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Duane Sheldon is currently the Athletic Director at Dublin-Coffman High School in Dublin, Ohio. Sheldon began his coaching career in North Olmsted, Ohio coaching 8th grade basketball for one season before getting an opportunity to become the Head Coach at Midpark High School in Middleburg Heights, Ohio at age 23. Duane led the Meteors to a 78-42 record over his five seasons at Midpark.
Sheldon left Midpark to return to his alma mater, Baldwin Wallace University, as an assistant coach for three seasons where he worked for his college coach, Steve Bankson. At age 31, Duane took over the Men’s Basketball Program at Heidelberg College winning the program’s only OAC title in school history during his tenure.
Sheldon once again returned to Baldwin Wallace in 2008 and led the Yellow Jackets to a 98-83 record before heading to Dublin-Coffman.
As a player, Duane played shooting guard at Baldwin Wallace from 1989-1993 after graduating from Strongsville (OH) High School.
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Be sure to take some notes as you listen to this episode with Duane Sheldon, athletic director at Dublin-Coffman High School in the state of Ohio.
What We Discuss with Duane Sheldon
- Growing up in the right place at the right time as part of the Strongsville (OH) High School Basketball Program
- Playing pickup basketball at the Omni Fitness Club
- The differences in the youth/high school basketball development system compared to the late 80’s/Early 90’s
- Sport Specialization and the challenges you face if you don’t specialize, especially in large school district
- The role that parent investment (time/money) plays in the coach/player/family relationship
- The impact of the transfer portal on college coaches
- Can you keep everyone happy as a head coach?
- “You have to stick to your core values. You have to coach what you believe. But it is different today.”
- The importance of being a people person as a coach
- “You can’t coach the way you were coached.”
- The evolution of the game away from post play to threes and ball screens and the skill development that fueled those changes
- Mike & Duane’s memories as high school teammates
- His decision to at Baldwin Wallace University to play college basketball
- “Once I got to college and I thought, coaching is what I need to be doing. This is my calling.”
- “What’s the best way to have get to be a college head coach?
- You have to be willing to move anywhere in the country at any time.
- You have to basically be willing to work for nothing.
- His first coaching job at North Olmsted (OH) Middle School
- Coaching AAU his first year out of school with our friend Rob Persanyi
- Getting the Head Coaching job at Midpark (OH) High School at age 23
- Getting the gym open at Midpark and helping players get better
- “Building a culture of hard work and expectation and setting a standard and then giving them the opportunity to reach that standard.”
- Learning from the veteran coaches in the old pioneer conference and having to figure out how to compete
- “There’s a hundred different ways to do it and they all could be right.”
- Watching games in college and picking up ideas and concepts
- Leaving Midpark to work for his college coach, Steve Bankson at Baldwin Wallace as an assistant for three seasons
- Becoming a college head coach at age 31 at Heidelberg College in the OAC and eventually winning the only OAC Championship in school history
- Interviewing for the Baldwin Wallace job at the same time his daughter was going in for heart surgery
- “It doesn’t mean the culture was bad before I got there. It just means I was going to do things differently.”
- “If I did anything right, it’s recognizing who can play and getting people you can count on.”
- “I don’t think I’d ever recruit a guy that played zone his whole high school career.”
- “Do guys play hard and can they play with pace?”
- “Sometimes as a coach, you don’t even recognize that on your own team until all the sudden you say, okay, I’m going to play this guy instead of this guy. And man things go a lot smoother. Like what’s going on? What’s the difference?”
- The difficulty in finding role players when everyone is more skilled and invested
- The most dangerous thing for parents of athletes is their perception of how they think things should go and looking at things as a failure if it doesn’t go as planned
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THANKS, DUANE SHELDON
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TRANSCRIPT FOR DUANE SHELDON – ATHLETIC DIRECTOR AT DUBLIN-COFFMAN (OH) HIGH SCHOOL & FORMER HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE HEAD COACH – EPISODE 591
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: 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 a long time friend, Duane Sheldon to the podcast. Duane is currently the athletic director here at Dublin Coffman High School in the state of Ohio. And Duane has an extensive amount of experience as a basketball coach, both at the high school and the college level.
We’re going to dig into all that, but Duane probably long overdue, but thanks for coming on. Really appreciate it. And look forward to digging in with you.
[00:00:30] Duane Sheldon: Thanks Mike. It’s great to be on and looking forward to it. And looking forward to talking with you and Jason tonight,
[00:00:35] Mike Klinzing: It’s going to be a lot of fun.
We’re going to start by going back in time to when you were a kid, tell us a little bit about your first experiences with the game of basketball. What you remember, what are some of those earliest memories that stick out with.
[00:00:50] Duane Sheldon: Yeah. So growing up back in Strongsville, Ohio, which obviously Mike as Mike knows, he was a year ahead of me and back then you played everything, you played all the sports.
And I would say my first experience with just in sports was my dad was a football coach at Midpark high school. And I was always the ball boy. And, and then he had a few years being an assistant basketball coach and was a ball boy there. And then it is as you know, Mike and Strongsville, you get involved in that Saturday morning program.
And even though you’re playing all the sports, you’re playing baseball, football, basketball, I just remember I think the first two years BNN that Saturday morning rec league, whatever you wanted to call it. I think the first year we won the championship and then the second year. We might’ve wanted again with a loss maybe the first year we were undefeated.
And so I just, man, I caught the fever. I love the intensity. Obviously the winning helped. That’s probably the earliest as far as growing up and still liked all three sports, but I think really the thing that gravitated me towards basketball and, and my, you had a lot to do with it. When I got into my 10th grade year in high school, I think there was only three of us.
This sounds crazy. I think there was only three of us that played three sports and my class. If I recall Darren Tracy, I don’t know if you remember Darren and Chaz Gannon and, and Chaz, I believe was soccer. He wasn’t football. But other than that in a school of Strongsville size where we had what over 2000 students I just remember being out on the football field my 10th grade year and all you guys in the gym in love the games and football and everything, but just the practices. Weren’t the same. And, and man, I was jealous and I remember I went in on a Monday night open gym and the football coach came through the gym and pulled me out of the gym because it was football season. And, and that kinda made my decision to stick with basketball and really through high school.
If you remember Mike, we played all the time. We played every single day and especially, I guess it would be going into your junior going into your senior year. My 10th grade year going into my junior year. It feels like man, if we weren’t at an open gym, we were at the Omni. We were at the court’s behind the library in Strongsville.
And when, I mean, every day I’m talking every day, like maybe Fridays we took off because there was a Friday night football game. And I think we even worked out the afternoon before we went to the games. So I think it was the love of sport. And then being, I guess, at the right place at the right time, as far as being surrounded by some great players like yourself and some other guys that just had that same love of the game and the passion just kind of flowed it kind of flowed and it just became an expectation that this is what we’re going to do and we’re going to do it all the time and then we’re going to get pretty good at it.
And we’re going to compete.
[00:04:21] Mike Klinzing: I think it’s a great point that you make just about sort of being in the right place. And the right place at the right time. And you think about where Strongsville basketball was back in the time when you and I were there. And there was obviously success before that, and then there was success after it.
And as you know, we had a great run as a probably certainly in the Cleveland area, but one of the best public school, high school programs during that late eighties, early nineties run that Strongsville had and just the amount of players that came through there. And then you think about just the guys that went through that ended up coaching and the coaching tree and people who are still out there having success.
When you think about Mack at Brunswick, and obviously Darren had a lot of success and just, it’s amazing when you think about just what program was. And I think you hit on one thing that I really think had a lot to do with that success. And that’s the rec program nowadays, obviously, most people scoff at.
Our rec programs, not our rec programming is strong as well, but just in general, what rec programs across the country and a lot of places have become. And as you said, you think about how important that was to your development or to my development. And just connecting us to the older guys in the program when we were kids.
And then conversely, I always say I had as much fun when we got to be high school players and then turn around and coach the younger kids. And I think that’s something that to me is that’s, those are some of my best memories is that time. And then you think about the time that we went down and we kind of had that.
I don’t know if you call it an all-star team or whatever that coach Casey put together, took us down to Wadsworth and you still, I still have that team photo floating or floating around somewhere at my house. And it’s, it’s funny to go back and you know, you look at that and there we were, we were probably, maybe, I don’t know, fourth and fifth grade, fifth and sixth grade.
I don’t remember. But it was all you look at that team photo and it’s kind of like, you could, you could predict, okay, who are, who are my high school teammates going to be? Well, here they are. Or some of those guys ended up gravitating becoming some of the better athletes and playing other sports. But it’s just funny to look at what that was like back in that time, because it’s totally different the way kids grow up today compared to the way you are.
I grew up in the game coming up and through the program at straws. One, just as you said, playing so much pickup basketball, it’s just, it’s just, yeah. I don’t think he would think kids can do that anymore, even if they want it to.
[00:06:47] Duane Sheldon: Yeah. I don’t know where they go to do that. I mean, it’s. And it’s a good and bad thing.
I think the good thing is there’s more basketball facilities. Like the reason we were doing it is unless a coach was organizing an open gym, you couldn’t get into a gym. e were fortunate that we I’ll never forget it. And I think it was your idea, Hey, that’s all joined the Omni, let’s go the Omni fitness club, which guaranteed us an open gym every night that we wanted to.
