Email – email@example.com
Twitter – @coachjaysmith45
Jay Smith is currently the Director of Player Personnel and Development at the University of Michigan under Juwan Howard. Smith has over three decades of collegiate basketball coaching experience on all three NCAA levels.
Early in his 34 year coaching career, Smith was an assistant coach at Michigan for seven seasons (1989-96) where he helped the Wolverines to six NCAA Tournaments, two Final Four and assisted in recruiting what some consider to be “the greatest class ever recruited” the famed “Fab Five.” During his time in Ann Arbor he aided in the coaching of All-Americans Rumeal Robinson, Loy Vaught, Terry Mills, Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Howard.
Prior to his return to Michigan, Smith spent the last three seasons as the head coach at Kalamazoo College (2016-19).
Before returning to a head coaching role with Kalamazoo, Smith was an assistant coach at University of Detroit Mercy for eight years (2008-16) after taking two years away from the game following his stint as the head coach at Central Michigan.
In his near decade with the Chippewas, Smith led CMU to a pair of Mid-American Conference (MAC) regular season titles (2001, ’03), the 2003 MAC Tournament championship, and a trip to the NCAA Tournament led by eventual NBA player Chris Kaman.
Before heading to Mount Pleasant, Smith earned his first head coaching job at Grand Valley State University in 1996-97.
Smith started his coaching career as an assistant at Kent State for five years (1984-89) where he helped the Golden Flashes to a pair of NIT appearances in 1985 and 1989.
He played one year of basketball at Bowling Green State University (1979-80) before playing his final three years at Saginaw Valley State (1981-83).
Smith was a standout high school basketball guard at Mio Au Sable and still holds the Michigan state record for career scoring with 2,841 points — a record he set without the 3-point line.
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Be prepared to take some notes as you listen to this episode with Coach Jay Smith from the University of Michigan.
What We Discuss with Jay Smith
- Growing up with the game as a kid in Northern Michigan
- His family’s scoring records that he eventually broke
- His high school playing days and setting the all time scoring record in Michigan (still stands today)
- How special his high school teammates were
- How the recruiting process has changed
- Valuing relationships
- How his battle with cancer changed him
- Being hired by Jim McDonald at Kent State after his college playing career was over
- What he learned from Jim McDonald at Kent State and why it was so important to his career
- How analytics played a role Kent State
- Coaching NBA Player Chris Kaman at Central Michigan
- How kids grow up playing today vs. in the past
- Basketball IQ and how it is developed
- Changing his coaching style over the course of his career
- Why he loved working and directing camps
- Coaching at Michigan during the Fab Five era
- Learning about work ethic from watching Rumeal Robinson
- The difference between the levels in college basketball
- Mental toughness
- Meditation and controlling the controllables
- Training your mind to let go of the negative
- Coaching Millenials
- Helping players deal with social media
- What made the Fab Five so special – the babby shorts, the black socks, the huaraches, the fun
- His experiences at Saginaw Valley State in D2 and Kalamazoo College in D3
- His time as an assistant at D1 Detroit Mercy
- His current role working under Juwan Howard at Michigan
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- Email reminders helping players stay on track
THANKS, JAY SMITH
If you enjoyed this episode with Jay Smith, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out on Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly NBA episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TRANSCRIPT FOR JAY SMITH – UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN DIRECTOR OF PLAYER PERSONNEL & DEVELOPMENT – EPISODE 334
[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 the University of Michigan, a former assistant coach at Kent State while I was playing there, Jay Smith. Jay, welcome to the podcast.
Jay Smith: [00:00:14] Thank you guys.
Appreciate it. Excited to be here.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:17] We are thrilled to have you on. I’m personally excited to be able to go back and talk a little bit about our time together and just dive into all the different experiences that you’ve been able to have in the game. But I want to start out by going back in time to when you were a kid.
Talk to me a little bit about your first experiences with the game of basketball. What made you fall in love with it?
Jay Smith: [00:00:34] Wow. Man, I turned 59 here on Sunday, we’ve got to dial away back. So, when I started, believe it or not, my dad, played basketball to high school called Mio Au Sable High School in the Northern part of Lower Michigan.
And my dad held the scoring record. My brother came along or broke it. My sister then went on and earned a scholarship at Michigan to play [00:01:00] women’s basketball. Then I came along and actually broke the scoring record in high school, but I want to dial it even further back, Growing up I was like most kids, like I, you know, I was tall and lanky from my body. I was tripping over my damn feet all the time. I had a problem and I was still trying to figure out how my body works, but, I was pretty tall for my age. I started playing basketball.
I really fell in love with it. And then I was in grayling, Michigan. I remember going down when I was elementary school in third, fourth grade down with the outdoor courts. It trying to get in on the game because I was taller than most fourth graders have. And shoot, I think I’m six, three in sixth grade.
So I was taught, I was just wanting to get into a run once or twice with the big boys. And that kind of got me into it. And then we moved to where I ended up graduating from in Mio. And there was a guy who coached at Clearwater Christian college. Believe it or not. That’s the home of Pete Maravich.
That’s where Pete Maravich ran his best [00:02:00] well camps. And I’m done luminol got me really involved in, I still talk to them to this day. They actually named the court after him at Clearwater Christian college. So. He got me going, Oh, I love with my dad. I mean, my dad had played a huge factor in that. Cause he played, we had an old basket on the side of the house and honest to God, we live in a town of probably less than 500 people.
And it’s all we did was hell, that was the only thing to do. Like I didn’t like football. Loved to shoot it. Loved to play out in the driveway. At night we had one dimly lit light. God, we’d be out there playing all the time and I’d be shooting till the point of I had two balls in the winter time.
And you didn’t have open gym guys. Like you guys have open gyms. There, wasn’t a such thing as that, I had two balls and I’d go, you know, it gets so cold outside winter, a shovel, the driveway off and shoot. And then I go get my other ball, bring it [00:03:00] back out. That was too wouldn’t dribble anymore. So I brought the other one out.
I could shoot with that. That would get cold. I keep changing them in and out. And, and you may do with what you have and you didn’t know, you know, maybe we were poor, but I didn’t know. I didn’t know. It was like, this was the way we did it. And you just played ball and believe it or not. As I came up through the ages, obviously I grew, I was like six, five and eighth grade and I got, I got to be the 10th man on the varsity team, in the summertime as an eighth grader, which really helped me because I got to play against high school kids all summer long and they didn’t have team came back then.
And what we did is. We loaded in a van and you go travel to Traverse City and go play the schools through Northern Michigan. And you just go play glad, went down South or Bay city, and you’re just playing those teams. That’s how you did it. And we’d load up and go. And the coach would play the first five.
And then I was part of the second five. And I got to play really a full game. Every time we stopped, I get to play for full [00:04:00] quarters and played and enjoyed the heck out of it. And my ninth grade year, I was ready for the varsity. And I want to say this, like we had a great group of guys. Like every, every school, every year I played, we just had great teammates.
Like they were fantastic. And back then, I ain’t gonna lie. It was about winning, it wasn’t about a scholarship or social media, meaning of any of that. We had real, real films. Like you didn’t, you didn’t have any of that stuff. So you just grew close to the guys and the experiences.
And we travel all over Northern Michigan, all of a sudden, the ninth grade year, I got to start on the varsity team and average like 15 a game. And that group, well, we were too, we were, I want to say we were 25 and one, we were undefeated lost in the quarter. Finals lost in the regional finals, made a heck of a run at it.
And then it was my sophomore year averaged about 26 a game. And we we’d lost again in the regional finals, my junior [00:05:00] year. I jumped it up to about 36 a game. And we lost in the semifinals, the final four in the state of Michigan. Then my senior average, like 37 a game and lost the quarter finals just before the semifinals.
So I had a fantastic career, but it was because of the teammates and the guys I played with because they would literally. Bitch like crazy. If I wasn’t shooting, I mean, they were, they would be like, God, I mean, they would cuss at me at halftime and I’m sitting there, dude, man, I heard him the one time I had 59, I had like 37 and a half and I was still getting guys were pissed.
I wasn’t shooting enough. I’m like, are you kidding me?
Mike Klinzing: [00:05:39] people would kill for those teammates coach.
Jay Smith: [00:05:41] I know. But they were, you know, were guys that we grew up with. They never transferred. They, they were committed. We, we grew up together since third grade. You know what I mean? It was one of those.
Absolutely. You know, it was a community back then. And in the schools we had, nobody looked at transferring. I mean, you were committed to your school because you live there. I mean, that’s what was commitment [00:06:00] back then, and now kids are jumping around or, you know, it’s just changed that way, but we, there was a real love and a passion and, you know, It was small town basketball, but it was great.
We would travel, downstate and play, but I can’t say enough about that, but I really didn’t. I went to like two baskets camps in my whole life. One was the university of Michigan, but Johnny or we came down and this is a true story. So they brought, it was like an elite camp. We had all the best players got, we had.
Tim Andre, Don Juan Zelle, Derrick Perry, weed to a plumber who played at golden state with the Boston U I mean, there was a bunch of players. Well, the awards were like one-on-one and free. I won the Frito shoe contest. Johnny Ward pay me 20 bucks. He gave me, cause that was the reward. I’m like he hit it on cashback.
So yeah, it was good. I was good. I. I was truly blessed. I just had great, great teammates. I can’t say that enough. Like, they’re my lifelong friends guys [00:07:00] that stood up in my wedding, just really cared, cared more about, you know, another process of winning than just winning. But it was about the school pride.
It was about the school stood for the right stuff all the time. So, but I had to grit. I can’t. You know, and I played all the time. I played baseball and I played basketball. I ran some track. I didn’t play because I was shoot. I was six, six, six, five and a half. And about 120 pounds soaking wet. And I’m like, They will kill me.
They will freaking kill me. Those guys. I saw our offensive line. I’m like, there’s no way help. I’ll die out here in football. So, but I enjoyed it. I really did.
Mike Klinzing: [00:07:38] I love what you said about your teammates and just the fact that. It’s the guys that you grew up with. Cause that’s something that I always point to.
I tell people from the time I was in maybe third or fourth grade, I had pretty good idea of who the guys were going to be, that I was going to end up playing high school basketball with. And there was never a thought in my mind of. I’m going to go to this [00:08:00] school or I got to go here cause they play a better schedule or I’m not sure if I’m going to get enough exposure here.
It’s just, I wanted to play with my friends. There was never a doubt of where I was going to go to school. And as a result of that, you build up that bond, that comradery that you described that I think today, And a lot of cases in high school is missing because
I feel, and again, you probably have a better pulse on this than I do, but it feels like, especially at the high school level, when you can combine that with the, a new summer stuff, it seems like it’s much more of an individual agenda in terms of, I’m not necessarily looking at having success as a team in my high school career.
I’m more looking at. What can I achieve within the confines of my AAU team or my high school team so that I can get that next opportunity to go to college. I always feel bad for kids today in a sense that it always feels like, and I’m not sure, sure if it’s the kids or parents or exactly. Yeah. Or it comes from, but it always feels to me, like everybody’s always looking at the next thing.
Instead of [00:09:00] just enjoying the moment. Like I could hear when you’re talking, like it’s clear the passion that you have for that time in your life and for those guys that you played with. And I think if you ask somebody who’s 17 team now when they’re 59 to look back on their high school career, I’m not sure they’re going to have those same feelings for their school, for their teammates, for the situation.
To me, that’s kind of a little bit sad.
