Jared Ronai

Website – https://www.mvnucougars.com/sport/0/1

Email – jared.ronai@mvnu.edu

Twitter – @JRonai

Jared Ronai is the head men’s basketball coach at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, an NAIA school in Mount Venron, Ohio. During his time with the program he has guided the Cougars to 18 or more wins in five of his six campaigns, and has an overall record of 117-74.

In 2019-20 Ronai led MVNU to its second straight 20-win season and had the Cougars ranked in the top 25 the majority of the season, climbing to as high number 4.  

As a player at the collegiate level Ronai competed at both the NCAA Division I and NAIA levels, getting his start at UNC-Asheville before finishing up at Georgia Southwestern State University.

Since his playing days, Ronai has been the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for NCAA Division II Ashland University (Ohio) and NCAA Division I UNC-Asheville, as well as the associate head coach at Middletown High School in Middletown, Ohio. He also served as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Dayton and was a Strength and Conditioning Intern at the United States Naval Academy.

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Grab your notebook to jot down some thoughts as you listen to this episode with Jared Ronai, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in the state of Ohio.

What We Discuss with Jared Ronai

  • Having a Dad that coached college basketball and how that early exposure impacted his life long love for the game
  • Tagging along with his older brother and always being in the gym as a kid
  • Spending a lot of time on baseball too and the physical and mental benefits from playing multiple sports
  • The Pistol Pete and Steve Alford VHS Workout Tapes
  • Training with the heavy ball as a high schooler
  • Playing pick-up with his Dad’s players at Frostberg State starting in 8th grade
  • Having the opportunity to play for his Dad in high school
  • Being named 1st team all-state in Ohio along with LeBron
  • Advice for coaches that are coaching their own kids
  • Loving toughly vs. tough love
  • Separating coach and parent roles is key
  • Who are we becoming through this process?
  • Having a Dad that coached college basketball and how that early exposure impacted his life long love for the game
  • Tagging along with his older brother and always being in the gym as a kid
  • Spending a lot of time on baseball too and the physical and mental benefits from playing multiple sports
  • The Pistol Pete and Steve Alford VHS Workout Tapes
  • Training with the heavy ball as a high schooler
  • Playing pick-up with his Dad’s players at Frostberg State starting in 8th grade
  • Having the opportunity to play for his Dad in high school
  • Being named 1st team all-state in Ohio along with LeBron
  • Advice for coaches that are coaching their own kids
  • Loving toughly vs. tough love
  • Separating coach and parent roles is key
  • Who are we becoming through this process?
  • “We want to be a team, a program that has priorities and those priorities are God, family, our teammates, and then ourselves.”
  • “Our core values are relentless effort, unbreakable spirit, servant leadership and competitive excellence.”
  • Figuring out what those core values look like in terms of behaviors
  • Why he doesn’t have captains
  • Encouraging and developing his players’ confidence in coaching each other which helps them grow as leaders
  • Developing servant leadership
  • Why he originally wanted to be a strength coach
  • Learning to coach as his Dad’s assistant at Middletown (OH) High School
  • Player development as an early strength
  • Figuring out who you are as a coach
  • Creating frequent “touch points” to build relationships with his players
  • “You can’t be the same person for every guy”
  • Why he loves his coaching staff and what they do to support the program
  • Figuring out how recruits are going to be around his family
  • His wife’s basketball resume (Ms. Basketball in Ohio!)
  • Recruiting questions – Are they humble? Are they hungry? And are they fierce? Have they gotten over themselves? How much do they want to grow as a player and be coached? Is he the hardest working player on your team? What kind of a teammate is he?
  • Making sure he sees recruits in a variety of environments (practice, games, high school, AAU, etc)
  • Asking questions of the people around the recruit that have a good relationship with the player, often the high school coach
  • The practice planning process
  • Using constraints during competitive drills and tracking wins
  • Using the “green light shooting system” to track and measure player’s shooting in practice
  • Breaking down film work into two days – Day one on personnel and Day two on schemes and actions
  • Keeping his family at the center of what he is doing with his program

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[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host Jason Sunkle. And tonight we are pleased to welcome to the podcast from Mount Vernon of Nazarene, Jared Ronai head men’s basketball coach. Jared, welcome to the podcast.

Jared Ronai: [00:00:12] I appreciate you having me guys. I’m, looking forward to the conversation.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:15] We are excited to have you on and dig into the things that you’ve been able to do in the game of basketball. I want to start out by going back in time to your first experiences with the game of basketball, you grew up in a family where your dad was a basketball coach. To talk a little bit about your early introductions to the game.

Jared Ronai: [00:00:33] Yeah. So I’ve always been around the game. always been a part of a team. My dad was head college basketball coach for about 25 years. and then eventually, went back to high school. and, and now he’s an athletic director today, but he was head the coach in Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, North Carolina.

When I was born, at about three, he [00:01:00] moved, we moved to Urbana University where, where he was the head coach, at our band university for, for 11 years. And that was my childhood. I, I remember, a lot of bus trips with the players. I would be, I would be at practice almost, almost every single day with, with my dad and also my older brother.

I remember I missed a lot of school days cause my dad would. pull me out and then it allow me to go on different trips with the team. And that was my childhood. He has some tremendous teams at Urbana university, two teams that went to the elite eight, sweet 16. He had two twins from Cincinnati name, Wayne and Wyatt Goins, who were basically like my heroes growing up. You know, I, I looked at those guys, the same way I looked at, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. They were almost on this same level and [00:02:00] I think of my childhood and I think of my dad’s teams at Urbana university and,just being around the game, being in the gym constantly, it was just an incredible, incredible blessing.

And I’m thankful, my dad was a coach. You know, I fell in love with the game really early on. and I felt like I’ve never not been a part of a team and obviously that’s why I’ve pursued coaching and pursued this profession. And, I love it. I absolutely love it.

And I wouldn’t change my childhood for anything.

Mike Klinzing: [00:02:36] Did you realize in the moment. Kind of how lucky you were to have that particular experience with your dad, having the keys to the gym and you being able to go on the road trips. Did you realize that at the moment or was it just sort of your reality and you weren’t really processing it that way at that time?

Jared Ronai: [00:02:51] No, I definitely didn’t realize it at the moment. It was just what we did we, we went to school, [00:03:00] then right away we went over to practice. We were in the gym. We would hang out in my dad’s office. You know, he was also the athletic director there as well.

And we would spend hours upon hours in that gym at Urbana and it actually just, they just recently closed their doors and we actually have a couple of transfers from Urbana. And I told those guys while we were recruiting them me and my brother, we hold the record for most shots taken, in the Grimes center.

No, no doubt about it. just cause we were constantly there and. And my brother, he’s six years older than me. And he was at that time, playing in high school. I was much younger and he was very, very serious about the game. So we would be at practice and then we’d go home for dinner.

And then we come right back and cause my brother would work out on his own or my dad would put him through a [00:04:00] workout and I’d be on the other end little kid shooting, doing ball, handling drills trying to be like him. And, we, we were just constantly in the gym and I didn’t realize how, How fortunate I was as a kid to have that.

but obviously I do now and I have kids now. I know my two sons and my daughter are probably gonna want to do the same things I did  just to be around my team, be around our guys  and grow up in that environment, kind of that small college environment.

And,  I was, really, really fortunate. No doubt about it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:04:33] Growing up. Did you play other sports or just because you were so exposed and had such access to basketball, it was basketball. Number one, right? From the time you were a little kid or did you play other things?

Jared Ronai: [00:04:46] No, we were a big baseball family, as well.

My brother played baseball. I played baseball as well. And in that time grow, where we played basketball in the fall and the winter, and then spring summer, we [00:05:00] were, all baseball. you know, my brother was, was a great baseball player, played at the college level.

you know, as well as basketball and I played baseball throughout high school, as well as basketball, but chose to play basketball in college. But, we, we were a big baseball family in the spring and summer, my dad would he he’d take us out to the park and he hit ground balls to us, for about an hour and then throw BP, to us for about an hour. And when it was warm out and we were constantly on the baseball field and then when it got cool again, we were in the gym the whole time.