And I think coach Casey was smart enough to realize, Hey, we don’t have to get too crazy with our open gyms. These guys are playing every night against men. And, and but other than that, like, unless you had a coach across town or that was going to open up the gym on Tuesday nights, you had to go outside and play.
And now I think there’s, as you guys know, there’s more basketball facilities out there. I just think it’s obviously the AAU thing and all the travel tournaments and everything. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s just a different kind of way of developing and growing up in basketball.
[00:07:57] Mike Klinzing: Kids certainly I think have exposure to better coaching.
Now that’s with the caveat that not every coach that they’re exposed to at a young age are always the best coaches, but for the most part, you think about how you learned the game or how I learned the game. You were doing that on your own with your friends, as you said, plan against, especially as you got to be a middle school, high school player, maybe you got an opportunity to break into a game with some adults and play against people who were older than you.
And maybe they weren’t as talented a basketball players, but when you’re 14 and you’re playing against somebody who’s 28, the difference in the strength and that kind of thing just makes it a huge difference in a kids’ development. And yet at the same time in the system that we have today, Kids just get they get, they get better coaching and they get that earlier.
And I think the, I don’t want to necessarily know the fundamentals, but certainly the knowledge of the game for kids today at an earlier age, in terms of just understanding the fundamentals, I think is better than it was when we were younger. But I don’t know if the kids have the same level of creativity because they’re not playing in that free play the way we did.
[00:09:02] Duane Sheldon: did, I would agree. And not to jump off basketball, I would probably what you just stated would probably be you can relate that to any sport. Just the level of coaching and the skill development. And back when, when we were in high school, we made a decision to specialize in basketball.
That was not real common at that point. I think our. You know, ours was a lot to do with, Hey, if you want to deploy, you had to get pretty good because someone was passing you up in a school of over 2000 students. Like, and unless you’re a freak like Tommy Martin was, were just an unbelievable athlete.
He could show up, not touch the basketball for months and still zoomed by everyone and strong enough to finish and all that. There wasn’t too many of those guys. And there probably still isn’t, but you know, I think you can specialize in anything today and I’m kinda jumping off to another idea, but as a high school, Ady I tell our coaches all the time, you have to be really careful.
I think when the AAU thing first started and I’m talking to you, cause we’re in basketball, don’t talking about basketball, but it could be called baseball. It could be called volleyball. You have to be really careful because I think initially coaches are like, oh, you’re learning bad habits, a you, and you’re doing this and your coach doesn’t know what he’s doing.
We gotta be careful because in a lot of cases, in most cases they AAU or club product is better. It really is. Especially as they’re growing up. Like you said, they get better coaching. And really, I think what we’re hanging out with basketball is you get to coach them every day in high school. At least you get to coach him all week, every day.
We’re in AAU basketball because of usually travel and other conditions. You know, maybe you’re twice a week. If you’re lucky, once you get rolling into tournaments, if you can find one day a week where everyone comes, that’s great, but it truly is going back to you know, I, I think as an a D everyone says, well, kids should play off as many sports as they can in high school.
It’s a great experience. And then. Well, okay, that’s fine. But if you do that at a place like Strongsville and in Dublin Coffman, you’re not gonna probably be a top player in one of those three sport. Like you might be a role player in all three because someone else is specializing and they’re passing you up.
And it’s we’re years ago that statement was true. Play as many as you can and instill, God bless you, if you can do it and you’re talented enough to do it. Absolutely. But there’s a reality that I don’t think people want to grasp and accept that it’s okay. If someone wants to specialize in baseball 12 months out of the year it’s okay.
If they want to do that in basketball, it’s okay. If they want to do that in volleyball, because the hard work that competitive. Situations they’re put in all that still is there. And like you said, it’s, it’s, it’s, there’s more opportunities now than there was when we were growing up.
[00:12:19] Mike Klinzing: There definitely is. And I think that when I look at that situation, I always think about whether or not that specialization or that decision to play one sport.
Does that come from the kid or does that come from a parent or does it come from a coach? Sort of forcing that on the kid? And I think ultimately if the kid makes the decision, you think about there’s you back as a 10th grader playing football and being like, man, I like these games, but I’d rather be at open gym than be at football practice.
So then you make a decision. And to me, I think when the kid makes the decision to specialize or to be a three sport athlete, whatever it is or be a multi-sport athlete, I think ultimately that’s where you end up with the best outcomes. I think sometimes whether that be a high school coach, potentially whether that be a club or travel coach, putting pressure on kids.
That’s where I think we get into that slippery slope of are we forcing kids to specialize too early and you make a great point that look at a big high school and I’m talking to anywhere across the country. If you’re at a big high school, that’s going to have more than a thousand students in it. You’re going to have a really hard time.
You better be a really talented athlete to be able to play multiple sports because so many kids, as you said, are playing year round. I just think that one of the things we’ve got to make sure that we’re doing is making sure that it’s kid driven and that’s kids centric and not necessarily for the benefit of the adults or the adults aren’t driving that decision.
If that makes sense.
[00:13:46] Duane Sheldon: It absolutely does. And you know, I’m excited for the kids today because they do get more opportunities in us, but in the same breath one of the things we talk about, we have that meet the team before every season it’s required by Ohio high school athletic association. And one of the things I talk about because parents and here’s the reality.
And if you want to call it, I don’t know if it’s the ugly side of it, but because parents are paying thousands of dollars and really their lives are a lot of times built around their kids’ tournaments. I don’t care if it’s baseball, volleyball. You know, basketball about the only thing they don’t do that off season stuff is football.
Everything else, you have a, you have an off season and because of that and because they’re specialized training and because they’re playing for their club and because parents are spending thousands of dollars, the acceptance of roles specifically, when we talk about like basketball, that’s tougher to convince kids today than it was 20, 30, 40 years ago, because there is such an investment and there’s a time investment.
There’s a money investment. There’s a family sacrifice. You can’t go see grandma as much as you like to you can’t because why? Because you’re playing in this tournament ever. I’ll never forget. My grandma turned 90 at one point. This was years ago. And my dad’s like, well, Hey. Give me a weekend where JC or AIG doesn’t have a tournament and I’m not kidding you, Mike.
This was in, this was like March where he asked me. Yeah. And I laughed. And I was like, yeah. And the July,
it’s crazy. But because of that investment and sacrifice, it’s harder for kids and parents to accept the role. And I can’t blame them. It’s kind of human nature. Right? You’re, you’re putting all that time and money and effort and travel into it. And then your coach is going to tell you, well, that’s great, but you just said screens for Mike Klinzing and, and you go rebound.
And if you dribble, you’re coming out. And if you shoot, you’re never going back in the game like, geez, if you told a kid that nowadays that he quit before practice started and another bit of school tomorrow, right? Yeah. Right, right. And, and I think you just made a good point. You can relate it to the transfer portal and all the sports and the NCAA.
Like there’s not too many kids that want to take on that role. So what do they do? They go on the transfer portal and they hope to find that role in another institution, in another program. And a lot of times they go down a level to find that, or when I say down a level, it could be from a power five, the mid-major or from a division one school division, two school to find that role that they would prefer to play.
And I think it’s just the reality. And it’s something that I, I don’t think it’s going to get any better anytime soon.
[00:17:05] Mike Klinzing: No, that cat is out of the bag for sure. I don’t think that’s changing. And you can understand. I mean, I can understand the value in the transfer portal. When you think about the, for a long time, sort of the unfairness of the system that a coach can take off and walk out the door at any moment.
And as a player you were locked in, and if you wanted to transfer across to an equal level or higher, you had to you got to sit out and it just, you could see where that you could see where that was perceived as being unfair. And at the same time, I, I can’t even imagine trying to be in a college coach and, and navigate the whole system of, I think about it from the perspective of you talked about players transferring down, but then you also have the same epidemic of players that you come in, you go to a mid-major and you have a good year.
Let’s say you come in as a freshman, you average 13 points a game. And now all of a sudden. Why wouldn’t I go and try to go to a power five school where those schools are like, well, this kid’s already proven. He can adapt to the college game. He’s already adjusted to school and the social piece of it and being away.
And now that kid who might’ve been at a mid-major for four years, and by the time they’re a senior man, you’ve, you’ve really built a good team as a mid-major coach. Now you get those guys that develop early and they’re kind of diamonds in the rough and all of a sudden, after their freshman year, their sophomore year, they start looking around to see if there are greener pastures for them to be able to move up.
And then you have the carrot at the end of the rainbow here that just, Hey, I want to be able to play professionally and get paid. And there’s so many more opportunities now across the globe for players at all levels, to be able to do that, that guys who maybe in years past wouldn’t have been able to chase that dream. Now it’s a lot easier to chase it.
[00:18:46] Duane Sheldon: For sure sure. Right. And you think there’s Mike Klinzing stay, they can’t for all four years you don’t know, who knows. You don’t know especially your junior, senior year, you were good enough to play in the big tent. If you really wanted to, for whatever reason you wound up at Kent and you had a great career, but nowadays, geez, you’re a four year starter at Kent by your junior year.
You might’ve said, Hey, I’m going to go play for Purdue, I like that system. Yeah. And so but no, I it’s and then, so being a former college coach, I think to myself one of the things as you get a little older and you form opinions, and I would do this, I would do that. Well, I was trying to put myself in that position of the person I’m commenting on.