Jay Smith: [00:09:23] And partly to do with, you know, the way this thing is laid out. I mean, we were able to, I mean, I, I’m a big multi-sport. I think it’s really important that you know, but anymore, sometimes you have to specialize and it’s not, it’s nothing bad, but it’s like, you’ve got to specialize, so you don’t get those experiences.
But, you know, we loaded up at vans and we go to traverse city by a luggage cherries, and throw cherries at each other. That’s the stuff that bonded and everybody’s like, Well, we got to do team building. We did that. We, we know we were doing it. You know, it was more a love and appreciation for one [00:10:00] another.
And I think that boils down with some really simple values, sometimes get lost, lost, and all this, like it, you know, everybody’s so geared on the end product. Can I get a scholarship? I mean, and is the driving force? I didn’t even know what a scholarship I’m like. This is how naive I was. I mean, I visited Michigan.
I visited Bowling Green, Ball State, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan I’d even like, I didn’t really understand the process. I was enjoying the hell out of it. I know that I was like, this is great. I mean, I got on my first plane and, you know, I wasn’t sure exactly what I was doing with this thing. I kind of went to Bowling Green.
Kind of cold Turkey. Cause I like the locker room. I wasn’t paying attention, but Mike, honestly, Jason, I mean, they didn’t have the internet. You didn’t have all the information that kids have today. Like, Oh, that is so true.
Mike Klinzing: [00:10:55] I told him when Coach Grube was on, I talked to him about. My experience [00:11:00] going to Kent.
And I remember talking to Coach McDonald before my senior year and showing some interest and kind of thinking about it. And then at some point I believe it was in the fall there, my senior year. He asked me to come down and take an official visit to come down. And I remember saying to him, no, I don’t want to take an official visit because in my head, I was still waiting for Ohio State to call and Duke to call and North Carolina. And here I was going into the fall of my senior year. And just like you said, I had no idea that I was completely out in left field, that there was no chance that that was going to happen. I wasn’t aware of it. My parents weren’t aware of it, a high school coach wasn’t necessarily aware of it. And so I turned down that visit.
I still remember coming down and being in the coaches office and having a conversation that my mom and I go into Wendy’s on campus and eating lunch ourselves that we paid for.
And then after that, it was kind of like, okay, the recruitment of Mike pretty much ended at that point. And then I had to go ahead and [00:12:00] re-recruit myself as the season went on. And then obviously, eventually it all worked out for me, but just like you, I didn’t have any idea what I was doing. I mean, because the information just wasn’t out there, right?
Jay Smith: [00:12:09] I mean, it’s, it’s one of those ones where you got to stay educated. You know what, I, I always go back to what are the things that really make you happy?
And to me, it was playing, it was playing and the people I was with and sometimes Mike, we get caught up into. How big is the arena, you know, all the things, what kind of shoes they are wearing, all the things that really don’t matter when you come down to it in valuing education. And that’s where I say today’s day and age a little bit.
We have to remember that, you know, you’re getting an education. And to me, that’s where it starts. I mean, that has to be at the forefront of what college athletics, you know, leaving here with a degree from the university of Michigan is huge. I mean that can, that can, that can pave a [00:13:00] way for you for a lifetime and you can be whatever you want to be.
I heard one podcast say, what would you be if every profession paid a dollar, it’s a great way to, that’s a great way to look at it. You know, all of a sudden shoot, I’d be a doctor. Well then damn it like, that should be your goal, you know? And not, not just what’s the easiest way or good sports managed cause it’s easy, but every profession paid a dollar.
What would you be? And that’s a great point. You know, it’s a great way to frame your life. Yeah. Like it makes a lot of sense, but I mean, you know, and we all have, we always, I don’t want to ruin anybody’s dream. I think like for you, Mike, maybe you want to, you dream big. I mean, you want it to, I mean, that’s okay.
But in the end, when you start looking back and you could pass along experience and stuff, to me, it’s all about like the friendships, the relationships, the people that you went on, the journey with. That like I tried to during this pandemic, and I think I told you this, my guy I called for about two months, I tried to call four [00:14:00] people that I haven’t really touched base with in a while.
And one was Jim McDonald, but there was several coaches along the way that I just wanted to touch base with that, you know, you get so wrapped up in this thing that. You forget. And this gave me time to reflect. I think a lot of good came out of it for me. It helped me and got me some great conversations and it was really good. And I just think some of that stuff is, you know, that relationship stuff is such a huge part. Cause I think it was, my dad has seven. You’re laying there and it’s, it’s all over with it’s it’s going to be your family and the people that you shared experiences. That’s what, so you’re going to, that’s what you’re going to take with you, not your goods, you know,
Mike Klinzing: [00:14:40] So true.
And I think that. We look at this time, especially, and I think it all depends on your frame of mind and how you look at it. And there’s a lot of people out there that we’ve been fortunate enough to talk to that have looked at this situation where they’ve been away from their teams or their career. And they’ve spent more time with their family.
They’ve sort of been able to [00:15:00] reevaluate where they are and then just like you they’ve decided, Hey, I’m going to do something to grow as a person to improve my relationships, to do those things that. Maybe in the hustle and bustle of my everyday life when things are normally going on, I don’t stop to think about it, or I just don’t take the time or I don’t think I have the time.
And now none of us has the excuse that we don’t have time. That excuse is completely off the, we know because we all know we have plenty, we have plenty of time. And so I think the people that really care about. Improving themselves and doing those kinds of things. They’re looking for ways to be able to do what you described, which is, Hey, I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to call four people a day that I haven’t reached out to in a long time.
And again, just think about the value. I’m sure that’s brought to your life during this.
Jay Smith: [00:15:44] Oh, it’s it it’s been in one was like Frank Kurtz. I don’t know if you remember. I reached out to Frank and I reached out to Jimmy dial, but some other ones in. I’ve been fortunate to have cancer here over the last year and a half.
and it’s [00:16:00] changed me. Like it, it makes you reflect and makes you, think twice about things, how you live your life, what you do, what you say, where you’re going, appreciate things. you forgive, you let the little stuff go. it just, you know, I I’m, I was blessed with tell somebody, I mean, good Lord gave it to me for reason it’s been good.
It’s helped me, like it’s I don’t use it as a negative. I use it as a positive. I’m not trying to pound my chest on it, but yeah. It does make you reflect, and then it, it gets you in touch with what’s really important in your life. Like sometimes, you know, in this profession, basketball on this high level, basketball can absolutely consume you.
And I’ve seen a lot of guys go down to the wayside because of it. Like, it’s, it can overcome you and you think you’re the world beater, but it’s not how, you know, there’s a, it’s a bigger guy than us out there coming out, but it’s like, it changes. And, I, I just been blessed with it, you know, I have, and [00:17:00] I, I it’s, it’s been a blessing for me and I take it that way and I’ve been fortunate.
Like I said, it makes me think of things differently. And, I’m just blessed. Like I said, I’ve I’ve, I I’m glad I had it. I glad I’m going through it. And I got a six month checkup and I’m clean and I’m good. Awesome.
Mike Klinzing: [00:17:17] That’s awesome. That’s awesome. And when it sets the room, when it resets your mindset, your priority, I think that’s really where you.
Find you find out what’s important in your life and who’s important in your life. And it’s, again, not that you wish that on anybody, but by the same token, I think what I’ve heard you say now twice is that you take what potentially some people could look at as a big negative, and you’ve turned it into something that has been spawned positive.
And I think for anybody, the lesson there is. You know, you can look something that could be really dark right in the face and be able to turn it into something that helps you to grow and be a better person and have better relationships and continue to move on and [00:18:00] prioritize. And so I think that’s something that we can all take a lesson from.
Let’s jump from that serious topic. Not that not that playing isn’t serious, but go back to your college career. Just give us a. Maybe a highlight or two something that you remember that stands out from your time playing college basket.
Jay Smith: [00:18:16] Wow. well, again, I was a small town guy going down to the, what I thought was the big city in Bowling Green and ended up going there and play different year.
I didn’t have a great experience. It was a great guy. So I just got a text. Some guys were getting together August 22nd, to reconnect with all of them, you know, and, great players, but playing, you know, it was tough on me. I didn’t under. I didn’t have a lot of a good base. I should say, guys were ahead of me as far as what was going on.
And I was still adjusting to, I mean, I went to a high school with 43 kids in my class. We had 500 people in the whole town. I mean, I went through my first lecture. There’s 500 people in the older building, you know? So I’m like, wow, like this in back then you didn’t have anybody helping you. You know, [00:19:00] now you got like, I help our guys I’ve talked to are freshmen every, almost every other day before they even get here.
So, but like you, you were trying to figure it out with anybody help, you know, and that was tough. So after the year I’d probably played, I earned my letter, but I just, I was uncomfortable. So I went to a division two school in Saginaw Valley. And I really enjoyed it had three good years, you know, a couple hours from home.
It was a little, it was a little bit slower paced campus. Well, wasn’t as big. really good for me. I had really good coach and we are lifelong friends. came to my dad’s funeral. He’s he’s helped me through some tough situations. We’ve become really good, really, really good friends. had three years was all conference was captain for a couple years, but enjoyed it.
But one, you know, that was kind of the end of it. Like I wasn’t looking to try it. I wanted to get into coaching. Like that was in my blood. I, I knew at early age 10, I wanted to coach and I told my damn, and I was like, well, you might have, you’re going to be broke. Oh, well [00:20:00] it might be, but I’m going to like what I’m doing.
Cause I see my dad climbed telephone poles for 20 years and I’m like, I’m sure in the heck, don’t want to do that. Like, that’s not. I want to get my education and I want either teach and coach or I’m going to get into college coaching. And I was very, very fortunate after my playing career, I applied to a bunch of places and Jim McDonald, who ended up being your coach, Mike, had a GA spot open and I came down and interviewed with them, scared to live in Davis. I’m not going to lie, man. Jimmy Mac can come at you. Absolutely, absolutely. But I knew it enough about, you know, what, I think one of the reasons I knew enough about OER, the offensive efficiency and der stuff. I did that.
I understood it. And I think it kinda captured like, Hey, this guy kind of knows what I’m doing and I kind of. He showed me some numbers and I think I impressed them with no one, some of the knowledge you have to hire me as a GA. So I, I left there, Mike and I moved from [00:21:00] my house up in Saginaw Valley to Kent state.
I lived in a studio apartment. I made $353 a month, 255, one for rent. So I would go to the local happy hour. I know as a GA and I go over it, like they had happy hour from 68. I know I could buy a Coke and I could get free wings, the Doritos and shenanigans over there. I could eat, I could eat dinner for free.
So that’s, that’s how I survived.
Mike Klinzing: [00:21:31] This is the glamorous life of a college basketball, correct?
Jay Smith: [00:21:34] That’s for sure. For sure. I mean, we worked our tail out. I did stats. I drove up to Cleveland, Ohio to develop film. We drove back, Jimmy Mack wanted stats on everything and you were responsible for all of those types of things.
Plus you had to get your master’s degree. So I was taking classes. I mean, and thank God I was single and I was, [00:22:00] I was, I had all the time in the world, but it was some long, long days now I ain’t going to lie. Absolutely. It was good. It was good. I learned an absolute ton. if there was one thing. Like Jimmy Mac, he, he gave you an organization and showed you really how to work and do it.
Like he was fantastic with it. Like I could not ask for a better teacher. Cause it was, you talk about that grinding. We grinded it. Boy. He wasn’t the greatest on his feet with the, with the recruiting piece. But man, you talk about work. I think get numbers and breaking down drills. He was a master at it.
He was. He really was great.
