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Jerry Buckley enters his 17th season as Head Coach of the Bishop Kenny basketball program with an overall 308-144 record. During his tenure, the Crusaders have won eight districts titles, appeared in the Regional Playoffs on twelve separate occasions, and earned berths in two Final Fours (2013 and 2016). He was recognized as the Florida State Coach of the Year in 2016 by the NFHS Coaches Association and has served on the FHSAA Basketball Advisory Committee multiple times.
Coach Buckley graduated from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he played basketball from 1989-1993. During his time at Catholic U., he played for current ESPN personality Bob Valvano and former George Washington University Head Coach Mike Lonergan. As a senior, he helped co-captain a team that won the Capital Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships and advanced to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
Now in his 28th year of coaching, Coach Buckley previously served as an assistant coach at Albertus Magnus HS (Bardonia, NY), and Buchholz HS (Gainesville, FL), before arriving at Bishop Kenny in 1999.
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Grab your notebook before you listen to this episode with Jerry Buckley, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Florida.
What We Discuss with Jerry Buckley
- His experiences with basketball growing up in New York
- Being a late bloomer who didn’t get many minutes as a high school player
- Eventually earning a spot as a college player at Catholic University and the lessons he shares with players about continuing to work and improve
- Playing for Bob Valvano at Catholic University
- Working in the business world after graduating, before getting into athletic administration, and eventually coaching
- Gaining experience by coaching games at the freshman and jv levels
- “It’s not just that team that year, it’s the continuity of your program.”
- Keeping players fresh so they can end the season strong
- Tips for transitioning from an assistant to a head coach within the same program
- Coming back to something the next day in practice if it doesn’t initially go well
- The value of cutthroat drills in practice
- Why he mixes up his starters during practice
- “If you’re treating every kid with respect regardless of their playing time then they really feel bought in.”
- The advantages of working in the school where you coach
- Creating an alumni panel so former players can share with current players
- Bishop Kenny’s Off-season Development Plan
- Coaching multi-sport athletes
- “We want our players to be more worried about what we’re doing than the opponent is doing.”
- Going over 5 keys to victory during pre-game
- Sharing one offensive and one defensive point during timeouts
- Post game talks – the shorter the better
- Take care of the ball, defend and rebound. I think if you can do that, you can stay at least close in most high school games.”
- Communicating clearly and frequently – don’t take for granted that parents know what’s going on
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THANKS JERRY BUCKLEY
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TRANSCRIPT FOR JERRY BUCKLEY – BISHOP KENNY (FL) HIGH SCHOOL BOYS’ BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 692
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host Jason Sunkle tonight, and we are pleased to be joined by the head boys basketball coach at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Florida, Jerry Buckley. Jerry, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.
[00:00:13] Jerry Buckley: Hey guys. Thank you. Pleasure to be on.
[00:00:16] Mike Klinzing: Excited to have you on, looking forward to digging into all the things that you’ve been able to do in your coaching career.
Want to go back in time to when you’re a kid to start us off. Tell us a little bit about how you got into the game of basketball when you were younger.
[00:00:29] Jerry Buckley: Sure. Initially started off my first sport I played was baseball and then a friend of mine’s father was coaching the local CYO team at our local parish and got me involved in fifth grade and really enjoyed it as I enjoyed a lot of different sports. And then I do remember going to basketball camp that following summer after sixth grade, Larry Burns was a real successful high school coach in New York City at collegiate high school and ran a camp locally in our county, in Rockland county, in New York.
And I remember going for a week and just falling in love with the game just as far as like stations and was excited to go home and just try different stuff in my driveway and stuff like that. And just really from there just became a obviously a lifelong love,
[00:01:17] Mike Klinzing: Other sports? Was basketball your only thing, your main thing. How did other sports play into it?
[00:01:22] Jerry Buckley: Yeah. Initially baseball and played some soccer as well. And then eventually like even though nowadays we talk about the sports people try to dominate 12 months a year, all the different sports, but you know, even back then the soccer coaches were trying to push in you need to play more soccer.
So eventually came down to, and I had two younger siblings, so you can only get your parents can only get you so many places. So you know, eventually it became basketball and baseball. And then once I hit high school, I played freshman baseball. And then after that just realized, Hey, if I want to be good at this, I probably need to really focus on playing basketball and that that’s where it went from there.
[00:02:01] Mike Klinzing: So during that point in your life as a high school player, what do you remember about. How you went about getting better. What were some of the things that you did, whether it was from a drill standpoint or just playing, we know pickup basketball is certainly different than it is today for kids, but just talk a little about how you got better as a high school player.