I don’t know if like a lot of these sportscasters are so-called experts, former players, former coaches do that enough. They just talk about things. Come on. Think about what you’re really talking about here. And my point is, so if you’re a division one college basketball coach, do you do you try to make everyone happy to keep as many people around?
Or do you just say the heck with it? I’m going to coach the same way I always have and people that aren’t going to be happy. Aren’t going to be happy and they’re going to leave and I’ll get other transfers in. And then there’s, there was some instances I know, like Syracuse women’s basketball. I think, I mean 13 out of their 14 girls transferred.
And so he gets fired. Like, you’re not keeping your job if 13 out of 14 did you you know, you might not keep it of half transfer. So then can you coach the way you want to coach or do you have like, there’s a lot of levels to it. And you know, I, I guess the money these guys and ladies are making, maybe that’s, that’s the way it goes, but It’s definitely different.
[00:20:42] Mike Klinzing: No question about it, trying to navigate that. I can’t even imagine again, especially as it’s brand new and trying to figure it out and look you, as you said, I think ultimately one of the things that from talking to lots and lots of coaches at all different levels, I think one of the things that you just said is can you coach the way that you want to coach?
And I think ultimately if you’re going to be successful, you have to coach the way you want to coach, right? If you start compromising what you believe in and start bending rules and start bending over backwards to accommodate people. And it’s not what you believe. And it’s not the things that you know you should be doing.
I mean, ultimately I think you get yourself in trouble. If you don’t coach the way you want to coach,
[00:21:24] Duane Sheldon: I agree Mike, but I will say this. And we talk to our coaches about this all the time. You have to stick to your core values. You have to coach what you believe. But it is different today, coach the way you coach the way you and I were coached, those guys don’t last correct?
They guys and girls won’t last. If they coach it. Now I will say our high school coach, Bob Casey, I think was ahead of his time as far as how he handled people. I thought that was his biggest strength. I thought he was great with people and young young student athletes. And I think he’ll be the first to admit he wasn’t the greatest basketball mind.
But he knew how to handle people. And there’s a lot of guys that are, and coaches that were the opposite were unbelievable basketball minds and football minds, but were bad people that couldn’t handle the people part of it. Those guys have no chance today, right?
[00:22:27] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. There were no relation. The relationship piece of it has become so much more important. Not that it wasn’t important back in the day. Cause I think the coaches that understood it was important back in the day. We’re the ones that really were able to utilize that, to be able to have success and have an impact on their kids. But yeah, today there’s no way you can get through Bobby Knight’s career right now. All y’all have to do is go back and read. I don’t know when the last time you read season on the brink is, but I read it re-read it like two, three years ago. And I remember being flabbergasted when I read it back when it first came out, but you read it in the context of today and you’re just like, oh my God, like, I can’t like you, the guy wouldn’t have left.
30 seconds. Yeah. I mean, he, I mean, he would have been immediately and obviously it’s a different time.
[00:23:26] Duane Sheldon: And part of it was though Mike during our era, right. You go home and you complain about coach and coach said, this coach said that and it’s mama dad said, yeah, okay, go back tomorrow.
And guess what? You’re playing, you’re doing what he’s saying? And it was like,
[00:23:43] Mike Klinzing: right. And most of the time you never said it.
[00:23:46] Duane Sheldon: it. Right, exactly. Coaching. It was, it was sports. And but it’s not that way anymore. And I’m not, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I really, I agree. I think some people say, well, that soft kids today aren’t as tough.
I think it’s just society. I don’t think it’s just sports. It’s just just across the board, it’s a different time and, and people are going to be a little bit more sensitive than maybe. Maybe relationships and stuff, the way you handle people, maybe it is more significant in our society and maybe it should be.
But you know, we talk about that with coaches and I the other part of it that I really harp on is you have to mate, you can’t coach the way you were coached, because that doesn’t mean it was right. And you have to keep up with new strategies. I don’t care what sport it is. And now we’re talking basketball, the stuff that was being done 10, 15 years ago is still being done in some spots.
And you can see flashes of it. But if you haven’t paid attention to basketball on the last 10 years, I mean, you’re way behind.
[00:25:02] Mike Klinzing: The game has completely changed. And I’m sure you can echo these sentiments, but I can probably count on one hand the number of. Screener roles. I was involved in as an offensive player and a defensive player through three years of varsity basketball and four years of college basketball.
I honestly think maybe, maybe I got to, maybe I got to 10 times maybe in my career. So that’s, that’s one piece of it. And then the other part of it is I can, I can tell you honestly, that I never drove to the basket and threw the ball backwards behind me outside two or three. Now maybe, maybe you’re driving baseline and you find somebody in the corner accidentally because it was just the last bastion of, Hey, I got to get the ball somewhere, but certainly it wasn’t a strategy.
So those are two things that when I watched the game today, I’m like, those are two things that I basically never did. And I played, I was a college basketball player and I never did either of those things. It’s just, it’s just incredible. The way the game has morphed and changed into, into what it is.
[00:26:08] Duane Sheldon: And now they call that a drift pass like that and I want up yet, like if kids today saw the way we played, we had to post players, they’d be like, what is that?
What is going on? Like what’s a high low, like what and, and I’m not saying they should go back to that. I, I mean, it’s funny if you watch, when you talk to some old timers, well, that big guy should be down on the block and they need to throw it down low more, and I’m thinking, yeah, they will. And they probably lose, like, you’d be happy, but they’d lose because the other teams spread out knife into the hole and shooting threes.
And, and you think that big guy should touch it every, every possession on the post that it’s like you know, it’s a different game. When was the last time you saw? I call it the Dwight Howard syndrome. And you look back to when Dwight Howard was still one of the best players on his team. And was making the playoffs every year.
Besides one year at Orlando, I believe they would make the playoffs. They would throw it to Dwight Howard. He would get 38 and 25 boards in the playoffs and they could make, they could not win a game, whatever team he was playing for. And people would say, oh geez, he’s not getting any help. And it’s like, then people started to figure out, well, they’re fine with the Dwight Howard getting those points.
And then they follow them when it really counts and he can’t make free throws. And the other team doesn’t even have a post player and is there where their traditional post player should say and you know, their knife and I’m up and moving and cutting and shooting threes and driving. And you know, when was the last time an NBA champion had a, a post guy, a true post guy that they went through and I don’t call Giannis.
Isn’t a true post guy. Like when I say. Throwback post guy. I guess Tim Duncan, maybe. Yeah, like a lodge you won in that era and then Tim Duncan more in the recent era. But even then when, when they were winning it late in his career, they were more guard based than they were throwing it to him.
But, but those are things that not only basketball and other sports, you have to keep up with the trends or you’re kind of left behind. And you know, it’s, it goes back to kids are getting better coaching too. And that’s probably why we’re able to play those different styles because there might’ve been three kids on your team that could dribble and shoot.
Right? Exactly. And now with skill development and all these opportunities, you usually have a lot of kids that can do that. And rightfully so.
[00:28:50] Mike Klinzing: Well, you don’t have the. Every team back when you and I are playing had the six, two, two hundred and fifteen, two hundred twenty pound football kid. Every single team had that player.
And now that player is a dinosaur. I mean, those guys, every once in a while, you’ll see a kid like that. But for the most part, those kids are out of the game. Even, even the 12th player on a high school team, the skill level that they have now, this doesn’t mean they have a good basketball IQ or that they can actually play out on the floor.
But if you just watch them shoot or handle the ball again, compared to you, like, I look at the things that kids can do with a basketball today, handling the ball, compared to what I could do. And I was a decent ball handler back in my day, but I look at what kids can do with the ball today. And I mean, it doesn’t even compare with those moves.
[00:29:37] Duane Sheldon: They didn’t exist.
[00:29:42] Mike Klinzing: And a lot of them were travels. If you, if you have tried any of that stuff, you may call for carrying the ball or traveling back back in the day. So again, it’s just, it’s the evolution of basketball. And as you said, it’s, it’s something that it’s going to continue. And it’ll be interesting to see where the game goes and players are just going to keep getting more and more and more skilled.
And there’s going to be changes in the coaching profession and changes in how the games played as, as we learn more about it and more smart people come on board and start figuring things out and looking at it. And players obviously are creative. And the things that the guys can do today are just things that you and I could have never imagined doing during a time when back when we were playing, let’s go back in time.
Let’s go back to go back to high school. So two questions. So one, I’m just curious on this one, just your favorite high school memory. And then after that, we’ll jump into your decision to go to BW
[00:30:36] Duane Sheldon: Boy, high school memory.
I’ll be honest. It’s probably your half courter to beat Brunswick. It’s probably yours. I’m sure. For sure. And then on VCR, oh,
[00:30:53] Mike Klinzing: it’s playing on loop right up here in the corner of screen drawing. Actually. It’s just, it just runs on loop.
[00:30:57] Duane Sheldon: So it’s gotta be at YouTube though. It’s gotta be like all the it’s gotta break a record on YouTube, but that was probably basketball moment.
Obviously we could talk about maybe a note moment that didn’t happen for other reasons that would have been I’m sure. Your last high school game,
[00:31:16] Jason Sunkle: but wait, wait, wait. We bring it up. The food on the line thing. Is that what we were talking about?