Mike Klinzing: [00:05:37] How important do you think that was in terms of your development overall as an athlete and maybe continuing to stoke your passion for basketball, that you ultimately ended up choosing where you were able to.

Step away from the game and go play something else. Cause we all know, obviously that there’s a trend across all sports for kids to begin to specialize or at least feel pressure [00:06:00] to specialize or they won’t you can’t make it. If you don’t specialize, if you don’t just hone in on your sport by the time you’re 10, 11 years old.

So maybe just talk about how you felt your multi-sport experience. Impacted you in a positive way, both in terms of maybe just the way you looked at life, but also in terms of your ultimate development as a basketball player.

Jared Ronai: [00:06:20] Well specifically and you can talk about multiple different sports, but specifically with baseball and basketball you’re using different energy systems.

There there’s different skill sets, specific skill sets, from a physical standpoint that you have to have and hone in on both sports. And, I think it was incredibly, incredibly important to my development in both and just from a mental approach, being able to step away from basketball and then step into [00:07:00] baseball, kind of that mental shift, was really, really important for me, and I know it was for my brother as well, even though we would be we’d be playing double on a Saturday and playing throughout the week. But you know, we’d find  30 minutes to 45 minutes to get shots up and do ball handling day by day. But just to be able to step away.

And step into baseball. I know for me, it was really neat. And to be honest my, some of my, from a specific sports standpoint, know my favorite teams growing up were baseball teams that I have the fondest memories of cause baseball is obviously. Yeah, you got really long Saturdays and families get to know each other really, really well.

And I have great memories, playing baseball in the summertime and my profession from a recruiting standpoint, No, we don’t [00:08:00] recruit all guys  that are multi-sport and I know some guys choose to specialize, but I really liked to play multiple sports.

I like guys that, we got a couple of freshmen on our team this year that were football players and there’s a certain there’s a certain mindset and a certain aggression. That they naturally play with because of, because they played football or whether it’s a soccer player you’re talking about different foot work or I think people that grow up, playing multiple sports. I think it’s an advantage.  I really, really do, just from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint as they, as they grow into that age 12 to 16, 17, and then by that point, Obviously into college. You’re really specializing into a sport, but for me it was, I loved it.

I loved every second play playing both. [00:09:00] I highly recommend a young athletes, play as many sports as I can.

Mike Klinzing: [00:09:04] So for you, as you start to zero in and you’re playing both sports through high school, You start to, I’m assuming at some 0.0 in and say, maybe my opportunity to play at the collegiate level is going to be on the basketball side of it.

So how did you go about as a player? Preparing for that opportunity through your high school years, when you started to maybe see that on the horizon, how did you go about putting together workouts for yourself? Was your dad still working out and getting involved on that side of it? Where were you going to play your pickup?

Basketball? Just talk a little bit about your process for improving yourself as a player when you were in here.

Jared Ronai: [00:09:40] Well, if I was smart I’m five, 10. If I was smart, I probably should have honed in more on baseball, but I love basketball. That was my first love I wanted to play at the college level and I just loved the play.

I love to work out. I grew up in [00:10:00] the era of the Pistol Pete VHS tapes, where I do, I do those ball handling drills. constantly all day long the Steve Alford All- American workout. Absolutely, my brother would go do it with the big ball and then right afterwards he would do it with the small ball.

And then once I got to that age, I would do it as well. And really a really good division two coach, out in New York guy named Tobin Anderson. He had this instructional video, when I was younger. And, I remember my dad, he basically collected, championship productions.

VHS tapes and it’s something that I’ve kind of carried on where I have a big collection of DVDs, but we would constantly be getting kind of all the cutting edge individual workouts. And I really came into my own, I believe as a player and I really, really started to [00:11:00] get serious was when I was in the eighth, ninth and 10th grade.

When my dad, he was a head coach at Urbana university up until up until my seventh grade year. And, then he took the job at Frostburg State University in Maryland. so he had a tremendous career at Urbana. His last year they were 26 and nine. They go to the sweet 16 and. that he took the job at Frostburg state and Frostburg state at the time was a division three.

They’re now a, a division two in the mountain  conference, but our house was, was literally a half mile from the school. And we had this big basement unfinished basement. And at that time it started to become really big as you know, I had two heavy basketballs, so I really, really, Kind of became addicted to working on my ball handling.

And I would literally for 45 minutes to an hour, [00:12:00] every night in my basement, I would go through a long ball handling workout with, with the heavy ball and then get a normal ball and go through the same thing. And, and that was at the time and I would start playing, I started playing pickup with my dad’s team.

in eighth grade. So for, for two and a half years, I feel like that’s where kinda my individual game started to accelerate because I’m an eighth grade, ninth grader playing against a college basketball team basically every single day. And when they started practice, when I was in ninth grade my dad would throw me out there in practice.

So I would be doing practice drools, with my dad’s college seam. And it was a obviously a, I was incredibly fortunate to have that, that opportunity, but those, those two and a half years that we lived in Maryland, were, were really the years that, I [00:13:00] think, accelerated me to, to be able to play at the college level someday.

Mike Klinzing: [00:13:04] What did that. Pick up situation there when you’re an eighth and ninth grader, how long besides being the coach’s son, which obviously gives you a little bit of an end, how was it kind of breaking into those games and getting the players who were obviously a lot older than you to respect you to remember what that process was like for you kind of just sort of earning, earning your spot out on the floor?

Jared Ronai: [00:13:27] Well, I remember the first time eighth grade, I’m out there. I’m probably just standing in the corner. and, and I’m probably trying to find somebody that I have somewhat of a chance to Guard, out there. but I remember, I became really, really, really confident.

With the basketball at that time. And I was a good shooter, not a great shooter by any means. But I had quick feet [00:14:00] and I was good with the ball and I felt like I could with some space I could kind of get to where I wanted to with the basketball and pretty, pretty early on I felt my dad took over a team that was kind of in that rebuilding mode at the at the division three level.

And I felt I could hold my own the biggest thing, obviously, was physically could I could physically keep somebody in front of me? Could I, could I not be in the way? Cause I felt from the offensive standpoint, I had a pretty good understanding of how to play.

And not be in the way, from the offensive standpoint. But when I got out there, I knew I had to, had to hold my own, find somebody that I could defend. And, because, and again, I’ve been around my, I was around my teams all the time, so I could probably tell everybody else on the floor where they needed to be defensively, because I know how my dad.

coached them up, but could I do [00:15:00] that from a one-on-one standpoint? And, and, that’s where, honestly, that’s where I gained confidence.  I don’t know if I could play against 19- 20 year olds. I could do well against guys my age.

Mike Klinzing: [00:15:16] Absolutely. All right. So talk about your high school experience. Maybe give us one or two of your favorite memories that stand out from your time as a high school player.

Jared Ronai: [00:15:24] Sure. You know the, the, the craziest thing about my high school career was I played. we moved around a lot. So, I played on, three different high school teams in three different States.

and I was at a school in  Maryland. and then my dad. Took the job because the usual prep high school in Erie, Pennsylvania, and that’s where he coached me. And he coached me for three years was a really, really special experience. having him coach me, he was extremely, extremely, extremely hard on me.

Specifically my [00:16:00] sophomore and junior years II tell people it’s time that I could be subbed out and I’m getting a drink on the sideline and, and somebody messes up on the floor and somehow some way, it was my fault and, and he let it go, well, no, no about that.

But my senior year was, was really, really unique. Cause I felt like. that was kind of when he, almost kind of let me go a little bit, kind of let me fly. And we had a really, really special special year in London, high school., he took over a program the year before that, that only won four games.