Mike Klinzing: [00:22:44] What was something that, you know, irrespective of maybe the cancer experience specifically, but just going from the playing side of it, to the coaching side of it, what was something that. Surprised you or something that maybe you didn’t know going into it, that you were like, man, I don’t, I didn’t realize that coaches [00:23:00] spent so much time doing this.
And obviously as a GA, you’re getting stuck with a lot of the jobs and things that maybe other people nobody wants to do. But just think back to that time, what were some things that you were like, man, I didn’t realize coach has spent all this time on this. Even when you were, even when you were watching coach Mac.
Jay Smith: [00:23:17] I mean, we, we would meet on practice for an hour and a half. And we would have to come up with drills. I had to come up with drills and I’m like, wow. And Jimmy Mac would break it all down and you were talking sometimes I’m better off just saying, okay, close out and keep the guy in front of you.
Keep it really simple. I mean, we broke it down to what foot, what pivot, how you swept the ball. I mean, detail to the M degree. You know, and I sometimes I think, you know, with good athletes, you got to give them some flexibility for me. Like I’m not going to put them in a box. You know, I’m going to open it up and give them a concept and see, [00:24:00] see if they can do it on their own.
But Jimmy Mac, I mean, he wanted it done a certain way. You were going to pivot a certain way on the right foot. You’re going to play a certain way. and we, you spent hours of practice preparation. That blew me away in us, statistically. We, we, he, you remember, we didn’t really use the computer, so everything was a calculator.
We, we, every possession was charted. Jeff gears would do the OER. We told up we had what the running total for the year was. We knew what the current, during the halftime, we knew what plays worked. I mean, I detailed on everything like that. Like, like what blew me away.
Mike Klinzing: [00:24:38] It’s kind of amazing because I, you know, I think back obviously to that time and I lived it for four years in terms of the statistics and the, the goal board and all that and you kind of, you know, at the time you don’t necessarily process this, especially on the player side of it, but you look back on it now and in a way it was way more forward [00:25:00] thinking than you, right. Then you would necessarily give coach McDonald credit for because my initial thought, whenever I think of coach McDonald, my first thought is he’s an old school guy and that’s just who he was.
And yet that piece of it clearly was ahead of its time.
Jay Smith: [00:25:15] For sure. Yeah, he was, he was, I told him this, probably three weeks ago. I don’t like he was analytical before it was called analytical, very analytical. Like he knew from the previous year play in Africa with Bob Huggins, what plays worked against his defense.
He would know exactly what he wanted to do. It. They knew exactly how he wanted to guard Bob Huggins, his place. And I remember Huggins came in, I think, I don’t know what year it was, but we had them down like 28 to three at Kent state. We have done that, but he had a hell of a team. And Jim met. We, I mean, we drilled him by 35.
And I remember Bob Huggins coming to the office, Jimmy Mack’s office, almost crying. Like he got [00:26:00] absolutely drilled by this old school guy that knew how to coach it up. And yeah. Was it programmed and how we did certain cuts and everything? Absolutely. But. He was analytical on things before analyticals. I think you remember the conditioning drills where we’d go up to the football stadium, tires and all that.
And we charted all that stuff. Everything was chartered, everything was, everything had a stat to it. Everything was, and, you know, say whatever you want to get achieve. You’ve got to measure it. And everything got measured. He was successful. You know what I mean? He used a lot of cliches and he was always hard to get to know, but the guy could coach.
Mike Klinzing: [00:26:38] It’s funny. Cause I think back to, you know, thinking about the conditioning and you’re doing the tires and there’s two things, there’s two things that stand out to me for me from that one is the fact that, okay, you have that conditioning where now I could never imagine putting your players out on the blacktop and doing all that, [00:27:00] the pounding you think, okay, even if you were doing that today, You would do it in a field house or do it on a track or on the AstroTurf or whatever, where you have less pounding on your legs. So that always still stands out to me when I think back about that. And then the other thing was he talked about being measured and there was always the 350 club.
Now I don’t remember how the reps broke out. I remember I would kill myself every year to be able to get the stupid 350 club shirt that I still have sitting in my drawer, in like this bag of shirts for my playing career, various different things that I kept that I’m sure would never even come close to fitting me at this point, but yeah, 350, the 350 club for that.
And it’s just, you think back on those times and you’re like, how ingenious was it that a stupid t-shirt motivated you? At least it motivated me. I don’t know if it motivated anyone else.
Jay Smith: [00:27:53] I mean, that was plyometrics before plyometrics, analyticals, [00:28:00] analyticals. I’m just trying to look at, yeah, there were some things that you’d obviously do different now, but you start going back, you know, the guy cut, you smart with it.
You start with you a little bit ahead of his time, but you know, he was always a gruff guy and I’ll, we always laugh about it now. He was. And, you know, life was the sweetheart. He was, he was the, you know, go to his house and he’d be, he’d be in the basement working on numbers or something. And it’s funny now, but he’s such a good guy.
He’s such a good person.
Mike Klinzing: [00:28:30] Yeah, I think that when I look back and I said it to you a little bit before we jumped on that, when I look back on my time with Coach McDonald at Kent and just my own experience coming up and through high school and being recruited and the whole thing, and I was clearly a Borderline division one player where there wasn’t a whole lot of people beating down my door to come have me play division one basketball. Yet. I thought that I could, I said, I played against guys in high school and saw some of the schools and places that they were going. I thought I’m as good or better than [00:29:00] those guys.
And I just need to find the right place. And I think eventually I did. And that cCach McDonald was a guy that. Good. Was he tough? Was he hard nose? Was he very stringent? The way you just described where things had to be done a certain way? I remember my freshman year being thinking about having to close out and having to have my right foot up, you know, on this side of the basket and my left foot up on the other side of the basket.
And if you didn’t do that, Practice was stopped. And, you know, you knew you were gonna, you know, you’re going to hear it from him. And, and yet, because of the type of player that I was from a coachability standpoint and just, I was a guy who I felt like you could keep throwing things at me. And I was going to keep trying to push my way through that and do whatever it was to be able to please my coach.
And so I think that that ended up being the perfect scenario for me to be able to have success. And eventually I was able to do that. And so I’m forever grateful to Coach McDonald for the opportunity that he gave me for guys like [00:30:00] yourself and Coach Grube and the other people that were part of the staff, all were instrumental in the success that I was eventually able to.
Jay Smith: [00:30:07] Like you brought the intangibles, I mean, you were one of those guys at Jim McDonald would see that a normal young assistant right now would not see that he saw intangible things that. You did the wing games that fit in the way he wanted to coach? I think that’s. Sometimes we as coaches, just try to collect a bunch of talent and then figure it out.
Right. He had it figured out and was looking for the right guys. I think that’s what made it unique because he would win and people would look at his team and go, God, I don’t, hell is Eric Glenn scoring 16 a game, overweight. What the heck? Like, and he would win games. I mean, we went through what I was there.
I think we went to two or three NIT’s and we competed for the Mac championship a couple of times. And I’m like, If you looked at our team sometimes because the other day you’re going, how in the hell are we doing it? Like, how are we doing this? You know? But it, we played a certain way. We [00:31:00] didn’t beat ourselves.
You know, he had some mental toughness with you guys and, and that’s what you were good at Mike. I mean, I’m not gonna sit here and I’m not trying to blow smoke, you know? But that’s where you were tough. I mean, you did those little things that make the winning games. And sometimes I think when you go out recruiting, you’re looking for the guy touches the top of the backboard and the guy can hit a 35 foot fadeaway three, but this other guy who’s, you know, can school or, you know, I use a great example for me.
I tell everybody, I mean, I had a lottery pick and Chris Kaman that we had to beat two division, three schools for nobody was recruiting the kid. You know, when I was at central Michigan, I mean, We need hope in Calvin CLE schools recruiting them. It’s finding those diamonds in the rough that can actually at the Mac level can really have a great career.
And I thought that’s what happened with you, Mike. I think, you know, you, you had a great career, you went to the right place. I’m going to say that you went for the right coach or you’re right on with what you’re saying.
Mike Klinzing: [00:31:58] Yeah. I couldn’t agree [00:32:00] more. I think that my career could have gone a lot, the different ways that it would’ve been very easy for me to end up somewhere else.
And just be with a coach who didn’t appreciate the things that I did, which as you described, I think we’re probably getting, not that I didn’t contribute on the floor cause I did, but just in terms of those intangible things, it takes a certain type of coach that will overlook the fact that I wasn’t the fastest guy.
I wasn’t the highest jumper out there. I didn’t look physically imposing and not everybody will look past that. As you said. And I think that coach McDonald to his credit and to my benefit was able to do that. And as a result, I got a chance to have a, you know, an outstanding experience for four years.
And I tell people all the time I wouldn’t trade what I went ] through and what we accomplished and what I was able to do in my career. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. And it goes back to what you said when you were talking about your high school career and just growing up in the game. And the one thing that.
For me always, I always come back to is I just love to play. And [00:33:00] that’s what I wanted to do. And I was going to do whatever it took to be able to, to be able to do that. And by playing in terms of my career at Ken, it was figuring out what role am I going to have to play in order to be able to get on the floor?
And that’s what I try to do is figure out how can I make people happy? How can I make the coaching staff happy? How can I make Coach McDonald happy? What can I do to help our team? And that’s going to enable me to get on the floor. And it’s just because again, I love to play. The day the season was over, I just went and played pickup basketball.
Cause I just loved to play.
Jay Smith: [00:33:31] That’s that’s that’s a little bit of the difference with today’s. I think a lot of I’m going to say this and probably upset some people. I think some kids love the score. But like to win, you know, they, they like to love the score and just like the play, like it’s, it’s the love and passion for the game.
what the game can do for you to help you propel your in your life. I mean, it’s, it’s opened so many doors for me. It’s [00:34:00] opened doors for you. No matter what you say, it’s, it’s really helped. If you didn’t have basketball. I mean, I can’t imagine going high school without basketball in my life.
Mike Klinzing: [00:34:10] I agree. A hundred percent on that. Let me ask you this. I’m just curious your perspective from your different experiences at the division one level. And you think about how we talked a little bit before we jumped on just about how the virus has cut down on the amount of time that you have to work with your players.
And so they’re kind of having to figure out their own workouts. They don’t have somebody there working them out and. What I look at when I’m thinking about the division one scenario today, and you have guys who are on campus basically 11 months out of the year, and they’re with the coaching staff and they’re working out and they’re either at practice or the summer, they have their individual workouts.
Then you’ve got the season and all this stuff. And I think back to my own experiences and, you know, our season ended and I remember being handed up. You know, a weight workout say, Hey, make sure you do this before we see [00:35:00] again next fall. And part of that for me was good because what I wanted to do when the season was over was I wanted to go back and just play.
And I wanted to work on my game and get better. And I kind of put together my own plan. And for me, I feel like at the level of intensity that requires in order to be successful at that level 11 months out of the year, seems like a huge grind. Both for the players. And the coaches in terms of, I would just think that they’d start to get sick of each other to a certain degree and that you’d never like relight the fire of man.
I’ve been away for a little bit. I can’t wait to get back because I never go away. If that makes any sense.
Jay Smith: [00:35:40] Yeah. Like I think it’s been good. We’ve only had three guys in town through this whole pandemic . one was getting rehab as a liver is getting rehab. So he’s getting know he needed to see the trainer and get his hips, right.
