JACK OWENS – MIAMI UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 492

Jack Owens

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

Phone – 513-529-1650

Twitter – @MiamiCoachO

Jack Owens is entering his fifth season as the Miami University Men’s Basketball Head Coach after spending the previous 9 seasons in the Big Ten at Purdue University.

Owens also spent 5 seasons as an assistant coach at Southern Illinois.  Owens began his coaching career at Howard Community College, followed by one season at Barton County Community College and one season at Eastern Illinois.

Jack began his collegiate playing career at Murray State, and played a season at Howard Community College before playing two seasons at Eastern Illinois.

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Jot down some notes as you listen to this episode with Jack Owens, Men’s Basketball Head Coach at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

What We Discuss with Jack Owens

  • Growing up in Indianapolis playing multiple sports
  • Players who played football in high school and the toughness they bring to the court
  • Building relationships with a players’ inner circle during the recruiting process
  • How the new NCAA rules are effecting recruiting
  • Providing a quality college basketball experience for his players
  • Making education a driving force
  • Building authentic relationships with players
  • Recruiting guys that win in high school and in AAU
  • Play hard, play the right way, take care of academics
  • Watching film with players to help them improve their basketball IQ
  • Building player development into practice
  • How he creates his daily practice plan
  • How the ball screen and threes have changed the game in regards to how it’s played and coached
  • The challenge of maintaining continuity with your team as a college basketball coach in today’s world
  • The joy of watching players grow and develop

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TRANSCRIPT FOR JACK OWENS – MIAMI UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 491

[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here this morning without my co-host Jason Sunkle, but I am pleased to be joined by Jack Owens, the Head Coach at Miami University, Jack. Welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.

Jack Owens: [00:00:12] Thanks man. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:15] Truly excited to be able to have you on and talk a little Miami Red Hawks basketball.

Let’s go back in time to when you were a kid. Tell me about how you got into the game of basketball. What was some of your first experiences with it?

Jack Owens: [00:00:25]  Well, it was just something I did growing up in Indianapolis to play multiple sports from basketball, football, to baseball and you know, we had a community center there in Indianapolis called Riverside.

And that’s just where I spent a lot of my time playing basketball, playing football and baseball, but really enjoyed the game of basketball obviously.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:46] When you think back to that time, was there ever a moment where you started to focus exclusively on basketball? Cause there’s a lot of talk out there now in the basketball world and in the sports world in general, when we’re talking youth sports about kids [00:01:00] specializing in only being a one sport athlete. So how do you feel like for you being a multi-sport athlete, what did that do for you as a young kid? And then was there a time where you exclusively started playing basketball?

Jack Owens: [00:01:10] Yeah, that’s a great question. Well, to be honest with you we did those things too. I think my parents pushed us and they’ll see the stat. So we stay out of trouble and, and just be around good people. And I was very fortunate to have a Tony Johnson was actually still at Riverside was a guy who brought me in and I was like you know, a father figure to me.

And he’s a guy that my mom and dad trusted and allow me to be around a lot. But, but I do like guys who play different sports I think you find guys who played football or whatever other sport they’re playing there’s a level of toughness or just well-rounded guys and just good athletes that you find.

They play different sports. So I don’t, I don’t think it hinders you it can take away from some of your recruitment. If you’re playing a spring sport, [00:02:00] you know, where it comes in and affects your AAU tournaments, all those, those sorts of things, whether or not a guy who plays football and transitioning to basketball.

Period of time. I know when I played high school football it took me three or four weeks to get acclimated to basketball just from the conditioning standpoint and just finding my rhythm, but I do find guys who play multiple sports, they’re, well-rounded athletes overall.

Mike Klinzing: [00:02:28] Yeah. It’s  interesting. When you start talking about multi-sport athletes and there’s obviously pluses and minuses to both sides of that equation, like you said, in terms of. Being able to transition from whether it’s football to basketball or miss an AAU in the spring. I do think though that one of the other things that I’ve heard and talked about coaches with is when you’re playing a different sport.