We ended up winning 17. It was one of the biggest turnarounds in the state of Ohio. won a conference championship first, and I don’t know how many years at London high school won a sectional championship. And my claim to fame that year was and I actually still have a my mom still has an article at our house, I was [00:17:00] a first team, all Ohio player, along with LeBron James.

He was a junior that year. And the little, little article says Renee first team, all, all Ohio with, with hoop phenom. So it was a picture of me and then picture LeBron. So that’s a, that, that was a special memory from, from my high school days. And I just, I really enjoyed playing for my dad.

He he really built some, some thick skin, with me. And, he coached me hard and I learned so much not only on the floor, but off the floor from him.

Mike Klinzing: [00:17:34] advice would you give to a coach who coaches their own kid, whether it’s just at the youth level or at the high school level, what advice would you have for somebody who is coaching their own kid in that situation?

What do you think that. Your dad did well that enabled you to have such a positive experience with you, coaching with him, coaching you. Cause we all know that sometimes that [00:18:00] can go the other direction, if both the father and the son or the mother and the daughter, or however you want to look at it, doesn’t handle things in the right way.

So just maybe some advice for coaches who are in that situation, coaching their own kids

Jared Ronai: [00:18:13] Right. Well, I think the biggest thing is in my dad’s own way he loved me and I knew he loved me. And I knew when we stepped away from the gym he was my dad  he wasn’t Coach Ronai 24 hours out of the day.

And I, I think we were able to specifically my senior year, we were able to really separate. the two and because at the end of the day,  I would take my own advice if I end up coaching my own kids some days I gotta be their father first. And I got to love on them as their father first. And I gotta be able to separate the [00:19:00] coach father. That’s hard. That’s really hard, it’s hard or to do. but I think if you navigate it the right way and communicate, the right way.

And if your kids know deep down, That you love, no matter what, no matter, no matter the performance, no matter how well they’re doing or how bad they’re doing, that’s the end of the day. They, they love them. And it’s all a growth journey within that process. Then I think at some point most of the time, even at that time I didn’t fully get it.

I didn’t fully understand it, but as I’ve. As I’ve grown I still look back at certain things and I kind of smile like, okay, I understand why he did that now. You know? And, and I think trying to, really trying to separate the two and, and make sure they know, that you love them and that’s that you’re going to [00:20:00] do that.

I like the word it’s not, you’re not giving them tough love. It’s it’s, you’re loving them toughly. And, that, that would be my advice. my oldest is five he’s in kindergarten. And I have a two year old, that’s getting ready to turn three and I have a four month old as well. Gotcha.

Mike Klinzing: [00:20:17] All right. So you’re, you’re not quite, you’re not quite at the, at the coach and everybody in carton, people around stage yet, quite yet. So for me,  I like to equate, and I think it sort of goes to the question that, that I asked you, and that is when I’m coaching my own kids. What I find is that. As the coach, and I’m sure you can, well attest to this when you’re coaching your team that you feel so. Tied into the outcome of that game.

And even when I’m coaching my kids when they were seven or eight years old, or my, my, my youngest is now in fifth grade. So when I coach her team, I get so wrapped up [00:21:00] in. The coaching piece of it and lose if we lose this travel game that I go back and I re replay this thing in my head over and over again.

And I try to analyze what what we did and what we can do better and how I can. Make a bigger impact on them. And as a coach, I feel like, like I get so wrapped up in what and what they’re doing. And then conversely, I tell people that when I’m not coaching them, whether that be in, in another sport or eventually when my kids got old enough to play for their school teams and I wasn’t coaching them.

And I just became a parent sitting in the stands. And what I found there was that I would look around at. A lot of the other parents around me and be like, Holy cow, like these people are going crazy and I would, and I would literally just. You know, just sit and watch. And I wanted him to do well and not continue to want them to do well.

And I want their teams to win, but it was interesting because I found that five minutes after that game ended, [00:22:00] I really didn’t care whether they, whether they had won or lost. I wanted them to have had a good experience and they’d come off the floor, come out of the locker room and you put your arm around them and you tell them you love them.

And I’m moving on, when I’m coaching those

and days and days, and it’s such a different. It’s such a different experience. I think my piece of advice that I’d add on to what you said about making sure there’s that separation between coach and parent.

I think it also goes for when you’re a parent just realize that the journey is completely about it’s about them. It’s about their kid their experience as a kid. It’s not about your experience as a parent versus the situation where you’re coaching them, then it’s kind of like, you’re, co-piloting that experience.

So just some advice for people who are out there who maybe are coaching their kids or who are sports parents. I think the more you can just realize that your kid is your kid and don’t. Tie up their self-worth into, into what they do [00:23:00] as a basketball player or a baseball player or a violinist or whatever it is that they’re doing.

Remember that that experience is theirs. And I think that’s really important to to keep in mind,

Jared Ronai: [00:23:09] Well, it ties into it’s absolutely, it’s something that we really preached in our program here at, and it’s who, who are we becoming throughout this process? and obviously Winning and losing matters.

it does. And in life that it matters, but you know, throughout that process, who are we becoming, throughout is, is the most important. And as a parent you want, you want to make sure your kid, like you said, is having a tremendous experience and they’re growing and learning throughout that process.

Mike Klinzing: [00:23:45] All right. So let’s jump ahead. There. We’ll come back to, I want to talk to you a little bit more about how you made your college decision and then ultimately got into coaching. But I think just bringing up the point of having it be about who we’re becoming. What does that look like day to day in your program?

When [00:24:00] you start talking about obviously teaching the kids more things than just X’s and O’s and how to execute things out on the basketball floor, how do you go about incorporating, helping them to grow as people into what you do? Day-to-day in your program?

Jared Ronai: [00:24:15] Right. Well, it’s at our program and our school  we’re a faith based institution intentionally Christian institution.

And faith is a, is a major part of our program. And we have I know the word culture is a big word in sports and business. And we, we, we like to say that what kind of environment are we facilitating? And the environment that we’re facilitating day by day we’re very, very.

Strategic in that whether, whether you know it or whether you don’t know it you are developing culture. And for us [00:25:00] we want to be very intentional about developing that culture. It’s the most important thing about our program and I’ll kind of, I’ll share just some details about it.

We call it our rule Cougar culture, and it’s centered around a process-driven mindset and a relationships, unending mindset. So every single day we want to be really, really, really good. And becoming the best that we’re capable of becoming every single day though. We want to have a growth mindset.

We want to compete every single day, but all also, we want to have we, we want to be a team, a program that has priorities and those priorities or our God’s family, our teammates, and then ourselves. And so we’re really, really trying to invest in those relationships. And we have our [00:26:00] core values our core values are relentless effort, unbreakable spirit, servant leadership and competitive excellence.

And each one of those is connected to that process. Or to that relationship building piece. And we want to be at 10 plus in both. And we feel like if we’re at 10, bless in both and we’re very, very intentional then, then throughout that, hopefully we’re becoming trying to become the best program that we can become.

And, and on top of that, we don’t. is these aren’t just definitions that were thrown on the wall. They’re not just signs, we tell people it’s not a t-shirt it’s what we’re all about and with that on top of that we, as a program every year that we develop.

Standards of behavior where essentially Hey, it’s a huge, huge team session that we have. It we’ll have it at my house every single year. And, [00:27:00] we get all our guys in big groups and it will be older guys with younger guys. And we talk about the first thing we talk about is where are the specific places.

That we represent and new basketball and we’ll come up with every year we got our our, our main ones on campus in the locker room, on the road, practice, during games, whatever it may be. And we’ll come up with new ones every year as well, and on social media, but then we take time as groups.

