pretty impressive. We have, we have students from multiple different countries and so our net is out there.
We are going to use every little bit of connections, anybody that wants to email me, I read every single email that comes through and there’s a lot of them about potential players. And the first thing, like I said, the first thing I look at is your GPA. And then the second thing, I’m watching a little bit of a highlight film and do we need to continue watching?
Or is this a, Hey and I will respond to almost all of them saying, Hey, good luck. You you’re not going to, essentially, you’re not a fit for us. W we spent a lot of time casting that net out there and just trying to find and build our list. And then those first conversations are, Hey, is this a realistic.
Persons for us, do they like what we’re trying to give them as terms of education philosophy, basketball style location, all of these different things financially we’ll be able to fit in, in what they are going to do. This is as much as we would love to say, that’s not a factor division three basketball, it’s a hundred percent of factor.
So all those different things are what starts to build our lists. And then as we will, well, I haven’t done the whole building of the list. We had it, it was kind of already kinda narrowed as I got there. But we are, we’re narrowing down on 25, 25 players that we really, really liked that we think they can come in and help us.
We only have right now 11 healthy bodies and that’s not sicknesses that’s injuries. 13 bodies, 11 of them are healthy. And you know that for a division three roster that. So what we’re trying to get it up to 16, 18 bodies. And so we’re looking for some people that can come in and compete right away for some stuff.
[00:34:03] Mike Klinzing: When you get to the point where you are now ready to start making some basketball decisions about this season and figuring out, okay, how do we want to play? And you’ve obviously thought a lot about this leading into this opportunity, but you got to get to know your personality. You got to figure out who those kids are.
As you said, they didn’t play a game the previous season. So you don’t have a whole lot to go on. What was the basketball prep like during that month you had between the day you get hired and the day practice starts, how did you kind of put together what you want it to do from a basketball philosophy on offensive, a defensive system, a standpoint.
[00:34:51] Casey Korn: I’m going to share it. But it was probably too little of work. I at least spent, we spent our time looking through the recruiting list. Maybe more so than anything else is we are going to figure out recruiting wise. And then as a staff, we sat down and you wouldn’t necessarily believe it by looking at our scores.
We’ve given up a hundred a couple of times, but we do preach defense. We are a defensive, a defensive minded outfit and offensively, we’re gonna let you play to your strengths where we’re running motion, offense. And the problem is I didn’t know what our strengths were. And so I knew what I wanted to do.
I want our guys to take control of this program. I want them to. No, not look over at me, make sure I’m calling a set every single time down the floor. I want them to see what, how the defense is guarding and then they’re going to tell you what to do offensively. And so tthat’s definitely a teaching point, but player a, doesn’t shoot it really well.
B is a good athlete and it gets good at attacking downhill. Him reading the screen might be different than player B, who can in rhythm, catch it heel toe, knock down threes. And so the one size fits all how you read screens or how you come off these cuts, or at least in, in my world and the way we’re teaching things, aren’t always it’s not cookie cutter.
And so. I talked to the coaches about it. And I said, this is guys it’s. We are going to be way better January 1st than we are November 1st. But we have to let’s figure out what we’re going to do defensively. And then a lot of defensive talks and offensively, it’s going to take a couple of weeks so we can figure out what our skill set is.
Yeah. We’re going to teach these screens and these angles and these reads, but now whenever I pull, you know Brad Sendle into the office who has a chance if we’re any good, he has a chance to be the player of the league. And in our league, he’s a heck of a first point guard to have what walking into it.
But Hey you, this is maybe a really good shot for you, or this may be a really good action for you. And then as I pull in somebody else, Hey, this is more along the lines, but you know, this player likes it. And so it’s just so many unknowns that first month that we. We didn’t have a lot of conversations about it.
I said I want to see what we have and we will play a little bit of catch-up and maybe it hurt us early in the year, but our guys are. Authentic. It hasn’t been our problem. We’ve been over one point per possession in, in most of our games. You know, guys are figuring out how to cut and, and play with one another and, and you know, what each person likes to do in the freedom of it, I think has been beneficial to us.
And I think we’re only going to get better on the offensive side of the ball. It’s when we’re good, when we, when we’re competing with the top level teams, it’s because we’re, we’re defending it in much higher rate some nights than we are other nights. And the thing about our team is we have to defend so perfectly a night in a night out.