And maybe if basketball, obviously if you’re being recruited, especially at the division one level, chances are, basketball’s probably your number one priority, but you may have to play a different role if you’re on the football team or you’re a soccer player or whatever it could be. And [00:03:00] sometimes that helps kids to be able to adjust and have a, a better understanding of what it means.

Not just be the star, but maybe they’re a role player in another sport and that can help them adjust, especially as they’re making that leap from high school basketball to college basketball. Do you find that to be something that you see as a coach over the course of your career?

Jack Owens: [00:03:15] Yeah, no, no question. I think at some point you will identify what sport That, that you have a chance to move on and I’ll give you a story.

JV that’s Slayer you know, he was a guy who played here in Miami. They play middle school football and didn’t play because he elected to go just down the basketball path he didn’t play any other sport but his senior year. Here’s parents called me and thought they wanted my input on if he should play football his senior year as a college coach, I was thinking like, man, I don’t want, I mean, they get hurt, but you know thank God that he didn’t have any injuries and he, he was able to play in those [00:04:00] relationships.

And, and, and those times as a high school student athlete, that, that, I think those memories he’s going to have for a lifetime, but I did not want to, you know persuade him either way. You know what I mean? But as I was sitting there, like, man, why go out now? But,  I didn’t want to be a hypocrite either because I wanted his family and him to make the best decision for him. And then obviously he had a great last year they were playing football and then obviously you had a great basketball run his senior  year.

Mike Klinzing: [00:04:37] That puts you in a little tough position to answer that question, right?

Jack Owens: [00:04:42] It was difficult, but you fill up, you said it I think those memories he’s going to have for a lifetime, with his friends that they play with. And they had a great team as well. They were, they were a good football team. And those experiences I think, like I said, he’s going to have for a lifetime with those guys.

[00:05:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:05:00] At that point, obviously you’re still he’s not on campus with you guys. So you had obviously built a pretty good relationship with the family at that point. If they’re calling you up and asking for your advice to put your, put their trust in you and getting your, getting your opinion.

When you think about that from a recruiting standpoint, How do you go about what’s your methodology for building a relationship with not only the recruit themselves, but also their inner circle, whether that be their family, whether that be their high school coach or AAU coach. Just talk a little bit about how you go about in the recruiting process, building, not just the relationship with the recruit, but also with the people that are around them.

Jack Owens: [00:05:39] Another great question. This is extremely important you’re talking about the, the people that are close to him there there’s like, it’s like a pie that you draw in. And obviously the recruits in the middle of it, but you have his parents, their grandparents, the girlfriends, Their, their pastors, their [00:06:00] church whoever have influenced you.

You need to have some sort of relationship with them because as we both know, when you get to college, there’s going to be tough times, no matter where you go, what level you go. There’s going to be times where you, you, you’re going to need to talk to someone and those, those people you know, you need to have relationships with those peoples because you need to be on the same page with them.

And that’s very important, especially with the times that we’re in, with the rules changing and, and those things that, that you need to have relationships with everyone that comes in encounter with the student athletes that you’re going to have on your team.

Mike Klinzing: [00:06:34] I don’t think there’s any doubt, especially, as you said, with the rule changes, how do those rule changes from your perspective as a Mid-American Conference school?

What are some of the things, the issues that the rule changes raise for a school at your level? Specifically, cause we hear different things about different levels. Yeah. Okay. So a mid-major school, you develop a kid for as a freshman and sophomore, and now there’s a [00:07:00] chance that they’re going to go and get recruited by a high level, major division one school.

And then conversely, you hear about, well, a guy goes to a high major and maybe they don’t play as much and now they made transfer down. So just what impact are you seeing? What are you trying to anticipate as you talk about putting together your roster under these new rule changes?

Jack Owens: [00:07:17] Yeah, so it makes it somewhat difficult, but at the same time, it goes back to the relationship that you, that you talked about and having those relationships obviously, with the recruit, with the family, with the AAU coaches, high school coaches, those things are very important, but at any level, I think it’s gonna impact it because with the one-time transfer you know, a student athlete has the ability to leave at their one year. Ijust think that guys will continue make the best decisions for them because you know, the data is out there. I saw a tweet where guys who go down a level, go up a level whatever it may be at, at the, at the end of the day, you just hope [00:08:00] the student athlete make the best decision for themselves and their families. So they have the opportunity to, to be successful and I think that’s the most important thing is that you want the student athlete to be successful.