[00:31:20] Duane Sheldon: I don’t even want to bring it up. I’ll be honest because this’ll turn into a really
I might drop some swear words and I’ll get very disgruntled. So. Yeah. I mean, I really believe Mike is probably your, that half quarter against our rival on a pack, Jim. And that was the, when it, and that was something really special and back then you’re just playing right. And you want to compete and you want to win and all that stuff.
But as far as the specific moment, that’s probably it. But the reality is, as we know, all know that it, it’s probably the best moment and the best, the thing that you take the most out of it is the relationships you build and the hanging out, I mean, us going to the Omni every night, hanging out being silly, being stupid, talking silly, talking stupid, and then just
[00:32:20] Mike Klinzing: Which still is happening.
[00:32:22] Duane Sheldon: Still is happening.
Yeah. I mean, never grow, grow out of that, I guess. But you know, just the relationships and the time you spent with your brothers is I think for me anyway, a high school and college. You know, that that was the most memorable experience. And that’s what I took the most as far as going to making the decision to play a ball and was actually as much as I put into the game.
I remember after my last game, my senior year, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play I was going to go to Ohio State, go to school just be a fan. And then after I’ve never, I’ll never forget it. After a couple of weeks, I’m like, geez, oh man, I, I got to keep playing and went on a few visits, I think, Otterbein about union and bald walls.
Well, my dad went to Baldwin Wallace. My grandfather went to Baldwin Wallace, and I’m thinking I’m not going there. You know, it’s only 15 minutes from my house, 20 minutes from my house, but I’m going to go anyway. You know, the assistant coach recruited me pretty hard. All right, I’ll go check it out. And spent the day there and absolutely loved it.
And it was the right fit and best decision probably I’ve made besides marrying my wife was that decision to go to Baldwin Wallace, great institution had a great experience there playing with some just super people, not only great basketball players, but even better people.
And, and just really, when it came down to it wanted to keep playing still didn’t even care. I’m going, I’m thinking, I, I don’t know what I want to do, but I don’t want to be a teacher. That’s what I kept saying. And I just want to play hoops and all right, I’ll take a business class. I’ll do this. I’ll do well within two years, then I want to be a teacher.
So but as far as the decision goes it just felt right. It was the right timing, the right place. And Great experience and it worked out I’d say for me.
[00:34:22] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. At what point, so was coaching obviously with your dad having a coaching background was coaching on your mind at all? Like while you were at Strongsville, were you thinking, Hey, at some point maybe I’d like to get into coaching, or was it the case where you were so focused on being a player that the teaching part of it, the career part of it, the coaching part of it was not even on your radar?
[00:34:52] Duane Sheldon: Yeah. I’ll be honest. I’m going to reference that Saturday morning rec you know, rec ball situation where not only you remember as a player, but you referenced it earlier about then when you become a high school player, you coach those little kids. And that was probably my first real experience. But through high school, I really wasn’t thinking I was going to be a coach.
He was. Once I got to college and I thought, this is what I need to be doing. This is my calling. And so probably early in my college career, I was convinced that, yes, I’m going to be a coach someday. And, and you know, everything I was going to do to become a teacher and to become a coach was, was focused.
And, and that was the path I was going to go. But probably wouldn’t say in high school, I was thinking that I was just, we were just hooping and getting better. Right. I mean but you know, it’s funny that I referenced that mental maturity all the time with the coaches at Dublin cCffman. And they said, well, this kid’s thinking this way.
And this kid thinking, do you remember what you were thinking when you were 16, 17, 18? Cause I can’t even remember what I was thinking. Like I, I can’t remember half the things that went on. I just wanted to play basketball. That’s the honest truth. Yeah. When’s the last period. And when could I go home, get a snack.
You know, take a little break and then head and go, go hoop for three hours. You know, that’s all I was caring about, but yeah, I mean, I, once I got to college, it definitely then you start to be aware, okay, what offense are we running? What’s the defensive philosophy? What did Coach Casey teach us?
When we replayed in high school? I wasn’t paying attention then. Right? Like now. Okay. And then, geez, what did I do in middle school? You know, what was Jeff Eicher? When I was playing him playing for him as a freshmen, like man, he did some good things and now I’m in college and I’m going to become a coach myself and using some of that stuff that, that you learn throughout your, your time.
But I guess everyone has a different path and different timing and different, different things that lead them to what they’re going to do. But I think in college, when I made up my mind
[00:37:00] Mike Klinzing: Were you clearly leaning towards at that point being a high school coach?
[00:37:06] Duane Sheldon: You know, I, I always wanted to be a college coach.
And the reality was if you were going to graduate and be able to make some money you’re better off going to high school. Like people sure. People don’t understand that. And that’s still very true. And when everyone, if someone were to reach out to me and say, Hey, what, what’s the best way to have get to be a college head coach?
And I immediately start with two things. You gotta be willing to move anywhere in the country at any time. That’s the first thing. Cause it’s not like you have 50 high schools or 50 colleges in a in a small, small radius. You, you gotta be willing to move anywhere anytime, and you gotta basically be willing to work for nothing.
If you want to climb that ladder and eventually go to college, that those are, I bet 90% of the guys you watch and on TV coaching now will tell you that’s how they start. And so people, they want the glory they want. And then they think about that as, oh, man, I don’t know if I want to do that.
[00:38:20] Mike Klinzing: I don’t know if I want to do that for five or six years, If that’s what it takes.
[00:38:23] Duane Sheldon: Exactly. And in a lot of times, that’s why you get a lot of these coaches that there I’ve firmly believed the best coaches in the country are probably high school coaches. A lot of them are they don’t have the talent that the college coaches have and they have to figure out ways.
And so kinda got off on a tangent, but always wanted the back of my mind be a college coach. But I knew that high school was probably the best route to get started and was, was very fortunate to get ahead. High school. Basically basically the second year after I graduated from Baldwin Wallace.
[00:39:04] Mike Klinzing: So talk a little bit about how that came to be.
And then, and then we can dive into what that first experience was like for you as a head coach and just how you put together the way you wanted to build your program. Let’s start with how you got the job.
[00:39:21] Duane Sheldon: So my first job, actually, my first, if you remember your AAU program, you stuck Rob Persanyi and I, and a team. We went up to Appleton Wisconsin.
[00:39:34] Mike Klinzing: We had the red and white jerseys,
[00:39:37] Duane Sheldon: red and white, if you remember. Yup. I just remember having to take my teacher’s exam. Geez. I think I had to go to Alliance Ohio, take it at Mount Union, like eight in the morning. And by noon, I was back in Strongsville, loading up a van and taking these kids that.
[00:39:54] Mike Klinzing: Isn’t it funny when you, when you think about that now, so that was what, 93, 4 93, 94, somewhere in there. And I remember even in the midst of me doing it, and that was like, basically, I mean, it was pretty much . And I look at it and I can remember trying to organize those teams and trying to find like a practice site.
They clearly, it was so much different. I just remember how difficult it was to be able to put together that one team. I mean, it was, it was almost impossible. And, and I remember how just how much of a struggle that wasn’t thinking, God, this is, this is never going to work. Like there’s, there’s no way that this thing is ever going to amount to anything.
After a year or two, just kind of walking away from it and then boom, within 2, 3, 4 years, it was like, the whole thing had exploded, but we talked about earlier there’s this was no gym time. Like you, couldn’t calling up a school and say, Hey, I want to just bring a group of random outside kids in here to practice in your gym.
Like that just was, nobody was doing that at the time. And
[00:41:09] Duane Sheldon: it’s still not like it was back then. Yeah,
[00:41:13] Mike Klinzing: And it did in a different way now there’s just not now there’s so many people vying for it that right. It’s just not available back then. It was like, there was tons and tons and tons of gyms that were just sitting empty, but nobody wanted to let anybody use them, which didn’t make any sense either.
[00:41:30] Duane Sheldon: Sorry. Yeah. So my first year I actually got hired at north Olmsted middle school and I was like a hall monitor slash cafeteria monitor slash full-time so. Disciplinarian. It was actually a great experience. And I coached eighth grade basketball. Steve Lapore. I don’t know if you remember Steve, before that played at St. Ed’s went to Northwestern and, and wake forest and is now actually, I don’t know if you know that he’s coaching down at Eastern Kentucky is an assistant basketball coach, Eastern Kentucky university. But that was his eighth grade year at North Olmsted. That was my first job. And then Midpark high school Carl Ludwig who was coaching there for a few years, decided to retire.
And I, geez, I think he even did it. These may be even a June. He decided to hang it up. I had already been hired by Brecksville Broadview Heights, city schools to teach at the high school and being an assistant basketball coach that happened in like, may. Of my senior year or now it wasn’t my senior year.
It was may of the year that I was teaching R had that position at North Olmsted middle school and that all of a sudden coach Ludwig hung it up and they had an opening teaching opening and they approached me and said, Hey, are you interested in coming over here? You know, we talked to coach Ludwig and he might go one more year if you come over.
And you’re a young guy and you know, when he’ll retire a year from now and then you’ll take over and I’ll never forget it. I said, Hey, I’m not trying to play hardball, but I’m not making a lateral move to be an assistant coach, like a Brecksville hired me two months ago. And I’ve committed to them. If you want me to be the head coach, I’m all in.