[00:02:19] Jerry Buckley: Yeah. I think that was it. Like you said, like trying to do a lot of stuff on your own and then, and couple buddies we would back then, obviously there weren’t trainers and stuff like that, but we really did a lot of stuff. Ourselves tried stuff. We had learned different camps and different situations.
And then, also open gym was a big thing back. And then Friday nights at one of the local high schools, they would just have the gym open for a couple hours, which was so valuable because you got to play against older guys sometimes guys in college or even beyond that.
And I think that was always a good experience. And obviously like we always talk about with AAU now there’s just one game on top of the other, but in open gym, you have to, you have to win to stay on. So I feel like that was always good as far as competitiveness. And like I said, playing against older guys was always a good experience as well.
[00:03:04] Mike Klinzing: It’s such a different world and we’ve obviously talked about this on the podcast before, but I think it’s worth revisiting. You just think about AAU mentioned it, the competitiveness and having to win in order to stay on the court, as opposed to the AAU tournament where you lose and you’re going to come back and get another game in the loser’s bracket.
Yeah. Or you’re going to play in the silver or whatever it is. So yeah, that piece of it. And then the other thing that I always point to in my own development as a player is what you mentioned in terms of playing against. Older players playing against people who are not always your own age, whereas most kids today, unless you’re playing up, which obviously some kids do, but not all of ’em.
Sure. But for the most part, kids are competing against other players their own age. And I think there’s something to be said for going to get somebody who’s older than you, who maybe isn’t quite as fast or isn’t quite as young as they used to be, but they kind of got those tricks to the trade or they got that old man’s strength or whatever it is that they can kind of show you some things that as a young player, I don’t think you necessarily learned those from your peers.
And obviously, as we’ve talked about many times there’s pluses and minuses to both systems kids today have I think way better access to good coaching all the time. Unfortunately, they get exposed to some bad coaching occasionally, but for the most part, I think there’s a lot more knowledge out there in the game as far as what kids need to be doing and what they should be working on.
So I think that’s a positive and then I don’t know how it was for you, but just getting access. Like you mentioned, having access on Friday night to a gym. It was pretty rare back in those days. Like nowadays schools are open all the time for any tournaments and travel, but back then those gyms, they locked those things up tight.
It was tough. It was, it was tough. It was tough to be able to get in. I know on Friday nights when I grew up, we, there was a local community college that used to have open gym. It was a dollar and you could go up there. And I remember sitting in the hallway waiting to get in and you try to get there and get there like 40 minutes.
So you could get in there, be the first game and pay your dollar and go play. But yeah, it was just a totally different way from the way kids grew up today. When you think about the balance between how much you were playing versus how much you were drilling or practicing on your own, while you were working on your game as a high school player, how would you describe maybe that percentage or that balance?
[00:05:16] Jerry Buckley: You know, probably it was probably more working on the skills as opposed to playing in my case. And that probably, I would say maybe slowed my development down a little bit because you know, there weren’t as many opportunities to play. Like you said, open gym was a little bit of a rarity and there wasn’t as much AAU at that point.
So any opportunity you had to play five on five was great, but probably not enough that it needed to be. And like you said, it may have swung in the other direction these days, but I would say, yeah, there was a lot more drill work, which is good. But again, putting whether it be three on three, four and four, five and five in live game situations where it’s not predictable.
That’s I think that always is a key in your development.
[00:05:56] Mike Klinzing: No question about that. And certainly from a coaching standpoint today, that’s the direction that coaching and, and working with your team and working with individual players certainly has shifted that way. I’d say over the last 15 or 20 years where it used to be, people thought more, Hey, I have to do drill work.
And now I think you talk to most coaches and they’re trying to incorporate as much of game like situations and small sided games and all those things as much as they possibly can into their practices. When you think back to that time as a high school player, do you have a favorite memory that stands out for you?
[00:06:29] Jerry Buckley: Yeah, I would say, like, to be honest with you, high school basketball was very limited as far as my playing time. Like I was real small and really develop later. So it was kind of a consistent process of trying to get on the court so I think for me, it was just college was a different side of it, but for high school, it was just kind of working and knowing that I really wasn’t a finished product.
And just thinking just kept working and working and thinking there was something beyond what I was achieving in high school. So that was probably the main takeaway from it was just being somehow having a belief in myself and also just keeping it going. And, but I really for me, like those open gyms were probably more highlights than my actual high school career going and having some success there.
