DAN PRIEST – KENYON COLLEGE MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 540

Dan Priest

Website – https://athletics.kenyon.edu/sports/mens-basketball

Twitter – @danpriest2

Email – priestd@kenyon.edu

Dan Priest is entering his 12th year as the Head Men’ Basketball Coach at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Priest was named NCAC Coach of the Year in 2013 has had 14 players named to All-NCAC teams during his tenure at Kenyon.  Prior to coming to Kenyon, he spent seven seasons as the Head Coach at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas where he inherited a 0-23 team and within three years led the Warriors to a 15-10 mark.

Prior to his six seasons at Hendrix, Priest spent five years as head coach at Ohio Dominican University, in Columbus, Ohio.

Priest’s past coaching experiences also includes seven years as an assistant at Hanover College and brief stints as a graduate assistant at both Indiana State University and Miami (OH) University.

As a player, Priest was a three-year letterman at Ohio Northern University and helped lead the Polar Bears to the NCAA Tournament in 1988. He still holds the University’s career three-point field goal percentage record at 48.6%

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Get ready to take some notes as you listen to this episode with Dan Priest, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Kenyon College.

What We Discuss with Dan Priest

  • Growing up in Oxford, Ohio where his Dad was a professor of physics at Miami (OH) University and where he could go play in the rec center gyms anytime he wanted
  • The similarity between how he grew up playing pickup basketball and what his D3 players at Kenyon have to do in the off-season
  • Training his players how to work out on their own and organize pick-up games
  • Workouts should be based on going game speed and simulating game situations
  • “How much are they going to work at it on their own? And for our guys, it’s balancing that with internships or jobs to make money to pay for school.”
  • “You just have to try and use your gut instinct of who is it really important to and what are their priorities and who does this really matter to?”
  • The challenge of the “no contact” off-season in D3
  • Why allowing more contact in the off-season might benefit the overall well-being of D3 players and help them get acclimated to college life as freshman
  • The two lessons he learned from playing college basketball at Ohio Northern University – Perseverance and Relationships
  • Following his older brother down the coaching path even though his brother didn’t end up in the coaching profession
  • Getting his first GA job at Miami (OH) and his head coach getting fired before he even started working there
  • Staying on with Coach Joby Wright at Miami before spending the following season with Tates Locke at Indiana State as a GA
  • Getting hired as an assistant coach at Hanover College in Indiana and the adjustment required to understanding the time required in the recruiting process
  • Building relationships with high school coaches
  • Keeping detailed notes to learn and grow as a coach
  • “You have to be confident in what you’re doing and have faith in who you are and what you’re doing, but always keep learning.”
  • Watching other teams practice from the high school level all the way to the pros and what he looks for
  • “I’ve kind of come to this conclusion – that kids, remember when you give things silly names or tricky names or colors.”
  • “We’re going to get good players, but our league’s going to get great players.”
  • How he structures his practices at Kenyon
  • The evolution of the game and the importance of defending the ball screen
  • His experience as the Head Coach at Ohio Dominican
  • “Getting to know what makes each kid tick and what their family background is, what they’re all about. What’s important to them. I think that’s probably what I’ve learned the most.”
  • “We have players from 11 or 12 different states. We had three different countries represented.”
  • “A lot of our guys, we never see play a high school game.”
  • Why it’s so important to talk with players on the bu rides home from games
  • The challenge of social media for players and coaches – how to maximize the benefit and minimize the damage
  • Leaving Ohio Dominican and NAIA for Hendrix College, a D3 in Conway, Arkansas
  • “They can fire me as a coach. They’re never going to fire me as a husband or a dad.”
  • How he tries to balance family life with his passion for coaching
  • Why the timing was right when he returned to Ohio from Arkansas to take the Kenyon job
  • The challenge of not playing at all last year during Covid
  • The joy he gets from the relationships he’s built with both current and former players

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DAN PRIEST – KENYON COLLEGE MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 540

[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host Jason Sunkle. And tonight we are pleased to welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod, Dan Priest, the head men’s basketball coach at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, Dan, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.

Dan Priest: [00:00:15] Awesome. Thanks for having me, Mike.  I appreciate it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:17] Excited to have you on want to dig into all the things that you’ve been able to do in your life as a basketball player, a basketball coach, let’s go back in time to when you were a kid. Tell us a little bit about how you got into the game, what some of your first experiences that you remember with the game basketball war?

Dan Priest: [00:00:33] Yeah sure. So I spent my entire life actually almost every day of my life, either working or living on a college campus. Cause I was born and raised in Oxford, Ohio. My dad was a professor of physics at Miami, so that’s I’ve never not been on a college campus. So I just kinda grew up just hooping it at that time that the rec centers were open.

You could just go and play and hoop. And that was kind of what [00:01:00] got me going. I just was always around basketball at Miami. And that was in my generation. It was before the, before the AAU scene kinda got on. And honestly before the high school team leagues and summer leagues and all that. So it just, you’re just kind of going and playing pickup basketball.

So that’s how it all, all started for me and being on the college campus and being around Miami and being a, it was actually a really great opportunity at that time. You could just go play any afternoon and evening and go get games. And Miami was a place that had really good players that worked work plan in, in college that were, that chose Miami, just because of, of it was Miami, so good competition level.

And that’s what kinda  got me going into it and being able to be around Miami. And when when I grew up, it was Ron Harper and Randy Ayers and those guys, so seeing really good college basketball, that’s what kinda, [00:02:00] got me going and got me to be kind of a gym rat and a hoopaholic.

Mike Klinzing: [00:02:05] When did you realize that you kind of had a good situation that maybe other kids that you went to school with didn’t have that same access to gyms? Did, when did, when did that realization.

Dan Priest: [00:02:16] Yeah. Probably not too much, when I got to college a little bit, maybe even after, and then I was kinda like, well, what do you mean?

You couldn’t just go do this. And I mean, I, I literally, if you’ve ever been to Oxford, Ohio, it’s about about four square miles, five square miles. But you know, when the students are there at 30,000 people, so literally again, it was a different day and time and day and age. But I would ride my bike down to after I eat dinner and ride my bike down to campus.

And mom, dad didn’t think anything of it. And after school I would either walk or ride my bike or whatever, just, just down to campus. And I just thought that was kind of normal. And Cincinnati was 35 minutes, 40 minutes away, but it was, it was almost like another, another universe. [00:03:00] You just, you just didn’t go there.

It wasn’t what you did. And you didn’t have a, any need to. So I think when I got to college and saw like some of my college teammates at Ohio Northern that this was a little bit different. Cause Teammates that were from the city or really small farm towns. So I think it was probably that, but I think honestly, over the, over the time of the past 25 or 30 years, it’s probably become even more and more of a, a realization.

And it’s interesting. I have three kids, but typically my two sons. So they’re always kind of amazed at, at kind of what, what a, what a cool thing that was and that she just go, go hoop whenever you want. And again, at that time, you didn’t, you didn’t have to show your ID to get it into the rec centers.

Or if you did, you could, you could fake it pretty easy. So it was a lot a lot easier and a lot, a lot simpler.

Mike Klinzing: [00:03:45] There’s no question about that. I grew up in that same era as you and I tell people all the time that the ability to just go out and play basketball and be able to, I used to ride my bike to the local rec park.

That’s how it [00:04:00] started when I was probably 13 or 14 years old playing with high school kids, college kids, adults. And I really feel like that helped me to develop. As a player. And obviously the system today, as you referenced is a lot different. This is kind of a point of conversation that we’ve had many times on the podcast, but I’m just curious to get your perspective on it.

When you think about the system that you grew up in, which really wasn’t a system, but it was just an opportunity to go and play versus how the kids that you coach today grow up in the game with a U basketball with trainers, with travel basketball, playing with kids in their own grade level from the time were second or third grade.

How in your mind you compare and contrast the two, when you think about how it develops players, do you have a thought about which one? I don’t know if I want to say which one’s better, but just, and when you’re looking at them, how do you kind of analyze the way you grew up versus the way kids are growing up in the game today?

Dan Priest: [00:04:55] Certainly different. And I would guess that you have a lot of these discussions [00:05:00] on your podcast and people have a lot of opinions about it. I’m not anti trainers or anti AAU is I, I can only speak from my. Standpoint. And as, as you were saying, just like riding your bike to the park, we played a lot on just two on two and three on three at the, at the bark.

And then we’d go to the local pool for an hour or two and then come back and hoop some more. So I think that part of just kind of figuring out how to play without anyone telling you what your position was or what play you were supposed to run, or the lack of structure I think was well, there’s a lot of benefit to that.

And I think there’s some benefit to the trainers and AUU and too, but I think there’s a lot of benefit to that of just learning how to play without anyone telling you what you’re supposed to do or where you’re supposed to cut or where you’re supposed to screen or who you’re supposed to guard, or that you’re supposed to be the point guard at the two or the five or whatever.