We don’t have the 6’9” guy that if you get beat off the bounce, they’re gonna contest that thing at the rim. So all five guys have to play in unison and they have to stick to the plan. And that’s what we’re learning. We’re, we’re getting better at it. And the guys understand it. They’re believing in it, but that’s where all of our focuses.
[00:38:13] Mike Klinzing: Then when you put together a practice plan, What is the process look like for you? And has that process changed since the beginning of the season? I’m sure what you’ve put into the practice plan has probably changed as you’ve adjusted and seeing what your personnel, but just has your process of maybe what you thought you were going to do as a head coach.
Has that changed at all over the course of so far in this season, in terms of your practice planning?
[00:38:40] Casey Korn: So, absolutely. The two things that I learned very early and I thought, I think I knew this, but it took me a little while. Is, is number one. I’m not Matt Lewis and this isn’t Oshkosh right there.
There’s a lot of similarities. Well, what we’re trying to do, right? You replicate things that one two that are good and I knew good while being out there at Ascot shit, they very, very successful program. And so we we’re trying to take some of that stuff and, and, and use it. But there there’s definitely differences in, I had, I had to realize that I’m me. I’m going to do things my way and do the drills that we need to do.
And without giving up some of that integrity that, that what we’re trying to get done, I still had to be myself. And to, I had to learn how to, to delegate a little bit more I knew what I did as an assistant coach which you might ask this question and may get a different answer.
But I still, that I was on top of a lot of things you know, in that role and. But I had also been a head coach for 10 years prior to being an assistant coach. And so coming in and having a guy that is relatively new at it. And at first I was doing a little bit more of both roles and instead of letting him grow and, and it took me a little while it took me through five or six games before I gave up even at the game.
So it gave up some of that responsibility as well. So I could focus on the game and start making some adjustments to the thing about motion offenses. You know, you have to be in tuned to how the defense is playing you so you can help your guys make those adjustments. And whenever I was matching everybody up and doing all these different things it was hard for me to feel that out. So I’ve given up some of that responsibility and it’s, it’s helped. I think everybody involved you know, just like I talked about letting our players grow, I need to let our coaches grow with it as well. And so maybe that’s been the biggest difference taking this back to the practice side of things is making sure I am who I am and we are who we are and not try to be anybody else.
And then getting my assistant coaches letting them, and, and sometimes making them do a little bit more of the coaching while I’m sitting back and evaluating some of those times. And it’s not always the easiest thing to do, but I’m getting better at it.
[00:41:07] Mike Klinzing: When you think about that delegation piece, are you giving them, Hey, you’ve got this 15 minute segment where we’re working on ball screen defense, are you of the mindset that at some point you may have turnover, a specific area to one assistant coaches.
How do you go about making the decision about what you delegate? First of all, you have to obviously decide to delegate, which as you already described can be difficult, but then once you decide, Hey, I’m going to then how do you decide what it is that you want to delegate to your assistants again, to help them grow, but to also to help your program be better that’s
[00:41:45] Casey Korn: You have to be comfortable to teach. The last thing you want to do is, is teach something in front of a head coach that’s wrong. And I’ve been there, right? I’ve, I’ve sat there and I’ve looked over my shoulder a couple of times hoping thinking I was right. Pretty sure I was right, but you’re still like, oh crap, I better not be screwing this up.
And so it’s my job to make sure as we’re delegating that the coaches are going to put their best foot forward in front of the team because when they are coaching, then the last thing we want them to do is then teach them something wrong. Me, come on over the top and say, Nope, that’s not how we’re gonna.
Has it happened? Absolutely. Well, what happened again, probably, but we don’t want that to happen all the time. You know, that that’s happened with like a scouting report thing where we were going through how we’re going to guard something. And I changed my mind at the last second and Nope, this is how we’re going to go, go about and do it.
And anyway so we have to find a way to, to make sure that they’re successful. And right now you know, each coach has their own strength. And we are, we’re giving them the opportunities to continue to teach within that strengths. And then. I’m forcing them to take over a different drills and strikes started with drills, things that some different teaching points and they’ll say something to them.