And, and, and, and we know the percentage of guys planning NBA and those kinds of things as well. So don’t get lost in the education part as well, usually student athletes that value education, and they understand the importance of getting a degree and then also having the opportunity to play and that varies for everyone like I said, guys, Going up have success are the guys that have come down and had success.

I just think it depends on who the individual is, but like I said, the data’s out there in regards to guys who have left our level and gone up and how they perform. And I just think you just have to continue to educate your student athletes on those things. And but at the end of the day, you want what’s best for every student athlete.

Their quality experience [00:09:00] you know, during their college years, or is that a high level? And that’s what we try to provide here at Miami.

Mike Klinzing: [00:09:06] All right. When you’re thinking about those relationships and you’re thinking about helping kids to make good decisions, both when they’re considering whether or not to come to Miami in the first place, and then once you have them on your roster and you’re trying to maximize what their college experience is like, both from a basketball standpoint, from an academic standpoint, one of the keys to that is the same thing that we talked about in terms of recruiting is how do you build that relationship?

How do you build the culture that makes Miami makes your program a place that guys want to be a part of both when you’re recruiting them initially out of high school. And once they’re in the program, what are some of the things that you’re doing that you think make Miami basketball, a special place?

Jack Owens: [00:09:46]  Well, first of all, we put education as a driving force. But, but also building authentic relationships and just being honest I think, I think when you’re, when you’re transparent and you’ve just, you know putting you know, [00:10:00] the facts, the data out there, and just being honest with recruits and their families.

And like I said, just continue to build those relationships where they understand you have their best at heart, I think kids still trend towards wanting to be in the right situation. You know, obviously, like I said, the rule change you know, we’ve been very fortunate this year as of today, every guy who played last year is coming back to Miami. I think that those are the things. The that we concentrate on. We’re really not worried about everyone else. We just want to continue to build authentic relationships and just being truthful and understanding that we want to take another step and be a team that can be a consistent winner in our conference, but, but also having relationships that are lifelong lasting and also a degree from Miami you know, carries a lot of weight as well. So just, [00:11:00] being authentic and recruiting the right kind of guy as well that, that values those things and not necessarily just want to leave. We want to identify guys that we believe fit our system. We, we want it to work for every recruit and we understand that might not be the case every time, but we try and we want to put every guy in position to be successful here. But also we want to put ourselves in position to win a championship while doing so,

Mike Klinzing: [00:11:32] absolutely.  When you are evaluating the list of guys that you’re considering recruiting, you start to narrow that list down. And you’re getting out. Hopefully eventually you’re back out on the road. Once we get past COVID, hopefully we’re getting towards the tail end of this whole thing, but when you’re out on the road and you’re evaluating players, or your assistants are evaluating players, and you’re watching a player in oftentimes two distinct environments, you may watch them with their high school team.

And then you watch them in an AAU [00:12:00] setting setting. What are you. Looking for in each of those settings, is it the same thing? Is it something different? Do you, do you approach the evaluation process when you’re watching a kid in high school and maybe look for something different than you do an AAU, how do you balance the evaluation between those two settings?

Jack Owens: [00:12:17] Well, first of all, in both settings, you want to take a guy that wins, you know what I mean? I think if you can, if you can take a guy that as a winning background, so you take a guy you know that one at the high school level at a high level, then you, you go watch what his AAU is doing. They’re winning.

But I’ll, but at the same time, you, you want to take guys who play hard, that plays play the right way, where there’s not a lot of deep programming when, when you get a guy, to be honest with you, but, but also fit your system. You know, we, we, we have a style that we want to play it’s pretty simple, man.

We’re, we’re a man defensive team. And we’re mostly. Offense team that require player and ball movements. So you got to try to identify guys with a, [00:13:00] with a basketball IQ and a skill level, but also with a level of toughness, you want guys who win at a high level and, and that’s what we try to identify.