So I, I do think there’s a lot of benefit to that. [00:06:00] And for us in division three we, we just have limited contact with them outside the season. So we have to kind of retrain them once they get here to go do those things, because they’re so used to have everything structured for them, either high school team, league team camp, a few trainers, whatever that now they don’t have an that.

So it’s a real challenge for us to get them to say, Hey, you got to go to teach them how to work out on their own or teach them to go find some guys. And like, it’s okay. Just get, just get five dudes and place them through our three and, and figure some stuff out. They just it’s a foreign concept to them.

So here’s probably some, some plus and minus to both, but I certainly think there’s a lot of benefit for how things were when I was a 15, 16, 17.

Mike Klinzing: [00:06:51] What else conversations with your guys sound like when you’re talking to them about, Hey, okay. We can’t have any contact. Here’s the, some of the things that [00:07:00] you should do, what are those conversations look like?

What exactly are you telling them? And what are you hoping happens? Obviously you hope your upperclassmen, your leaders kind of take control of it and get them in the gym and do the things that they need to do. But what kind of conversations do you have with them?

Dan Priest: [00:07:15] Yeah, well, most of it’s the how to work out at a game speed and a game situation.

They just don’t understand that because they’ve always had someone pass and form and set the cones up for them and, and telling them what drill are going to do. So first, just the pace of which they have to try and work out the pace of which they have to get shots up. And the game like situations, that’s like the first thing we’re really talking to them about.

And then making things as competitive as possible is what we have to talk to them about. Because again, when I was growing up, if, if you lost. You didn’t get play anymore. Good motivator. Yeah. It wasn’t,  you’re going to play at 10, two and five, no matter what it was you lost. And then, and then you [00:08:00] also had to figure out, like, how do you get into the next game?

It’s it, wasn’t D you have to go find who’s got the next game and, and barter and argue a little bit and get on somebody’s team and prove yourself. So so the, the game speed of things that, that the, the actual production w when they’re working out how, how to play, just pick a basketball and making it as competitive as possible.

Those are the real conversations. And then in division three, it just comes down to the guys that, that that’s kind of the value of division three. Do they, how much are they going to work at it on their own? And for our guys, it’s balancing that with internships or jobs to make money, to, to pay for school, or some, some really cool work experience that they have.

Of balancing that with, to get, to get the workout situation.

Mike Klinzing: [00:08:51] From your coaching perspective. And obviously you’ve been at it a long time at this level. When you think about the time that you [00:09:00] spend away from your guys and the trust, the, what you have to put in their hands in order to get them to develop, how does that impact the type of guys that you want to bring into your program and the type of recruiting that you do?

In other words, when you’re looking, what kind of intangibles are you looking for when you recruit a player that maybe would lead you to believe that they’re going to be the type of kid that’s going to put in the hours necessary to continue to improve and get better over the course of their career?

Dan Priest: [00:09:25] Yeah, it’s really hard. You have to find someone that it’s really important to, and sometimes we’ve done a good job sometimes. Honestly, we’ve done a bad job of it. And that, that doesn’t mean that their academic situation, isn’t the number one important thing to them. It has to be or else they’re not going to make.

For us are probably most places and it doesn’t mean that they can’t have other things or that their family situation has to be incredibly important to them and their relationships. But you just have to try and use your gut instinct of who is it really important to and what are their [00:10:00] priorities and who does this really matter to?

Because if it doesn’t then the rules are, they’re not good, honestly, for us. And we I’m on the NCAA board and I keep we’ve been pounding the drum and fighting it, not just the standpoint of us, not, it’s not just a workout part outside of season, but just a contact with the guys. The retention part of trying to form relationships with them and to just to contact with them is from the personal and academic levels are from a basketball standpoint.

We don’t have any contact with, and talk until October 15th. If we just had two, three hours a week, it would be A big plus, but just trying to get a sense and trying to get a sense  what’s important to there that their families and what’s important to them and kind of how, how driven they are to do things on their own.

It’s not a, there’s no perfect equation for sure.

Mike Klinzing: [00:10:54] That makes a lot of sense. When you think about what you’d like the ideal [00:11:00] situation to be. So if you could draft up, okay, here’s going to be the new rules off season for division three of what can happen, what would that look like to you? And I know, like, I think about as a division one player, now, the amount of time that those guys have to spend too much, maybe yeah.

Too much. I agree with you a hundred percent. And I think about when I was playing at Kent and. You know, at the end of my season, I got handed a three page ditto that go, Hey, here’s your workout? You know, we’ll see you back here when we’ll see you back here, when school starts up again in September, and you know, obviously you have workouts and you have conditioning and all that stuff.

But now basically you’re, I mean, those kids are on campus pretty much 50 weeks out of the year. Now they get a couple of weeks off. And I, I feel like personally that not only from a player standpoint, but I would think as a coach, like, you need a break, like you have to get away from each other and get that break.

So there’s gotta be a happy medium in there between no contact and almost too much context. So in your mind, if you could wave [00:12:00] that magic wand and just make it look, what in your mind would be an ideal fit for your situation? What would that look like?

Dan Priest: [00:12:06] Yeah, it’s interesting that you say that, because I just went and watched Ohio State practice this afternoon and it awesome.

Those Chris Holtmann, Ryan Pedon that they’re tremendous and doing a great job, but this is there. I don’t know. Fifth, sixth, seventh practice. It looks to me like they’re mid January and they’ve just by where they are in terms of what they’re doing. And I think some of that is good. And some of it as you say, there might be a point of diminishing returns.

So I think for us, I think what, what would be beneficial last year, actually, during COVID we were able to just, no, we didn’t play any games. So it was a little bit different, but even the people that did, you took the same amount of practices and just spread them out over a longer period. So you could start October 1st and you could go like three or four weeks after the season that I, if I could wave my magic wand [00:13:00] would be a huge benefit because then you don’t have to feel like you’re jamming six practices in a week.

You get some contact with them outside of. You know, the basketball part is good, but you get a little part to say, how’s it going? How’s your roommate doing? You’re homesick how’s class. I was biology class, whatever. So I think that part of being able to the same amount of practice, but mental spread them out, it would be better physically and mentally on them.

And I think when they got here, if we could, again, even, even a couple of hours a week, just to work on skill stuff, if small groups, three, four kids, whatever time, even if it’s no life contact, if, if you could have two hours for kids, cause they’re going to be doing it anyway, the kids that really want, want to be good.

And the kids that are going to compete the victory or they’re going to do it anyway. So in my mind would be better if it’s supervised and structured, that they, they do more than two hours and they would in four hours on their own. And then after the season, just even a couple of hours, just more so to just know how they’re doing and, and have a little bit of [00:14:00] context with them.

So that’s what. You know, I’m on that NCAA board. And if we could that, I think that that would be what we’ll keep pushing for. I don’t know if we’ll ever get there, but same amount of practice, spread them out a little bit more. And then a couple of hours outside of, and then in the summer there they’re going to do nothing.

Mike Klinzing: [00:14:17] What do you put the odds at that? Something like that ever happens in some form?

Dan Priest: [00:14:20] Well, it’s funny. I was just on a call and one of the coaches said it took a global pandemic for us to even get this considered. And so we had some coaches say, well, let’s just kind of play it by ear and wait and see, see how it goes here.

And the coach is like, you guys are nuts. Like it, it took a global pandemic for us to even get this for a year. Like we need to strike while it’s hot. So. I don’t have high hopes for the out of season stuff, as much as I would. I do think that there is a little bit of momentum possibly for us being able to start a little bit early and spread them out just from …start practicing October 15th.

We scrimmage on [00:15:00] the 28th. We play November 10th. So you don’t have a choice, but to, to max out, go six days a week. And if you’ve got facility restrictions, you got do it whenever you get in there. Whether that’s eight at night, 6:00. Saturday, Sunday. So I think there is some momentum for, Hey, if we could spread it out, it would be better for the student athletes overall well-being that we wouldn’t have to have kind of crazier practice times and practicing six, seven days in a row, it’d be better for the training staff that kind of deal.

So I think there is there’s, there’s a momentum possibility for that. The out of season workouts I don’t know. We’ve been banging that for a while. Haven’t had, haven’t got there. So I don’t, I don’t, I’m not as optimistic about that.

Mike Klinzing: [00:15:43] It’s amazing what you think about how it doesn’t just impact you and your staff or a staff and the players.

When you start thinking about you, don’t always consider the training staff. You don’t always consider whatever academic advisors you don’t always consider the fact that, Hey, the facilities may [00:16:00] have other things. There’s other teams that need to get in the gym and use, utilize that gym time. And not every school has the same access to facilities.