And I said, all right, stop it and tell the group. And so we’re trying to build confidence that way asking coaches they’ll step in and I’ll ask them what they see in front of the whole group, just to get people comfortable again, and talking in front of Front of the team.
Not that they’re not comfortable doing it, but it’s, it’s just, it’s getting the guys to hear them and understand that we’re all in this together. So it, it’s making sure that they’re going to be successful right away. I think that we have one coach that definitely gravitates towards the defensive side of the ball and another coach who gravitates towards the offensive side of the ball, that’s who they are.
And just like I said I need to be who I am. I want them to be who they are. So they’re kind of gravitating towards each of that side those sides of the basketball. And you know, when we have where we’re going five on five, one’s watching offense. One’s watching defense most of the time on both sides.
And, and so that’s worked out really well. But I also need them to know both sides of the basketball you know, in any, in these days you never really know when you’re going to be there and when you’re not going to be there. And so that’s, that’s worked out well the last couple days,
[00:44:06] Mike Klinzing: So as you think about helping them to adjust to their role and figure out what they’re going to do to contribute and be a part of what you’re trying to build.
When you think about yourself as a head coach versus your previous business position as an assistant coach, what are some things that maybe you didn’t realize were going to be a part of, and maybe you realized they were going to be a part of it, but maybe you just didn’t realize you had to spend as much time responsibilities away from the basketball court that maybe you didn’t have as an assistant that now as a head coach, you’re like, man, I, I didn’t realize my head coach was spending as much time doing this.
I didn’t realize Matt was taking all this time out of his schedule to work on X, Y, or Z. Are there anything like that? Any things like that that surprised you
[00:44:54] Casey Korn: The amount of emails that I get now that I’m a head coaches. Unbelievable. I. So me and Matt spent a lot of time recruiting together. We would I would drive down or you would drive down the other person you’d be working in the car and heck sometimes he would drop me off at a gym and he’d go to his own gym, but you know, you ride together and you having this conversations and whatnot.
And I will always look over at him and he’s constantly on his emails. There’s no way you’re this important. And I figured out that people like to email ed coaches more than they like to email assistant coaches, and that’s fine. And then the way we do things, we’re trying to be responsive to everybody.
We’re not afraid to, to watch the highlight film or the random email we get from the random kid in the random town. We’re going to check every box. We’re gonna try to go find talents and if they’re the right fit wherever that’s going to be.
And if people are going to take the time to send that email, we’re going to take the time to watch. And so that that’s taken up a lot of time, a lot more time than I originally thought. The, the concept of right now we only have our, both assistants are part-time. Kevin’s working at it a little bit more towards the full-time side of things, but that’s takes out some of the things that we were able to do it it asks, gosh, we’re having a full-time assistant coach makes it a little bit, a little bit more challenging, but the, the thing, the biggest difference as an assistant coach, I could be during the season, when you’re able to have contact with your guys, I was all, I was always up in the gym.
You know, whether it’s rebounding, working guys out, showing a couple of clips and, and, and film and just being the one-on-one guy. And now as much I I’ve, I’ve put things aside to make sure that I still do that, but it just cannot happen at the same level as it did as an assistant coach. And there’s been times where I’ve shorted a couple of guys on a personnel, on a scout.
So I could get up there and work guys out in the gym when, when it’s, when it’s time and again, I think it’s, it’s an extremely important, I think I’m making the right decision, but then whenever I go. You know, present the scout and then, you know I’m up till two in the morning to make sure I’m getting caught back up.
Those are the things that are maybe the biggest differences is the, maybe more of the administrative side, the whole picture rather than just the individual.
[00:47:20] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. I can imagine that that administrative piece is something that just as a head coach, you just, you just have to do as part of the job description.
And as you said, then you dump that email on top of it, where you’re getting stuff from players. I’m sure you’re getting from coaches and just people wanting to reach out and find out more about the program and see if you have any interest in them as players. As you’re trying to build your program, you obviously want to build those relationships and respond to as many of those as you possibly can.
Which anybody who just your day to day life, you just think about how much time you spend dealing with email. And as a head coach, I can only imagine how much more it is. And then we throw on top of this whole thing that we kind of thought we were maybe through the worst of the pandemic. And now this thing’s starting to flare up again.