And then we talk about, okay, what does an NBA basketball player look like in those places? What are the decisions that we’re making in those specific places that drive our culture home every single day. So, for us, those standards of behavior, Oh, the most important part of the environment of the culture that we’re [00:28:00] trying to facilitate intentionally facilitate every day, because you know, those are decisions that are driving us towards you know, having priority having our priorities of God, family, teammates and then self, they’re, they’re driving that, that relentless effort home, that unbreakable spirit home, that servant leadership, that competitive excellence, all of those things, because we’re being very intentional about, okay, what do we look like in these places? And, and we never want them to be generic.

We want to be very specific if they come back with generic answers I’ll pose specific questions that help us think a little bit deeper so it can be even more intentional about those behaviors.

Mike Klinzing: [00:28:49] I love that because I think that so often we hear coaches talk about their culture and we hear them talk about different pillars or standards [00:29:00] that they have for their program.

And yet I think that a lot of times. For players, they hear those things and they say, yeah, I believe in those. Or I want to do those. But then when you don’t attach a specific behavior, when the players don’t know what that looks like or what actions they should be taking to demonstrate those things, I think it can be very easy for a player to a kind of get confused and lose their way.

And then also from a coaching standpoint, it’s easy to just. Keep saying, well, we need to be this, or we need to be that and then wonder why, well, why aren’t the players doing it? And a lot of times it’s just because again, not everybody is on the same page. So I love the fact that you’re being intentional and you’re attaching those behaviors to the standards that you expect.

And so then the next step where my next question would be when you. When you see players demonstrating those things or conversely, when you see them not demonstrating those [00:30:00] things, how do you go about. Recognizing acknowledging them on the positive side when you see it. And then if you see somebody not living up to that standard, how do you go about pointing that out to them and then getting them back on the path that you want them to be on?

Jared Ronai: [00:30:15] Right, right. Well I think it’s obviously it’s naturally, a little easier. I don’t want to say easier, but you know, you’re naturally trying to define who we’re not you point out you I’m going to point out probably a little bit more often, okay. This is who we’re not on the floor, off the floor or this area, whatever it may be.

But you know, one of the things that, that we do, we have this thing called, practice connectors. so every single day, we bring our team and  before practice and sometimes it takes three minutes. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes, depending, and there’ll be a theme every day. And sometimes everybody has to share, or sometimes it will [00:31:00] be voluntary, but you know, on Tuesdays as teammate, Tuesday, and where I I’ll ask the guys to give five or six examples of a teammate really doing something really well, something going above and beyond what they’re asked or something that they’ve really, really noticed that really exemplifies a, a standard behavior or something that they’ve been helping them out. So that that’s an intentional way that we do it as a program.

So now  their teammates are, are really, really calling them out. And w one thing that we really try to facilitate is our Players that slowly as they’re as they grow within our program, they become player coaches. So we never name captains within our [00:32:00] team.

I never want to on our team this year, I think it’s very obvious. People know who our leaders are going to be on the floor and in the locker room. but I never want to name someone a captain. And, but then all of a sudden that that that presses someone else down where they don’t feel comfortable stepping into whatever their leadership may be at the moment we, we want to facilitate an environment where everybody can kind of step into their own authentic. Leadership capabilities and be able to grow into that. So we, we constantly, constantly whether it’s in practice or in conditioning we want our guys coaching each other up.

So if I’m on the sideline automatically if I’m a younger guy I’m getting a mental rep. Watching an older guy, [00:33:00] if I’m an older guy, I really know what’s going on. I’m focusing in on one or two guys and then right away, I’m going to give them some type of feedback as soon as they step off.

So it’s not an environment where it’s just me saying things or teaching things. We, we wanna, we really, really want an environment where all our players are invested in their, their leadership growth and their capability of really stepping into who they’re going to be as a leader, because I don’t really think as a coach, you, you I think a lot of times coaches can bang their heads and say we need this guy to lead more.

We need that guy to lead more and you have have meetings with them and say we, we want you to do this. You’re a leader. You do. But. But it’s to me, like if you’re having those conversations with that guy, that they’re probably the wrong guy that [00:34:00] you’re, expecting something that they may not be capable of, or they’re not ready to step into.

So I think you really have to let you know leadership, authentically grow on its own. And then really, really like you said, Call it out in really positive ways. So the team sees that and understands that. And, and that’s why I think building an environment where guys are really coaching each other up really helps guys grow into that really.

Mike Klinzing: [00:34:34] All right. So two things related to that one is. Do you have to model for players what that player to player leadership looks like? Because we know that that’s not necessarily natural, even for kids who are leaders, when you step into a program as a freshmen, occasionally you’re going to get the player who just kind of [00:35:00] naturally gets that.

But a lot of kids who may end up being good leaders, May not understand exactly what that looks like out of the gate. So the first part of the question is how do you model for them what it is that you’d like to see from a leadership standpoint? And then I think number two, I guess this is maybe more of a statement than a question, but it seems to me that one of the things you have to do as a head coach is you have to be able to step back a little and give your players space.

To be able to lead, because I think one of the things that I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past is when you’re coaching, you tend to want to talk a lot. And when you’re talking the whole time, you just don’t leave any space for players to have the opportunity to talk. So maybe just talk a little bit about those two aspects of how you build the leaders within your team.

Jared Ronai: [00:35:52] Right. You know, well one when we do. Talk about leadership and [00:36:00] obviously I think most people, would agree that you have to lead by example first you have to show up every day, and do. You know, whatever your job may be to the very best of your ability that’s step one.

But then, then part of step one is you have to, you have to learn how to serve your teammates. we’re not a program that Hey freshmen, go carry my bags, we’re stepping in where we want our. Upperclassmen. So what, if we’re ever going to ask somebody to carry somebody’s bag, it’s going to be a senior carrying of freshman’s bag, or it’s going to be when we go out to eat on the road our freshmen are eating first and then our and then we go, through our seniors.

So we want to try to, we, we want to try to create. As many [00:37:00] opportunities for our upperclassmen to serve our underclassmen so they can exemplify what that servant leadership, looks like. And then hopefully hopefully our younger guys are growing into that and that, honestly, that, that really took time.

You know, that took time, my very first recruit here is now a graduate assistant. and, but you know, it didn’t, it’s not like, Hey from day one, all of a sudden we have all had all these servant leaders walking around.

Like, no, we had to speak into that, but then we had to create opportunities, for guys, so, okay. Really step into. Okay. What does leading by example looks like, look like, okay now. Okay. How do I, how do I where are the opportunities, that I can serve my teammates and then, you [00:38:00] know, like in practice there’s.

We have practice this evening and there were, there were probably, I think I know one occasion tonight where I blow my whistle, getting ready to coach, but I I saw right away, I saw one of our upperclassmen teaching one of our younger guys something. And I want to I want to make sure he’s finished.

I want to make sure he finished that comment because in that moment, That upper classmen was probably given that kid what he needed. Way more than maybe what I was about to say. So I never want to, no, never want to cut those opportunities off, to allow guys that, that, that really understand what our program is all about, understanding what we do on the floor to be able to serve and lead on a day-to-day basis.

Mike Klinzing: [00:38:55] All right. So let’s take a step back to [00:39:00] when you first started thinking about wanting to be a coach. Now, obviously growing up with your dad. As a coach, you saw what the coaching lifestyle was all about. You saw your dad go through the ups and downs of what a coaching career is all about. What was the moment when you realized, or maybe it wasn’t a moment, maybe it was just a slow, gradual realization as your playing career came to an end that you wanted to coach.

So how did you come to decide that coaching was going to be your profession? And then just talk a little bit about how. You ended up getting into college coaching, as opposed to, I know you spent one year at Middletown, but just kind of how you ended up talking, take us a little bit through some of your stops along the way and what you’ve learned.

That’s kind of gotten you to your position as a head coach.

Jared Ronai: [00:39:48] Right. Well honestly, I don’t really remember an exact moment where I’m like I want to coach or I want I definitely want, it’s kind of like, [00:40:00] it’s almost, it was just, that’s just who I am. You know, it’s kinda, it was, it was in my blood.