Let’s go, let’s go through the process in, in basically it didn’t put pressure on them, but it was really like, Hey, I understand if you don’t think I’m ready, I’m good with that. That’s fine. I’m not leaving Brecksville to come over here just to be an assistant. And I’ll never forget Terry Cryovac the superintendent.
I sat in his office and he said, here’s my biggest concern, Duane. He said, your first few years, you’re going to have a terrible experience. Of course, I’m young at this point, I think I’m 22 at this point. And I’m like, oh no, no, no, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll figure it out. We’ll work harder. And everyone will play better defense.
We’ll figure it out. And he, he interrupted me. He goes, no, Duane, you are going to stink for two years. And in his concern was here’s this as your first experience as a coach, you’re going to be terrible. I know the talent you have, like the parents are going to be a problem. Somehow I convinced them I can handle it.
But he, he was right. We were pretty bad. We had trouble dribbling the ball up the floor, like we, and I think we were four and 17. And I don’t know how we won those four games, but I remember telling my wife, we’re not getting a Christmas tree until we won a game. We were at Cloverleaf December 22nd.
We, that was our first win. And she was relieved that we were able to get a Christmas tree after that. Then the second year we went 500 and, and then we had, we had a decent class that I believe were 10th graders that we went 14 and eight and then 18 and four. And then 21 and two, the last couple of years, we, we were one of the better teams in the state.
And I remember. That I think that 18 and four year that’s when Logan and Clancy and Lapore won the state title at St. Ed’s. We, we didn’t have that eventually play them in the tournament, but we scrimmaged them and we battled with them pretty hard. And, but boy, they were, they were like a college team.
They’re really good. And and then the next year we were 21 and two and one of the better teams in the state. And that really was just giving, giving those kids the opportunity to give better. Cause, cause I remember Mike, when we, when we were in high school, we had to go find places to play. And, and then even more importantly, you gotta find places to work on your game.
You know, I mean, working on the game. I mean, I don’t even know if those courts are still behind the library. They’re not that’s target there. And then the sports section at target right now.
[00:46:09] Mike Klinzing: Now it’s the library. Now it’s not the courts behind the library. Now the courts are the library
[00:46:14] Duane Sheldon: What’s going on?
Why what’s wrong with Strongsville building libraries, they should be built bigger courts. All right. But anyway, that’s all,
[00:46:21] Mike Klinzing: The outdoor courts do not exist anymore. Yeah.
[00:46:26] Duane Sheldon: I mean, that’s where you put your work in, right. Your bike up there. And you know, and, and I did too. Not as much as you just cause I was a little further away and then your driveway and all that.
So really what I thought the difference was. And we took over at Midpark was we gave those kids an opportunity every day to get better working on their game and plan. We just they just got better through just hard work and the opportunity we felt like, boy, we were giving them more of an opportunity than most coaches.
And the area we’re doing it. And as a result, as you know, as a coach, you can only coach so much, you got to have the guys that can play for sure. So I mean, it, it you know, I think when people asked me, what was the biggest key to that success timing’s always important where you you have the right kids, the right class, the right talent.
I would say two things, building a culture of hard work and expectation and setting a standard and then giving them the opportunity to reach that standard. And that expectation was our biggest key to success there. And you know, as you, as you remember mid park was a football school and, and they had some good teams even before we got there some championship teams too.
And, but we really just got the excitement. Didn’t take anything for football, but just got the excitement about playing basketball and getting better and packing those gyms. And it was boy, it was, I can remember that, like it was yesterday. We had some, and I can argue maybe the best team I’ve ever coached everything being relative.
Might’ve been that last year at Midpark when I coached those guys, I mean, they, they were. You know, obviously some college teams were better, but it, as far as if they matched up that to head, but I’m talking just everything being relative to their level. Yeah, for sure. It was just a, they were a blast to coach and boy, they worked their tails off great passing team.
They had skill, they had athleticism them. It was just a fun experience, but it was more about giving them the opportunity to get better. I, and the other thing I’ll say about that, I’m not sure I, at any time in my coaching career, when against better coaches, then that old pioneer conference, like people have no idea how good that league was.
Like. You know, Mike, you played in it. And then during that time when I was coaching, jeez, oh man, the Medina’s the Brunswick. The Strongsville and then, and then we got to go on in Midpark and boy, it was, it was just a battle. Like it wasn’t we were playing, I think your senior year, Mike, if I remember correctly, we might’ve had six teams in the district out of our conference.
[00:49:21] Mike Klinzing: Sounds right. Yeah, that sounds right. And just, I just think about the sheer number of guys that went on to play college basketball when you go by senior year and then you take, then you take, go, go the next, the next two years. So say when I’m a senior, that sophomore, junior, senior class of that it’s, you’re talking graduates in the 88, 89 and 90, the number of guys that went on to play college basketball or college football or whatever, just a, there was just a ton of great basketball in that, in that era.
It’s hard to imagine that. Yeah, just how good it was back back at that time, it really was a league that was, that was loaded with high level players and high level athletes kind of up and down, up and down the board.
[00:50:06] Duane Sheldon: Yeah. And then when I was coaching, the coaches in the league were unbelievable. I mean, it was you know, you talk about a crash course in coaching and getting out coached and having to figure out a way to compete.
Like those first five years of my coaching career, I felt like I saw every defense, every office, everything known to mankind that a coach could throw at you. And so that that’s a compliment to the guys we were going against, but it, it really shaped me as a coach as well. I had no choice.
You either had to figure it out or you’re going to get beat.
[00:50:45] Mike Klinzing: What’s something that you were bad at to start with or something that you struggled with initially out of the gate that you feel like as you went along in your career, that you got better.
[00:50:54] Duane Sheldon: Two things, personally for me was delegating.
I was not a good delegator. I felt like I had to control everything and learn that more. My later years of coaching. When I say that when I got to college, and then you have kids of your own, you have your wife, your kids, like you can’t do everything. So that was a long time coming that eventually I learned to delegate.
But specifically on the basketball court, I would say there’s, there’s a lot of different ways of doing it. I think we were going to play man to man. Boy, if we got a ball screen, we were going to hedge hard and we were going to get up in their shorts and we’re going to be on the line up the line and take away passes.
And we’re going to do, because that’s the way to do it. That’s the best way to do it. And we’re going to run this offense. We’re going to run motion, offense. We’re gonna run this set. And that’s the best way to doing it. And you know, it’s still worked for us. Don’t get me wrong. It was successful.
But I would say, what I wasn’t good at is realizing, you know what? You can throw a few possessions, a zone in there to me that was soft. Like, yeah, we’re not giving them anything we’re going to have
[00:52:10] Mike Klinzing: I had that same mentality.
[00:52:11] Duane Sheldon: Yeah. And so I think it’s a young coach, not just a basketball coach and you know what worked for you as a player?
What didn’t work for you as a player, your high school coach, your college coach did this, that didn’t work. I’m not doing that. And you know, and then, you know what they did, it was successful. You like to take, but I would say. You know, just being young and inexperienced and realizing there’s a lot of different ways of doing things.
And even now in the position I’m in as an athletic director, that’s probably, in my opinion, one of the things that I understand probably the most maybe compared to other athletic directors is, Hey I’m a basketball guy and I can look at, I can tell you, I do these hundred things when I coach this team and I’m watching my daughter play for four years.
And, and now my son and his senior year and thinking I would do this, I would do that. But that doesn’t mean it’s the best way. I mean, there’s a hundred different ways to do it and there’s, and they all could be right. Right. And they all could be the best way. And that’s, that’s the beauty of sport and that’s the beauty of coaching.
But I think that would probably be the thing that stuck out in my head. Then I was young that I felt like this is the way we’re going to do it. And I don’t care what anyone else says or thanks. This is the way it’s going to be in. And it did work for us, but we probably should have been a little bit more flexible and done some different things.
[00:53:40] Mike Klinzing: Where did you go during that early part of your career to learn? Did you have mentors guys that you talked to, did you go back and talk to Coach Bankson? Did you reach out to other young coaches where you, where you study and video, just what did you do to try to improve yourself and increase your knowledge of, because again, I think about myself, like I knew what Coach Casey did.
I knew what Coach McDonald did at Kent. And so when I got my first job as a JV coach at bay, guess what I did those two guys did. And that was it. That was it. I didn’t, I didn’t really do anything else. And I was young and probably stupid and probably a little bit egotistical and probably didn’t put in the time that if I look back on it, I’m like, man, I should’ve put a lot more time in becoming a better coach.
And just instead of just focusing on. I already know a lot. And I think when you’re young, that’s kind of the way you look at it now as a whatever, I’m 51, almost 52. And you realize like, I don’t really know anything it’s just, it’s incredible. How much more I thought I knew when I was 22 than I do now.
[00:54:42] Duane Sheldon: Yeah. And you know, that’s a great question because that was a different time. Obviously now you can go on a computer and get just about anything. As far as what coach’s philosophy, what offense you want to run. I think the fact, my last few years of playing in college, I knew I wanted to coach and I can’t tell you how many college games we, we would go over a BW.