And so now you’re talking about again, a kid who, if you’ve got to go practice. Eight 30 at night, maybe that’s the time the kid normally studying. And so there’s all those impacts that I think sometimes on the outside, looking in that we don’t always think about clearly, if you watch a game and talking about a division one game, you watch it on TV and you see the kids and you don’t, you don’t always process all the things that go on behind the scenes.

I think that’s one of the things that the general public really doesn’t have a great understanding of division one athletics, and they certainly don’t have any understanding of division three athletics. The number of coaches we’ve talked and I’m sure you, Dan you’ve had the same conversation with kids who you’re recruiting them.

You’re talking to them. And a lot of them would probably never even see the division three game before, before they set foot on your campus were free to start recruiting. But to me, that’s always quite interesting, especially here in the state of Ohio. Like we talked about before we jumped on that, there’s so many division [00:17:00] three schools.

Here in the state of Ohio, the fact that you have kids playing high school basketball that have never seen a division three game is kind of it’s kind of amazing when you really think about it with the number of the sheer number of schools that are playing division three basketball in the state of Ohio.

Dan Priest: [00:17:13] Yep. It is that the retention is an issue too. I don’t know as much for us, but you know, head coach could have very, very limited contact with the kid for the first six, seven weeks of school when he’s been their primary source of contact with the family and with the kid. And as you know that the first six weeks of college acclimation is a challenging academically, socially homesick.

It just a lot of things living on your own that I think there’s a lot of, a lot of validity to that. If coaches could have some contact with them, it would cause division three schools don’t they don’t want kids transferring it. It’s a financial. Issue with a little bit to that, that the retention factor, for sure.

But you’re right about the division three games. I think if more kids could go see division three division, two [00:18:00] games, it would it be real eye-opener for the level of play.

Mike Klinzing: [00:18:04] When you talk to parents or kids who maybe don’t have that much experience in the recruiting, and they’re not really sure what they’re doing, and obviously there’s a huge division one or bust mentality that it’s out there.

And I’m sure that that’s something that you, along with many of other division three coaches that we’ve talked to are fighting that all the time. And one of the things that we’ve tried to do on here, Dan is talk to our audience and just say, look, division three. Basketball is way better than you think it is.

Just go and go on. Go and play some pickup basketball with some division three college basketball players. And you’ll find out real quick as a high school player. You know, how high of a level of basketball that is. And that’s one of the things that we’ve really tried to, that we really tried to hammer home here on the podcast.

And I think it’s just amazing to me. Like I said, the kids don’t see any games who have [00:19:00] aspirations of playing college basketball at any level. It’s, it’s always, it’s always amazing to me. So thinking back in time for you, as you’re growing up and you’re playing the game and eventually you get an opportunity to go and play at a high Northern, what, give me a highlight of your, of your college career.

Something that you remember that sticks with you that maybe again, when you think about what your kids are gonna remember, that you’re coaching now, but just something that sticks out for you as a player.

Dan Priest: [00:19:28] My first year I was…The whole year I had surgery on my wrist and I wouldn’t be good enough to play as a freshman anyway.

So it was probably a little bit of a blessing, but I, I couldn’t play. And it took me time to get me out of that time. Yet JV teams, I played a little bit of JV basketball as a sophomore to get back. So like, one thing that sticks out to me is, is the lesson of perseverance and sticktuitiveness and of battling through tough times.

I think that’s what [00:20:00] probably division three basketball, or at least my basketball because basketball experience. And I played for a really tough guy and go to OT so that, that was required some perseverance in itself. So that, that, that’s one thing that really sticks out to me is that lesson and what I try to always convey to our guys that we’re teaching them about you don’t get the first job you apply for you don’t get promoted all the time or things.

Don’t go your way. So at that part, and then, and then just the relationships that, that form there was five guys that I lived with, I played with. Nope. I still talk to him almost, almost every week. You know, two of them have called me this week and I’ll we’re going up to a high nor discriminate.

Y’all have four or five. We’ll, we’ll come up just to say hello, but you know, guys who were at my weddings, my dad’s funeral, those kinds of things. So those are the two things that really stick out to me as much that the lessons of, of pers perseverance and of not giving up. And then the relationships that at form.

Kind of formed inside basketball, but foreign really just because of the [00:21:00] we’re going through.

Mike Klinzing: [00:21:01] Absolutely. They’re two great lessons. I think the perseverance piece, especially all you gotta do is look at the transfer portal, for sure. Understand that perseverance isn’t necessarily something that a lot of people are espousing these days.

There’s, there’s not, there’s not a lot of kids who go into school as freshmen with maybe a realistic vision of what they should or shouldn’t be able to do. And I think consequently, you have a lot of kids that make decisions that aren’t the right one, that aren’t the right fit for who they are. And I think that’s a big piece of, for parents, for kids, for coaches is trying to make, make sure that they figure out what’s the right fit for this player.

Whether, again, it doesn’t matter the level you know, trying to find the right level of trying to find the right school academically, the right. With the program it’s so, so important. And too often, you see, Hey, it doesn’t work out for me in the first half of my freshman season and I’m jumping ship and going somewhere else.

And I think that perseverance piece is something that as coaches, the [00:22:00] more we can espouse that message, I think the better off we are without question then obviously the relationships that you built with your teammates. And that’s the kind of thing that I think as coaches, if there’s anything more gratifying that building that relationship as a coach with your player, but then also seeing your players bond as teammates and eventually friends and people that again, now you’re 30 years removed from being a college basketball player, and you’re still in connection with your, your college teammates.

So that’s something that that’s something that’s really fun. I actually went back, Jason, I don’t even think I told you this story, but I went back to camp this weekend and I walked, I’ve been out, I’ve been back to games. I tried to go back to one, at least one game a year, but I went back this, this time with my family and walked, just walk the campus and I haven’t walked the campus in, I don’t, I don’t think I’ve, I don’t think I’ve walked it since I left.

And there was a hill that we used to run up on campus. And so my son was a sophomore in high school. He and I, he and I ran, he and I ran the hill and I sent it to one. I sent it to one of my, I said, I sent it to one of my [00:23:00] teammates. I’m like, Hey man, do you remember this? And then of course, then that just sets off a avalanche of sex texting back and forth for the next time you got to go out to the stadium and do the agilities and jump in and out of these big, giant tires on asphalt, like we used to do and all this crazy stuff.

And so those are the kinds of things that obviously you treasure and that you hope that you can build for your kids, that you’re coaching. When, when you eventually get into the position where you’ve been fortunate enough to get to, when you think back to your decision to become a coach, was it something that you always knew you wanted to do or did it come to you when.

Your playing career and you kind of looked around and you’re like, okay, now I gotta figure out a way to stay in the game. Were you somebody that always thought about being a coach or was it something that came to you at the end?

Dan Priest: [00:23:44] Yeah, I think I did again, growing up around Miami at that was, I kind of always had it in my brain a little bit.

I say it’s kind of jokingly, but seriously, my brother was a bit of an influence on me. He was, he became a high school teacher, want to be a high [00:24:00] school basketball coach and teach math. And he, he kinda pushed me along that track and yeah. He’s seven years old or maybe he, he, he did it for five years and then decided he was going to go make a lot more money and work about a third, as much as I do.

And he’s, that’s, that’s worked out for him. I can call him at any time of the day. He seems to answer. He’s got a lot of time and a lot of money, so he got out and I kept following it. So I honestly, I think that was kind of hard, but I think I knew that’s kind ofwhat I wanna do.

And again, I was fortunate to play for a really good college coach and Gail Daugherty. So that, that was my thought. And I always kind of thought I could maybe go back to Miami and get a GA and it was fortunate. That’s how it worked out for me.

Mike Klinzing: [00:24:46] So when you first take that GA job and you kind of go behind the curtain with the coaching staff, what did that look like?

What do you remember? What was surprising to you? Was there anything that you were like, oh man, I didn’t realize coaches were spending that much time [00:25:00] working on that particular task or just, what were your initial impressions?

Dan Priest: [00:25:02] impressions? What. Kind of baptism to division, one basketball. So I got hired by Jerry Pearson, who I had known… was a neighbor of ours forever, but Coach Pearson hired me and he got fired in the summer.

It was a long story issue, but so I hadn’t even worked a day and basically we were fired. So that was like, wow, this is great. Yeah. Awesome. Right. And then, so I Joby Wright. Bob Knight assistant got to do they kept me on for a year and it, that was his first year. And you know, all of us got fired two or three times during that year.

And then you know, at the end of the year, he kind of wanted his own guys and which I understood, and I was just going to stay at Miami and, and. Can I finish my master’s degree and working in rail and rec sports. And I got lucky that Tates Locke hired me at Indiana state, but that, that was my first impression.