I’ve always. I was always around and seen. I’ve never not been a part of a team and I just, I knew right away. that I wanted to coach there, there was I’ve I’m an, I’m an exercise science, undergrad exercise, physiology, master’s degree just for a couple probably a, a brief time.

I thought I wanted to be a strength coach, but you know, as soon as I stepped out of that experience, I got a GA position. in the health and science department, at university of Dayton. And that’s where in the summertime,  I volunteered with the men’s basketball team there. And then during the year, I was my dad’s assistant at Middletown and really kind of going back to my childhood and saying how [00:41:00] fortunate I was being around him and his team I was incredibly, incredibly fortunate to be able to help him out at Middletown. Cause he, he really threw me to the fire. You know, he allowed me, to coach and really learn on the fly on the floor that probably a a 22-23 year old.

Isn’t ready for quite yet. And  that’s where I really learned how to coach and that’s where he really taught me how to coach and how to build relationships. And how to really teach the game and I was a big. You know, that was kind of in the early stages of a lot of skilled trainers and Gannon Baker.

And I went to one of Gannon’s, he kind of had these, these schools out in Las Vegas. I spent a weekend out there and got to know him and, I [00:42:00] became, Really, really addicted to, to really teaching, skills on the floor. And that, that that’s kind of, that kind of came, became my niche as a college coach.

You know, I really, I worked everybody out all the time and I really wanted, I really, Believe in it. And you know, even here now as head coach at MVNU, is that we want to build really skilled players on the floor and we wanna , give them space and freedom, to utilize that skillset.

And at Middletown, that’s where I really honed in on that as a coach and as a teacher and, and my dad really he really let me let me learn on a fire. And, and again, I I owe so much. to him, on where I am as a coach. And I was there for a couple years and then player developments.

Mike Klinzing: [00:42:57] So that play that player development [00:43:00] side. If that was, what was your strength as a young coach? What’s something that maybe you look back on and you say, Ooh, man, I really wasn’t very good at that particular piece of coaching and something that you maybe had to grow into through your coaching career.

Jared Ronai: [00:43:22] It’s a really, I would probably say I’ve really, over the last you know, six years, as a head coach now  I was around so many different. Systems of play working  with my dad and, and obviously I worked with John Ellenwood at Ashland university, a great coach and Nick McDevitt at UNC Asheville, a great coach.

really I think I’ve struggled there for a while is okay. Deciding specifically on the offense. So then how are we gonna apply? You know [00:44:00] how you know, where, where is my strengths as a teacher on the floor and how am I going to grow into, into, into kind of my, my niche as a, as an offensive side of the ball because defensively, I felt my dad was a defensive coach. I mean, that’s, that’s what I kind of grew up, grew up. And he was, he grew up in the Bobby Knight era and he was he was a defend and rebound and play really fast type guy.

And that’s, that’s who I am as a, as a coach, but I feel like I had so many. I grew so much and learned so much from three really, really good, good head coaches and was now, okay, who am I going to become? You know, as, as a head coach, specifically specifically on the offensive and, and it’s been a it’s been a growth process ever since, ever since I had, I took the job over, [00:45:00] at MVNU and I learned so much.

From from all three, obviously My, my dad really taught watching him build relationships with his players and I knew, I knew early on that, that was such an important, important piece to coaching because you know, people, you can’t coach, kid every kid the same way.

You know, you really have to get to know them, learn kind of what their personality type is learn where that what kind of experiences they’ve had as a player and what their experiences with their coaches. And. You just got to learn how to coach kids definitely, obviously there’s a standard and there’s expectations that have to be met every single day.

But, but my dad really taught me that Building [00:46:00] really sound relationships with your players is of the utmost importance because that’s how you, that’s how you learn to coach them. That’s where you, you gain trust that, and you can coach them hard when you gain that gain that level of trust.

But again, I was just really fortunate to learn so much from three really, really outstanding coaches. What

Mike Klinzing: [00:46:22] does that relationship building piece look like for you day to day in terms of, is that formal meetings that you’re scheduling with players once a week, is that conversations before, during, after practice, is that.

Text messages. Is that just, how do you go about what are the ways that you go about building the type of relationship that you want to have with each individual player that’s going to allow you to coach them in the best way possible to maximize what they can do as part of your program?

Jared Ronai: [00:46:54] Right? Right.

Well, it’s definitely not the formal meeting. I’m [00:47:00] not a formal meeting type of guy I wanna, I want to create. You know, different touch points with each guy, whether it’s, before practice, whether it’s after practice, whether it’s sending a text, whether it’s showing up at study hall and connecting with a guy, whether it’s before obviously before COVID it’s, it’s grabbing lunch, it’s grabbing coffee.

It’s those kinds of those impromptu informal. Touch points that  I think matter that I think that’s where I think  you find the most growth from the relationship piece with your guys and, and just knowing, and having, just having them understand that.

we care about them as people and that’s first and foremost, we care about them, as who they are as a person, way, way, way more [00:48:00] than who they are as a player. And I there’s no, like we don’t have any here’s the guy, here’s the guy to build relationships with with your players.

we try to just have it naturally come because like, as you get to know him some. No, I may have a, a long text message conversation with one guy and one guy, he don’t text one word, one word answers from know from this guy, this guy needs a phone call or this guy I’m the best connection I get with him is that, that 45 second conversation before practice.

Or you know, or it’s you just find different areas where you can try to connect, with your guys in the most, the most natural, natural ways. And also we try to with our practice connectors, with some of the things that we try to do in our team sessions we, we want to put them in.

And situations [00:49:00] where, where they’re vulnerable and they’re opening up and we’re, we’re getting, we’re getting to know each player on, those second and third layers. It’s not just a surface level relationship. We’re really, really. digging in to, to, to who they are and building that real, a real authentic, late relationship because even though we, we tell our guys just from player to player, relationship a lot of coaches will you kinda hear that, that old taglines you gotta play for the guy next to you and all this other stuff, but, well, if you don’t know that person.

Deeply on a deep level, it’s hard to, to me, it’s hard to get to that point where you’re, where you actually are playing really hard for that guy and where you are. You’re getting to that selfless state because you know what, I, I know this person deeply and I care for them deeply that, [00:50:00] you know, I’m going to play as hard as I possibly can because.

I love this guy. And it’s not just because it’s not just about myself in this moment. So again, I know, I know coaches we also, we, we kind of all, we’re, we’re kind of programmed to say relationships the most, but, but we really, we try to be intentional about, about building those.

Mike Klinzing: [00:50:22] So as you’re building those relationships, obviously it goes beyond.

You yourself building a relationship with the players. You want the players to build relationships with one another, right. As you just mentioned, and then you also want your coaching staff to build relationships with your players. So when you think about putting together. Your coaching staff, and you look back on the totality of your career, and you think about yourself when you were in a, you were an assistant and then you get the head coaching job.

And now it’s your job to put together a staff and hire assistants. What are some things that you learn when you were an [00:51:00] assistant that you’ve been able to carry over as a head coach and a maybe look for in the people that you’ve brought onto your staff and then B maybe help them. Develop themselves as coaches, based on your experience when you were an assistant.

Jared Ronai: [00:51:17] Right? Right. Well, I think one of the most important things is, is it, you can’t be the same person for every guy. So whether you’re an assistant coach or whether you’re, you’re a head coach some guys. You know, some guys need a father figure, some guys, some guys need, maybe need like an older brother, but some guys just need a coach, you know?

And I think that’s one thing of being able to navigate. Okay. What, within this relationship, what does this person need from me? Because everybody’s life, obviously everybody’s life experiences are very, very different. And [00:52:00] when you get to know people deeply, you through this relationship, you’re going to be someone different for this person, and you’re going to be somewhat different for that person.

But I have been incredibly fortunate I don’t have a full-time assistant. in my program I have, two GA’s, who are, I mean, they are assistant coaches. They work as hard, as any full-time assistant or any assistant coach in the country.