And I know that that Lawrence, you guys took sort of a, we talked about it a little bit before the podcast, a cautious approach to how you were going to allow fans into. You’re building to watch your game. So just talk a little bit about navigating the pandemic and what that’s been like for you as a first time head coach,
[00:48:26] Casey Korn: The neat thing about Lawrence is we’re in Appleton Wisconsin, which if you’re not familiar, it’s a good size small city. It’s not too far away from green bay. And not also, not too far away from Milwaukee. The Fox valley has a lot of people in the area and basketball in Wisconsin is, is extremely important.
People love hoops. And in the past the, the attendance in our gym or gyms the Alexander a gymnasium was built in 1928. We got all the bones are still there yet grand new floor in a great logo on it. And it looks great inside and it’s being branded and. There’s nowhere for sound to go.
So when there’s 12 people in there during a volleyball game and the volleyball girls were yelling, you can’t have a conversation. So we’re missing out a little bit on having a a lot of people in the gym yelling back and forth and in creating that atmosphere. But there’s that part of it, right?
No, no excuses. You just, you just got to go and control the controllables and w with this whole, the pandemic you know, first and foremost, as I said earlier, it’s about the people, right? We, we want to make sure that if somebody does, does get it or gets gets sick, that they’re doing all right.
And that’s, that’s number one. And part of that is these guys are they’re here and they’re doing everything they can to, to continue to, to play basketball. We just have to focus on the things. We can control. We had a game canceled you know, our already this year I’ve been, I’ve been cooped up for the last couple of days here you know, waiting to, to get back onto the floor once my time’s up and, and so.
There’s only you can sit here and we can, we can complain about it and we can offer up solutions or what we think or we can get to work. And that’s what we’re trying to, to preach to our guys. And that’s what our guys have done. A great job of is every opportunity that we get into a gym it is special and they, they saw what it was taken away from last year.
And so when we get in that gym, be where your feet are, spend the time and, and enjoy the competition with your teammates. It’s yeah. Every sprint you’re going to run is not going to be fun. And if I’m getting on your butt for not, not communicating in conversion defense, yeah. You’re not going to enjoy that.
But when it’s all said and done you’re going to enjoy being in the gym and being with the people that you enjoy, you love, spending time with. And so those are the things that we’re, we’re focusing on. We’re trying. What we’re trying to make the best of sometimes, not a great situation.
[00:51:10] Mike Klinzing: What is your team gotten better at since day one to practice? What do you think they’ve shown the most? What area have they shown the most improvement in?
[00:51:22] Casey Korn: We are much better team the census squad. We rebound the basketball at a much higher rate right now than we did. But overall, the thing that they’re doing better at is, is just the being connected of caring about one another. We pick up our teammates and we’re sprinting over there.
We’re huddling and, and good, bad or ugly situations are coming together. They they’re taking ownership in the program and in day one, they didn’t know what to expect. And you know, our last game on, on December 30th you know, w we were, we were down big at halftime and they came together. We cut it to eight points and we just didn’t have enough to finish the run out.
They ended up extending as we’re pressing and fall in there towards the end. But you know, this team just won’t quit. They, they believe in each other. They’re, they’re getting better with the system, but it’s all those little things that when you look at them, they’re, they’re not really little things at all.
[00:52:23] Mike Klinzing: What part of being a head coach, do you think you’re more comfortable with today than you were back in September when you first got the job? What have you gotten better at.\?
[00:52:37] Casey Korn: I’ve gotten so much better at, at communicating being concise, trying to not talk throughout an entire practice. Trying to give my, my, my guards, my bigs, a voice you know, challenging them when I need to challenge them. And, and, and paddling or put your arm around them. Sometimes we need to put your arm around them.
I’ve always felt that I’ve done that a decent decently, but there’s, so there was so much to teach those first couple of days, and I felt that just, we were going, I was going too much. I was too much too long-winded. And, and to the point where we we’ve, I’ve taken a step back and, and, and given up control.
I mean, most of our stuff now is, is conversations. We have, we have more conversations than we do. You know, talk at there, there, there are definitely times where, where I get after him and I say, this is what you have to do, but they know what they have to do now. And so now we’re getting to the point where they’re asking questions.
So the coach will in this scenario, what do you think? So now they’re thinking the game at a much higher level. And so I’m talking myself into this, but I’ve gotten better at not, not just coaching, but teaching the game. And that’s what I always, I inspire to teach the game, not just coach the game.