And then just seeing eventually getting a little bit better little by little and eventually over those couple years having some more success
[00:07:22] Mike Klinzing: And then you get an opportunity to play college basketball. So I’m assuming that at some point you’ve had a conversation as a coach with players that have played for you that maybe aren’t getting the amount of playing time that they want, or maybe they’re younger.
And they feel like, Hey, I could be up a level from where I am now. I’m assuming that you’ve been able to take some of those lessons that you learned as a high school player and then eventually a college player and been able to relay that to your players.
[00:07:49] Jerry Buckley: Absolutely. And I think a lot of it, like I said, is having a belief in yourself and also just you have that, you’ve have to wait your turn type of thing, which is always easier said than done.
But yeah, I mean, think being determined and knowing that, like, in my case, like I said, a lot of it was just late physical development. And everybody’s different how they do that, but sometimes you can really see, like if a kid keeps working on it, particularly skill or gets stronger or gets a little bit quicker, a little bit bigger things can happen from there.
So, so I always have a soft spot, certainly for those guys who are late developing, whatever the context is.
[00:08:26] Mike Klinzing: So talk a little bit about how you get an opportunity to go play college basketball at Catholic University in Washington, DC.
[00:08:34] Jerry Buckley: Yeah. So went down to visit and I was really just looking for an opportunity.
And at the time the coach at Catholic was Jack Bruen who ended up going to coach at Colgate very soon after that. So in the spring I went down and in essence kind of had to try out and play with some of the guys and that kept a bigger roster at that point. So he basically offered me a spot.
But really within a couple weeks of that, he went on to coach at Colgate and eventually coach Adonal Foyle played in the NBA from the Patriot league. But so when I got there Valvano had taken over at Jim’s younger brother. So they initially had a JV team that first year. And that’s what I played on, which ended up being great for me, because really there was very few guys in the team.
So playing time was, which was really what I was lacking was there was a lot of it on the JV and did a little bit of varsity as well. And then over like a two year period. Grew about three inches and gave 30 pounds. So that was definitely a huge factor for me that that always helps. Yeah.
Yeah. So again, and then just kept chipping away and you know, like you said, as far as working with our own guys, like, I felt like a lot of my career really until my senior year in college was I was always kind of on the bubble, like in that eight to nine guy spot where some games are going to play a little bit more than others, some games you might not play at all so always kind of being ready.
You’re not all the way down the end where you’re probably not getting in, but you’re not obviously in the main rotation. So like I said, I think that helps me from the coaching side of things, having perspective and making sure you’re taking care of your whole roster, knowing that the kids are fighting to get every minute they can on the court.
[00:10:06] Mike Klinzing: When you talk to your own players now about. College basketball and thinking about whether or not they may or may not have an opportunity to play. What do those conversations sound like? What are some pieces of advice that you try to give your players? And again, it could be something that you took from your experience as a player, or just.
The vast amount of experience that you have as a coach with having players getting an opportunity to go and play at the next level?
[00:10:30] Jerry Buckley: Sure. I mean, I think it’s obviously, there’s the academic piece. You always want to make sure that’s a good piece, good fit and you’re not sacrificing just for basketball.
You know, in our state of Florida, we don’t have the division three programs so unfortunately that’s a and I love division three basketball both from watching it and playing it. So that’s an opportunity that for our guys, they have to look else outside the state and don’t know necessarily what that level looks like.
But trying to find a right fit, understanding nowadays, There are a lot of programs. Like I said, that do have JV programs or will carry heavy rosters for enrollment purposes, purposes, and that type of thing too. So just tell ’em to look for the right fit and, and understand, but also go in with your eyes wide open.
Like, like if they’re bringing in 15 freshmen, it’s going to be competitive and eventually it’s going to be a tryout when you get there. So you have to feel comfortable about the whole situation, not just the basketball piece.
[00:11:24] Mike Klinzing: What do you remember about your time playing for coach Valvano? Is there something that you still take from that experience that you feel you’ve incorporated bits and pieces of him into your coaching?
[00:11:38] Jerry Buckley: Yeah, I mean, he was obviously a dynamic personality, very similar to, I never actually met his brother, Jim, but he was 15 years older, but you know, very similar as far as what I had always seen on TV and that type of thing. And he actually Bob Valvano had just come from coaching in Sweden at the time he took over in the 89-90 season that Catholic youth.