They are tremendous. And, But obviously it can be for awhile there, I only had one GA and then I have a, I have a part-time coach. That’s just, a, does a tremendous job. He’s been with bear with me for five years, five years now. just does an unbelievable job and just, when he’s able to he’s a principal, but when he’s able to be around, he’s just such a natural people person and he [00:53:00] makes people so comfortable with them that he’s a big part of that, but I I’ve been fortunate to have tremendous GA’s.

And this year, I’m really, really excited, about my staff, just because you know, Caleb ocean is he’s going into his second year. You know, as a graduate assistant. And there’s just, there’s a big difference between a first year as an assistant and second year graduate assistant. And he, he does a tremendous, tremendous job and he’s just growing and getting better every single day.

And our first-year graduate assistant, like I said, was our, that was our very first recruit. So he understands our program inside now he speaks our language. So this is kind of the first cheer I’ve felt like I’ve had. If you want to say quote unquote, an experienced staff. But, I, I felt like this year I think my staff is, is as good as we’ve ever had.

They do such a good [00:54:00] job of connecting with our players and being there for them and yeah. Naturally if this was a normal year throughout the day, we have breakfast checks where our guys between a certain amount of time, they have to go get breakfast before their first class.

Andthat time is such an important time specifically, for my assistants, just because they get to, they get to spin 20, 30 minutes each morning with our guys and. You know what I’m not. if I don’t have my kids for the, for the morning I’ll, I’ll, I get over there a couple times a month and sit in on breakfast and just spend, spend time with guys for 10, 15 minutes at a time while they’re eat breakfast before they’re going to their first class.

And, so we just try to, again, we try to try to create as natural, Situations as we can. And, I think our my [00:55:00] staff now and my GA’s in the past, just do a, do a tremendous job with that.

Mike Klinzing: [00:55:07] So one of the things, obviously that is the life blood of any program and that your staff plays a huge part in is the recruiting piece.

So talk to us a little bit about how you go about first of all, putting together your initial list of players that you’re going to consider, and that you’re going to go out and look at. And then to what your process is once you’ve sort of come up with your list of players that you’re considering. How do you go out?

And what things specifically are you looking for? There’s clearly a level of ability and skill and talent that they have to be able to play at your level. But what are some things beyond that, that you’re looking for that help you to know that a kid is going to fit your program?

Jared Ronai: [00:55:55] Right? Well, the absolute first question I [00:56:00] ask is how are they going to be around my kids?

You know, my family my wife, yeah. And my kids are so involved within our program. That’s the first thing I ask is how are they going to be around my kids? And, I really, when we go out and recruit whether specifically during the year and my family will go with me, Really almost every time they can.

And that’s most of the time. So on Friday nights, you’re going to see my wife and three kids on whoever we’re really recruiting. And, with my wife I’ll brag about her for a second, but, I always tell all our players, when they come over to our house, I don’t care how good they, they think they are.

They’re the second best player in the house at the moment, because there’s no doubt. My wife, is the best [00:57:00] player. she was, she was miss basketball in the state of Ohio twice. And, she’s, Ashley’s actually a hall of Famer at the university of Dayton. but, but she, she knows the game inside now and really good gives me obviously great feedback.

But, but, but again, the first thought is how good are they going to be around my kids?

Mike Klinzing: [00:57:19] That’s a resume for your wife.

Jared Ronai: [00:57:20] Oh, no question. No, no question. She’s tremendous. She’s tremendous. And, but the next thing obviously with that, with the character piece we want to make sure, just from obviously an academic standpoint, that academics are a priority for them.

And then the three things that we’re really, really, really trying to hone in on we, we define it as like how home are they humble? Are they hungry? And are they fierce? You know, how have they gotten over themselves? You know, how, how much do they want to grow as a player and be coached?

[00:58:00] And, how competitive are they? if we can find guys and a lot of times I think, I think at the, the small college level, as much as we try, we say, we, we, we want this specific player. We’re kinda, yeah, I don’t want to say obviously not completely like high school, but sometimes we just, we have to, we take what we’re able to get because we can be recruiting a kid for a con for a full year, and then all of a sudden Furman comes into the picture or Northern Kentucky comes into the picture and we’re probably going to be out.

We’re probably going to be out pretty quickly. So as, as much as we want to recruit six foot, five, six foot, six guys across the table that can dribble pass and shoot that the next best option, it may be, a six foot player that can dribble pass and shoot. but we [00:59:00] really want guy, like I said, we want guys that, that have gotten over themselves guys that are, that really.

Love the game that, that being competitive and being good is important to them. because if they play, just because they’re talented because you know, they they’ve been playing for a long time and they’re just actually good, but. Is that true that true love for the game and that true love of becoming the best that you’re capable of becoming.

If, if that’s not there we’ll take a lesser, talented guy every day of the week, but, but, but with someone that is really hungry to get better and grow and, and really compete on a day-to-day basis will, We’ll take that guy over the talented guy every single time. But recruiting is obviously [01:00:00] incredibly, incredibly important.

you know, at at the college level is, is, is the lifeline of the college team college program. And I’ve, I’ve been fortunate to, to coach it three different levels where recruiting is pretty, pretty different, all three of them. And. been able to learn learn a lot through that, but you know, we’re a program we don’t we’re not recruiting 50 kids.

We’re not recruiting when I’m recruiting 25 kids. We’re probably getting a, a database of year by year. We have probably a list of 50 or so kids, but we’re probably, we’re probably actively recruit 15 at a time. But now, but we’re really honing in on probably five at a time. And we’re a program where we don’t offer.

A lot of people, we want to make sure there, there’s [01:01:00] obviously, a mutual interest and once we feel, that they’re, they’re a great fit for us we can be a great fit for them. Then that’s when, we’re probably gonna make some type of offer in. And that’s where we’re really gonna hone in and, and really, make them as big of a priority in the recruiting process as we possibly can.

Mike Klinzing: [01:01:21] So when you’re. Recruiting those kids and you’re going out, you’re seeing them play. How much do you weigh or value seeing them play with their high school team versus seeing them in an AAU environment. And is there, is there different things that you’re looking for in each one of those. Situations just because of the role that they might be playing on either of those particular teams.

So their role on their high school team chances are they’re probably the best player. And so you’re seeing them in that role and an AAU situation. They may not be the best player. They may end up having to do things [01:02:00] without the ball in their hands, the way they might be in the high school season. So talk a little bit about how you use both of those scenarios to help you to get a full picture of what the kid might be at your level.

Jared Ronai: [01:02:12] Well, I think they’re both of them are incredibly important. and you really kind of alluded to why I think it’s important to see guys in different roles. I think it’s important to see a guy when, when they’re the best player on on their team, maybe on the floor consistently how do they, how do they handle that?

How do they lead their teammates? How coachable are they. You know, as the best player. And then obviously with our AAU obviously a very, a very different environment, but they, they most likely have a very different role on that particular team. And how do they handle that role and what kind of teammate are they within that role is very [01:03:00] telling. It’s very, very telling and I, and obviously from an AAU aspect we’re able to, to watch a lot of different guys, on a lot of different, there are a lot of different places and a small thing of like a you may be watching a kid for the fourth straight weekend and all of a sudden it’s, it’s, it’s a Saturday night, seven o’clock game.

It’s a third game of the day, you know how what is their mindset? What is their approach? Going into that game. And I always, I always say that if, if a kid cannot get up and play hard, when there are college coaches in the stands specifically at the these AAU events, then I really feel it’s hard.

It’s going to be hard for them come come the third week of January on the road on a Wednesday night at at [01:04:00] Indiana Wesleyan or at, at Marianne or wherever you are in the league. to play consistently hard or a random Thursday when you’re preparing for someone and  the dog days of January and February, I just, I feel like that small thing is, is so telling, throughout the AAU process, but with the high school team I like to see everything I like to watch fall workouts. I like to watch practice. and I like to watch games, just cause obviously those are all very different, environments. You’re going to be able to pick up and, and, and see so many different, small details on just who they’re, who they naturally are as a person who they naturally are as a, as a player.

and, I think they’re, I think they’re all so very important for so very, different reasons. And, that’s why we re we try to work as hard as we can in both elements.