I was like, wow, this is, [00:26:00] this is a crazy, crazy world. And I was living in my hometown, which was, which is kind of good and bad. So the real thing for me came when I was able to go to Indiana state and again, Tates lock, who was the head coach at army. And when Bob Knight was his assistant coach, the only, the only person at night ever worked for as an assistant coach and coach lock store has gone round and round.

But that’s when I kind of really found out like, this is what coaching is all about. This is the time, this is kind of how it’s done. And this is what you have to put in is  when I went to Terra Haute, I literally just drove over there, interviewed, and he hired me that day. And I had all my stuff in the car and at that time you’re making three or four grand and just kind of learned how to, how survived.

So it was a really interesting. Two years for me.

Mike Klinzing: [00:26:50] Absolutely. Jason, I had the good fortune now was three summers ago. So not this summer, not the summer before it was COVID, but the summer before. Out at snow [00:27:00] valley,

Dan Priest: [00:27:00]  He’s the guy

Mike Klinzing: [00:27:02] to meet, to meet Tate’s out there and get a chance to actually sit down and talk to him and watch him demonstrate and do some clinics with the kids.

It was just, again, the guy that you can just tell, like basketball lifer that has probably more knowledge of the game of basketball than I’ll ever be able to be able to get into, into my own brain and took the time. I know at least once or twice sat down at a meal with them and had some conversations.

Again, pouring knowledge into all the coaches that were there and the kids and the campers that were, that were a part of it. And so incredible guy, I’m sure a great way to start out your coaching career is to be able to learn and work and observe and watch what he did as the head coach there at Indiana state.

Did you always know that since your brother was talking about doing the high school and, and you know, teaching route, did you always know you wanted to go the college routes in the, because of,

Dan Priest: [00:27:57] I thought so if I could, I think again, just cause I, [00:28:00] I thought maybe I could get a GA doing it. I did get a math ed degree, so, and I think that’s probably why I did the math thing because at least at that time that was higher demand in terms of high school coach.

But I think, I always thought that I wanted to do that. You know, again, after that first year at Miami and my head was spinning a little bit, so it wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. And as a young person, you probably get influenced by the. Division one, a lower, a little bit. Meanwhile was at Miami.

We we played at Nebraska, we played at Purdue as Indiana state. We played at you and those things kinda kind of wow. Yeah. A little bit. And can probably Jade your perspective of playing big crowds and flying on an airplane, doing all this stuff. Now at that time that the money, wasn’t what it is now, I think.

And I think that probably jades guys, even more that they’re staying at the division one level because the potential paycheck is even for the assistant [00:29:00] level if they’re latching on to the right guy. So I I think that gets in your brain. So, but I did think that the college thing was what I wanted to do.

And when I got in ASD and I had to kind of make a call interview with some few division, one jobs and few division, three assistant jobs, and I think it led me to, to the right path. But I, I thought that was probably always what I wanted. All right.

Mike Klinzing: [00:29:20] How does the opportunity at Hanover come across your table?

Dan Priest: [00:29:23] Yeah, so when, first, when I got hired at Indiana state, it was you know, he had some connection with, with Mike Bisall that coach it at Hanover. But ironically, when I got hired in Indiana state, it was just a friend of a friend of mine whose dad had been roommates with coach lock and just happened to bump into them.

And he convinced me to talk to him. And at that time, Thad Matta had just left Indiana state to go to Butler as a GA. So it was three or four days before. So I just walked in the house, met coach Locke, and he said, oh, you need a job on, on, off your job. And that’s how that all came about. And then when [00:30:00] I got done at that time was when the restricted earnings situation was happening in division one, where you could only have so many people on staff and you can only have three instead of four.

And so I was kinda I could have stayed around Indiana state, but I was kinda. The Hanover thing came up a little bit. I just applied. And my boss in India at Hanover, my bicycle game was pretty, pretty hard nose guy, but I think he knew I, I played for Gail Dougherty who again was really, really tough guy.

I’m really demanding guy and coach lock of course was incredibly demanding. So I think he kind of looked at me and thought if I could, if I could survive those guys, I could, I could survive him. And having a division three background, I think was, was certainly a factor. I haven’t played it for coach to already and having a little bit of the division three background, I think helped me, but I did not know him.

I didn’t, there’s no connection that way with them. But it worked out.

Mike Klinzing: [00:30:52] So when you get that job, I’m assuming that compared to the duties that you had as a GA, that the amount of things [00:31:00] that you now. We’re asked to do our, got to do depending, I guess, on how you look at it definitely increased.

So what did, what are those early years there as an assistant coach teach you? What did you learn that has helped you as you’ve moved on to your?

Dan Priest: [00:31:14] Yeah, so it was the recruiting aspect first and foremost. And when I was at Indiana state and Miami, just by the rules, you’re limited what you could do. And I just didn’t have that much involvement where we’re in division three, you’re the guy.

And so just the amount of time pounding the phone on it and, and getting on the road and doing all that was, was the major thing. And then individually, you have to learn to, although not as much anymore, you have to learn to balance a little bit of other, other job descriptions, which I think some people complain about.

I think it’s something that’s kinda cool about division three. My, my job description Kenyon is, is great. I, I teach one PE class. I do some game management stuff, so it’s, it’s very easy to do in honestly it’s when you played what the division one assistants were at that time. [00:32:00] Right? Some more not, not so much anymore, but at that time at Hanover, where I was at one time, I was the head women’s tennis coach.

I was intramural director. You’re doing those kind of things. So you know, you learn how to, how to balance that. But I, I don’t mind doing a little bit of that stuff now keeps you connected to, to campus and to students in the general student body. But that, that certainly that, that was a little bit of a, of an issue where I got hired to be the head system, basketball coach, but those other things were important.

So trying to put some time and effort into that, but the, the recruiting piece, just to the grinding part of the recruiting and, and just the amount of time and what you have to do to find guys,

Mike Klinzing: [00:32:40] How long did it take you to get a field for. The type of player, both from a skill level, academics fit.

How long did it take for you to figure out what type of player you guys wanted to bring into the program?

Dan Priest: [00:32:54] Yeah, not too long, honestly, because I think just because of my background and again, I’d been individual one for a couple of [00:33:00] years and good teams, but you know, I wasn’t in the big 10 or wasn’t a power five place or anything.

So I think I had a pretty good sense and I got lucky when we got there, we had a freshman who ended up being the national player of the year. So that, that helped us just in terms of credibility in the state and getting some guys. So I don’t think that the talent level thing was, was big issue, but I wasn’t Indiana guy and we recruit mostly in at school.

So just getting to know the state and at that time it was more that the high school scene than they used seam. So that part took a little bit of a little bit of time.

Mike Klinzing: [00:33:32] Yeah, absolutely. I think trying to figure out and build those connections when it’s not a place that you’re from where you don’t have those connections coming in.

I’m sure that does take some time to build those relationships so that coaches trust you and you trust them. And you know that when you go to them and ask for their opinion on a particular player, that you’re getting the truth and you know, which guys you can count on and videos guys, which guys you can’t.

So when you think about that time, and obviously you’re there for [00:34:00] seven years, so you get an opportunity to really dive into what it takes to be a good quality assistant coach. And as you’re doing that in the back of your mind, are you starting to prepare for a future head coaching opportunity in terms of.

Are you keeping a notebook? Are you starting to put together a three ring binder of things that, Hey, when I get my opportunity, this is what I’m going to do. Just what was your process for preparing for the next step of your career during that time? Yeah, for sure.

Dan Priest: [00:34:27] I don’t think now everything’s on the computer and at that time you just, you wrote stuff down.

So I can remember even being at Indiana State state having, I still have it. I go, every year I kind of go back and look through it and I go through the, I go through some of the funny things that coach Locke used to say, make me laugh. I got those write down some of the inappropriate, inappropriate things in the language that wasn’t so great.

But I just go through the ex know stuff and same thing. Yeah. Remember just write stuff down, every practice. And again, after about three or four years are going to be for a couple division, one assistant jobs [00:35:00] and it didn’t work, which was. You know, th th the right thing for me, but I was just trying to form and trying to talk to as many other other coaches at that time, Steve Alford was head coach at Manchester was in our league when I was at Hanover to just kind of seeing how he was doing things.

And, and Bill Finland was coach at DePauw. We still at DePauw, but really highly successful division three guy, and kind of seeing how, how, how they recruited kind of guys that went after how they ran their team, those kinds of things. And trying to, I remember going to Xavier and watching, I’d go a couple of times a year to watch Skip Prosser, Xavier, to see how sit down with skip.

And wha how did he do things? What was his approach, his philosophy, those kinds of things. So trying to get ready for that day to come.

Mike Klinzing: [00:35:44] Would you say that even today, like going to practice, you mentioned earlier that you had gone and watched your house state practice today, how valuable is that to you as a head coach today?