It was called the hive. You know, the cafeteria closed out and I was six 30, but the high was open to 11 and that we didn’t have cable in the dorms. Thank goodness. Or I probably wouldn’t have a college degree. You know, people, you tell people like that now they, they can’t believe it. I mean, you had, you had, you had 3, 5, 8 and channel 43 and 19 or whatever that was it.
That’s what you had in your dorm room and pro well, actually, that’s probably what you had at home too, until we got the middle score high school. But anyway, we go over to the hive and if you remember big Monday, they had the, but it had the big east plane at seven and the big tent at nine. And then, well, I don’t know if it was Tuesday or Wednesday, you had the big 12 and we would watch all those games.
And I really would watch it as a coach. I really would like, what are they doing scheme wise? What do they get? And so to answer your question, I had, I probably took more things from coach Casey than I did from coach. Pointing at bald walls and that’s not a slight to coach Bankson. Obviously what we did there was is even at a higher level than we did in high school.
And, and he, boy, he was a great X and those coach, coach Bankson, and we ran some different offenses my time there and learned a lot. But I think my personality was more like my high school coach. And so I took a lot of things that we did in high school, probably more than college, but in saying that how I learned and how I got better was coaching clinics, those coaching Nike clinics that you remember it in Independence there.
I didn’t miss, I didn’t miss those things. I was at every one of those and, and I knew. Who I was going to listen to, and I knew what they were talking about. And, and then back then it was your order, those VHS tapes those coaching clinic tapes, where, when you really find someone that you really like what they’re doing, and it fits your personality and your comfort zone, you study that you study that.
And I remember I studied, I loved what Kansas did and what Roy Williams did. I’d taped his games on my VCR at home, and I would watch their games and break down their, what they were doing on offense there. Like I broke down their secondary break before I even knew that existed. Like I had it figured out then I saw them in a clinic and it’s like, oh my God, Like I had about 80% of it figured out, but, oh man, that’s a lot easier the way he explained it that kind of thing.
So it’s just a combination. And then I remember going to watch Dan Hipsher at Akron, watch his practices and different coaches coach Waters at Cleveland State. And, you know you just try to find places, that’ll let you observe and sit down and talk with you. I know, geez. Even when I remember you know, going to coach Izzo and watching their practice and he spent, he spent an hour with us after practice, just talking about his philosophy and his war room.
And so a little bit of everything, I guess, is the answer to that question.
[00:58:17] Mike Klinzing: It’s so true. I think that coaches then, and now I’m amazed the number of guys that. And a podcast with, doesn’t say, Hey, if you’re ever in town, you want to come down and you want to check out a practice and kind of leave it as an open-ended invitation for coaches to come out and be able to watch and just take part in the practice and see what’s going on.
And I think that learning piece of it, it’s one of the things that I don’t know if it was surprising to me, but after we did the podcast for a year or two, just to how open people are to share the things that they do and whether it comes to culture or whether it’s X. And those are just, just saying, Hey, you can come in and take a look at what we do.
And there’s, it’s really hard to keep secrets is one thing in the, in the VHS VCR era, you could, you could keep things away from people nowadays. It’s pretty much impossible. Everything’s out there for everybody to see. So I think it’s kind of opened up for coaches to be willing to share, which is, again, I think it’s something that is a positive for the coaching profession is a positive for the game.
It’s positive for the players who were playing it. Let’s move from mid park to you. Going back to college basketball and getting an assistant job at your Alma mater. Obviously you have a tremendous amount of success at mid-part at a young age, and you’ve been now at that spot for five years. You kind of, as you said, you wanted to start out and be able to make some money.
So what was the thought process? How does that opportunity at BW coming your way?
[00:59:44] Duane Sheldon: Always wanting to be a college coach. So that was always in the back of my mind. And so we don’t have any kids. My wife and I are both teaching, both coaching. I’m going to try to do this college thing.
And I remember it was interesting. Bruce Pearl, was it Southern Indiana division two school. He’s a top five team division two every year. And he had an, he had an opening down there. And I threw my email resume. That was just boy, you were just starting to learn how to do that. And I’ll never forget it.
He called me, he’s like, here’s the deal? I got a grad assistantship or a part-time well, I had already got my master’s and he says, you know how he says, you’re kind of overqualified because you’ve already been a head coach, but you don’t want the best guy. And two days later, I was down in Southern Indiana interviewing with Bruce Pearl and make a long story short.
He had, my Laura came down with me, my wife, and we spent more of the day trying to get her a job down there because he knew the only way this was going to work is if she got a teaching job down there, because he wasn’t going to be able to pay me enough money. So to make a long story short, that didn’t work out and.
And that’s okay. I mean, and that, I said, well, I’m I want to coach college, coach bankson let me help out for a couple of years and a great experience being on the other side of things after you play for the guy was just awesome. It was awesome. And then was lucky enough the Heidelberg job came open.
And boy, I think I was 31 at that point. And I think their top two candidates, they offered, turned them down because I remember I applied and about a month and a half later, I got a call from the ADC say, Hey, you still interested in this job? So I can read between the lines that I think they had. They had an alumni that, that they thought was going to take it.
They had, it was good. He was already a college coach and he turned them down and then. They asked another guy, they turned them down. And so, Hey, I don’t care how I got the job, but I got it. And so I was basically their third choice process of elimination, but yeah, heading out to Tiffin, Ohio after JC was, I believe about three then.
And we, we actually was born. I lived with the Jacy there for, I think two months. My wife was really thrilled because she was eight, nine months pregnant. And I was at Tiffin, Ohio.
[01:02:38] Mike Klinzing: You’re still married though. You pulled through somehow.
[01:02:41] Duane Sheldon: Yeah. So it was a J was born and we brought him basically from the hospital and Akron.
He was born in Akron. We were living in Brunswick then. And we’ve drove from Akron to. Basically from the hospital to our house in Tiffin. So in with fortunate enough to I was a young guy and 31 getting a job in that league, boy, I mean, I was by far the youngest guy in that league, there was coaches that have been there for 20, 30 years.
And I talking about the Ohio Athletic Conference arguably the one of the best division three conferences in the country. And so yeah, that was, that was an adjustment once again, going there coming from high school, being an assistant in college. So really Mike, I was only assistant here’s here’s the piece that people would not believe if I told them, I think I was only assistant two or three years, my whole life, my whole coaching career in most people can’t say that.
I mean, I got hired really. And high school and 30 one’s fairly young and that conference I dunno if that’d be thought of, as young in today’s world is still would be but it was an adjustment and you know, then you go and you think everything, and this is how I’m going to coach. And there’s a shot clock in college and everything you did in high school doesn’t make sense coaching.
So now you gotta readjust and learn things and go through that process. But that was a great experience. It took us a while to get going there. But you know, the AD and the president were patient with us and eventually it worked out we’re still to this day, the only Heidelberg Men’s basketball team that ever won a championship in that league. They got a great team this year. They got a chance. I don’t know if they’re going to be able to get the regular season, but they have a chance to win the tournament. They have a talented team, but Long story short, it worked out.
Okay. It took us a while, but that was a, that was a great experience and recruited some great players and all those guys are they’re doing well out in their lives and their families as well, too. So you know, living out in Tiffin, I think I was there for six years right time kids were young and all that good stuff.
So you know, things happen for a reason and you kind of fall into things and, and it kind of shapes your, your whole story and your life and your family. And I can’t complain about that at all. That that was just a great move for us and a great time in our life.
[01:05:16] Mike Klinzing: And then that led you to the opportunity to come back to Baldwin Wallace in 2008. And obviously it’s your Alma mater. It gets you back closer to your roots. You’re not out in Tiffin. Talk a little bit about just how special it was to be able to take over your Alma mater and maybe just what, what your feelings were, what you were, what your, what was kind of going through your mind as here’s a place where you played, where you’re you’re replacing a guy that you played for, that you would also coached with.
Just what was, what was your feelings as you got that job and, and how excited were you in that moment to be able to have that opportunity?
[01:05:56] Duane Sheldon: Yeah there was a lot going on at that time. You know, our youngest, Emmy who you know, I guess I can date it. She’s 14 now. She was just born the last year in November, the last year at Heidelberg and, and she, she has, has down syndrome and she I’ll never forget it.
I was interviewing. For that job in the parking lot of the Ronald McDonald house at university of Michigan hospital, because Emmy was getting heart surgery at six months. So we were there for 10, 15 days, whatever it was. I remember the first interview was like a five minute interview, just to just kind of a screening process.
Are you still interested? Here’s the interview team? Just a couple of questions. My daughter just had heart surgery at 7:00 AM in the morning. This interview is at like five and I don’t care what I say. I might have started the interview, like no offense guys, but I don’t care how this goes. I don’t care if you like me.
You don’t like me. Like, I mean you know, the hardest thing ever to do is, Hey, You know our baby over to a nurse at 6:00 AM and you don’t know how it’s going to go. And now it’s five o’clock and they’re asking me questions. Yeah. Whatever. Yeah. If you don’t like it fine, I’m going to go back to see my daughter.
But so there was a lot going on there and actually the second interview phone interview, 10 days later took place. There was only one spot in that McDonald’s or Ronald McDonald house parking lot that I got reception. I was on my cell phone. And so I think the third interview was actually on campus, but anyway, great, great feeling.