Knee put in for the draft, you know, he’s trying to get his body. Right. He can’t do that back in Kalamazoo. So that’s okay. Then eatery [00:36:00] Nunez, who is over in Brooklyn, where it was real bad, his parents didn’t want him to come back. In a good way. Not so he had to stay there Roman up, and then you live Brooks is in Philly and they have the same thing.
His parents would like for him to stay here. So those three stayed in town and, you know, they found places to play. Like most of them I’m going to say this too. Like back when we were in school, including you. And like, I think we played a lot. Like we played more than the kids play today. like we just play.
I mean, we did shirts, skins, you play like you play, do you play one on one ? Me, we play one on one for hours. you don’t get that. Like I do think players shoot the ball better. They’re stronger. They’re faster, all those things, but. I’m not sure. Like they played, like we played, I mean now, cause you’ve got obviously strength and conditioning coaches.
You got work out guys that are all, I’m not bad well than any of them. All of them [00:37:00] fit into the puzzle of being a really good player. I think there’s a time and a place and how you manage those things I think are really important, but you still have to play the game. It’s still about decision making.
It’s about your habits, how you play. Cause I can’t tell you how many times when I hear a coach say, well, man, he just doesn’t know how to play. Well, teacher, like we have to teach them how to play, like, but he can dribble through it. Yeah. Cones and he can, you know, do a three 60 and he could do all that.
But you have to learn how to play in a, you know, playing three on three, playing two on two, play one on one. I think those things helped us. I don’t know how you feel, but I’ve always felt like. It helped me understand how to play. Like you couldn’t hide in three, on three, you’re going to get exposed or be exposed.
Like you expose them or be exposed. That’s the way it was. And you fought to win games. Now, as you said, you know, you play a lot of games and kids, kids these days, don’t, you know, they keep playing. In [00:38:00] in, I’m getting off track of your question. Sorry about the not training in that, but it’s like our guys have to understand, like with this growth of development right now that we’re not going to have individual workouts, like we want the new norm is going to be you getting in the gym and get enough shots and being creative.
Use your imagination. You know, figure it out how it works. Look at a couple YouTube videos and it’s not hard like this isn’t, you know, you’re not going to chemistry class. This is, this is supposed to be fun, enjoyable. You know, a time in your life where you really can develop and use your creativity and you just think outside the box and there’s no wrong answer.
It’s all good. But you know, you gotta, you have to find time to reload recharge 100%. But for me, and probably you, Mike, it was only a to me, it was a few weeks and I was back playing again. Like, let’s go hoop.
Mike Klinzing: [00:38:52] It was the next day. I mean, I remember being in the annex playing literally the day after the season ended, because again, You were, [00:39:00] it was a totally different way of playing, especially.
We’ve talked about it now for the last 20 minutes, playing for Coach McDonald was a very structured environment. There was a way that you played and clearly very, very different from how you would play. In a playground game and a pickup game. And so I always, again, just like you, I grew up playing pickup basketball.
That’s what I drive over all over the city to find games and play. And from the time I was 13 or 14 years old playing with older guys, and that’s how I felt like I got better to your point that you were talking about in terms of thinking about skills trainers and strength and conditioning, and just, I think the skill level of today’s players is much, much higher.
Than it was during the era when you played, when I played, players can shoot the ball so much better. There’s kids who handle the ball ways that I could have only dreamed of. And yet I think the difference is, and I think you kind of hinted at it was basketball is a decision decision making sport. And what I see where kids aren’t as good is [00:40:00] the basketball IQ side of it, where yeah you have all these skills, but I’m not sure that you really know how to apply those. Because again, as you said, They don’t play as much. They don’t play in a free form environment. All their playing is done with a coach on the sideline with mom and dad in the stands with a coach telling you what to do, or at least stand on the sideline, pretending to tell you what to do in some cases.
And you’re not just out there playing, going okay. I’m better than everybody in this game. I think I’m going to just go walk on my left hand, or this is a game where. Everybody’s really good. And so I got to make sure I go and defend the best player on the other team, or, you know, is a really highly competitive situation.
We just gotta do whatever it takes to win or else I’m going to have to sit for an hour and a half. No, there’s this game. And those things are things that. The game teaches you just by going out and playing pickup basketball. I don’t think you’ve learned those things, playing AAU, basketball, even high school basketball.
To be honest with you,
Jay Smith: [00:40:55] I’m going to agree with you. Like, I, I think it’s important. Like to me, I heard a guy [00:41:00] talk about this and I, I totally agree with this, like playing a small side of game of three on three, where you find out what your basketball IQ is about. You get an open floor where you’re playing five on five and the floor is wide open.
It’s just about athleticism. And then, but if you get in a small side of game where it’s okay, we’re going to use half this court and we’re gonna play three on three. Now you’re gonna find out about IQ and now you’re going to find out, can a guy play without the ball? What can he do? And I think those are the things we as coaches.
If you want to find out, if a guy can play, put them in three on three, cut the court in half and say, okay, we’re going to play three on three. And does he just stay in there? Can he screen, can he cut? Can he back screen? Somebody can replace himself. I mean, all the things you have to learn, how to do, like, I feel like I could take you out right now.
I’m like me, you and three guys, and just move the ball around and never have played together in 20 years. It could still play and still could play up. You kind of know how to play and how to move we’re [00:42:00] today’s kids because we’re so programmed, we’re getting so programmed into. Drills in, you know, can you work me out?
And that’s all I do and I can shoot it, but I don’t know how to play. I mean, I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve seen that. They don’t know what to do. Like just, just stand. They don’t. What do I do? Like what do I, you have to teach them how to play it. A big part of my camps and because I was successful, we tried to teach kids.
Okay. There’s one ball. There’s five dudes out here. Okay. We have to teach you something right. Stand there. All right. Yeah, and really for little kids, if you could just get them to pass and cut you’re way ahead of the game. You’re way ahead of the game. Like if you can just pass, move the ball side to side, you’ve already, you you’re ahead.
You’re 80% ahead of everybody else. You know, cause we as parents, thank God. I’m not one of them. My kid does that motion office. I’ve made sure of that, but it’s like, we structure everything. We [00:43:00] okay. We gather the friends up, we get them in the van. We drive them over to play. We pick the teams for them. If you told our guys right now, Hey, go play shirts and skins.
You guys pick the teams. They would spend 45 minutes trying to figure out what the hell it is.
Mike Klinzing: [00:43:12] Absolutely I’ve said to that people. So when I started camp this summer, if we get toto do any camps, but this will be 28 years of me running camp. And for the first, I’d say 15 years we’d go shirts and skins and kids would literally kill each other to be skins because a lot of times we were in a hot gym that wasn’t air conditioned.
And so you’d tell the kids, all right, you’re at basket. Number two. And you’re with coach whoever, and they’d be sprinting there to see who could, which team could rip off their shirts and ask them to be skins. And then about 15 years in and completely flipped where I would say, okay, your team is skins.
And these kids would look at me. I’m talking like eight, nine years old. They look at me and be like, I’m not taking off my shirt. And I would say, what do you mean? What do you mean? I don’t, I don’t even understand what you’re, what do you mean you won’t take off your shirt and [00:44:00] eventually I just gave up, I just gave up because you couldn’t, you couldn’t getting them to do it.
Jay Smith: [00:44:02] It’s some of the things that, you know, maybe are wrong with them. I mean, it. It helped us. I mean, I know that there’ll be solutions down the road that we’ll figure out, but when you reflect back, back on it to me was like, it’s still basketball. We still have, I have to have fun with the game. There’s different ways to skin this, you know, you have to be positive with kids.
I’ve I know I’ve changed my coaching techniques. You probably have to, Mike, you just can’t. Can’t go after people like that. Some kids, some kids like it, some kids love being, you know, get after me and they liked that part of it. But you know, all that stuff has changed. It has it’s it’s changed the coaching circle for sure.
Mike Klinzing: [00:44:43] Yeah. There’s no doubt that if you think about the way that. The majority of coaches would have interacted with players back in the time when you were playing or when I was playing, it was far more of look,
Mike Klinzing: [00:44:55] you’re going to do it this way, because this is the way I say you’re going to do it. And I [00:45:00] think it was, I don’t want to say it was more difficult, but I just think that there was a, there was more of a divide between the players are over here.
The coaches are over here and yeah, there was relationships being built. But at the same time, I feel like today, We’ve sort of swung the other direction where the relationship piece of it has become so critical to being able to put together your team. And I think rightfully so. I think if you look at why.
You get into coaching and what it’s all about. It’s about making positive impact on the young people that are put in front of you and using the game of basketball to be able to do that. So, yeah, being able to build relationships with your players to me is one of the most satisfying things that you can do.
As a coach and like, you know, there’s no better feeling than getting a phone call 10 years out from somebody who played with you, played for you and just saying, Hey coach, this is going on. Or, Hey coach, I got a question or, Hey coach, I just wanted to talk. There’s nothing. There’s nothing better. It is interesting.
The way [00:46:00] that the coaching pendulum has changed in the way we’ve sort of redefined what a coach is.
Jay Smith: [00:46:05] No question. I mean, that’s, you said it eloquently and you know, it’s, it’s such a, it’s a gratifying, it’s fun. Look back though. Like we are right now and how we skinned it differently. You know, there’s a lot of ways to go about it without a question there’s there’s, you know, pick and choose, but having a positive impact on somebody.
A whatever level might be I ran camps for 30 years. this is the first year that really haven’t been involved in camps and probably thought, well, this is my 35th year. Something like 34 years. I did it last year at Michigan here with Juwan and I loved it. Like I got right into teaching again.
I was like, I took the little kids. I took the young bucks.
Mike Klinzing: [00:46:49] Still. I got to ask you a question. So the summer I’m pretty sure it was probably the summer after you left Kent and went to Michigan, which we’ll talk about here in a second, [00:47:00] that, you gave me the opportunity to come up and work camp. It might even been after my sophomore year. I can’t remember, but came up and work camp. Are you guys still doing the triple threat on the whistle and singing hail to the victors? Are you guys still doing that?
Jay Smith: [00:47:10] Oh gosh, we didn’t know. We, Chris Hunter kind of. I help. I help the light because I came in in July. So I didn’t have a lot of time to do a lab, but, they did that after I left for a while, then obviously Beilein took over and had his own spin on it.
But I have carried that with me, almost all the camps through Central Michigan, we had 2200 kids a summer up at central coming through, really enjoy doing them. Like it wasn’t, everybody’s like it’s the money? What the money, what really? Wasn’t my campus, the schools KIPP. I enjoy. Because I can’t tell you now, how many guys come and go in there?
They’re looking older. I mean, they’re thirties, forties, like, Hey coach, you had me at camp back at Michigan or Central. I’m like, Oh my gosh, my son, you know, he’s going to come to the Michigan camp next year. Like, Oh my gosh. But I, I [00:48:00] enjoy the thing with bottles. I really enjoy teaching. Like I took a hundred little kids, left 125 kids last year at Michigan’s camp here.
And I had a young girl, like I really enjoy. Breaking it down and teach it now the games get ragtag. Yeah. It’s, it’s the having fun with them and trying to, to, to improve their game. And it’s cool at the end of it though, like where they come up and want to get a picture with you and they want you to autograph their t-shirts still.
And. It’s like, okay. I haven’t lost touch with the youth. That’s good. I’m relevant. No doubt about that.
Mike Klinzing: [00:48:36] The camp atmosphere is great and I stole, I stole that idea minus the hail to the victors. I stole the whistle and the triple threat from you way back when, and then I’ve carried that tradition on at my camp has been tremendously successful and fun.