Carve out some time and you’re scheduled to go watch other coaches at any level. It could be watching a high school [00:36:00] practice while you’re recruiting or watching a division one practice or getting in to see maybe you get up and see the Cavs practice. Just what’s what’s the value in that for you as a head coach?

Dan Priest: [00:36:09] I think it’s incredibly important to be honest. And I think unfortunately here at central Ohio, we have really good high school coaches, I think in the state of high, in general, but I learned a tremendous amount from, from those. And I got a couple of former players that are coaching. So I love going to watch those guys.

I’ll highlight a minute goes where obviously I got my start, but I like going to watch them practice. I’m fortunate at Ohio state is close to here. I’m going to try, because we can’t start the 15th. I went and watched Davidson law two years ago. I think I’m going to go watch Butler this, this next weekend.

But I, I think it’s incredibly important. Honestly. I say this maybe makes it sound like. Old and crumbling them. But I think there are some young head coaches. I think they got to figure it out already. And I remember talking with Wes Miller, who’s now the coach at Cincinnati, but when I was [00:37:00] working, Bilas’s camp and he was talking, he said, there’s two kinds of coaches.

Those that are humbled, those are about to be humbled. And I thought, well, that’s a pretty, pretty interesting way to put it. But he said, you’re always going to keep, he became a head coach at age 29 and division one at UNC Greensboro. But I just think you got to, got to keep learning. When, when, when take, you get all figured out you don’t, and those things are really, really important to me.

You gotta be confident in what you’re doing and have faith in who you are and what you’re doing. But if you think you’re not going to keep learning. So those things are great for me. The division one thing, sometimes it’s hard. You know what y’all have state today. They got eight, 10 manager.

You know, just have those resources they, they had Greg Oden and they’re just protecting the rim hanging out. That’s we, we don’t quite have that due to

Mike Klinzing: [00:37:47] you could, could, you could try, you could track a lot more during practice, so it’d be a lot to realize if you just say, all right, you’re tracking this you’re tracking.

Dan Priest: [00:37:54] Yeah. Yeah. And again, have a Greg Oden around the hoop to play a little defense [00:38:00] at the rim.

Mike Klinzing: [00:38:02] he’s maybe more effective than the broom that you hold up.

Dan Priest: [00:38:07] The guys that next to me, I said, I can’t, I can’t get up and get a room big enough to do what he’s doing.

So you have to take that into. And I used to go out, I’ve always watched the Celts quite a bit. Brad Stevens division three guy recruited Brad at Hanover and ended up going to DePaul, but kind of still a relationship with him. And his assistant was Mike and Shrewsbury, who I recruited also and came to Hanna and we played for me at Hanover.

And now he’s head coach at Penn state. Brad and Micah would let me in and watch kind of their training camp stuff, 10. It was just really, really awesome to see that.

Mike Klinzing: [00:38:39] What are some of the things that you try to look for? Like, are you trying to pick up an X’s and O’s thing, are you trying to pick up maybe some language, some verbiage that you can use terminology?

What are the things that you’re looking for specifically?

Dan Priest: [00:38:52] Yeah. So for me, it’s the terminology thing is, and I’ve kind of come to this conclusion that kids, remember, [00:39:00] you give things silly names or tricky names or colors or whatever. They seem to remember that more so than if you say you’re reading the ball screen or what have you.

And, and practice structure really is for me. How did the, how does her, how did they structure things? How much time did they spend at five and five to five? I know how much skilled work do they do? How does practice flow? Cause that’s, that’s the thing that keeps keeps me up at night is you need to get X amount of time.

How much, how much are you breaking down? How much you’re doing in small parts, I’m issuing a big parts so that the structure and the practice flow honestly, is what I, what I look for as much. And just kind of the communication aspect of what, what they’re doing.

Mike Klinzing: [00:39:42] How’s that the

 structure for you changed over time since you first became a head coach, is, is it, are you spending more time, skill development, less time, just how have you broken it down?

How’s it different from when you started?

Dan Priest: [00:39:54] Yeah, I’m probably spending more time skill development. Cause we have to we’re going to get good players, but our leagues going to [00:40:00] get great players. So we have to, we have to try and out skill and out, out loud as people. So I think the skill development just get more, get more shots and we can do some, but  we’re not going to be able to bring our guys in for an hour every morning.

And then to two hours of practice, we just we can do it once in a while and they’re coming out a lot on their own, so that the shot and skill development probably doing less again, my, my college coach. Yeah, really structured discipline guide and we would break down stuff, defense lady, either one-on-one to on to shell rebounding, post defense, knock it down, flashes, close outs, everything for an hour and 10 minutes.

And that’s probably how I started, but I’ve got away from that a little bit just because of time and just because of how the game is played a little bit. So we’re, we’re, we’re doing a little bit more whole part stuff and maybe a little bit less at the trying to pick three or four things of defensive breakdown.

[00:41:00] The ball screen thing obviously is incredibly important and everybody in our league does it. And six to seven I’m do it in heavy doses. So we’re, we have to guard that every day and practice in, in, in different ways or shapes forms. So the skill development thing, though, I, I do think is, is still really important, but right or wrong.

We’re probably doing a little bit less of the particular skill defensive breakdown then when I started.

Mike Klinzing: [00:41:27] I think the ball screen piece of college basketball and basketball in general, compared to let’s go back to the time when you play the time when I played and it was the Bob Knight motion, offense, screens off screens off the ball.

I I’ve, I’ve said it a couple of times in the pod that I can probably count the number of times that I had to defend a ball screen or use a ball screen as a guy who played like 38 minutes a game. It was like, it was like, it was like one tie maybe, maybe, [00:42:00] maybe five times a season,

Dan Priest: [00:42:02] Maybe frowned upon almost like, don’t do it.

It’s not right,

Mike Klinzing: [00:42:06] right. It’s not like that’s not real basketball. And now it’s, it’s clearly a, a huge part of the game. So when you’re working on that with your players, both from an offensive and defensive standpoint, how do you break that down? Do you start two on two? Do you start on air? How do you break down how you.

That to be defended. And how do you break down the reads when you put it into your offense? So your ball handler and your screener can, can read the screen roll. 

Dan Priest: [00:42:32] Did some of the ball screen continuity stuff, kind of the Butler stuff like four or five years ago. And honestly, it was a mistake cause we, we just didn’t have dynamic enough guys and get one off the dribble.

And, but we kind of fell in this trap and mere was no different. We were playing, everyone was running the flex and then one of them started motion and then the swing or the Princeton. And so it was what was really Vogue. And it was, it was a mistake because it just did not fit our personnel. So we, we did it all [00:43:00] then two on two, three and three and Even one on O of the reads of pulling it back or try and split them, or what have you.

So we don’t, we try to get away from the random ball screen or the, the set ball screens as much now, as it’s just not good for us, we can do a little bit more in terms of the dribble handoffs and the random ball screen. So we’ll break that down a little bit, but we spend more time defensively starting to in kind of this two on two or two on, oh, and then two to the three on three stuff.

And then to, to get it out of the, y ou know, the four and four of the five on five, we are Downing or icing ball screens because really no one else in our league does it. I’m not saying that’s the only way to do it, but for us, it helps us because we have to be different if we do things, how everyone else does it, it’s going to be a challenge for us because the, the talent level in our league is so high.

So we started trying to keep the ball on one side down at nice. And so we can do that a little bit out of a, of a three on three concept. And that that’s [00:44:00] kind of how we’ll, how we’ll start, start doing it. Cause it’s. For a lot of kids, it’s a whole new foreign concept to them, but we, we, we have to do it almost every day because like five of the teams are, think are going to do some kind of ball screen continents and the edge you’ve watched it when a shot clock goes down, everyone’s going to come screen the ball.

Mike Klinzing: [00:44:18] Yeah, absolutely. It’s just amazing how the game has changed, you can barely recognize it. I think if I was to jump back in as a player, what would that, what would that feel like to play in that kind of system? It’s just as a completely different game than the one that you were then you were, I played it’s completely, completely different.

Doesn’t look the same and I’m sure as a player, it wouldn’t, it wouldn’t feel the same at all. I think of back to the transition from assistant coach, you get the head coaching job at Ohio Dominican. What’s the transition like from an assistant to a head coach, what did you feel? How did it, how did it, how did it go?

How did that, how did that work for you? Yeah,

Dan Priest: [00:44:59] so. [00:45:00] How to make was, was NAIA at the time. And NAIA probably gets a little bit of a bad rap. I think sometimes people just don’t recognize it enough or doesn’t get as much publicity. But for me it was awesome. You can play more games, you have more practice time, and it was just a tremendous experience for me.

So as a first year head coach, you, you think you’ve got things, things all figured out and you’re probably a little, little more emotional and, and, and those kinds of things, it’s, it’s not as much analytical as probably you should be, but it was a great experience for me. I learned by the way, I was the third coach in three years there, they had a head coach and then interim and then me.