And, and guys who play the right way and obviously size, skill, and all those things come into play as well, that you need at certain positions. So those are the things that we try to identify. Oh, along with guys who are taking care of their business from academic standpoint.

Mike Klinzing: [00:13:27] All right. So let’s eliminate and just assume that the kid that you’re recruiting has the requisite basketball skills, the size, that kind of thing.

And that academically they’re going to be a good fit at Miami. What’s the number one. If you had to identify one. In tangible, get, you mentioned a couple of, you mentioned winning, you mentioned toughness, but if you had to identify the one thing that you would look for as an intangible and a player who meets all the other criteria, what’s that number one thing.

And why would that be the most important thing to you?

Jack Owens: [00:13:55] For me personally, you got to have a level of toughness [00:14:00] to play at any level. But a basketball IQ is very important for us. Just knowing how to play the game. And what I mean by that is we want guys that obviously can play with the ball in their hand and play without it as well.

I think when you look at the guys that we’ve been able to recruit and land here in Miami that also have success, like got like Dae Dae grant from Lorain he was all conference as a sophomore. I believe he was the only sophomore, the be all conference he was a guy.

That won at a high level in high school, he won AAU. But, but his skill level in regards to the way he was able to make shots and make plays and his toughness translate I think those are the kinds of things you look for. When I know you said one thing but, I also thought he was a tough kid.

And I thought that we could help him in regards to playing within our system and playing with other guys because [00:15:00] he had the knack to score and score points in bunches. So you know, those are the kind of guys we try to identify and, and, and believe that that, that, that they can have success here in Miami.

Mike Klinzing: [00:15:11] It’s interesting that you said basketball IQ, because I think when I talk about, or when I think about the types of guys. I would want on my teams or guys that I like to play with. It was always the guys with high IQ. And there’s some players that you and I both know that you can put them in a gym by themselves and look at the skill level.

And it just pops. And you’re like, man, this guy is unbelievably skilled. And then you put them in a game and you’re like, man, I wouldn’t want to play pick-up basketball with that guy for anything because he just doesn’t cause you know exactly the type of player that I’m talking about and you can go into a gym and again, whether it’s a you or it’s high school or whatever.

Pick up game and you can identify that basketball IQ. It’s kind of like there’s a bunch, there’s nine players out there playing basketball. And then this guy is a basketball player. So obviously you’re trying to get those guys in the door. Once you get them in the door. What are some [00:16:00] things that you do to try to help players continue to develop and improve their basketball IQ within.

The system that you guys are putting together, both offensively and defensively that you talked about a minute ago, how do you help them continue to grow in that area? In their basketball queue? Cause I think that’s something that coaches sometimes struggle with is how to help players to make reads out on the year and we can help them develop their skill.

But developing that basketball IQ is something else. How do you do that?

Jack Owens: [00:16:26] We watch a lot of film. And, and what we, what we try to do is also take our workouts to, to, to employ some of like what we do from officer’s standpoint on the office event as well, you know? But, but from a.

Basketball IQ. I think you know, a guy can really learn from watching film and I have good assistant coaches Coach Rutter, Coach Reynolds, Coach Lowe they do a great job of watching film with our guys and, and, and just continue to improve their IQ and their overall game. Because sometimes guys coming from the [00:17:00] high school level. They don’t watch as much film some do as some high schools do for sure, but, but a certain, some, and some don’t, but sometimes you get guys to campus and you’re able to watch film with them. I, it really helps them see things on the court from the sample, how we want to play, just want to continue to improve their overall basketball IQ, but also from a defensive standpoint as well. I think guys can learn a lot from watching film on both sides of the ball andnwe spend a lot of time doing so in the film.

Mike Klinzing: [00:17:35] How much time, let’s say let’s break it into two distinct parts during the season.

How much film are you watching with your players? How much are they seeing and then maybe transition to how much are they watching in the off season where I’m assuming it’s more skill development, skill development base, maybe working on them individually. So just talk a little bit about over the course of this, of the course of the year.