So they were really at that point had really taken on a three point shot and, and that type of thing. So that had really so that European flavor, he kind of brought right away. And so that was interesting. And obviously the game since then has really taken that on fully with the warriors and all that stuff, as far as the amount of three point shots they’re taken now.
So I would say that’s probably one main thing as far as spreading the floor and spacing that type of thing. And then also keeping it fun he was, he was always as you can imagine, very, a very funny guy. Very bright and very funny and also obviously loved the game and knew the game. So was definitely very enjoyable being around him at the time.
[00:12:37] Mike Klinzing: Was coaching on your radar? Was that something that as you’re in college, you’re thinking about, Hey, teaching and coaching is a direction that I want to go. Were you thinking something else at that point? Just where was your mindset?
[00:12:48] Jerry Buckley: You know, I was a business major and really didn’t have an idea fully. My parents had both been teachers and my dad was a track coach for a long time.
So I kind of knew from that perspective. And probably realistically, sometimes you have that, I’m not going to do what my parents are doing type thing. So, and not that they, they had a great experience, but it just something different. So but I think in the back of my mind, I always knew I, I just loved the game of basketball and just hoped they could stay in touch with it in athletics in general.
Like I said, a good experiences playing baseball and soccer and that type of thing. So I didn’t really know how that was going to fit in. And eventually did look into athletic administration and that type of thing. But once I realized the coaching was really the way I wanted to go, but like I said, I probably had that in the back of my mind, but not necessarily at the forefront initial.
[00:13:32] Mike Klinzing: So when you graduated, are you looking for a coaching job? Are you looking for a regular job in the business world? What’s your thought process as you graduate from Catholic U?
[00:13:41] Jerry Buckley: So there were a couple guys that I knew they were in college coaching. And at that time I graduated in 93 and I think at that point, if I remember the restricted earnings position had just been done away with, or they’d done some, made some changes.
So I think the, the entry jobs were difficult to get into. And a couple of the guys I knew they were actually coaching division one at the time were kind of discouraging as far as just the lifestyle and it’s tough to get in and et cetera. So for that standpoint, I kind of took a step back and say, okay, well, let me see what happens business wise.
And I remember going down for an interview in New York City for an accounting position. And just realizing, Hey this is not what, like, I, I have to somehow be involved with sports just, and, and interview went well. And, and I got called back for a second one, but I was like, you know what.
I really have to take a good look. And initially, like I said, it was just really more staying in touch with sports and then eventually evolved into I think coaching is something that’s where we really felt like my niche would be.
[00:14:41] Mike Klinzing: It’s funny because I’m listening to your story, Jerry. And there is so many parallels to my story.
So both my parents were teachers. My mom was an elementary school teacher. My dad was a professor at Cleveland state. I had a business degree from Kent. Got done. And I never really, honestly, in all my time as a player, I never really thought, Hey, I think I want to teach and coach.
I was one of those kids that I went into college, people would ask me, Hey, what do you want to do? I’m like, I have no idea. I don’t have, I never had a job as a kid except for a paper out. When I was 8, 9, 10 years old. My job basically was basketball. That’s all I that’s all I wanted to do. And I went to school and I was, I was a good student, but I graduated.
And I remember I went in a couple interviews and I went on one with. Nestle. And I got a call back from Nestle just like yourself. And they brought me in. They’re like we want, we want you to come in and you know, we’ll, we’ll, we’ll start you. This was like, in June, they’re like, you’ll start on July 15th and whatever.
And I went home. And I started thinking about it. I’m like, wait, they want me to put on a suit in July and go to work. Yeah. I’m like I’ve never seen anybody work in the summer. My dad might’ve taught us. My dad might’ve taught like one summer school class, but I had never seen anybody work in the summertime.
And so it really made me reevaluate, like, okay, what, what am I doing? And then I ended up taking like basically a year where I was working at the local rec center. And thinking about what I want to do. I volunteered and went back to my old high school and volunteered. I was like an assistant JV coach and really enjoyed that.
And then at that point decided that I want to go back to school. So it’s kind of eerie the parallels between your story as you were telling it. I’m like, man, that, that almost completely parallels my, my, my story of how I kind of got into teaching and coaching. So it’s interesting. It’s very interesting.
Yeah. So once you make that decision, that that’s what you’re going to do. What were the steps that you had to take in order to make that happen?
[00:16:36] Jerry Buckley: So like I said, I was kind of thinking the, about the athletic thing. And then I still had some friends, obviously living in Washington, DC. So I was considering that that fall right after I graduated, actually did start helping coach.