And I think our guys are, are responding to that and they love, they, they love having the, the input and the ownership in what they’re doing.
[00:54:06] Mike Klinzing: It’s definitely the way that coaching has started to see you, right? Where you have that player, coach interaction you have. Player input, which is a much bigger factor.
You go back 15 or 20 years ago, and maybe there were some coaches coach in that way, but you had many more of the situation where it was just you’re going to do it this way, because that’s what I said. And with today’s athlete, it doesn’t work in the same way. They always want to know why. And in so many ways, as coaches, we can get so much more out of our players by asking them questions and asking them what they see and asking them for their input.
That doesn’t mean that every single thing a player says that you’re gonna turn around and do exactly what their suggestion might be. But certainly by getting their input, you’re going to put yourself in a better position to be able to help them to be successful. Ultimately, and I think part of that too goes to my next question, which is you come into that job in September and you have a bunch of kids.
You don’t know that, as you said, you didn’t recruit that came to play under a different head coach. And now you’ve got a coach and you’ve got to build relationships with them. So we’ve talked a lot about what you’ve done on the floor to get them to be prepared in order to play and be successful. What are some things that you’ve done either off the floor or from a culture standpoint that you think are worth sharing that so far have proved to be pretty successful at helping you build relationships with these kids?
That again, six months ago, you didn’t even, they didn’t even know who you were.
[00:55:38] Casey Korn: W unique system here at, at Lawrence. We are in a trimester class schedule. And so the first trimester ends Thanksgiving, right that Tuesday before Thanksgiving. And so until. We just started class on January 3rd.
And so from Thanksgiving until January 3rd of their basketball players. And that’s it. And that means I have to be there to feed them. I gotta be there. Fair the extra time in the gym, the the weight room, the everything, there’s very, very limited people on, on campus. And so we had to figure out how to manage that time, where it wasn’t only basketball.
And it started by having guys over at my house for dinner. And I I’ll tell you to tell you the story. It was the first Monday, so, all right guys, come on over. I got a nice television downstairs. We’re going to watch mine to the first half of Monday night football. I have food cooked for ya, you know?
And so they, they come over and I still have it’s two days before a game we’re presenting our scout. The next day, it two 30 or whatever time it was. I still have a very good amount of scout to do. And, and so the guys come over at seven o’clock and we eat 7 45 and football games going on and eight, 15 rolls around.
And I was like, all right it’s, that was fun. And nine 30 rolls around and they’re just hanging out and telling stories. And my wife has the video games out and they’re playing, they’re having like we Mario card and they’re, they’re hollering and going at each other. And the competitive juices are flowing and and other, all of a sudden they’re teens and by 10 45, I was like, guys, it’s time to get out of my fricking house.
You know, it’s time for you guys to go. You’ve been here for four hours. And I, I say that jokingly because we did it again the next Monday. And so just spending the time you know, the meals together, We’re a huge asset for a coach who doesn’t have that relationship that you build a lot of the times in, within the recruiting process.
It just, just having that time together, where you’re sitting around and talking, and there’s been a couple of trips where, you know what, we’re coming back for a four and a half hour bus ride. And the next thing you know, I’m just sitting in the back of the bus just, they probably don’t like it, but I’m back there telling stories and goofing around with them a little bit.
And then hearing a little bit more about them. It’s it’s, for me, it’s been all about showing them that, who we are trying to be, and there’s, we’re trying to be great teammates. We’re trying to be great people and we’ll preach in all of this about it’s it’s more than just you. He is the, one of the main things that we’ve been trying to do and showing them that that’s who I am as a person, because I think you can say things and you can hang up signs in your locker room and you can have your quote for the day or your mantra.
You know, people figured out really quick, if that’s not who you truly are. They’re going to find out that it’s BS. And, and so I want to live those of who, who I am and I I’ve made mistakes as a head coach or there there’s an instance where I had us foul and I had the wrong number in my head of who I wanted to file.
So we try to extend a game. We filed a kid that she for free throws better than the other kid. And then after the game and we ended up losing the game and afterwards, I, I, I told him, I said, that’s on me. I can’t, I gotta be better than that. And I’ve made mistakes and I own up to them and, and allow them to have dialogue with me.