Jay Smith: [00:48:51] You know what, Mike, that’s something, if you just kind of stumbled into it, it got everybody’s attention yet it works. A kid, everybody had stolen. Everybody’s like [00:49:00] I learned it from Jay. I think I learned from Don Meyer. I probably. My favorite part of the whole thing is I get to be the, the in charge of the pushup club for kids that are, I said, don’t get a triple threat.
I dunno, I’m the enforcer. I make triple threat position, pushups. If they don’t do it right. They’re supposed to do. That’s awesome. You know what? They may lead one thing. They’ll know. They’ll know what pass with triple threat means if they learn anything else, they’ll know what one thing is. That’s triple threat.
That’s for sure.
Mike Klinzing: [00:49:30] No doubt about that. All right. So let’s talk about leaving Kent and getting an opportunity to go to Michigan. And obviously, while you’re there, you get an opportunity to work with the fab five. So let’s just talk a little bit about that whole experience. And first of all, how you left Kent got to, got to Michigan and then just tell us a little bit about your experience there.
Jay Smith: [00:49:49] Well, before even I worked at Kent, I was, I was working basketball camp at Michigan where my sister was there. So I’d stay with my sister. She played there. And I’d work camp for [00:50:00] Frieder not come in and you know, we’d work that’s back when you work six days a week and he’d pay a hundred dollars. We were working from like seven 30 in the morning till eight at night, and he’d pay a hundred dollars.
You’re like, are you kidding me? No, you need, he’s making hand over foot. Okay. Actually we’re fricking, we’re picking up the scraps. It’s funny. Now I laugh about it cause he was parking lot hoc and tee shirts and selling ’em. Anyway. So I, I stayed in touch with Fisher and then when Fisher got the job, I had reached out, I know I reached out to him and, you know, cause they always say, Hey, if you work camps, you know, you know your relationship.
And I always tried to at basketball camp, what I tried to do is really build relationships. And I tried to zero in on a few camps. Like I didn’t work a bunch of the circuit. I zero in like I’ve worked three weeks at Michigan. No question about it. I’m going back there. And I got, I got pretty close with Steve.
Fisher and that, that kind of propelled it. And then when it opened up, I was at Kent, obviously at the [00:51:00] time I called Fisher saying, why don’t you come up? I want to talk to you. So I went up and we talked and I remember going into the interview of Mike, how there forget Dennis is of my wife. I said, Hey, Yeah, Fisher offers me the job.
I’ll take it. I’m not going to sit here and go, well, let me talk to my wife. I wouldn’t let her right now. If he offers it, honey, I’ve taken it. And sure enough, he offered it to me and I took it out and I was like, Hey, I’m in 100 right now. And I want to play one thing back, Mike. Cause it reminds me of you.
Jim McDonald taught me a great thing in recruiting. He’s he made a great point. You guys. Yeah, got it. When they say they want to come and be part of it, those are the kids you want in the, and you want to be part of it, one price. Once you figured it out, you were like, Hey, I want to come to Kent and say, Jim loved that.
Like Jim loved guys that would come around and say, Hey, I want to come play for you. And I think kids miss the boat on that a little bit. And it’s the same thing with Steve Fisher says, you know, most guys will say, well, let me talk to my [00:52:00] wife or can I get back with you at the end of the day or tomorrow?
Yeah. I shook his hand like I’m in right now. I’m in. And I think that leaves a lasting impression. I think you had the same thing with Jim McDonnell. I mean, you wanted to come Jim. Do you want to be part of it? You want to find kids that want to be part of it. You want to find coaches that want to be part of it and there’s no, and I was, I knew enough about Michigan, so I wasn’t, I wasn’t working.
So I just wanted to be there in our was exciting. I believe in Steve Fisher, Steve to this day is there’s not a better person coach around. I know it’s hard. I mean, he is fantastic. Like he I’ll give you a quick story. So I had left there. Jason, like I’d left there. and I took the job at central and I was at central for a year.
My wife was pregnant with our first child. So I stopped in Ann Arbor at my sisters. Cause I was on a recruiting trip. I was flying down to Georgia and my wife came down and brought me clothes and she was pregnant with Cooper at the time. And all of a [00:53:00] sudden we go out to eat. I’m getting ready to fly out the next day, but life goes into labor and we go to Haas.
We have the baby. The first person up there, Steve Fisher’s license. And like, that’s helpful. Even though I’d been gone a year, the first beat, my mom beat all the parents, that first person ever was Angie with flowers and stuff with my wife. That’s the kind of relationship of person he is. I mean that, that’s the kind of family atmosphere you want to be.
Part of that is family. That was, it will always be family. And Steve and Ann are terrific. Brian Dutcher was there with us. with me, I was with him, I should say, but, I was fortunate to get hired and, and again, jumped into the saddle. The first thing we had to do, I think I got there in the spring is, you know, duct you’re moved over to full time assistant at the time and how he took over the camps.
And I had about, I had about three weeks to get ready for 2000 kids coming in. I had no idea what I was doing. My head was spinning at the [00:54:00] time and I’m trying to figure out players names and, A real quick story is I was, I’ll never forget it does. I was, it was a 89 area. We, it, we came in and I was getting set things set up for camp and I’m over in the old intermural building and I’m opening indoors at seven o’clock in the morning score to seven, making sure everything’s set.
And you know, if you don’t, Fisher’s going to be screaming at me. So I make it your balls around. I go to the intermural. Billy hit his ball, bounce. It. And I’m like, what the hell? It’s seven in the morning. There ain’t nobody out here, man. Coaches are recovering from going to the bar the night before. I’m like, who the hell is here?
So I looked at him and here’s Rumeal Robinson in the gym, just working on ball handling with the div light. Didn’t have the lights on in there. And he’s just doing ball handling by himself, working out. And I’m like, wow. So the day goes through in the afternoon and I come back to them. Rumeal is probably around 1145.
He’s out of the track with a weighted vest, just doing [00:55:00] wind sprints in the heat of the summer. I’m like, Holy crap. And you understood now what it was about like at Michigan, I mean, and you know, it, can’t, you’re limited with some of the things that you have at Michigan and they obviously have a little bit more like Ohio state and Indiana.
But it was the intensity of his workout that I was blown away with. Like I was blown away. Not that we didn’t work hard at Kent state now, but it was just, there was, it was just weird seeing him there doing it right with nobody around. No, no. And this was right after they won the national title. Like this was, you know, right after they won 89 title, he’s doing all this.
You’re gone. Wow. You’re talking commitment. And that was at a high level. That was the first time it kind of woke my eyes up to the whole Michigan training procedures that was going on. It was huge. Yeah.
Mike Klinzing: [00:55:55] I think that when you start talking about guys that have the kind of success that [00:56:00] he obviously had, you’re talking about guys who have a tremendous amount of physical talent, and then they go about maximizing that physical talent that they have.
And that’s when you start looking at guys who are NBA players, guys, who were all American league, right. There’s things that set them apart that other players. Can only dream of, even if you have the same work ethic as Romil Robinson, you may not have the physical tools that he has in order to be able to have the success.
And I think that’s when you start talking about the difference and we can get into this maybe a little bit too, when you start talking about the difference in the levels of college basketball, it’s not necessarily that any player at the division three level doesn’t have. Comparable skills to some division, one players.
It’s just your division three point guard might be five 10, and your division one high level point guard is six, five. And there’s a huge difference in that. And it doesn’t necessarily come down to who’s more skilled. It comes down to again, do you have the [00:57:00] physical tools and then. We all know, no matter what you do, if you have physical tools, you still have to put the work in if you’re going to have success.
And too often, I’m sure you’ve seen it over the course of your career guys that have tremendous physical tools and yet just don’t take advantage of them the way you as a coach, I’m sure would like to see
Jay Smith: [00:57:17] there’s no question now. That’s very well said very well put there’s a lot of them and you can take Duncan Robinson who came from. what was it? Hamilton. Hamilton was out division three, ended up coming to Michigan, and now he’s at the NBA making, you know, millions of dollars. So it’s, it’s possible. it takes a great deal of work. I think some of it’s genetics, it’s just the way it is. I mean, guys are seven one.
I mean, it’s just the way it is. does it mean a division two or division three player? Can’t be, takes a tremendous amount of work? I always I’m all. Interested when guys talk though, like, Hey, I worked my tail off and you know, okay, what’d you do today? Well, I shop for an hour and that’s it like [00:58:00] matching work habits against the elite?
I mean, when do you think you’ve done something you needed to do? I mean, that’s just what it is like Xavier Sam. Simpson’s a great illustration for us. I mean, Joanne had to tell him to get out of the jail. Like you’re, overtraining like you’re burning, he’s there the summer at 6:00 AM. This is the. I mean, I work out every day, the morning six.
So he’s in there shoes like with two managers, like, was he shooting and coming back lifting and then playing and coming back in the evening for more shots, like at one point, you know, diminishing return of blesses more, but I mean, those types of work ethics are. Cause I always tell, you know, successful guys will tell you how they just watch them.
They’ll show you how they’re doing it. They’ll tell you, like, it’s simple. Like it’s not complicated. Like they’ll show you exactly what they’re doing, but some guys. Unfortunately, have other things on their mind. Like they just, you know, they think they’re going to get to the NBA just [00:59:00] that talent. And it’s like, anything else when you match up talent against talent, you know, now it’s about technique.
It’s decision making, it’s mental preparation, all those things that can separate you from the next guy, because when you’re going, five star gets five star. What is it like? There’s going to be some techniques, some decision making your habits. I mean, you. In great shape or you keep staying. Are you getting rest?
Are you sleeping? Is it nutrition? I think a big part of the game today that’s missing and I’m a big believer of this. Mike is, you know, we didn’t have, it was just mental preparation, meditation. I think it’s a huge part of the game that a lot of coaches, when you say that are like, ah, that’s just a bunch of.
You know, hogwash, you know, you want toughness, you have mental toughness. I mean, you got to work it between the years. You gotta be able to play present. You can’t play in the past. I can’t tell you how many guys I’ve seen it. Well, mrs. Shay in live in the past, like the Oh ticket they can’t make, they can’t make the next four or five shots.
You know, [01:00:00] or he’s there’s, some players are just so athletic, they give it, but they’re scatterbrained. They don’t know. They can’t slow their thought process process down enough to play with a high level five cue, but have all the athletic ability in the absolute world, but still need to train mentally how to play and how to play present, and how to like control the controllables and let everything else go.
Mike Klinzing: [01:00:27] How do you work with players on that? Like what are you guys doing right now?
What does Juwan do with the players there? What did you do maybe while you were a head coach to help players, to be able to develop those skills? Cause obviously just like the physical skills. Those skills have to be worked on.
You have to practice them if you’re going to be able to do them in a game situation. So what do you guys do to be able to help your kids do those things?
Jay Smith: [01:00:51] I really did not get involved mentally until I got around Juwan like, I’ve read stuff, but all of a sudden I had about [01:01:00] four webinars and I’ve been reading and then we had a guy, rush Rosh.
He has vision pursuit to nap. and we did a clinic on it with him. Because Dwight that it, with the heat, he really believes that this guy does the heat. He does the Atlanta Falcons, he, Oh, what else? He has a couple more teams, Alabama. Really good. Mike, just on, like I said, he, he talks about embrace the negative, like embrace it, but then allow yourself to process it and now let it go learn to train your mind to let it go.