When you asked me about what it feels like. Geez, I met my wife there. I mentioned earlier my, my grandfather went to Baldwin. Wallace, played football by dad, went to Baldwin Wallace, played football. My father-in-law Laura’s father, Jim lLut. He was a college teammate of my dad’s at Baldwin walls. They both played for Lee Tressel.
You know, Jim’s dad who were out in Baldwin, Wallace is more famous than Jim Lee Tressel his father. So yeah, it, it was, it was just unbelievable to come back home and, and be, be the head coach at a, at a special place that has been so special to you to yourself and your family and great experience.
And I wouldn’t trade that for the world. That, that was just, that was awesome.
[01:08:22] Mike Klinzing: When you go in there and coach Bankson obviously it’s been there for a long time and has established what that program is, what it’s all about. And you played for him, you coach with them. How do you go about putting your own stamp on it and trying to build in and just continue the winning tradition that had already been established there.
Do you think that was harder, easier than a place where you come into Heidelberg where you’re trying to completely rebuild and retool, just maybe compare walking in on the first day of the office and what you sort of saw in front of you at each one of those programs.
[01:09:02] Duane Sheldon: So I think if I had experienced in anything, it was taken over programs and changing the culture and it doesn’t mean the culture was bad before I got there.
It just means I was going to do things differently. And as you know, I don’t care if it’s business, coaching, whatever, when there’s change there, there’s going to be some hiccups and there’s going to be some challenges. I think I got pretty good at understanding some of the things you’re going to go through.
And the debate is different with Baldwin Wallace than it was at Midpark wasn’t a traditional basketball power. Okay. You were trying to figure out, geez, we got to get respectable and turn it into a championship program. It’s been. That didn’t do that a lot of mid park and then a Heidelberg. They had never won a championship.
And so it was it was an uphill battle. The difference was when you took over Baldwin Wallace, they had a great tradition and they’d been there before. And not that it, I don’t want to say it made it easier, but there’s a reason it was there before, like Coach Bankson did an outstanding job, but there was a lot of things in place there that weren’t in place in the other stops that I experienced.
So really excited about it and Coach Bankson will tell you this, when I took over the program, it wasn’t in a great spot compared to where traditionally it was. And so I remember my wife telling me, cause I told her this through the rebuild a Heidelberg. I took years off my life. Cause we, we were bad for a number of years before we made it a championship team.
And I remember telling her don’t ever, let me take over a program again. I don’t care if it’s high school or college where we got to rebuild the thing. I don’t think I can survive. I just don’t. And so she was all excited. You know, we could have back the ball and walls and I was excited and I remember her before I accepted the job, her saying, all right, you told me never to let you take a position where you gotta rebuild and start over.
And she goes, you’re leaving a job that’s better right now. Then what you’re taking over because of what we’ve built it in. And I said, this is different though. I said, this is different. This is like leaving. Okay. Minnesota has been better the last two years and you’re going to Ohio State and Ohio State’s just been average. But over the course of time, Ohio State’s a better job than Minnesota. There’s nothing wrong with Minnesota and there’s nothing wrong with Heidelberg, but it’s not Ohio State. It’s not Baldwin Wallace, that kind of thing. And so it didn’t take me long to think about that today.
And but you know, to, to answer your question is really about believe in your standards and expectations and, and, and more importantly, getting, getting your student athletes to believe in that and getting the right people involved. And they obviously, they got to play a little bit they gotta be able to play a little bit.
And it’s worked out at every stop we have been at. And that’s really, because I think if I did anything right, it’s recognizing who can play and, and getting people you can count on when they go and get stuff that has some talent. And I think that that’s a key,
[01:12:32] Mike Klinzing: How’d you how’d you identify those kids on the recruiting trail?
Cause obviously a big piece of that is knowing who they are before they even step onto your practice floor with you. That if you can recruit for that type of player, that has that mental toughness, that is the kind of kid that you want to build your program around. It’s a lot easier to bring those kids in who already have those characteristics, as opposed to trying to instill them in a kid once they get out of campus.
So just talk a little bit about what your recruiting process looked like and how you tried to identify the types of players that you felt would fit into what you wanted.
[01:13:08] Duane Sheldon: You know, when we first took over a Heidelberg, I wasn’t very good at that. I wanted talented guys. I didn’t care. It just gave me talent.
Now we didn’t go out and recruit criminals by any means, but just talented guys that we get enough talent. We’ll figure it out. Well, sorry that ain’t going to work because in that league, the guys you’re playing against are talented and they’re accountable, dependable people and dependable, tough athletes.
So what we, what we, I think we got really good at, at Heidelberg was identifying what kind of guys and people would really like what we were doing. Yes, they have to be able to play, but I think we got good at that. And we honed in on those guys and really worked hard recruiting on those guys that we knew were tough.
They were very similar to our personality, our work ethic. They would feel comfortable at Heidelberg. That’s not a big city, big metropolitan area, but you, you, you get the right fit and you recognize those guys. They would like it at Heidelberg and you go after those guys. And it’s kind of the same thing when we got the ball Baldwin Wallace I’m not going to lie.
It’s a little easier ball and wall. So a lot, it’s easier to find guys that that would like it there and feel comfortable there. And, but you also have to find the right fit and the guy that’s going to feel comfortable with your coaching style and your program. So to get really specific beyond that, I always tried to find guys when we’re recruiting I was a big, do they know how to play hard?
Are they playing on. Then I would look at what’s their defensive concept. Like, is there a coach teaching them good defense? Like, I don’t think I’d ever recruit a guy that played zone his whole high school career. I’m thinking to myself, he might be a great player, but he’s not going to learn how to play D is going to be too late.
By the time he learns it, he’s going to be a junior or senior. And it’s probably not going to work for him, but those are little things like that. But to be specific on a basketball piece, I think today, and even when I was recruiting the pace in which someone can play, I think to me is the most important thing.
And I say pace, Mike, I’m not just saying from end to end, they can run. They can they’re fast it’s how quick do they pass it? How quick can they catch it and shoot it? How quick can they finish a layup? How quick do they get off the floor and rebound? They could be six, eight. But if they’re a step slow jumping off the floor, sliding over, give me a six, five guy that jumps quicker than that.
You know, give me a guy that makes a timely pass rather than a guy that makes the right pass as a half a second late. I think that is the most underrated observation of a basketball player. And I think this at the level you played at the speed in which things happen that can’t compare to Strongsville was night and day and then ability to process.
And then you talk about the NBA. These guys that are so successful in college, that can’t even sniff the NBA because they can’t do it at the pace in which it’s done. And that you could be successful. So. I’m not saying I wasn’t the best coach. I wasn’t the best recruiter, but those are some of the things that we really honed in on.
And still today when I’m watching, even my son and daughter’s team and teammates, I think, well, you know that guy or that girl, man, her pace, isn’t very good. It’s Columbia struggle. Like you know, I mean, you can give them the best, the greatest pass in the world. They’re they might not be able to finish it or get the shot off or whatever.
I’ll give you a compliment. Mike, I remember playing with you. I remember telling our guys this, when I coach and I told this story over and over again, from the times I coached high school from the times I coached college. I remember when you came back from Kent and we would play with you and I would shoot unbelief.
And I would tell our guys this. I said, when I play with Mike Klinzing, I bet I shot 70% from the field. And it had nothing to do with me. It had to do with Mike’s timely pass and where he put it. Like, I never played with a guy that put it in the pocket as fast as you did at the right time, where all I had to do was catch it and shoot it.
And I, and I’m not just saying that because you know, I’m on your program. It’s true. And I would preach that to our guys, even in college that were coaching. Like you don’t understand, I don’t care if it’s a drill, a shooting drill. We usually had guys passing to each other and shooting drills just because I emphasize that so much.
And I don’t know if you remember Jaron Crow who was a great point guard at. And that was a great point guard for us at Baldwin Wallace. I would use him as an example all the time and he was in our practice. I’m like, you guys don’t understand if we do any kind of partner shooting and it’s for competition.
[01:18:28] Mike Klinzing: You’re crazy if you’re not running over there,
[01:18:29] Duane Sheldon: he will make you better than you really are. And so I kind of went off on a tangent on things there though, but those, those are some of the things talking, I guess, relating back to the pace of play like throwing it at the right pace and catching it at the right pace and shooting it or finishing is just as important is anything to me when you’re evaluating basketball players.
[01:18:53] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. I think it comes down to, and this is, I guess it’s sort of a more high level sort of observation, but I think that if you know basketball and you sit down in a gym and you sit in the bleachers and you watch a game for five minutes you can identify the kid. Who’s a basketball player versus the kids who were just out there playing basketball.
And obviously there’s all different degrees of that. But what you’re talking about, about making the pass at the right time, like to somebody who doesn’t know or understand the game, like making that pass at the right time or making it a half second late, doesn’t really make that much of a difference to the casual fan.
But to somebody who understands the game, whether that’s as a player, as a coach, you realize how important that half-second is and whether or not you make it easy for your team at the score or hard for your teammates to score. And I just think that if you can find those kinds of kids, it just makes coaching so much easier because those little things.
Are hard to coach. I mean, let’s face it. It’s hard to coach like, okay, here’s the exact perfect time you want to pass has to be thrown. Like you can’t have a feel for that or they don’t. And it’s just, I think that if you can find those kids, that’s, what’s going to help you to be successful. And it makes whatever system you’re running, whether that’s offensively defensively or a kid can process quickly to your point.