So I found out pretty quick that it wasn’t just about what office you’re running, all this and that, that they hadn’t had anyone that really cared about them for awhile. So I figured that. Pretty quick that they just needed someone that was going to be there. That was going to care about that was going to be invested in someone they thought was going to be there cause they they’d had so much turnover.

So I [00:46:00] think that was probably my biggest learning curve right away of that. And, and just figuring out that that talent matters and the roster roster matters as we, we won 18 games the first year. And I, I mean, I, I think I kind of knew what I was doing, but not, not really we just, we just kinda hollered at him and got him to play really hard and kept recruiting and, and, and, and one, one most of our games.

So I think I found out pretty quick that the, the talent level and the roster matters, but that, that, that piece of figuring out what are the guys need? What is it that that’s been lacking? And cause one that they weren’t welcome. I said, well, the guys, two guys for me were really good coaches, but just the turnover piece had probably caused some distrust and some, some issues there in terms of that they didn’t feel kind of wanted or cared about.

Mike Klinzing: [00:46:47] That can be tough when you have that. Turnover of staff and it happens more than once, especially in a short period of time that that can I’m sure mess of the players said for sure. And give you an opportunity to come in and try to [00:47:00] rebuild that trust. When you think back to that time, what’s something that you feel like you’re a lot better at today than, and I’m sure you can say everything, but what’s something that stands out to you that you were a lot better at today than you were when you first got that head coaching job.

Dan Priest: [00:47:17] Yeah. So I think when I got my first head coaching job, again, high energy and maybe that’s why they hired a young person like me, which is great. But you know, trying to keep your emotions in a, trying to be highly emotional and high energy, but keeping your emotions at a level that, that keeps you focused and concentrated on either what’s going on in practice or what’s going on in the game.

So I think that’s probably what. Back. And I hope that that learning curve is, has helped me a little bit. And, and the piece of that getting to know your players, and I think I did it then, but just the importance of every kid’s different. And I I’ve been at three different schools that are all [00:48:00] very, very different places.

So getting to know what makes each kid tick and what their family background is, what they’re all about. What’s important to them. I think that’s, that’s probably what, I’ve, what I’ve learned the most, but, but I think that’s probably hopefully where we’ve changed or adapted probably the most.

Mike Klinzing: [00:48:18] How do you do that? What does that look like for you at Kenyon? Now, when you’re getting to know the kids, is that. Informal conversations before and after practice is that sit down meetings. What does that look like? Yeah. Yeah.

Dan Priest: [00:48:30] It’s challenging for us in the recruiting process because of where we are geographically, our demographic is national and international.

So I think last, last time I counted, we had 11 or 12 different states. We had three different countries representative. So you just w when you recruiting locally or regionally, you get much more time to spend with guys before you even get them on your campus. You’re sitting at high school games, and honestly, you get to know them, their friends, girlfriends, whatever you’re sitting in, the [00:49:00] stands, you hear teachers talk about them.

You hear people talking about him. You just spend more time with them where we just don’t. You know, a lot of our guys, we never see play a high school game. We don’t know their high school coach as well, just because we’re so far over the map. So that is really hard in terms of the, the vetting process on, on the front end.

So once we get them. I mean, I think these conversations are having guys in your office is great, but I, I honestly, I don’t think that’s, I think sometimes you call guys in their office. I think they’re in trouble, but I think there’s, there’s a problem, but it’s, it’s a little too formal and all that. So I think even with our rules, if our guys are playing open gym, I’m allowed that there’s a break I’m allowed to these poke my head in the gym or see them.

I’m trying to eat lunch with guys and our cafeteria I don’t say every day, but every other day, breakfast, lunch, whatever. I think those help more than anything. Once the season starts those 20 minutes before practice of [00:50:00] really just hanging out and talking with them. And I, I think that time on the bus is really important.

I’ve told my assistants this all the time and they’re all young guys and they’re great. And as soon as the game’s over, they want, they want to get on their phones and they’re checking scores and they’re on social media. And that’s fine. I’ll do a little bit of that too, but I think it’s really unique time.

You’ve got three hours with just your guys and. If you don’t connect with four or five of them, I don’t I don’t care how we as coaches feel, whether we’re we lost or we’re disappointed or depressed or whatever, then you gotta find the time to do that later. But you’ve got an opportunity to sit and talk with a guy that played a lot.

Talk with guys that didn’t play at all, ask them how class family if they played a lot, talk about the game, talk about whatever. But I’ve, I’ve really tried to just sit down with guys and we’ve got a 50, 54 passenger bus and 16, 17 guys on whatever. There’s a lot of, a lot of space.

So I think that is a real opportunity to talk before the game. It’s a little bit harder on the bus ride. Guys are [00:51:00] kind of doing their thing or are in a different zone. So I think that it’s an opportunity, but I think the informal stuff and just, just the casual conversations that go on like that I think are, and as you know, the communication aspect, I, you do have.

I have to text with them once in a while just to see what’s up, what’s going on. Cause that’s just, just the day and age we live in.

Mike Klinzing: [00:51:21] How does the social media aspect affect you and your players at the division three level? Obviously we’ve seen at the division one level that it’s we’ve had incidents where fans are getting on players and those kinds of things.

And it’s not, I don’t think that that happens quite as much at the division three level, but obviously there’s has to be some, some discussion about how you use it properly and what you should use it for. So how do you handle that? Because it’s obviously something that you didn’t have to do at the beginning of your career

Dan Priest: [00:51:51] For sure, And we don’t get as much guys getting scrutinized. From social media saying this kid, [00:52:00] you know what, it was terrible or played a bad day or lost a game. You don’t really see as much of that, but we do have to really educate them that what goes on is on there for life. And you’ve seen it a lot, but if there’s one, two or three guys putting stupid stuff on there or stupid videos you know, Halloween is coming up.

That’s really, I mean, individually, a lot of guys got suspended for games for doing, doing stupid stuff. So that, that, that part of certain education process, the recruiting part has probably makes me think more than anything because individually three, now we have guys are putting out offers, which I we’re not, we’re not offering scholarships.

We’re still trying to figure that out. There’s people that are putting guys in uniforms, there’s people that are putting guys in their locker room. There’s people making graphics. How much of that do you do. How much is meaningful? How much of it is? It’s just not my personality. [00:53:00] I, I need to you need to be kinda in tune with what’s going on in a 16, 17, 18 year old kid’s mind, but we’re not putting them in uniforms.

We say, we want you to first time put on uniform fit to be a special thing, and that’s going to be on your first game. You know, we’re not, we’ll let him take pictures and do all that, but we’re, we’re, we’re trying to focus more on the recruiting, visit their relationship and what, what we can do for them, what their experience is going to be.

But that’s certainly something that, that keeps me up at night a little bit thinking about how w what, what is genuine and what’s transparent. What’s right. And at the end day, what’s going to help you yield, not the kid, but the right kid.

Mike Klinzing: [00:53:38] Right. Absolutely. And you think about how confusing it is for you as an adult.

Yeah, for sure. When you think about how a 15, 16, 17 year old kid is trying to navigate that, and clearly those kids have. They’ve grown up with it. So they have a lot more experience than you are I do with making sure that they’re that they just use it as a, as a means of communication, but yet they don’t have [00:54:00] the, they don’t understand the filter that goes on.

As you said, you never go, it never goes away. And it’s hard. I think about just growing up again, thinking back to other, being of our conversation, the era that you and I grew up in, where that stuff wasn’t around and you could do stupid things. I could do stupid things and nobody had a video of it. Nobody, nobody was going to share it with 400 other people.

Maybe your friend who was sitting next to you, remembers it. And you could tell a funny story, but there isn’t a video of these dumb things that we were doing in. Mike you weren’t doing it again. I’m sure I was, I was not doing very many dumb things, but I’m sure I did a few that if there was, if there was one video, I would not want those things to probably be out there.

Dan Priest: [00:54:45] For sure. Cause like I said, we said, well, we don’t want a kid coming here cause we’re putting a uniform on or cause we got cool graphics or something neat. But there is also something that he wants his buddies and his AAU teammates or whatever to see that, [00:55:00] you know, he, he had a legit, it was legit college visit and someone else thought it was important.

So it’s a slippery slope a little bit. Yeah. I forgot her name.  

Mike Klinzing: [00:55:10] You got to think about what, what influences a kid’s decision. You have to think about what is important to them. The thing that always sticks out to me, Dan, when I have this conversation about what’s important to a kid is you think back to when you were playing and how important your uniform number was for sure.

Yeah. That was like critical. I mean, it was, I can’t think of anything that was very much more important to me heading into a season that I wanted to make sure I got my number going in. And then you think about you know, I would coach in whatever my kids, when they were in just rec basketball or they’d hand you a bag of t-shirts with random numbers.