How does the amount of film they watch ebb and flow [00:18:00] in a given in a given week or whatever during a certain timeframe.

Jack Owens: [00:18:03] Yeah, just to tackle what you said during the offices. And it is about skill development. And also you want the individual players to, to get to you want them to improve.

So you’re, it’s a lot of individual work that we invest in our guys and in regards to trying to improve their overall skill. But then when the season hit  it’s majority what the outside stuff that guys do on their own. And we, we do skill work and practice as well, but a lot of his, his is Taylor tours, our team setting.

But during the season, it’s a lot of film and, and in regards to watching who you might play watching you know, our games and we do watch a lot of film on us, you know in regards to the things that we need to do better. You know, all the stats and things that we do where we stat practice to games.

And, and, and, and, and obviously we want [00:19:00] that to carry over to the games, but what we do watch a lot of films on our opponent as well. Just prepare for the game. And then after the game, each guy has to get in with his individual coach and watch his individual clips as well. So, so that that alone is a lot of time when you’re talking about watching film of yourself, your opponent, and then after the game getting in and watching your individual film and how you played in the game is how we do it throughout the season.

Mike Klinzing: [00:19:33] When you guys, as a staff are putting together those clips that you’re going to share with players, how do you balance out the I’m going to say the positive and negative. In other words, when you’re watching a player and you have the clip and you say, okay, here’s something that you did really well. If you could do it like this every time, that’d be terrific versus, Hey, here’s a mistake that you made.

This is something that we have to correct. Is the. Close to 50 50, or how do you guys approach that positive, negative spin. And [00:20:00] when you’re, when you’re watching film with your guys?

Jack Owens: [00:20:02] We spend a lot of time watching film and in regards to things that we try to correct, and what guys are doing well. We just try to continue to improve every game and it does require a lot of film because what we do is okay.

I mentioned earlier is that we watch film before we play a game, we watched film after the game and then he sky tried to get in with their individual coach and dive into their individual film after every game.

Mike Klinzing: [00:20:32] How much during the season, how much individual player development would you say you’re doing during an average practice and then we can kind of get into a little bit of how you design your practices to maximize your efficiency and what you’re getting out of your day to day, but how much individual skill development once you’re into your actual schedule and you’re playing games, how much skill are you getting in on a daily basis?

Jack Owens: [00:20:53] Yeah we, we do a lot of shooting passing and every prime, we go two hours so we can go [00:21:00] anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes of skill work practice in regards to it could be individual, it could be a group setting. It can be positional right?

It varies and you just want to continue to stay sharp and what we try to do is focus on our team, as much as we can and just try to get better, but then we will dive into them, obviously, who we’re playing in regards to our opponent.

Mike Klinzing: [00:21:25] What’s your methodology for building a practice plan.  So when you’re sitting down with your staff and you’re thinking about what you want to accomplish day in and day out, what are some of the keys for you to designing a practice? Derive the maximum benefit for your team.

Jack Owens: [00:21:40] Yeah. It  varies, but at the same time is pretty consistent in regards to where we do get skill work in.

We do run sets. So but we also have motion offense, that’s a reading reaction. So, so we will work on our office, a [00:22:00] portion, every practice and, and, and, and definitely from a defensive standpoint we, we work on our individual defense and our team defense and the thing is that we try to hit on that with some sort of transition defense as well. And every practice along we’re rebounding. So those are the things that we try to hit on every practice when you’re building a practice like every coach in the country, and you want to identify things that you need to continue to improve at as well. And, and, and those are the things that we work on as well.

So from skill development to office of execution to, to, you know individual defense to transition defense and then the game obviously you have it’s a lot of ball screen action that you have to defend. So we do those things daily in practice.

Mike Klinzing: [00:22:50] In your mind, how has, since you got into coaching earlier in your career, how has the way the game is played [00:23:00] changed an impact?

You as a coach in terms of your philosophy, both offensively and defensively, you think back to, again, let’s go back to the early two thousands. When you started your career, you started your coaching career and the number of ball screens that were part of the game then compared to now is obviously a lot less than the three has become increasingly important season by season.