And I just think that making, making them believe in it is that it’s more than just them as a basketball player. There’s going to be so many times. Player a and Coach Korn are not going to see eye to eye on the basketball floor that they’re going to make a mistake.
They’re going to get mad at me vice versa, but that, that never should affect that, that Casey and player a off the floor that will never affect that relationship. And I think they’re starting to see, see that. And I think it goes a long way. As I said earlier, it’s it trust can’t be built in in a month.
It can’t be built in three months. It takes time. It’s doing what you say you’re going to do over and over and over. And that’s how we’re going to, we build this trust and it it’s it’s hard. It’s, it’s not easy. But it’s, it’s intentional and, and we’re, we’re kind of going to continue to grow this because I think it’s, it’s the way I know how to do it.
I don’t really know another way. So that’s, that’s what we’re going to do
[01:00:09] Mike Klinzing: without being able to play together at all last year, and then coming in with a new head coach, how connected were your players this fall to each other? So forget about the relationship between you and the players. How has the relationship player to player and how have you seen that develop over the course of the season?
[01:00:32] Casey Korn: They just keep getting stronger. Like they, they just hang out together and I don’t know how much it was. I think, I feel like it was a decently connected group. And I say that as two of our, all three of our seniors, when they realized that there weren’t going to be games ended up taking semesters or trimesters off, they said, you know what?
I want to come back. This was before the NCAA gave that blanket rule of Hey, we’re gonna give everybody that fifth year. And so they said I’m going to go explore everything else. I’ll come back next year to graduate. So three of our guys are gone and we have five new freshmen that the.
And so, and then five other kind of returners. So it’s still a relatively new group. They’ve been together as a full group about the same amount of time that I’ve been there, but they’re doing the open gyms and lifting together. And that started with just a couple of our guys making sure they understood what the standard was going to be about.
Hey, we’ll get, when we get in the gym, we’re gonna lift to the right way. We’re gonna play open gyms the right way now, but I’ve had conversations with them about this. The fall was very different than what they were expecting in division three, I can’t get in there and coach them and I can give them very little direction on what open gym should look like.
And so I stayed out of it and I let them play. And now they know what it will look like a little bit differently next spring and next fall. But they’re a type of group that. They’re calling me at 9:45 at night saying, Hey coach, anyway, you can drive over the gym and let us in.
And I will do that. And the next thing you know, there’s four guys rolling in. It’s not, they don’t come, they don’t come by one. They bring their teammates with them. And I think that’s a great start to what we’re trying to get done
[01:02:26] Mike Klinzing: when you get to the end of the season this year, Casey, and you sit down with your AD or you just go over it in your own mind.
And you think about, what’s going to define for you a successful season. What does that mean? And what are you looking for? Obviously it’s not a final one loss record, but at the end of the year, when you look back over the scope of the entire season, what are you hoping to have accomplished? By the time we get to March,
[01:03:00] Casey Korn: We want to establish our identity as a program about who we are about what type of player we’re trying to bring in what type of character that, that we have in, in what our program is going to be about. And we have, we talk about it every single day. And, and. You start to know, realize the messages getting through when you’re eavesdropping on conversations, or if our guys are ever lucky enough to, to get to do an interview because you get to hear what they’re saying and when it’s echoing kind of what you’re, you’re preaching you, you feel that you’re, you’re in a good spot.
And I think we’re, we’re taking strides in that direction of, of these guys that they’re, they’re, they’re not too up and down. They’re learning how to, how to be teammates. They’re, they’re learning you know, what it takes to win at the highest level, but more importantly, they’re, they’re continuing because I think that this has been in general, but they’re continuing to be, to be good people that won’t accept mediocrity in any phase of their life.
And it it’s it’s there. Trying to achieve great things. And that can be in the classroom, that can be volunteering. That can be on the court. But we, we do not settle for okay. Our, our standards are high and we, we don’t apologize for them. And, and that’s where when next year rolls around or the years roll around.
And when somebody comes in and does something, that’s not up to our standard, mistakes are going to be made. I’ve made plenty of them. But the players grab ahold of that and say, Hey, that’s not Lawrence basketball. That’s when I know we’ve made it. And so building those blocks this year is what the is crucial.