Mike Klinzing: [01:04:58] Another thing that I’m [01:05:00] sure is important and that you factor in is. Times that you may have to talk with their high school coach, their AAU coach, their parents, maybe the people who are in their inner circle.

When you get a chance to talk to those people, what are the types of questions that you’re asking? Or what are the things that you’re trying to assess about the player that you’re recruiting from those conversations?

Jared Ronai: [01:05:26] Well we will lean on a high school coach a lot and we’ll talk to him.

And there’s some, there’s some scenarios where where, where they, you coach has a really, really strong relationship with the kids. So it may be okay. We’re, we’re leaning on, on the AAU coach a little bit more, but, we really wanna lean on the coach or the person has a good relationship with the kid.

That you know, is not necessarily going to be, you’re going to sway their [01:06:00] decision one way or the other, but they, but there there’s an emotional connection there. And, the biggest thing that we try to figure out through coaches, obviously just, you’re going to find out just from a overall character standpoint.

All these things, but who are they on a day-to-day basis within your team? And I think the most, I think you gotta be very, specific with your questions I can one-on-one, I’m talking to a high school coach. I’m normally not asking a generic question. Like is he a hard worker?

Well, they’re gonna Most coaches are probably going to say, yes, he’s a hard worker. All right. What does that, what does that even mean? So we try to, we try to be even more specific where I like to ask, like, is he the hardest working player on your team? On a day to day basis or what kind of, what kind of teammate is he to the JV players?

[01:07:00] You know, how does he, how does he interact with those guys when they’re, when they’re at practice? So we, we try to pick out specific questions that may dig a little bit deeper on a specific topic that, that may, may help us, shine a light on the end. You know, with us specifically being at the NAI level and small college level we’re not it’s not like being a division one assistant where I really got to, pinpoint my evaluations, where if I want to go out and watch this kid 10 straight days on the farm, we can do that.

You know, we can go out and evaluate as much as we can. And we’re gonna try to put ourselves and as many.up close and personal settings so we can get a feel for all those small details that we’re looking for as well. Obviously, that was one of the big, that was the hard things about about COVID there was, there, there was so many kids that, [01:08:00] You know, specifically at the small college level they get with that would get recruited in the spring time.

And coaches just weren’t able to have those touch points in the recruiting process, but obviously  that’s hopefully things are slowly coming back and, but those are important. Important things for us to have those specific conversations, with w with a coach and, and trying to get details.

And, and I’m very, very specific on word choice. And I try to really, I really try to listen well, to the word uses that that a coach will, will describe, their players, because I think there’s a lot of times that you can. You can pick up on things that, that, that might not be, Fully apparent, but just by the way, the coach says something that you can pick up a little bit more detail on kids.

Mike Klinzing: [01:08:54] That makes sense. And I think when you start talking about trying to do all this [01:09:00] through the pandemic and, and figuring it all out, I guess the only, the only positive of the whole thing is that everybody has been in the same position. It’s not like it affected one person necessarily more than another.

So I think that’s the possible. Let’s assume that we get to come back and we get to have some semblance of a season this year. And let’s talk a little bit about. How you develop your practices to make sure that you’re maximizing the efficiency and the effectiveness of what you do. So talk a little bit about your practice planning process and kind of how you design a practice to get the most out of the time that you on the floor.

Jared Ronai: [01:09:40] Well we have. you know, right away kind of our standards of behavior, we come up with we have specific standards of behavior within our program on how we practice and how we go about doing things. so our guys, our guys know and understand right away, [01:10:00] you know, Hey, here are the standards that we have on the practice floor.

And these are the expectations. And when it comes to, when it comes to developing a practice plan I was actually telling until my assistance today that I try to spend as much thought as I can. You know, it’s not, I’m not taking 15 minutes sometimes. Cause I write all my practices out.

I don’t type them out. I make a practice booklet every year that are, that are right into, cause I like to, I like to. Like to find a very quiet place where it’s on campus or a coffee shop in town, and really try to be as intentional as I possibly can. And I’ll map out specifically in the the preseason, I’ll try to map out, on a week by week basis on big picture things that we’re trying to do.

But, but every day I [01:11:00] always feel we’re programmed that. We’re constantly. We have to adjust constantly because I think day by day things may pop up that are needed, that need to be implemented you know, last night we really struggled with, for some specific things and we had to simplify some things for them, for them today.

So the practice I thought we were going to have today, was adjusted obviously from last night’s practice. But, we really want to build as many habits as we possibly can early on, and we’ll do a lot of that through different, block training. But as we, as we kind of build those habits on the floor, we want to build in some type of.

constraints as much as we possibly can, throughout a practice, whether it’s one defender to defend or different things like that, as we’re building off fences, we’re [01:12:00] building defense. and, but as we continue to build those habits, we want to play live as we possibly as much as we can on the floor.

because our practices, we, we want them to be. Extremely fast we’re, we’re a team. we play extremely fast in the offensive and defensive. And so obviously we wanna, we want to practice that way. You know, we don’t want to be a team that we’re not a team that’s out there for two and a half hours, three hours we’re, we’re on the floor, for about probably an hour 45 minutes to two hours all year long.

And as soon as we get in, as soon as we get to the practice floor, guys have a warmup. you know, in years past we kind of had a up week by week, this year we’re riding out warmups, different warmups, every single day. So they know as soon as they get on the floor one of our practice standards is do your warmup.

So they they’re there’s no, there’s kind of no lag [01:13:00] time. They’re not going in and just kind of. Randomly shooting jumpers and conversating and all these other things that they know that we have a limited amount of time on the floor. So we’re going to be as efficient as we possibly can. So right away, they’re doing, they’re doing their warmups and those, those warmups normally include footwork and ball handling, any, any type of maybe a specific, a specific action that we’re, we’re focusing on, that particular day.

And then we’ll get into, then we’ll right away. We’ll transition into position work. And through that position work obviously guys, we’re just building skills, building, trying to build habits, build skills in the floor, specifically on the offensive end. and from there we’ll, we’ll, we’ll bring it in.

We’ll do our practice connector. We’ll pray. and then, and then we’ll, we’ll get into our pre-practice session and that pre-practice session normally includes any, some type of, [01:14:00] two versus a zero three versus zero or pensive buildup. And then we go through our defensive vitamins and these are seven to eight.

Different specific defensive drills where we’re just really teaching, defensive fundamentals. and then that’s normally when we stretch and we’ll fully stretch and then we’re that, that from there we’re competing. whether it’s emphasis on small sided games, transition, full core, whatever, wherever it may be.

But, but it will be about 45 minutes of kind of skill work, fundamental work stretching. And then that’s when we kind of get into our competing phase of practice.

Mike Klinzing: [01:14:43] So when you’re in that competing phase, do you track anything that you’re doing in practice in terms of, like, I think one of the trends now that you see as coaches kind of tracking wins and losses and games or charting shots, do you any, do you do any of that as part of your [01:15:00] practice to kind of up the competitive level?

Or what do you do to make sure that you’re driving that competitive? That. Competitiveness that you’re looking for.

Jared Ronai: [01:15:08] Yeah. We track wins. I mean, that’s the main thing, that we track we’ll have, we have a big whiteboard that we roll out now and every single day there’ll be on there. what specific, drills or games that, that you can earn a win in that particular day?

And then one of my assistants will, we, we have a, kind of a continuous Excel spreadsheet that we’re updating on guys. They, they basically, they have their winning percentage and wins per day. so they’re, they’re constantly, they, they can constantly see who’s. You know, who’s winning out there and when you’re out there and it’s all guys all the time, but winning and losing matters and we need, we need to compete on average real to win, but those are, that’s the biggest thing that we track.