Like okay. You screwed up yet. Let it go. Let it go. You got to separate yourself from it and play present. It’s okay. Like you screwed up. That’s okay. It’s normal. And he does some meditation things with his app. And that, that are really helpful. I never meditated. I was the guy I started doing it last summer.
Shoot. I, you talk about getting relaxed and fall. I fell asleep. Hell. I’m like, I’m old school with it. I’m like, wow.
Mike Klinzing: [01:01:58] I do. Whenever I try it, my wife and I with our kids for a little while and my kids would always start yelling at me, dad, you’re asleep again. You’re asleep. so yeah, so, but yeah.
Jay Smith: Can I say this might get something though, like if you just took.
You know, 10 minutes of your practice, 10 minutes every day, just 10 minutes. That’s it. And work on those things. Like I think Phil Jackson was head is the head of his top. Cause if you watch the last dance they, the players talked about when they won the title while we did. We did Zen and we did meditation that helped us.
And, you know, they credit some of that to Phil Jackson. And, and like I said, people will leave clues if he just listened to it and pay attention, like they will tell you how they’re doing it. And you know, now you got LeBron James and the calm app that he has out there. They’re running. I think all those things, because I do think it comes a point where everybody’s got the X’s and O’s now it’s, you know, how many times do you say a kid?
Well, he’s, he’s mentally challenged or he’s not mentally tough enough or he can’t do it. He can’t [01:03:00] like that. We have to help him. Like we have to figure out that missing piece, that bridges, that gap between performance and the mental preparation and find that gap and close the gap and you could close it.
I’m a believer in it 100% behind it. I am, and I’m not. And again, here’s an old guy, 50 and I used to say, suck it up, get through it, bite the bullet. You’re tough enough. We’ll get through it in more. I’m more compassionate to it and understand it now saying, okay, is there a different way we can do this?
Mike Klinzing: [01:03:30] Yeah, I think that’s a great point you made in terms of the change in the mindset of a coach in that you’re thinking about before, it was like, okay. We’re asking you to do this. And if you, as the player, can’t do it, then I think the conversation amongst coaches I’ve been involved in these conversations as a coach, what’s wrong with player access this guy, why can’t he do the things that we’re asking him to do?
What’s his problem. And I think now. It’s shifted the other direction where when you [01:04:00] can’t get a kid to do something, I’m guessing that the conversation within the coaches office is okay, we’re asking him to do this, but he can’t get it for some reason. Now we brainstorm and try to figure out how can we help him to be able to do it instead of just grumbling about it.
Jay Smith: [01:04:16] No question. And the other thing is now you’re talking about, you know, the millennials, right? And now you’re talking about. Kids that have been through the economic crisis. They’ve been through social media. They’ve had, you know, I mean, they’ve been through, a plethora of nine 11. They’ve been through, you know, and they got cell phones and social media and all those types of things that to me, weigh in on the millennials and you have to, they have what they are like, we have to understand what they’ve gone through, really think about us.
Like we didn’t have these. We didn’t have this stuff, the social media anymore. I mean, people can be brutal, could be social media bullies. Like [01:05:00] they’re there there’s a lot on their plate and you say, well, they just got to tune it out. Well, that’s like putting an alcoholic behind a bar, some serve alcohol, but don’t drink anything.
All right. That’s not going to happen. I mean, kids are going to go into it and understand and look at it and. You know, I mean, there’s a lot on their plate. There is, there’s a ton on their plate. And now, you know, you got boyfriends girlfriends, and this is the, to me, these kids are more educated because of the internet more than we ever were.
We just didn’t have with these kids have today. And I just think that that changes the dynamics. You better understand millennials if you’re going to be coaching them. And I think a lot of it has to do with their mental, their mental state. I think millennials are a needy group.
Mike Klinzing: [01:05:45] How do you help the kids deal with deal with social media?
From a standpoint of I’m sure at the University of Michigan that a game ends a player has a bad game, and I’m sure that there. Twitter’s blowing up with people, [01:06:00] sizing them and say it all, you know, what, what a terrible game you had. And I’m sure things much worse than that. So how do you help kids to navigate that piece of it, which is clearly something that early in your career, as a coach, you never had to deal with.
Certainly you never dealt with it as a player. So I’m just curious what you do with guys who were. At a high level, like you guys are, what do you do? Help them?
Jay Smith: [01:06:22] Oh, well, you know what, it’s funny you say, I just listened to Doc Rivers today talk about it with Steve Kerr. And I was listening to talk how at half time
Mike Klinzing: [01:06:31] I say that today, I w I only, I only got like 10 minutes of that episode, but
Jay Smith: [01:06:35] They go to their phones and he goes, it’s like the problem device, because.
Well, as soon as they pick it up, that’s a problem. Like a unit you’re going to get enough shots. It’s your agent talking about unique, you know, he’s screwing you over. It’s, it’s, it’s never positive. And you know, social media is one of those things, but like, You, we, the kids would say, okay, I’m just going to tune it out.
I’m not going to get involved with [01:07:00] soon as you start tweeting and putting things out there. Now you’re in the mix with it in like anything else. I think there’s a time and a place for it. Like I think we do a good job of trying to educate them, but I think every guy has his own routine with it. I’m not gonna like, they’re going to, they’re going to listen to it, but you’re talking about 20 year old.
With a, with an educated, with an education, with a device that he could touch. Thousands of people with are going to listen to everything you say, they’re going to test the waters. And I think education is the best policy with it. Like we try to educate as much as we can. And I heard doc rivers say at another point that I’m going to bring back to our guys, let the subject be the subject.
You don’t need to be the subject. Let whatever preach it’d be the subject, but you don’t need to be subject. And I thought that’s a great point. Like if you know it it’s the black lives movement and just make sure the black lives movement is the subject and not you on a personal tirade, you know, challenging people out there that is only going to [01:08:00] end in disaster for you.
It is. I mean, the social media, there’s always going to be those people that can be distractors and doubters, and they’re all with the critics, you know, are, are going to be there. They’re always out there. They’re there looking for the critic of the year award to hand out to somebody, but they’re always going to be out there throwing, you know, jabs at ya.
You just like we tried to do with our guys stay positive. Don’t go in the gutter because when you get into the gutter, you both get dirty. Absolutely. You just, you gotta try to stay above the line. You know, I think that social media can be a great thing. I think, you know, some of the things we’re putting out with black lives matter COVID-19 stuff, I think is terrific.
It is. And some of it’s harsh, you know, and, and that’s, that’s the, you’re not, you’re not, it’s never going to be positive. Social media is going to have its critics. Like I said, it’s always going to be there, but we try to do a great job to educate and talks all the time about it. We try to send out nothing but positive.
And then, you know, it’s the one on one [01:09:00] relationship you have with your players. I was just done a text with somebody a few minutes ago about they wanted to kind of run home for father’s day. And we’re all about family here. And I said, Hey, she wants not going to care. It’s about family. If you’re going home just to hang out, but it’s family and we have that transparency in our program.
It really makes it really, really cool. And that’s the way Jawan is with it. Very transparent, very open with things. But, that’s what we try to do. We just try to do a great job educated in the end. They got to make that choice. You know, and hopefully it will take, you know, try to take our advice and what I think we do a good job of providing examples.
Obviously we try to live the example too. Alright,
Mike Klinzing: [01:09:37] Alright, give me the best fab five story you can come up with, just give me, just give me, just give me one, give me one, give me one good one. People would enjoy hearing. And then we’ll talk about your time at central.
Jay Smith: [01:09:46] Okay. Real quick. This is kind of a stale one, but it’s kind of cool.
We I’ll never forget when we, like we would go to an arena. Let me use Wisconsin. For example, when the old Camp Randall Field House, [01:10:00] we have a go and up. When we had the fab five, it was like traveling. I tell people it’s like traveling with the Beatles. I say it all the time. It’s unbelievable what we did.
but we’d go to Wisconsin, to their locker rooms across the corridor for the old folks that are listening. Anybody’s out there. You gotta go across the lobby. Well, they had gated area that we could get through and we had gigs get into the bus, but, it was just funny because we would go out and our guys would come on the floor and rewarm up.
Aye. And there would be 20 deep all the way around our half court. And you look at the other end and Wisconsin’s warming up and there’s nobody there. It was just, those things were just like, I would sit back and they were cute stories. I mean, it was just, it was just funny. Like we went to Penn state and I think you probably seen clips of it when, Ray and I think threw it off the window of old alumni gym.
That’s no longer there. I [01:11:00] don’t think if it is it’s renovated and Chris Weber dumped it, threw it down. And I was like, Oh my gosh, they’re going to start booing the whole side, got on their knees and started bowing to our guys. I mean, things like that, where you’re sitting there going, we did, they just had a good day time with it.
And our guys kind of, they were the trailblazers with, I hate to say it, but they, you know, they wore the baggy socks. They have fun. They were, they were vocal. They weren’t, you know, in Steve, let them be that way. And I’ll be honest. We did by town. Those guys didn’t like us. They didn’t like us, no kids, you know, they wear the baggy socks or baggy shorts and black socks.
Okay. Like they were trailblazers and it was cool because our guys, I mean, the dude hired me back to one, hires me back, like. That’s the kind of relationship. I mean, I coached his son. I mean, we stayed in touch a Jimmy’s in town. I see Jaylen during the Rutgers game at Rutgers and gave me a [01:12:00] bear hug during the game during typical Jalen fashion.
You know what I mean? In Juwan special. And you know, I coached Chris Webber’s two other brothers at central David and Jason and, I mean, yeah, I haven’t talked to Chris in a while. That’s the one that’s kind of missing for me and, you know, If I ever get the chance, obviously I love to be able to reconnect with him.
And I know he had some issues with it, but, you know, we have to learn to forgive people. I think that’s the big thing. And you know, if we ever get a chance to chat, I think we can bring some closure to some things.
Mike Klinzing: [01:12:33] When I think back to that team. And obviously it’s the same era that I was playing, but just thinking about it more from a fan perspective that was the first team.
I think you hit it really well when you said that they just had fun with it. And I think that was something that you could sense. It was just a different. Sort of feel around that team. It really, it really was, it was, seemed like they were always like, they were just having fun. It was [01:13:00] five friends doing what you and I were doing.
We were in high school playing together and being buddies and just having a good time with it. And then as you said, setting the trends, the long shorts and the short socks and the black socks and just, they were a different, just different from anything that was out there at the time.
Jay Smith: [01:13:15] It was, it was cool.
It was okay. Like people, I mean, You talk about black lives matter. We had letters and people, you know, saying really rude things to our guys, but you know what it did, from us having fun. Like we have fun. I know some of the older crowd didn’t like it. But that’s okay. Like they express themselves. I know there were some things I think fish would curtail a little bit, but at the time it was new for us too.
Right. We were kind of going through it for the first time five freshmen start. I mean, that was unheard of back then. I just think. You know, we all learned a lot. I think if we go back, we have, will be go back. I’m not sure we change a ton of things. We might tweak a few. Yeah, no, [01:14:00] it was such a fascinating time.
the guys have done such a great job. Ray Jack came in this, I hadn’t seen regrade Jack 20 years. He came in this year for, for a game. We hung out just, it was. It was like, they’d never laugh. Like there’s such a, there’s such a, I mean, well, the words that describe it is, and they say it all the time. It was love.
Like they, Hey, I love you, man. Like, I mean, it’s unbelievable. Like, you know, it’s all the guys it’s Joanne. I love you, man. Like it’s, it’s always like that. And there’s a, it’s it? And it’s people are jealous about it. Like some, some people are like, man, you got what we want. We want to be. And it is, I mean, Oh, man.