So maybe just talk a little bit about how the changes in the game have affected the way that you put together your. Philosophy of how your team plays both offensively and defensively.

Jack Owens: [00:23:33] Yeah. Great question. It’s changed a lot. I finished up in 99 and I don’t think we had, I don’t think I went off a ball screen

Mike Klinzing: [00:23:44] and I tell people that all the time it’s crazy.

Jack Owens: [00:23:46] And I don’t think I defended a ball screen as much, but, but now as we transition 20 plus years That is a big part of what you have to be able to defend. And for, for us, we have added to our package. So, [00:24:00] you know, it could because it is effective and anytime you can add skill a guy with quickness and skill coming off a ball screen, if you can add a big guy or a guy that can set a screen and pop in, and you can, you can put those guys in a ball screen situation.

It requires the defense to defend it a certain way. So you want to put your team in the best position to score, and we have implemented a ball screen series for our team as well. But man, it is definitely changed a lot from when I played.

And so now to where you, you, you have to be able to defend it, but at the same time, It can be an effective offices as well. We try to spend you, you asked about the three, three point shot as well earlier, and just want to hit that real quick. You’re right. We were a three point shooting team at Eastern Illinois where I played and in regards to the guys driving in and kicking the ball out.

But, [00:25:00] but the game has really changed to where Analytical standpoint, you know the pull-up is, is you know, I believe a lost art or consider a bad shot. You know, either one, I shot at the room where you want a three based on the data. But I liked the in-between shot and we worked on that,  but now the game has really changed to where we’ve embraced the three.

Mike Klinzing: [00:25:23] It’s amazing. Just when you think it. As you said, like never having come off a ball screen and never defended a ball screen. I can honestly count. I played from 88 to 92 and I can honestly say that if I ran five ball screens in my entire four year college, It was a lot. It was, it was a lot. And then the other thing, the other thing that’s part of the game now that didn’t exist.

Probably I know it didn’t exist when I played it probably didn’t exist when you played. I can’t remember a time when I was playing the game where I drove in underneath the basket and then turned around and kick the ball backwards to a guy behind the three point line. And you think about those reads and how important that [00:26:00] ability is to penetrate and kick.

And it just didn’t, it just didn’t exist in the same way that it does for kids. All right. So my final question for you today is I want to have you look ahead in the next year or two. And tell us a little bit about what you think your biggest challenges that you have in front of you. And then number two, when you wake up in the morning and you come into the office as the head coach at Miami, what is the biggest joy that you get from what you currently.

Jack Owens: [00:26:30] Oh man. I think the biggest challenge the next few years is I’d would keep our team together. You know, I think with the rule change,  I think for every coach in the country, you just want to be able to keep your team together. For a lot of reasons, continuity, your team chemistry, you want your team to be able to grow.

So that’s very important. And then the ultimate joy is just being here in Miami and being able to watch our guys grow and [00:27:00] develop and just watch guys you know, transitioning from their freshman year to their senior year. It is something I definitely you know, it is a truly an honor to be a coach to your Miami, from those, from that standpoint of not just from a basketball standpoint, to see someone grow, but to see seriously to see a young man come in as a boy and become a man.

Those are the things that bring a lot of joy to me staff in the program and watching guys develop and grow on and off the court.

Mike Klinzing: [00:27:28] Yeah, absolutely not just as a basketball player, but as a human being before we get out Jack, I want to give you a chance to share how people can learn more about you, how they can connect with you and your program.

So if you want to share some social media, the website or whatever you want to share, how people can reach out to you after they listen to the podcast, and then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.

Jack Owens: [00:27:48] Yeah, we’re @MiamiBasketball on Twitter or Instagram. Those are the ways that, that you can keep up today with us.

And, and I’m personally on Twitter as well. [00:28:00] In any, any of those outlets, you can follow Miami basketball and stay up to date and obviously in touch with us here.

Mike Klinzing: [00:28:10] Fantastic Jack. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule. Really appreciate you jumping on the Hoop Heads Pod with us and to everyone out there, thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode.

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