My brother’s former high school team. Alberta’s Magnuson Barone, New York, and his coach who had just taken over was Joe McGinnis. And Joe McGinnis, actually, I’m not sure if you read coach the book on coach K that came out recently by Ian, Ian O’Connor, but coach McGinnis is the guy that they based the preface of the book on he had played for Coach K at west point for two years.
When Coach K left and went to Duke Joe ended up transferring to Manhattan college, but Joe, unfortunately, eventually developed cancer, but Coach K stayed with him and they stayed very tight for the next 20, 30 years, whatever that was. And then eventually, unfortunately Joe passed I think it’s seven years ago now, but so they stayed in touch forever and I was coaching with coach McGinness.
So that’s probably the first time I really thought about, Hey watching him impact. The kids and obviously he’s just passion and love for the game. So that’s kind of my was my first coaching experience and really started to trigger that, Hey, this might be something I want to get involved with.
So but I did move to DC and, and just did a business job for a little while. And then actually just luckily an opportunity opened up in the athletic department at Catholic U where I just graduated from so that I did that for a couple years and was not really affiliated officially with the basketball team, but did was around enough and helped with some workouts and stuff like that.
So again, that started to light the fire. And then I really again kind of decided I think this is really the direction I wanted to go as far as the high school aspect.
[00:18:16] Mike Klinzing: When you think about that decision to go back and. Switch gears from, okay, I’m switching out of the business world and I’m going to go back and I’m going to get into coaching.
What was it about coaching other than obviously being around the game, which you’ve loved your entire life, but was there any specific aspect of the coaching piece in those first couple experiences that you really latched onto? Maybe more than the other thing, was there one aspect of the game that, or the coaching piece of it that you really were like, man, I, this is what I, this is what I love to do.
This is what I was meant to do.
[00:18:45] Jerry Buckley: Yeah. You know, I think like a lot of guys have said on your podcast before, it’s like, when you’re a player, you really have no idea. All that goes into it. As far as like the constantly thinking about the kids and the program and, and strategy and all the other stuff that goes into.
So once I had a little bit of. Insight in that working with coach McGinnis that start to open things up and, and just the relationships and seeing how it’s much bigger obviously than basketball. Whether you coach a kid that ends up being a great division one player, or just it has a solid high school career.
I think that can have so much impact later on. And luckily I’ve been doing it long enough now where you see that different guys that come back and have had good experiences. So I think that’s where probably it first started to realize was it was even though, I mean, first of all, obviously being involved with basketball, just the competitiveness is awesome, but there’s also so much beyond that where you can really have an impact.
[00:19:41] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. We can dive into that as we get more into what you were able to do there at Bishop Kenny, we can talk about that, that off the floor impact. Let’s get you down to Florida. How do you go about doing that?
[00:19:52] Jerry Buckley: Yeah. So that was again, not something I saw coming. So ended up meeting my wife at Catholic U.
She was working there as well. So. In the meantime. I actually ended up moving back to New York to do my master’s in school counseling at Manhattan college. So I was doing that and went back and coached with coach began again. So again, that was was awesome. And then in 98 we got married and my wife got into a graduate program at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
So in a million years, I wouldn’t have thought we were moving anywhere out of the Northeast . And you know, so we did move down there. And initially her program was a PhD program, so it was going to be five years. So the plan was always five years down here then were moving back to probably New York and, you know 25 years and four kids later, we’re still here.
So , it’s worked out pretty good.
[00:20:41] Mike Klinzing: I think you might officially be Floridians now at this point. Yeah, exactly. so how do you go, how do, how do you get the high school job? How do you get a job? How do you get a coaching job teaching job? What do you remember about that process and how you went about doing that?
[00:20:55] Jerry Buckley: Yeah. So when we moved down, I didn’t have anything. I had just been certified in school counseling, so I ended up finding a job out, out in a rural part outside of Gainesville named Gilcrest county. So I went from working at and going to school at Manhattan college in the Bronx to working at Trenton high school where there one, there was one stoplight in the whole county.
So that was definitely a different situation, but really good people. And, and I ended up coaching with which was again a really great connection, Bob Jordski who actually had run the camps at west point where I used to go. He was an assistant west point and army when I was a high school player he was coaching at Bucholz high school in Gainesville.
So we ended up coaching together for that year, which was awesome again and learned a lot from him. And then the job opened up at Bishop Kenny in Jacksonville, which is about a hour and a half drive from Gainesville. So luckily Because of the quality of school and everything else, we kind of split, excuse me, split the difference between Gainesville and Jacksonville.