Now we can talk wins and losses. I, I think we have a chance to compete for a post-season berth. We have not played in a conference tournament in over 10 years at Lawrence. And we have to figure out how to be in the top four of our league. I think we have the talent. I think we have the pieces to now look down the line three or four years.
I think we have the pieces right now to compete for that. When you, when you look at the grand scheme of things, it’s, it’s going to be, are the guys holding each other accountable for the standards that we have in place. And I know that when, when that happens consistently, I know we’ve we have the pieces in place.
[01:05:35] Mike Klinzing: What are you hoping? Another coach says when they come out and scout you and they’re going back to talk about their team. What do you hope they’re saying about your,
[01:05:42] Casey Korn: This team seems way too good. We can’t beat them.
Just super talented. I like it. I honestly it’s the, they, they play the game the right way. They, they play this, this team plays hard. They never quit. They play the game the right way. And you know, if we can do that night in the night out I I’m happy. I’m proud of our guys and it may happen. That’s, that’s the beautiful thing about, at least we say about belongingness and in trying to grow it.
But from day one, we have, we had ups and downs. Absolutely. Are we going to continue to. Probably I hope not, but probably, and so, but I’ve never, I’ve never questioned. I’ve never sat there and questioned effort or do these guys care in that’s? I’m proud of them for that.
[01:06:30] Mike Klinzing: All right. I want to give you one final two-part question and I’m actually going to phrase the two-part question slightly differently than I normally do.
So one part of the question is your biggest joy, which is going to stay the same. But the second part of the question is when you think about what you’re going to get to do at Lawrence over the next two or three years, I usually frame it as what’s your biggest challenge. Instead, I want to frame it as what are you most excited to be able to do with the program at Lawrence over the next couple of years?
And then what’s your biggest joy that you have when you wake up in the morning and realize what you get to do every day as the head coach at Lawrence university,
[01:07:11] Casey Korn: Can I start with either of those?
[01:07:13] Mike Klinzing: Either one.
[01:07:16] Casey Korn: The biggest joy is that I get to do something that I’m passionate about. I get to do it at a place that I believe in their mission. I get to do it where somewhere where my wife is, is happy, where I left one of my best friends.
I’m no longer coaching with him, but we can hang out on any, any period of time. So I get, I, I’m just so lucky that this all came to place and it came to fruition because I get to, I get to get challenged every single day in something that I’m passionate about that I hopefully can have impacts on people’s lives.
And w whenever I start, if it ever starts becoming about me Then I’ll, I’ll have to go back and listen to this podcast and realize that I’m in it for the wrong reason, but it’s you know, getting all of that. I know how fortunate I am. And so every single day is an opportunity to do something right.
And, and, and just having that opportunity, having the platform to do these things is, is something that I keep in perspective even eat every day, no matter why, when days are bad, when, when games are getting canceled, when we’re having less people with practice, it’s, it’s still you go back and Hey, what, what are the positives and, and what makes you happy?
And that’s in, and I’m fortunate enough to do that. And as far as excited is, you know I just think that Lawrence is a is a sleeping giant to, to be fair is. Appleton’s an unbelievable town. We have outstanding academics. We have people that care if they’ve won before. Like I said, they were, they, they lost in elite eights.
They’ve lost in sweet sixteens. They were the number one team in the nation. They’ve had the player of the year. And again, it was not me. I was not there for that, but it has been done at Lawrence before where there’s so much good that’s happening at this place. In a city that is as an 18 to 22 year old and a young adult would be an unbelievable city to live in to start the next phase of your life. And it’s, it’s, there’s so much potential. And for. The success of their athletic programs, basketball has been the most successful. So I’ll stick with men’s basketball, but seeing that it has been done, that it can be done, that they have given me this opportunity to try to build it back to, to where it has been.
And it’s not going to be easy. It’s not going to fall into my lap. It, it will take hard work. And that’s what excites me is, is that you can see a benefit. You can see down the line. It is not a, Hey, just work hard and hope it has been done before it can be done again. And that is out there and it is in reach.
And, and we got to go about it and we gotta put in the work and you just can’t skip steps.