One other thing that we do that we, [01:16:00] we actually started this year. we got from, I can’t remember. I think it was Arkansas women’s basketball program. I believe don’t quote me on that, but, but we do this thing called green light shooting where we’ll, our guys will have. At the beginning of the week that they’ll have a, Greenlight shooting workout where there’ll be a record, they’ll record on two specific drills.

One is normally an inside out kind of spot a shooting drill. One of the main one we do is just one ball, one rebound for five minutes, trying to make as many as you can in five minutes. And then there’ll be another drill where it’s. more games, specific shots, and there’ll be a set amount of shots that they take.

And then. Each one of those, the, number that, that they have to reach to either be a yellow light shooter or a green light [01:17:00] shooter, or if they don’t reach any of those, obviously they’re a red light shooter. And then we after that for the rest of the week, we, we put a big sign on their locker on, on it’s a, it’s a stoplight and it’s either green is yellow or it’s red.

And, No, hopefully obviously  we’re trying to, we like to recruit guys that can make shots guys that are shooters, obviously, and we’re, we’re trying to create a really competitive, competitive shooting environment where guys that Hey, they think they’re a green light shooter.

but they’re consistently at yellow and they may get to a red and hopefully that, that entice them to, to be a little bit more, more competitive and hopefully maybe get in the gym a little bit more on their own as well.

Mike Klinzing: [01:17:45] Absolutely. All right. Next thing I want to ask is. When you’re in the middle of your season and you’re preparing for a particular opponent, how much film are you yourself watching?

And then how much of that film do you [01:18:00] share with your players?

Jared Ronai: [01:18:03] We’re a film heavy team. I think how much we share, it depends team by team, but we’ve been pretty consistent throughout the years, but you know, I’m going to watch, anywhere from, from four to six games.

And then with that we have basically a preparation film-wise. We have two different days that we show film where one day it’s going to be all personnel. We’re very, very specific. We really will break down. We cut up all the synergy numbers, and we really try to find holes in players’ games.

And we’re very, very, very intentional about what clips we show. And we will, we will search and search and search to find the right clip, whether it’s good or bad [01:19:00] for a specific player or opponent, but we’ll our first day of prep will be personnel. Then our second day of prep is normally that’s where, that’s where we go into.

Offensively defensively on what they’re trying to do. what are some within our scouting, we have three that we have three to four offensive keys, three to four defensive keys, and. You know, we try to be as specific as we possibly can with each opponent on, on what we’re trying to specifically do.

That’s unique to them, and that’s obviously that’s where the film and our preparation are centered around those keys. And personnel and we’re obviously we know we’re, we’re very, very, we’re heavy. Personnel scale, compared to offense defense, [01:20:00] where were we? We want to spend a little bit, a little bit more time on the personnel edit.

I should say more time on the personnel, but we will watch that if we watch anything twice, it’s going to be the personnel edit over the overall team at it just cause we want to have a really good understanding of what each individual players, players strengths and weaknesses are on the floor, but we’re obviously not showing as much as we watch, as a staff, but another area that has become big for us.

as we really dig into the synergy numbers and the analytics of a team I’ll spend we’ll, we’ll spend a large amount of time, really diving into those numbers before we even watch. So where we can almost, we can paint a picture of how a team plays by digging into those numbers for our guys.

and then obviously [01:21:00] having that, having that film to, to back up what those specific numbers say, but we’re, We are a scout heavy team, a scout heavy program. but that’s all. And honestly, that’s kind of year by year on how much we give our players. Some, some of our guys are very, very analytical and they can, they can take more and they want more in some guys they just won’t fly.

You know, they just wanna play. Okay. This, this is probably, these are the two or three guys I’m going to, I’m going to guard. This is, these are their strengths where, I think we have some of those probably a little bit more of those guys on this year’s team. So, we may dial it back on the, the amount of information, but like a lot of that is just team by team and what they’re able to consume and how they’re, how they can consume that and go out and execute a game plan.

Mike Klinzing: [01:21:50] That makes a lot of sense. And I think you have to, again, play to your strengths and what each player needs and what you as a coaching staff feel comfortable with when you’re [01:22:00] preparing for an opponent and getting your team as ready to play as possible. As we’re coming up to our time limit here. I want to ask you one final question.

It’s a two-parter and the first part is what do you see as your biggest challenge moving forward? And then number two, what do you see as your biggest joy? When you get out of bed in the morning and you are heading into the office, what’s the thing that gets you more excited than anything else about being the head coach at Mount Vernon of Nazareen.

Jared Ronai: [01:22:31] Well the biggest challenge. That’s, that’s a tough question. you know, obviously, I want to say my biggest challenge always is I have such a young family. I have young kids and I always want to make sure I’m, I’m being incredibly intentional, about keeping them at the center of what we’re doing as a, as a program.

And obviously my, with my, with my wife as [01:23:00] well. And as you know, as you talk to you’ve been around basketball, you. you talked to a lot of different coaches the, this profession can consume you. it can really, really consume you. And, I really want to continue to be intentional about not allowing that not allowing to fully consume me, but, but knowing that, that, that I want to be, I want to be the best that I can possibly become for my family, for my guys.

But it can’t consume me when that’s where it becomes. it can become unhealthy, at times. But, but I just, just keeping my, keeping my family at the center of what I’m doing I think that’s, that’s always a day-to-day challenge, but something that I, that I want to continue to be very, very, intentional about, not a lot not allowing it to, For them not to be, but, you know what, I what I get up for every single day is  I don’t, [01:24:00] look at this as a job.

I don’t even look as, as a profession. It’s a lifestyle for me. I’ve been around the game, my entire life. I bet, like I said earlier, I’ve been on a team my entire life. it’s just who I am it’s who I am. It’s my identity is in Christ.

My identity is in my family. And you know, the third part of that is my identity is in basketball and, I get up every single day never, never feeling like it’s a job. I get up every single day on, on asking myself how can, how can I help my guys just be better, whether it’s better players, better people hopefully, I can continue to get up and have that, have that same joy.

every single day, just because I, I love being a coach.  I love having the ability to coach at a [01:25:00] special institution like Mount Vernon Nazarene university and, and to have the ability to be around special people that I work with and young man that, that I love and I care for and look after.

So. it’s never a job, never profession. It’s, it’s a lifestyle. It’s just kind of who I am and I love every second of it.

Mike Klinzing: [01:25:22] I think that came through loud and clear tonight. And it’s a great answer. And I could tell from our conversation, the passion that you bring to your job and the passion that you bring for the student athletes that get the opportunity to play underneath you.

And I just want to say, thanks tonight for you coming on and being willing to spend some of your time and share with our audience of coaches. Before we get finished here, I want to give you an opportunity to share how people can find out more. About your program, how they can connect with you, how they can reach out to you if they have a question or listen to the podcast and just want to pick your brain, and then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.

[01:26:00] Jared Ronai: [01:26:00] Sure. you know, obviously we, we have our, cougars, website we have our, we have a roll Cougar social media, Twitter account, Instagram I’m, I’m pretty active. I’m very active on Twitter, even though I’m on a social media, fast right now. but, my Twitter handle is @JRonai and I know  there’s coaches listening.

You’re always welcome to come by practice. You’re welcome to email or connect at any time and talk about basketball, whatever it may be. And we really enjoy sharing the game and, I appreciate you taking the time, doing this and giving this platform  for coaches and different people to learn and grow from a lot of different people.

And, I appreciate you having me on tonight.

Mike Klinzing: [01:26:52] Absolutely wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s been an absolute pleasure, getting a chance to know you and have a conversation and just talk hoops to [01:27:00] everyone out there. We appreciate you tuning in and listening and supporting us here on the Hoop Heads Pod.

And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks Jared. Nice work.

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