So I was driving to Jacksonville every day and my wife is going down to Gainesville for school. So and again, it just kind of, one thing led to another.
[00:22:01] Mike Klinzing: And so you started there as an assistant coach, correct?
[00:22:03] Jerry Buckley: Yes. Yes. So I was assistant for Joe Pachardo for seven years. My first year was a freshman coach and then six years as JV.
And I was always helping out the varsity, which was awesome. You know, he, he let us be involved as much as we wanted to be. And that was a great experience. Cause I think again, not really knowing it as you’re going through it, but just being able to coach, like it’s one thing to be an assistant, but obviously making decisions whether even be freshman or JV.
I felt like that really prepared me when I did have the opportunity to take over the varsity. You know, I had probably coached at that point over 150 games just to have that experience plus summer league and all that stuff. So all those decisions you can make I think that helped in a lot of ways.
[00:22:45] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. That’s a great point. And I forget what episode I talked about this, but myself, I started out my career as a varsity assistant coach and I think I was probably only in that spot for. nine or 10 years. Maybe I actually, I take that back. So I started as a volunteer JV coach at my high school.
So I wasn’t making any decisions there. Then I was a JV head coach for two years. So I was coaching games and having a sub and called timeouts and make strategic decisions and all that. And then when I got my teaching job, after I had gone back to school, I became a varsity assistant. I was a varsity assistant for like 10 years.
And then at some point, year 10 or 11, I can’t remember exactly when I stayed on as the varsity assistant, but we just needed somebody to coach the JV. So I ended up coaching the JV team, having not really coached a real live game for like 10 years. Yeah. And to be honest, it was really overwhelming to go back from, Hey, I’m just kind of sitting on the bench and I’m keeping track of timeouts and I’m trying to come up with something witty to say or make sure, make sure, make sure I’ve got some good suggestion versus I’m the guy standing up there having to make all those decisions.
And it took me, it took me five or six games into that season before. I even felt comfortable let alone, I, wasn’t probably very good at that point, but at least I felt comfortable again, but those first couple games were to your point, really difficult because you kind of take for granted when you’re sitting there as an assistant, all the things that the head coach has to manage and handle within the game.
And then obviously that doesn’t even count all the things that a head coach has to do off the floor, which we’ll get into here in a little bit, but sure. Just being able to make decisions, which you don’t do in the same way as an assistant coach, when you think about your time at Bishop Kenny as an assistant, and obviously you’re there for seven years, so you’re kind of learning the ins and outs of the program and you’re watching how your head coach has done things.
And you’ve worked with some other really good coaches up to that point. What do you think, or what did you learn as an assistant that you’ve taken into your head coach and career that you think have may has, has made you a better head coach?
[00:24:53] Jerry Buckley: You know, I think from watching coach Pachardo and all the guys I was able to work with, but just running a program understanding it’s while you may not have the kids actively doing something 12 months a year, you’re really putting things in place where it is a year round situation where you’re planning at least, or prepping for your preseason and, and understanding how it all builds up and being involved with your youth teams so you got your freshman team, your JV team, always knowing that that’s the next group coming up.
So I think having that perspective and learning, it’s not just that team that year it’s, it’s the. You know, continuity of your program understanding what’s being taught on all those different levels. And like I said, just, just kind of the whole 12 month, a year kind of perspective of when you’re planning to do different things, weight training open gyms, all those different things that come in summer league in Florida pretty much June is heavy high school season.
So you’ve got summer league, you’ve got team camps, all the different stuff. So understand all that comes together. That was a really good for me to experience that again, you never know until you’re the head coach, all the other stuff that comes with it, but I had a pretty good feel, I think, from watching him for all those years.
[00:26:04] Mike Klinzing: When you took over the job, what were one or two things, if you can remember back that far, what were one or two things that you felt like you needed to prioritize?
Because obviously as you’re watching Head coaches. You’re seeing lots of things that you like, but you’re also seeing things you’re like, maybe I would do that a little bit differently. So when you think back to that time, what were some things that were important to you? Not that they weren’t important to the previous coach, but just, you know what I’m saying, if you were going to put your stamp on the program, what do you remember thinking?
This is what I want us to stand for this what I want us to be all about.
[00:26:38] Jerry Buckley: Right, right. And I think it was, it obviously goes back to the, I guess Dean Smith coin the play hard, play smart and play together. But also I wanted to make sure there was some fun involved with it also, because it could definitely be a grind even at the high school level.