I mean, if any of them and I, can I say this too? It wasn’t just that. I mean, Rob Pelinka is, was Chris Kaman’s agent. We stayed in touch. Michael Talley stayed in touch. Eric Riley, Mike Attali, Rob James Voskuhl, all those guys. I [01:15:00] mean, they were pretty Hunter. Although guys around the it team, it wasn’t just them, but it was, I mean, obviously they played a huge, huge part in it.
But, even the guys coming up, Jason Bossert to saw him this summer back in a long time and we touched base, like, it was very cool. Very cool to see everybody.
Mike Klinzing: [01:15:16] Absolutely. I think that when you start talking about just as we said earlier, those relationships and the fact that you’re tied in with guys who are, or going to go down, they’re always going to be part of the history of basketball with, without question that team will a hundred years from now will be remembered.
And there aren’t very many teams that. Didn’t win a national title that will be remembered as fondly as that team is going to be remembered as we continue to go forward, because they were just, it was so unique in the moment and it continues to be unique when you look back, I get it.
Jay Smith: [01:15:51] No doubt. No, you’re exactly right.
No, it’s, it’s trend-setting whatever you wanted to say, they will go in [01:16:00] history books, even though the, we didn’t win it title, we came close, but. Man. It was such a ride. It was so much fun. I look back. I just it’s. So it was so much fun. It leaving Kent state, I thought, Oh, what did I get myself into? No, you didn’t know what you were getting into, but it just turned out fantastic.
And all the credit to the players, to our coaching staffs that we had there, Mike boy, Brian Dutcher, Perry. Why all of them, I mean, just, it was just fantastic. I mean, I’m just, like I said it before this thing, and I’ve been blessed, I’ve been blessed in a lot of ways
Mike Klinzing: [01:16:34] . All right. Let’s talk about then the opportunity to become a head coach and transition from being an assistant.
Just talk about what that transition was like, what you learned over the course of your time of being a head coach at central.
Jay Smith: [01:16:47] Wow. Well, I left, when I left Michigan, I went to grand Valley for a year. We ended up being a 24 six. We won the gliac at the NCA division. Two tournament, broke attendance records at a first team, [01:17:00] all American on the team.
I brought in four D one transfer for high school kids and they were local area kids and we had it going like it, it went from last worst the first immediately. and it was great. And you know, when you, when becomes opportunity, like it just goes hand in hand. So we ended up winning and then, I got, I call from central Michigan and they’re looking at her driving.
He was looking to replace. Leonard Drake and not as available. I wasn’t looking to leave. I was looking to be at grand Valley for awhile. I was happy as heck with that came along. And you don’t ever know when your division one opportunity is going to come by. It’s just that way. Like you don’t, it could never come.
It might come early. It came early for me. so I took over a program, obviously had one in 14 years. so I told myself in, in, in. Well, I think Dick Ben said this, you gotta, you gotta recruit players first that you can lose with [01:18:00] first. Which meant you’ve got to get some tough kids. You gotta get some guys that love to be there because you’re not going to go in at central Michigan the first year, because you’re not going to get five stars in win.
Like it’s just going to take some time. And that’s what I did. I tried to bring it solid guys. one’s assistant coach at Northwestern. One’s the head coach at Oklahoma city college. one’s a coach up at, elk Rapids. I got a couple of business guys work and they were successful, very successful guys, but we took our lumps for three years.
We, you know, we had some good wins, but it was just tough. It was tough credit. Cause we were. Career plan. I started out with two walk-ons at three. I think I started to walk to freshmen in a sophomore that was starting unit one was Danny shell, who I saw the intermural building play. And I’ll never forget he had tennis shoes on cause he was mowing grass and we were all grieving in the front of him and I’m like, God, man, I’ll take that kid right there.
He ended up getting [01:19:00] drafted by the brewers for pitcher. He’s a pitcher also, but he played basketball. He’s the head coach up at Mount pleasant high school. And a great kid, great guy, good coach. But you know, he helped us and I’ll never forget. It was my third year. We weren’t, we were still, we were 13th. We finished last.
It was my third year we went, I think we went four games. Then we jumped to 11 games. We had freshmen of the year. Mike Ansell, David Weber came from country day. We all of a sudden went from four to 11, had everybody coming back, we started like three freshmen again. And then Mike made cell, broke his foot.
We didn’t have him. And I think we went back to like seven wins, but we got near the Mac tournament. We were the 13th seed and we went, we beat, well, how you and Ohio you, so now we’re playing Marshall in Cleveland with a chance to get to the semis and. It’s it’s it was like 56, 57 in [01:20:00] Danny shell went in for a dunk and missed it.
Leave with like a minute to go. Or we had to be Marshall. We ended up losing, I think by three to Marshall, I knew then like, we’re coming, we just ran out of games. You know, it was one of those things where like, we finally started to crack, you know what I mean? Cause sometimes you just got to grow into it.
You gotta learn how to lose it, to learn how to win it. If we were just growing, we stayed with our guys. The following year, we ended up winning the cert. We won the whole thing. We won the Mac, we lost the first game of the, we had the buy. We were the number one. See, we lost the Miami, Ohio and Charlie Coles.
And in Cleveland, because we didn’t have her, we had the best six man job Corvette vet. She’s now the assistant in Northwestern. he, he dislocated his shoulder. If he was kind of the, he was like, you, like, he was just tough, all the tangible things. I mean, he will just have some wins. He had great voice on the court.
Just like just, it’s one of the toughest guys I’ve ever coached. He played the whole year with a torn ACL with a [01:21:00] brace bracelet. That’s a tough year. Wow. That’s yeah, that’d be tough. We didn’t have, and we got beat. So we graduated those guys and it was two more years after my sixth year. We wanted again with Chris came and that, that year we won like think we were 25 and six or something.
We ended up winning the match. We won the conference tournament. And then we got to the NC tournament and we go out to Utah to play. They ship us all we out to Utah, like, are you kidding me? Why couldn’t it be any naturalists? Like it is indeed going to be good. So we go out there, we gotta play Kyle crossover and Craig and I knew right then, like we got a shot at these, you know, when you’re playing somebody out of the gate, it’s like Syracuse.
And then you’ve got 12 guys above seven foot, you know, you’re in trouble, but I create, I have a mid-major plus and we’re. But we always kept our eye on them all year. We knew they were good. Well, we got out there. I think we were up 26 in the second [01:22:00] half. I mean, we, we were the, I think they were the fifth seed and we were like the 13 seed or something.
And we, we, we ended up winning only by six, but they were going to make a run at it the second half. I mean, they got hot, made some shots, but we ended up winning by six or eight or something like that. So after the game Mike we’re done and you know, all of a sudden we’re watching, we’re going to play the winner of Duke Colorado state.
And we’re like, okay, it’s going to be too, obviously, you know? Well, how it was like two minutes ago, Colorado, state’s up by like eight and I’m just sitting there going, Holy crap. Like we better start looking at Colorado state here a little bit, boys. I mean, they’re up with like a minute to go. They were still up.
And I’m like buzz Williams, his assistant at the time of Colorado state with Dale lawyer. It works for now at a and M and I’m like, Holy crap, we got a chance to play Colorado state. They be, do go like, where did we got a chance to get the sweet 16? Well, Duke ended up coming in and. You know, winning [01:23:00] at the end, I think by three.
So we ended up playing Duke and we went to long story short. We played Duke and we got it to like 14 at half, but they had, you know, they had do high. They had JJ Riddick, they shelled a Williams. They had a who else? Oh gosh. Hey, they, they were loaded. They had. They were really good. And we, we actually cut it to like eight and a second half, but then they hit like four threes in a row before I could take a time out.
I was like, Holy crap. We’re down 20 again. So, but it was great experience. Chris came in in that group. I mean, we kind of rode him, you know, the distance and have a lottery picker, pick it at a school like central Michigan was special. It was really cool.
Mike Klinzing: [01:23:41] Yeah, that’s very cool to be able to have somebody who gets to the highest level and plays, and then as a part of your team and obviously contributes to your success and then goes on and has a great professional career and plays in the league for what he played what 12, probably 12, 13 years.
Jay Smith: [01:23:56] That’s crazy. That’s crazy. He came from a [01:24:00] little class D school, like I said, nobody really recruited. He came in at 200, two pounds and left at two 58.
Mike Klinzing: [01:24:07] See, there’s a lesson there. And I think that’s something that, you know, anybody could take. It’s, you know, we talked a little bit earlier about just, you know, guys have tools and whatever, and you gotta work hard and, but the system isn’t perfect and the biggest schools are not always going to find you.
And it’s sometimes you just. Get to a place and you develop and you work hard and you grow, or you, you know, you put more effort in than other guys and the talent that maybe was in you, that somebody didn’t see suddenly blossoms in a certain environment. And I think that that’s a great lesson for players out there that you can, you just got to keep working.
And if you keep working good things are gonna happen for you and good things. For you might not be the NBA, but good things just might be you get an opportunity to play college basketball, or maybe you get a chance to start when you didn’t think that was going to happen. Or maybe you end up being a player that gets some minutes who, the year before you never played at all.
And I think [01:25:00] there’s just a tremendous lesson to be learned from the perseverance of going from being a lightly recruited player, to being a guy who plays 14 years in the army.
Jay Smith: [01:25:07] No. Well, I think, you know, if you’d have went to Michigan state or Michigan, I think he would’ve played right away. I’m not gonna lie.
Like, I don’t think he. Yeah. I started with one game his freshman year and he had a bad game. He’s like, I’m not start, don’t start me. You want to start? All right, we will. and then he started his sophomore year and got more accustomed to it, but it finally clicked for him. but it was one of development.
It was one of, he got a lot of minutes as a freshman and sophomore and left as a junior, as a six player in the draft. I mean, I don’t think that would have happened if you wrote the Michigan state, we threw the ball in 29 times a game. That’s a fact. We threw it to a 20 now he didn’t shoot it all the time, but there was times that he did.
I mean, we, we were 18th in the country and scoring, we had, I was smart enough to put four shooters out there. There, I know that cause you go there double we’re shooting threes, and that’s what we did. He points a game in, you know, I don’t, [01:26:00] I just don’t think that would have happened if Chris would have went to a Michigan state or a Syracuse or something like that, we developed them.
We featured him. And those things can happen to you at different schools. It doesn’t matter. I think it’s like you said, it’s the players system you play with, you know, working, continue to grind and know that there’s going to be somebody and the road like that’s, but your ability to adapt and overcome tells a lot about who you are as a person.
That’s huge to me.
Mike Klinzing: [01:26:28] So true, absolutely true. I want to go and touch on before we wrap up. I want to touch on your last two stops prior to coming back to Michigan, just briefly. So we can kind of compare and contrast salute to what you did a little bit
earlier in your career. So after you are a head coach, You step away and you go to Detroit mercy.
So just talk a little bit about the transition from a head coach, back to an assistant, and then eventually ended up back at the division three level as a head coach. So I want to touch on the difference between coaching at the division three [01:27:00] level versus where you spent the majority of your career at the division one.
Well, before that my dad had passed away, I lost a player. And, assistant coach’s wife passed away. So I got out of it for 22 months. Like I just needed a break. It was 22 straight years. I was grinding it hard. so I went and believe it or not, I I’ve managed a steel service center named Al Rowe steel up in grayling, Michigan for 22 months.
And then Raymond Callum called me. And the reason my connection with Raven Cal, we visited ball state when we were high school together. And we just said, cross pass. And he said, Hey, we do think about getting back in it. And I’m like, sure. So I went down and visited Detroit and really liked it and becoming an assistant was great.