And then if they have the physical tools to be able to execute it quickly, then you have what can be a winning player. And that’s what I hear you saying.
[01:20:28] Duane Sheldon: Absolutely. And you know, the first thing you thought that just popped into my head, when you say that sometimes as a coach, you don’t even recognize that on your own team until all the sudden you say, okay, I’m going to play this guy instead of this guy.
And man things go a lot smoother. Like what’s going on? What’s the difference? Oh, it’s this guy. I didn’t think it was good enough. And now all of this. He makes the right cut the right pass, the right timing. He’s always worried and that ball is moving as a man. He makes us 10 times better and he doesn’t even make an, a shot he’s not even scoring.
So yeah, I think you hit it on the head. Mike.
[01:21:06] Mike Klinzing: I think there are players like that. I guess when I look at it, you think of an NBA player, like Lonzo ball is sort of like that where people thought as the number two pick in the draft at Lonza was going to come in and be a superstar player.
And he’s obviously not that, but yet you watch him play. And he’s just the guy that the ball hits his hands and he moves it onto the next guy. I always say, it’s like, you can either be the guy making the fancy pass and everybody goes, Ooh, but then the other four or five passes that you make aren’t of any value or you can be the guy.
Five times out of five, you just keep the ball moving to that next guy. And that’s really what keeps your offense flowing, or the guy who makes the right rotation on defense and just is there in position every time where they’re supposed to be. And that just makes your whole team defensive system so much more effective when people are making the simple reads, the simple plays, but they make them over and over and over consistently.
And that’s really, when I think you really can have success.
[01:22:04] Duane Sheldon: And I think Mike, even today’s day, it’s even harder to find those guys because so many guys and girls are more skilled and they put time in. And so they put all this time in and they work their tail off. They want to be able to do that on the court.
And, and I joked with our high school coach here at Dublin Coffman, I said, you don’t want to work too many guys out skills. You know what, because you don’t want them all doing it. You want a few guys that never try it because that’s the way it’s going to work. And back when we played, there were a lot of those guys, cause there wasn’t a not everyone was super skilled.
So that that’s a challenge, I think for coaches at all levels now. And it goes back to accept in a role and Hey, I go to this trainer and I’ve done this. And my parents had spent thousands of dollars going to all these AAU tournaments. And you want me to come in and just be a role player? Well transfer portal and all that, you know that, but it’s, it’s real, but you hit it on the head.
Those kinds of guys help you win games.
[01:23:11] Mike Klinzing: And I think the other piece that goes along with what you said with the AAU and the kind of goes back to the beginning of our conversation is when you everybody’s looking for the next thing. And there are very few players, parents who are focused on, let me have the best experience that I can.
In this fifth grade AAU tournament or in this seventh grade, middle school game or this varsity basketball game, because everybody’s trying to angle for the next opportunity. I want to be on a better AAU team. I want to make sure I’m a varsity starter when I’m a freshman. I want to make sure that I get this college scholarship instead of being like, man, I want to have the most fun I can possibly have and maximize my experience as a high school player.
I think that’s something that it’s a challenge because it goes to what you said that people have spent so much time, money, energy on their kid’s basketball career that everybody gets caught up in what’s next instead of enjoying the moment and it’s hard to do, it’s really hard to do. Absolutely. All right.
I, we have like, I mean, we seriously have like four more hours to talk, but we are, we are already up to close to an hour and a half, I think, if not, well past that. So I want to end with this and I think that we’re going to have to have you back out to talk in more depth about it, but. Those of you who don’t know Dwayne’s background.
He currently has a daughter that we referenced several times that is playing college basketball at Ohio state and playing very, very well. It was recently named the big 10 player of the week, and then his son AAJ is going to play division one basketball at Ohio university. And then he also has another daughter with down syndrome.
So he has a very unique perspective as a parent. So I want to just ask you Duane, if you had one piece of advice for the parents of a high school basketball player, if you could boil it down and I’d love to get into this discussion further, cause there’s a tons of things that I feel like are relevant for people that are out there listening both coaches and parents.
But if you had to boil it down to one piece of advice as the parent of a high school athlete, what would that advice be that you would give to those parents?
[01:25:18] Duane Sheldon: Boy, I can answer that a lot of different ways. I think in this, this is tough to swallow for parents. And this is, this is what we talk about with our parents.
And this goes for every sport. If you have, don’t get me wrong, you give your kids the opportunity. You give them every opportunity to be the best they can be. And, and and one of the things I really stress is that they compete hard. Like I think the only times I’ve yelled at my kids as a dad, when they were younger was if I didn’t think they were playing hard or I didn’t like, well, that’s not true with my son.
I yelled at him all the time. Cause he didn’t do any, he didn’t do anything. I have something to do. Jacy did every single thing I asked her to do. And he’d be like, why don’t you yell at Jacy? Because she does everything I tell her to do you do everything out. But anyway, getting back to getting back to that answer, what we tell our parents is that the most dangerous thing is the perception you have on how it’s going to go.
So, for example, your, your kid, you want your kid to be the leading score on the team and maybe your son or daughter isn’t the leading score, but maybe he or she is doing very well. And if you ask the coach that, that, that kid’s doing as easy, as important as any part of the team, but your perception and your son or daughter’s perception was it was going to be up here and it doesn’t meet that perception.
Then it becomes a dangerous thing. You’re not succeeding, you’re not happy. You’re not doing what you’re this person’s doing better. This person’s scoring more. This portion’s catching all the passes. You’re you’re just running the patterns to clear out for the stutter. You’re not making all the tackles or you’re not getting all the kills and volleyball, whatever.
And really your, your son or daughter might be doing a tremendous job, but because of the perception and they expectation that you had isn’t met, it becomes a bad experience for everybody. And it becomes an experience that the parents don’t enjoy. The athlete doesn’t enjoy. The coach doesn’t enjoy as much because there’s some resistance and there’s some fight that I guess that would be my advice.
Like, yes, I still set the expectation high still make sure they’re competing hard, but just because you thought he or she was going to be the starting point guard and they’re the backup point guard, or they don’t handle the ball because the coach wants you out there because you can really defend, but there’s someone that’s better at handling the ball.
That’s okay. And make sure they reach that potential in that role and enjoy it and embrace it because if not. It turns into really a selfish expectation, but then again, you’re fighting this selfish society we leave and live in today too. It’s not easy when it come, when I’m saying that in front of Dublin Coffman parents, and they’re like looking at me like, Yeah. It’s easy. Your daughter’s playing at Ohio State. Like, yeah. It’s easy for you to say that because her role was the or your son’s got that, but it’s so true. Not that you just give into mediocrity, I’m not saying that, but be careful on setting that expectation and that goal of so high because of everything you did as a parent and your son or daughter did.
And when you don’t reach that, it’s not a failure. It’s dangerous because you set it so high and it’s not there. And now with. It looked at as a failure, if that makes sense. It makes sense.
[01:29:15] Mike Klinzing: I think another way to put that is it has to be, it should be about the kid as opposed to the parent’s expectations.
And the kid has to be, I think more times than not kids. If you, if you boil it down, kids, I think most often know kind of where the pecking order is. If they’re being brutally honest, not that they always are, but I think a lot of times it’s the parents that set that expectation. And then they’re in the kid’s ear all the time about, Hey, why isn’t this happening?
This that the coach is wrong, blah, blah, blah. And then that’s where, as you said, that’s where you get into those difficulties instead of the kid looking at it and going, Hey, I’m part of a great team. I have a role to play, and it’s a challenge. And it’s a challenge for all the reasons that we’ve talked about, just how different the game is not different coaching is.
And it’s just been an evolution back from the eighties and nineties when you and I were picking up a ball and playing as opposed to being on the sideline coaching. So I want to leave it there. Dwayne, I want to give you a chance before we go, let people know how they can find out more. About what you’re doing at Dublin Coffman and just how people can reach out to you, whether you just want to share an email or social media, whatever.
And then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.
[01:30:21] Duane Sheldon: tYeah. You could just go on the coffmanathletics.net, which is our athletic website. If you want to reach out and email to me you know, feel free to do that and talk basketball, talk sports, anything, anything I can do to, to help out. You know, Dublin Coffman, it’s a big school. It actually kind of reminds me of Strongsville. Back when we were growing up, like it’s, it’s a booming suburb. The difference is we have three schools, the size of Strongsville and Dublin. So it’s, it’s crazy down here in Columbus, but. It’s a great place in Columbus, but it’s different.
It’s definitely different from Northeast Ohio, but it’s a cool city and it’s a neat city. But yeah, I’d love to talk with anyone that’s interested in. If I can help in any way. You know, my door’s always open and thanks so much for having me on enjoyed it and did a little catching up, I guess.
[01:31:24] Mike Klinzing: No question. It was a lot of fun. I appreciate you taking the time, like I said, off the top long overdue and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time. It was fun to reminisce and go back. And sometimes some of the things that it’s funny, just the memories that you have and how one person’s perception of it.
And just thinking about the way that we grew up and the amount of time that we spent together playing both formally as a high school player and also. Playing pickup basketball and great times in life without question and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time, Duane, and to everyone out there.
Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.