And you’re like, you’re just passing them out to kids. They have that, you see them that then they’re trading because they want this number. You forget as an adult, you’re like, well, what difference does it make if you’re number three or number four, who cares? But you forget that as [00:56:00] a kid, those things are, those things are really, really important.

And now social media just adds this whole other level because they see so much of what I get blessed to receive this offer. And I got that offer and this, and here’s a kid in a uniform and here’s a kid that I play against all the time. And now I see he went and visited here and I just, there’s so many levels of used to be.

Dan Priest: [00:56:24] You wouldn’t know any of that stuff? None. Yeah. You would know

Mike Klinzing: [00:56:27] none of it. You didn’t know where anybody was going until somebody signed or until you, until they showed up at a campus, maybe. Yeah. You had, you had no idea where anybody was going to school and now it’s like, not only do you find out where they’re going to school, you find out about the 40 schools that they’re considering going to, and it’s just, it’s got, it’s gotta be overwhelming for a kid.

I can’t even imagine.

Dan Priest: [00:56:48] Yeah. It’s if we almost have to stay on social media, just to try and keep up with the, the company to go into the whole bit. So it’s a but it’s yeah. And it’s, it’s our [00:57:00] and for us too, You don’t want to self promote and do all that, but you also need to promote your program and what you’re doing and all that.

And that’s a, that’s a fine line also.

Mike Klinzing: [00:57:10] Yeah, absolutely. It’s a challenge. I think it’s, and it’s another, again, it’s another layer that just didn’t exist 15 years ago. It just was not on anybody’s radar and you could never even imagine that it was going to be, and who knows 15 years from now where we’re going to be, what it’s going to look like at that point.

So after your stint at Ohio Dominican, you head out to Arkansas. So how do you get to Hendrix college in Conway, Arkansas, as a guy with Ohio ties?

Dan Priest: [00:57:38] Yeah. How do you get to Hendrix? How do you get to Conway, Arkansas in general? It’s not the place. Everyone. My wife asked me that many questions, the job, where are we going?

And how do we get there? I had actually interviewed for Wisconsin Platteville job where Bo Ryan was and they were one coach removed from both that football coach. [00:58:00] Was an assistant football coach at Hanover when I was there and got me an interview and I went up and I think I did a good job. And it all went well.

They ended up hiring someone that had connections to bow, but as it turns out that AD was friends with the, the AD at Hendrix. So they called and I had been at Bennett, Hannah, sorry. I’ve been at Ohio Dominican for six years and I knew I wanted to be a division three guy. And I was kind of thinking, boy, if I, if I, I guess I’d been there five years, if I stay in this too long, am I going to be kind of labeled a D an AI guy?

Am I not going to be able to get out and get, to get to where I want to be? And there been some other jobs that open and I either didn’t get ’em or didn’t think they were the right fit or the timing wasn’t right. And you know, when someone calls you a little bit like recruiting, if you don’t want it, then, then you, you pay attention a little bit more.

So anyway, they, they called and I, I flew down there and honestly fell in love with it. Anyone who’s never been to the state of Arkansas, which a lot of people have, and it’s, it’s beautiful. And we had a great president at great vice president. I had a great idea. [00:59:00] And I just remember driving on campus, thinking like that this is what college is supposed to look like.

And I loved how Dominican, but primary commuter school right in the city. And when I went down to, to, to Hendricks, I thought, boy, this is this, that the campus is beautiful. This is what it’s what it’s supposed to look like. And I thought, boy, if I, if I don’t do this, am I going to be a division three guy or an AI guy for my life?

There’s nothing wrong with it. But in terms of just resources, job, description, money endowment what, what, what places in division three can do in terms of just your, your quality of life. So I went down there and interviewed there, oh and 23 the year before I got there. And I laugh and say the discussion with my wife, but she’s like, well what are we?

We had three kids, five, three, and one, like, what, what are we, what are we doing here? What are we getting into? And, and. Again, 1 23 was a tough, tough nut to crack, but in some ways those jobs are good because the, the, the bar set [01:00:00] so low and it was the same deal. Third coach in three years and interim guy that a guy that was there for 34 years before me, he was really close friend of mine, still great coach, and just was time for him to get out.

And so I think from that standpoint, there were, there were some, some positives to it, but again, I, I didn’t know anything never been in a state in my life. But again, we have really good direction leadership. They, they built a new facility about three or four years in down there. Loved it, loved the people, loved the of the town, but it certainly was when I told people where I’m going.

We, we certainly got some, got some funny books and it was an adjustment. It’s a different life. You know, you’re in the Bible belt there you’re in the deep south and me and my wife to. To Midwest, to Ohio Catholic kids going down there. That was a certainly different, different environment. But in the end it was it was it was a good fit, but that’s why I decided to do it.

And I don’t, I don’t regret it at all. It turned out to be really, really good people that we were around.

Mike Klinzing: [01:00:58] All right. Let me ask you this question about [01:01:00] family and thinking about just all your various stops, and obviously you’re married, you have kids, and we all know that coaching can be demanding both in season, out of season.

All those things that go into the successful coach, you need to have a supportive spouse behind you and need to figure out a way to make sure that not only are you making time for your team, but you’re also making time for your family at home. So how have you handled that over the course of your career?

What’s. Well for you and maybe what are some of the challenges in that area?

Dan Priest: [01:01:33] I mean, I think probably at times good and probably at times bad, ironically, I, I kind of made the move to be in small college and division three, not to move around as much as you look at some division, one guy’s resume that’s

and you wonder some of the moves don’t make sense. There seems like lateral moves and they’re going from this to this. So anyway, I didn’t think I would have to move as much. And, but when we were at Ohio, the medic and we [01:02:00] never really found the right fit, that was in, in, in Midwest forest. So we we’ve moved around more than, than probably we wanted.

My son just graduated from college and I remember seeing him at graduation just saying I always had these mixed feelings about having moved around so much. End up getting a Kenyon, which went up being a really good fit for him and everything. And he said that the moving around a little bit help them in college.

And that made me feel really good that the adjustment in terms of meet new people and making friends and, and a new environment that, that helped them. My other son is a freshman right now in college. And he had said the same thing. So that’s it. But it’s certainly hard. You’ve got to S you know, again, especially when you’ve got young kids that you’ve, you got to make this, this balance thing at Hendricks.

We played Friday and Sunday. And boy, that was really hard with young kids. Cause you’re leaving Thursday that get back till Sunday, midnight, one at one in the morning. That’s and even when you’re at home, you’re playing a Friday practice and [01:03:00] Saturday playing Sunday. That’s a, that’s a real challenge. So but my wife played college volleyball.

She’s super competitive and under not understands the whole deal, but is also an incredible mother. And also unfortunate that she would say listen, you need. You need to be here for the kids, or you need to be at this at school, you, you need to do this. And that, that kept me grounded. It was a really, really good thing for, for me.

And I think for, for our kids and I had two really, really good parents. So but it’s, it’s hard. I heard I heard a coach coaches talk to summer when I was at a clinic. And he said, he decided, I guess I never really thought of it this way. But he said, I decided a long time ago, they can fire me as a coach.

Never going to fire me as a husband or dad. I never, I never thought of it that way. That’s a great line. Now he’s a division one coach now and he’s making, you’ve got a big check, so that it’s little bit easier, but it’s a, it’s really, really good line. And I really never thought about that, but I think that’s probably how [01:04:00] I’ve picked guys up.

I’ve got a little bit older. I’ve tried to, but it’s it’s challenging that the challenge in division three is there’s no recruiting calendar. You can say, Hey, I, I can go out today, tomorrow the next day, Saturday, Sunday, Friday, whenever. And you can do it where in division one, certain on certain credibly challenging and you’re out for long periods of time, but there are certain times where you cannot, you can’t leave your campus to recruit.

So making those decisions of individually three w when do you really need to be out? And then I’ve always said, like, if I’m going to be out I’m not spending a lot of time, chit chatting and BS with other coaches. I’m going to, particularly when my kids were young, if I’m going to be out and away from my family, then I’m going to, I’m going to work and, and make the use of my time.

But it’s not, not easy for sure.

Mike Klinzing: [01:04:46] Yeah. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges that when we talk to coaches that they face, and I think at the college level, it’s a huge challenge. I think it’s becoming more and more of a challenge at the high school level. Just for sure. Talked about with division one, basketball.

I mean, [01:05:00] now you look at what the state of Ohio did this year with COVID when. Basically had unlimited contact over the summer. And I think that based the baseline level of what is expected of a high school coach in terms of the time commitment in the off season has grown exponentially over the last 10 to 15 years.