[01:10:25] Mike Klinzing: That’s well said. And I think that as you look ahead and you think about when you got the job. And the fact that you were a month away from your season when you take over to be able to have an entire off season next year, to be able to go through the recruiting process, to have some players actually returning that can pass on your culture to the new players, to the younger players, and continue to just build this thing to me, it’s gotta be super exciting for you.
And I can, I can sense that in your voice, everything that you’re saying tonight and how you’re talking, you can just sense the, the excitement that you have for the potential of what Lawrence can be and what your guys are doing for you this year. I think that that comes across really strongly that here you inherited a team that, again, didn’t know you, you didn’t know them, and you can sense that.
There, you can feel it coming together. And and that’s, I think something that any coach really loves to see is their program, develop their team, develop and get better and improve. And I can only imagine how thrilled you have to be with getting the opportunity to do that process at a great university like Lawrence.
So before we wrap up Casey, I want to give you a chance to share how people can reach out to you. Mike, I finished my homework assignment. Do the homework assignment, jump in. Good. I think
[01:11:50] Jason Sunkle: I think that he is the sixth person to be on the podcast three times Mike. Alan Stein, Greg White, Dwayne killings. Of course.
Yup. I believe Huffman was on three times early on and then I believe has been on three times. I think that’s the list. That’s what I came up with. Mike, if I a hundred percent, that’s a good list. I’m I’m in on that list. I know many of those, those people and I I’m, I’m fortunate to, to be on that list.
And again, I can keep rambling so you can invite your back and forth time. Or maybe we gotta do something before that happens. Maybe.
[01:12:26] Mike Klinzing: Yeah, no, there you go. We will look you’re you got an open invitation so we can take it there. So, as I was saying, just go ahead and share. How could people find out more about you your program, or can they reach out to you and share a social media website, whatever you want to, and then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.
[01:12:45] Casey Korn: You would think that as a college basketball coach would be so much better on social media, but let me, let me figure, I don’t even know what my social media handle this. Follow me, you can, if you want to take a peek of what we’re doing @Coach_Korn, kale, RN the program is @LUVikingsMBB, that’s our our men’s basketball page.
And we do updates there. It’s something that. It’s on my list of things to do better is the social media side of things. But feel free in any period of time. You, you can shoot me an email Casey.Korn@Lawrence.edu is my email address and feel free, if you’ve got a player, you got a question, you have a suggestion I’m, I’m open to any and all suggestions. I’m learning. I’m not going to pretend that I know much. And I’m just, just going about learning every single day and trying to get better and, and hoping to, to guide my guys as, as we go through it.
And I appreciate this platform to talk about it. It’s exciting. It’s you don’t get to sit back and reflect on what has happened. You know, I’ve been, go, go, go, go, go that telling the story has been kind of fun because it’s so recent and I haven’t had any time to sit back and reflect on it.
So I appreciate this outlet and having this conversations with you guys.
[01:14:11] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. It’s hard to believe you don’t have time to just crank out social media content. What are you doing? What are you doing over there?
[01:14:18] Casey Korn: I used to one of my job before I started coaching full-time, as I was teaching technology, I was teaching Photoshop and media and multimedia and all this different stuff.
And yet, so I know how to use all these programs it’s yet. I just don’t do it. I, it needs to be better. It’s a huge recruiting tool. It’s, it’s something that, like I said, I got to get better at. And so I have the skills I’ll teach my assistant how to do it
[01:14:40] Mike Klinzing: I mean, that’s the bottom line. Like I look at what we do even with the podcast and the amount of time that it takes to be able to get good stuff out there and put things out for our episodes.
And, yeah, it’s a challenge. And I think that when you start talking about. Delegating and having a staff member that sort of takes the reins on that. I think a lot of coaches go about it that way. And then there are just some guys that whatever, it just, it just comes naturally to them and they, they seem to be able to crank out great content.
And, but again, as we’ve said over and over again, there are so many things, especially when you are first taken over that, you’re just trying to put your imprint on and make sure that you’re taking care of that and social media as valuable of a recruiting tool, as I’m sure it is. It still has to pump down the list for some of the other things that we’ve talked about tonight, for sure.
But we really appreciate it again, always an open invitation, every conversation that we’ve been able to have, Casey has been a blast. And we’re looking forward to having you back on again, at some point here in the future, as you continue to build Lawrence and to everyone out there, we appreciate you listening and we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.