And like I said, almost going year round to some extent, so making sure and, and I think for us it was making sure we were playing our best basketball at the end of the season. So I think that’s something that’s changed probably from when we were playing as far as like teams practicing three hours.
During the season on a week, night before game.
[00:27:12] Mike Klinzing: Jerry come on. come on. I never, I never played for any coach. I never played for any coach that did that. My college coach, I think back to the, again, the, the practice of keeping your team fresh. And I would say we, we, that was, that was not the philosophy when you and I were players.
For sure. So sorry for interrupting…
[00:27:29] Jerry Buckley: Yeah. Yeah. And again, that was a lot of, it was part of, it was obviously the physical and life was the mental, just the toughness. Like we’re not going to submit. And there’s certainly something to be said for that, but I think being fresh, both mentally and physical, I remember in college, like your season would end and you feel like two weeks later, you’ve never jumped any higher because you’ve had at least a couple weeks off to rest your legs a little bit. So I’m like I wish I felt like this a couple weeks ago, you know? So again, it’s a balance and you want to be sharp. But I think that’s an important thing to make sure you’re playing your best basketball and you’re not worn down.
Like you don’t want to play your best game in November you want to be obviously playing well in February and March, if you can.
[00:28:08] Mike Klinzing: Yeah, no question about that. How long into your tenure did it take you until you felt comfortable with your philosophy and the way that you wanted to play? And obviously you’re tweaking it year to year based on your personnel and you’re looking at what you can and can’t do, but just when did you really get your, a feel for, Hey, this is, this is what I’m all about as a coach.
Was there a certain point that you can remember or a season where you’re like, Hey, this thing is finally coming together.
[00:28:35] Jerry Buckley: Yeah. I mean, I think one way or the other, you think, feel like you’re always tweaking it as far as understanding what your personnel is and obviously high school things can change from year to year.
So big guys, one year you have three point guards. One year you have no point guards or big men or whatever the case is. So I think trying to be flexible, but also knowing. You know, competing on the defensive end. I think we, and that was instilled long before I got the Bishop Kenny. So that’s always been kind of a mentality, which is we tried to continue that and that’s certainly something I believed in wholeheartedly and then the offensive end you know, having that confidence and freedom, but also obviously making sure you’re sharing the ball and playing as a team.
So like I said, I think luckily enough in the JV and, and when I took over the guys that were, I had coached all those guys, so that was a huge advantage for me. Coming in with it, they, we knew each other and it wasn’t just me coming and off the street to putting off. So I was able to kind of take what coach Pichardo had done, which was awesome.
And then kind of put my own tweaks on it. And in over the years obviously make it more and more my own.
[00:29:43] Mike Klinzing: Was there any challenge to you being previously an assistant where maybe you had a slightly different relationship with. your guys as compared to being the head coach. I always think it’s interesting when you think about somebody getting their first head coaching job, where some guys obviously kind of get promoted from within and they go from being an assistant in a program that they’ve been with to the head coach versus somebody who comes in from the outside.
I think there’s probably pluses and minuses to each one of those situations. But do you remember anything about that transition of going from assistant coach to head coach, whether that be through the relationship with the players or just maybe in your own mind having to establish your authority, your confidence, just talk a little bit about that transition?
[00:30:28] Jerry Buckley: I think it was, again, there definitely was that transition. No question. But the good thing was I had coached them as a head coach of the JV. So at least we had that established and I was coach Bechara was in his early sixties when he retired. I was 35 when I took over. So I was young.
And it was a, more of a fresh look, but I wasn’t that young so I was lucky from that perspective that I think I had the respect of the guys, but it also it, there was some new to it and some excitement from that standpoint. So yeah, there were definitely some challenges, but for the most part, I was lucky.
I was kind of in that sweet spot where I wasn’t too young where they were going to run me over, but I wasn’t it wasn’t just a brand new situation.
[00:31:12] Mike Klinzing: Got it, makes a lot of sense when you started looking at building the program and you mentioned it earlier that as a varsity coach, you’re not just the coach of your varsity team, but you’re also responsible for those younger teams and making sure that those kids are getting the right coaching, the right type of experience so that when they eventually do get to you on the varsity, they’re prepared, how’d you go about a putting your staff together and then B making sure that your influence or the things that you wanted to have done were getting done throughout the entire program.