Cause you know, obviously it’s less stressful. I didn’t have to do all the, I let Ray do all the talking and all the disciplining and it really turned me loose coaching. Like he let me coach. [01:28:00] You know, the offensive, defensive side of the ball to paint. What year was it? Let me do player development and that’s in recruit.
I loved it. I did scheduling, you know, the gear stuff and that stuff’s pretty easy, but I got to really coach not that’s to me was. What I do like development skill development coaching. My niche is kind of with the post players. That’s where I’ve made my niche with Chris and Joanne and Eric Riley, Chris Garrett
And in fact, even right, I went to Kalamazoo college. My post player broke it. The shooting percentage record there that was held for 30 years. now he’s becoming a lawyer, UWA Madison, but, it’s a change. It’s a change where it’s suggestions and you can’t have an ego to the point where a coach turns you down.
Like you offer suggestions. He takes a leaves. A lot of guys I’ve seen assistance, man. They get chippy. Like they get chippy. They don’t like if they don’t take your advice, that’s fine. That’s okay. Like move on next. Next. Innocent in [01:29:00] July knows that me, like, I’m going to give you suggestions. You’re not gonna take all of them.
That’s okay. Like, I’m good with it. Different ways. Like he might say you’re crazy though, or I’ll give you a quick woman. Would you want like the old, like, we need to put Franz and balls Greenville. France does a ball. She no longer does a ball screening. We score in the game, the true story scores in the game.
So Dwight runs it again and he turns it over. He goes off, I’d be like bleep, bleep. We’re never putting him in a ball screening and we laugh about it afterwards. You know, it’s like, Okay. Like it’s okay. I laugh about it. Cause it’s like, it’s all coming from a good way place. And I think we, as assistant coaches need to know that we offer suggestions to the best of our knowledge, with the best information we have and the data that we have and, you know, either take or leave it.
And he’s got to do what’s in his heart and what’s in his gut and that’s kind of where you go with it. But you know, being an assistant and we were lucky, we won the horizon league. We went to the NC tournament. We won the [01:30:00] nit tournament, had some great players. And then we got fired then on the other end of it got fired.
Yeah. Got fired up final four up Houston, like 2014. We got, let go out there. And it was funny cause we were heck we were 15 and 13. I think we were, we were decent. We were in the middle of the pack and we got, let go. And all of a sudden you’re sitting here with two kids and a wife figure kind of figure out after, you know, 30 years of coach and what you’re going to do.
So. This is a cool story. So even when I was at Troy, I interviewed for Kalamazoo College. Cause it’s right. Downtown Kalamazoo. It’s a high academic school. Like it’s a beautiful campus. It’s got, it’s got good facilities. It’s an, a cool area. it’s a hard academic school, but you’ve got great, great kids. Like they’re all academia.
And, I interviewed him cause I thought, God, that’s a school where they haven’t won. And really my mantra was kind of going into grand valleys and the [01:31:00] centrals and Detroit’s and build a program, like build it up. So I didn’t have a job. So I interviewed there and they offered it and I took it and I started building.
And in really, we were just on the cusp. We were three point from missing the tournament, by third year. So I thought my fourth year. My fourth year that we got now a chance to try to compete for my AA title. Kind of like what he did at central. We had everybody coming back, we missed the term, MIW it by a one buck, one, three pointer, or we’d have made it.
And, you know, we had everybody returning. We did not lose one player. So I thought we had a chance to win it the following year. And then all of a sudden I get a call from Jalon and you know, and that’s just, it’s a special connection. I mean, me and Jawan have been friends and we talked in Minnesota in April, just, just, we met and had lunch with Steve Fisher, Brian Dutch.
I think it’s documented out there. You know, we just talked about friendships and everything [01:32:00] that’s going on. And you know, next thing you know, he I’m in a car going to a funeral, believe it or not. I’m speaking at a funeral Memorial service. I get a call from Joanne and we’re talking for 20 minutes. Like this is no Katie merch just chopping it up talk and we’re talking and nothing’s going.
He goes, Hey, what about you, Joe? You’re my staff. I’m like, we’ve been talking for a half hour. You don’t even bring it up. Like, of course. And I just said, Hey, let me get through this funeral. Let me talk to my boss, which is my wife. And, I jumped at, it only took, like I went to the funeral, get done a couple hours me and like talked.
I was coming back to Ann Arbor, so happy I made the move and I miss my guys at it. You know, you miss the guys that you recruited Kalamazoo, cause they’re always special to you. I talked to most of them weekly, but I’m blessed to be at Michigan. It’s a special place. Jawan Howard’s such a special guy along with Sidey.
Phil Martelli, Chris Hunter, Howard Isley. We’ve got such a great staff. It’s so [01:33:00] cool to work with these guys.
Mike Klinzing: [01:33:02] All right. Last question. We just blew by the hour and a half bar, so I think we’re trying to, I think we’re trying to set the record for our now for our longest pod. I had to send Jason a message over.
He actually had to go get his, He’s got a four month old at home. So he had to go and relieve his wife for a minute so he, he actually disappeared and ghosted on us, but I texted
him in the middle. I said, we might have to, this might have to be the first two parter, but let’s wrap up with this question, which is just tell us a little bit about that. What your role is right now, what you’re actually doing in your position at Michigan.
Jay Smith: [01:33:36] Okay. The shortest answer without going too long, is anything dealing with the players? I’m involved with anything academically, mentally, socially career-wise anything do with our players? my first year I was trying to get my feet wet, you know, you’re, you’re trying not to step on toes.
You know what I mean? You’re trying to find out where the landmines are. What are we lacking? What are we doing? So, yeah, [01:34:00] the Spanish, this past last two months, we put together a nutrition plan. I put together a career services plan with Julie feelings. we’ve talked with, Evan Gale about mental training.
So I’m putting those components together to hopefully do kind of a, in the summertime, eight week sessions of. Of player development. I think that’s part of player development. the other side, you know, the, the career stuff or resume getting into our Wolverine network, getting on LinkedIn, job shadowing, those types of things.
Cause our alumni, we had the largest living alumni body, the world, and you’re crazy if you don’t tap into it. And then when you know Michael you’re playing, that’s the last thing on your mind? Like you’re, you’re thinking about, can I get to that? We’re going to, we’re going to London next year to play Kentucky.
We’re w that’s the last thing, but they’ll be glad once they go through it, because we’re, we’re setting them up for success. So if something happens and they don’t go to the league, they’ve made connections with people that can help them in their [01:35:00] careers. And I think that’s a huge plus for anybody. And that’s what you want when you come here.
That’s what you sign up for. You’re part of the Michigan family. so anything dealing with the players. I work with a lady academically, so I handle those. I do. We communicate everything through Google calendar, so I coordinate that stuff. And then I do a lot of. A lot of film or like I watch every possession.
We do. I chart every possession, go through your possession. I’m able to communicate with Jawan a little differently, most just the fact that I coached him in , we’ve known each other for 25 years where, you know, Phil’s known him for a year. Saudi’s known him for a year. Our relationship is different. So I’m able to.
Bounce some things off of him and he’ll ask me, what do you think? Or I’ll say, Hey, I think we need to look at doing something like this and up whether he takes the ID or not, or I’ll say, Hey, look, I tell you, you put frauds in a ball screen and get ripped on it. But no, we get to the locker room. I told them, I said, one of my butt cheeks, [01:36:00] I’ve missed it.
He goes, what are you talking about, man? No stuff like that, where we can have fun. And it comes from a good place. And Joanne, such a good person. Like I said, our staff is unbelievable, but yeah. You know, doing those types of things and doing anything we can do. We have orientation coming up June 23rd with our guys, or we’re getting them nestled in.
We’re not going to be in the dorm. So, Chris Hunter and myself has set up the semester suites where our guys will stay, where we eat, all that stuff has to be done. And, anything deal with the players. Like I said, I got my hands on and you know, I just can’t be on the floor, physically coaching him. I can be at practice.
So I. Yeah, I have a notepad. You would, you would be, you’d be proud of me. I take notes on everything. I got notes upon notes, upon notes on everything. So I’m a big time note taker with it. I just think those things are important so we can document what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. So, and, and just trying to be a little piece and try to help the assistant coaches just be a little piece of the pie of [01:37:00] success, you know, just trying to do my part and.
Tried to do it the best of my ability and you know, who knows what happens later on, but you know, for right now, this is where I’m at as to where I need to be. And this is where the good Lord has put me in. Put me back in touch with Joanne here at Michigan. That’s good stuff.
Mike Klinzing: [01:37:15] I think I would guess that, although I’m sure you miss the interaction with the players out on the floor, just the nature of the fact that that job is.
Somewhat different than what you’ve done in the past, in terms of your career. I got to imagine that there’s some unique challenges and things that you find to be very exciting and fun and different, and that keeps you energized. And obviously, you know, it comes clearly through the microphone. You’re right.
Respect for Joanne as a person and as a coach and the relationship that you guys have, I’m sure it makes it. Doubly special. I think you would attest to the fact that when you’re out of coaching staff with guys, you get along with, with good guys with guys that you’re genuinely friends with, it makes the process much more fun when [01:38:00] you have those kinds of relationships.
And I think that clearly has come across and what we’ve been able to talk about tonight. And I can’t thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule. And I’m so glad that you and I were able to reconnect. Forget about the podcast, but just on a personal level, it’s amazing how quickly that you can kind of fall back into a relationship that you know, and you and I were really only together for a year and the year that you know that you know that you were there.
I didn’t play a whole lot, you know, and yet. It still feels like when we picked up the phone before then clearly again, tonight it feels like it was just yesterday that we were together. And to me, that’s really what, that’s, what it’s all about. And, and I can’t thank you enough for being a part of it before we get out of here.
I want to give you a chance to just share how people can find out more about what you’re doing, what is going on with university of Michigan basketball, and then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.
Jay Smith: [01:38:52] Well, I’m on Facebook, Jay Smith. You can find me on Facebook. I’m on Twitter @coachJaySmith45. On Twitter, [01:39:00] UMbasketball.
You can follow us by emails out there more than happy to share a win. It might be a morning. I’m happy to help in any way I can. Mike, I’m going to say this, like, it’s really cool that we’re able to connect. Like that’s, that means more than I think that, you know, for me. to be able to find you, I saw your podcast before the Dave Grube called me, which we are still buddies that, you know, you’re doing something like this to change lives, to help people.
It’s so cool that you’re serving and knowing you’re knowing that. Maybe we had a little part of that somewhere, somewhere in there that you’re giving back. And it’s just, it’s really cool. I hope that you’ll find out now that I’ve just spent two hours with you. You better get your butt up here to a game.
Yeah, for sure. No doubt. You. Yeah, we’re going to make it happen. We’re going to definitely make the fam come on up. You’ll you’ll enjoy it. It’s a great experience. Hopefully COVID would be gone by then, you know, but if you hit any of the other [01:40:00] guys, please, please give my love with stuff, man. I’m so glad this worked out like, and I can’t thank you enough.
Mike Klinzing: [01:40:06] Well, the feeling is mutual, everything that you just said, I could echo that sentiment and double it. It’s just been a pleasure, getting a chance to reconnect again on a personal level, but also just, I think the podcast and the stories that you were able to tell and the knowledge that you were able to share with our audience of coaches.
I can’t thank you enough. It’s just been an absolute pleasure. So we appreciate you joining us tonight and to everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.