It used to be again, season would end and maybe throw together some open gyms. And that’s about it for sure. We’re talking about skill development workouts every day, where you could, I mean, you could, you could seriously be in the gym six, seven hours a day in the off season, working out players from grade school all the way up.If you’re not doing it, parents are out and there’s somebody there’s somebody around there. There’s somebody around you. That is. And it’s, it’s challenging. I mean, I think if you’re somebody who’s in your thirties and you’ve got young kids, like that is a, that’s a really, really tough job. I mean, if one thing, if you’re 25 and single, or it’s another thing, if you’re 55 and retired, your kids are out of the house.

That kind of time. I think if you’re in that range [01:06:00] where you’re raising young kids, it becomes a really challenging thing to be able to do to kind of keep up with the Joneses that are around you. And I, I don’t know where that I don’t know where that’s headed, but I think it’s, I think it’s a challenge that a high school coaches for sure are facing.

Dan Priest: [01:06:13] Yeah, those guys it’s in Ohio. It’s it’s, it’s, I’m sure it’s that way. Lot of states, but it’s, it’s really hard what the expectation and not that they don’t want to do it, like

Mike Klinzing: [01:06:27] exactly, exactly. You want, you want access. I mean, just like we’re talking about earlier with division three, like you want to have access to your players so that you can help them improve and help them get better and build those relationships.

But at the same time,

Dan Priest: [01:06:40] when’s the point of diminishing returns when is it not doing it? And, and if you’re winning your games, then those decisions are easier to make. And I know I spent a lot of time trying to my, either my former assistants or we got a couple young head coaches in our league with families of.

Trying to do the best I can to, if I’d say mentor them, but talk to them a [01:07:00] little bit about I don’t care if you want or your loss it’s okay. Like you’re yeah. You get your family and this and that, and try and keep that perspective and, and all that, because I think that’s a real challenge.

Mike Klinzing: [01:07:17] There’s no question that, I think that when we look at the future of coaching, to me, that’s the one thing that is the biggest challenge. I mean, obviously there’s lots of other things, but I think when you just talk about keeping coaches in the profession, to me, that, that balance of how much time can I spend with a game that I love versus with the people that I love at home and.

It’s not easy to do. It’s not easy to balance that because we all know how passionate you get during a season and how important it is to you. And it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. And sometimes you think in the back of your mind, well, my family’s always going to be there for me until, until unfortunately, sometimes they’re not because you just, you don’t see them anymore.

And that’s, that’s, that’s a [01:08:00] challenge. And so anybody who’s doing a successfully, I give him a lot of credit because I know it’s not, I know it’s not easy.

Dan Priest: [01:08:05] I thought about this a few years ago and I had never really realized that between my, my college coach and the three head coaches I worked for all four of them had been divorced.

Now my college coach got divorced, very young remarried, married to the one for 38 years, whatever. Coach Locke remarries been married Minnie for 25 years. But some of it was because of the job because the profession. And, and some of it was just, they didn’t have the right balance. And I kind of had to relook and say, well, this, this is what I saw, and this is what I kind of learned.

That’s maybe not how you have to do it. And this is what the result was. And again, great, great guys, but that took me a little when I kinda came to that revelation. I, that that kinda hit me in the face a little bit, but it’s not going to end a job security thing.

It’s even in division three, [01:09:00] you know, high school coach getting fired all the time. I know they still got their teacher job, but it’s still so hard. And for sure, division three, individually, two guys are getting fired now, too. We’re not winning. And that that’s puts an added kind of press and

Mike Klinzing: [01:09:12] it makes it a lot different.

It makes it a lot different when you started looking at it and thinking about it. It’s obviously, there’s a lot of coaches that start out as assistant coaches and you have this conversation with them about you’re making suggestions now when you come to a head coach yep. Those decisions now are yours.

And those decisions go on your record and your one loss. And you’re the person who’s being judged on what goes on and what kind of product you’re putting out on the floor and what you’re putting out in the classroom and all those kinds of things. And so it’s a different, it’s a totally different pressure, especially again, as it creeps down to lower and lower levels.

And you have the that emphasis, if the emphasis is placed on winning and there’s not more to it than that, I think that’s when you get in trouble. And we’ve had so many conversations with coaches that clearly we all like to win. I mean, anybody who’s competitive and has gotten into coaching, they’ve done it before.

[01:10:00] When it was important to them. And yet we know we’ve talked tonight a bunch about how important the relationships are and, and getting to know your, your, your teammates back when you’re a player and building relationships with kids and talking to them on the bus and all the things that you’ve already discussed and how important that stuff is.

And it’d be great if everybody who was in an administrative role or in a decision-making role, took those kinds of things as much into account as they do the wins and losses. I know it’s not, it’s never going to happen to the unrealistic, but it would be great if it would be great that it was great. If that was the case.

What do you remember about your interview when you came to Kenyon?

Dan Priest: [01:10:34] So I remember it was the second or third time I actually interviewed for the job when I was an assistant Hanover. I interviewed at least once, maybe twice. And that’s actually where my relationship with Shaka Smart started Shaka as a player.

And I interviewed for the job, didn’t get it. And it’s kind of kept the relationship going after the years and said, oh, well, You did a great job. I wish they would have hired you in all this and that. That’s kind of how Shaka and I got this relationship going. [01:11:00] So when I came back and interviewed after obviously being a head coach for 11 years, so it was it was a little bit different.

But just kind of if you’ve ever been on our campus, which I think you have it’s pretty, pretty, all inspiring when you walk on. So that was, that was my thing. When I came on and interviewed just like, wow, this is, this is a pretty amazing place. And just the national name that we have when I told people I’m going to interview a canyon.

It didn’t matter. People in Arkansas do a backhand in all over the country. So that was kind of the, the biggest thing for me. And, and the time was right for us to move back. My oldest son was in sixth grade. So if we were going to move, then the time was right. So I did feel a little bit of pressure that we need to make this happen.

My father had a was 80, but it passed away earlier in the year. So getting back. Being able to help my mom out a little bit was, was certainly in the back of my mind. And my, my, my mother-in-law was battled a little bit of cancer issue too. So that part of like, boy, we, we need to add a little bit of stress and pressure that I hope this [01:12:00] works because it’s a pretty unique place.

And, and our facility is pretty amazing just aesthetically, just to look at. So at the, those were things that kind of, kind of stuck out to me that the timing was right.

Mike Klinzing: [01:12:12] Absolutely. All right. I want to wrap up with one final two-part two-part question and that is first of all, when you look ahead over the next year or two, what do you see as your biggest challenge?

As the head coach at Kenyon. And then number two, when you wake up in the morning and you think about what you get to do every day, what’s your biggest joy. So your biggest challenge and your biggest joy.

Dan Priest: [01:12:36] Yeah. So our biggest challenge is we haven’t played basketball for two years. You know, I hear people talking about, but literally there, there’s only two division three schools in our region.

There’s 50 schools and just kind of our immediate region here and us and Oberlin were the only two that didn’t play. So trying to figure out what we’re doing, who’s gotten better, who hasn’t gotten better, what our recruiting needs. And we have a freshmen and sophomore class who neither, none of them have played games.

[01:13:00] We have multiple three kids that took gap years. They weren’t even on campus at all last year. So have they gotten better or have they worked at it? Where are they? So it’s kind of an exciting deal, but, but certainly a challenge to restore that. And some of them just haven’t been able to play, even play a lot of five on five basketball.

So I think that’s a challenge, but kind of an exciting thing to ee where we are and what we got and getting that, but getting their competitive, competitive environment back, I think is probably our biggest challenge and say they have haven’t been in it. But when I get up in the morning, the thing that kind of gets me going is the relationship with the guys relationship w w with our players and my, my current former assistant coaches got up, got a bunch of them out there.

And my former players, I’ve got a little bit of a commute to work. It seems I ended up calling them all one or two on every day, just, just checking in with them, seeing how they’re doing. I, I really enjoyed that, that [01:14:00] aspect of it. So that, that’s what, that’s, what kind of keeps me going and trying to keep chopping wood to, to, to get us to where we’re at, where I want us to be and get us back to back, but get us to the competitive level that we want to be at.

Mike Klinzing: [01:14:17] Before we get out, I want to give you a chance to share how people can connect with you, whether you want to go social media, whether you want to go email website to share how people can connect with you. And then after you do that, I’ll jump back in and wrap things up. Yeah, sure. So,

Dan Priest: [01:14:31] Th the email’s right on our websites is PriestD@Kenyon.edu but it’s right on our website.

priestd@kenyon.edu. So I am on Twitter. It’s @danpriest2, but our Kenyan basketball is pretty active on Twitter Instagram a little bit, but not so much, but more so the more so the, the Twitter thing and more so for better or worse checking my email probably too much

Mike Klinzing: [01:14:58] Completely [01:15:00] understood. Dan, we cannot thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule to jump out with us tonight, had a lot of fun, getting to know you getting to know a little bit more about your program. What makes you. And to everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.

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