[00:31:49] Jerry Buckley: Right. So I was very lucky from that standpoint. Two of the guys that had coached with coach Pichardo, one was one of his former players who was a graduate. Another one had been coaching with me was actually my assistant with the JV.
So those guys took both stood stayed on, which was awesome. So there was continuity there. And then my assistant who’s been was from day one was Byron Alman, who ironically had been an assistant at Catholic U when I was playing there for two years. So we had already, we had a great relationship as player coach back then I we lost touch really after he left.
I just knew he moved to Florida, no idea he was in Jacksonville. And probably about a year before I took over his head coach, we bumped into each other and with our wives in Costco and just obviously was like, we had never. Never been apart. And then you know, Byron came out with me, I took the head coaching position we’ve been together ever since.
So and he had played division one basketball at Loyola, Maryland had actually played in high school with Johnny Dawkins at Macon Catholic high school in DC. So just a great person as well as an excellent player too. So that just worked out it kind of was a perfect fit as far as, from that perspective.
[00:33:04] Mike Klinzing: And once you have those guys on staff, talk a little bit about how you approach being involved with those younger teams and just whether or not you’re passing on terminology. How do you work with the coaches? How are you making sure you’re building a relationship with those younger kids?
[00:33:22] Jerry Buckley: Right. And I think the coach Pichardo when, when I was coaching for him he gave us a lot of freedom with that.
So I always enjoyed that. And I think obviously he was dedicated with the varsity. I think also he trusted what we were doing. So that’s what I wanted to do with our guys is that my first JV coach was a guy named Pete Wolf that had actually been helping out some different college programs.
So we were very lucky to get him. He came on our teaching staff as well. So it was great for us to, we could meet a lot and, and kind of stay on the same page. But like I said, I think it’s that balance of if they have questions and want to do things like you’re doing, you’re, you’re available for that, but also letting to put their own stamp on it because I think like anything else they want to feel like they’re, they’re running their team and, and but obviously always want to have consist consistency as far as fundamentals and that type of thing.
[00:34:14] Mike Klinzing: Yeah, that’s a fine line to walk where you want them to have some autonomy. And yet at the same time, you clearly want them to be teaching and, and doing similar things to what the players are going to have to do on the varsity level.
And I think the best coaches, the ones that I’ve seen that do exactly what you described, they’ve given their coaches autonomy, but yet at the same time, they’ve made it pretty clear in terms of, Hey, this is sort of the way that we play and what we want to do and how we want to go about teaching it. And I think once you get the right staff in place, that stuff just sort of flows together much better, especially when there’s a trust factor.
You talked a little bit about. Again, being able to get together during the day and talk basketball and just put things together. So when you’re going about planning, let’s say a practice in season. What’s the routine that you have for planning a practice is that you putting the practice plan together, sharing it with your assistant.
Are you guys talking before or after practice about, Hey, here’s what we need to work on. Just what’s your, what’s your practice planning routine.
[00:35:21] Jerry Buckley: Yeah, I usually obviously will think about and review how practice went the day before. And then I do keep basically a library of our old, our old practices and kind of pull things from there depending on the time of year.
Definitely early on, like we typically have between 13 and 15 practices before our first game. So that’s going to be kind of laid out you know, we have to cover this, this and this over that time period, because obviously anybody could throw anything at you this first couple games and you want to make sure you’ve least covered it a little bit, but as far as during a regular season Actually the great thing is Joe Porto’s son, John who we had coached together back with his dad has just started he’s a teacher at our school and just started helping me again the last couple years as well.
So we’ll touch base. Again, he has great perspective as a former player and coach. So he can kind of give his insight and, and give some fresh perspective and then make sure, like I said, at some point we, we are concrete as far as what we’re trying to get done that day when you’re actually
[00:36:21] Mike Klinzing: in practice and you’re putting the kids through the drills and whatever it is that you’re doing are you of the mindset that.
Hey, we’ve got 15 minutes on this drill. And when that 15 minutes is up, we’re moving on to the next thing. Are you a coach that you like to stick with it? If they’re not getting it, do you scrap it? If it looks like, oh man, this just isn’t, this just isn’t happen today. Let’s move on to something else. How do you approach those kinds of situations within a practice setting?
[00:36:47] Jerry Buckley: Yeah, I think I’ve been probably at some point done all those things. I would say at this point I’ve probably settled on, we’re going to do it. When that segment’s over, we’re going to move on to the next thing I think and, we’re going to come back to it probably the next day.
Because obviously I think you want to have a flow to practice and you want to have hat positive emotion. Not that it sometimes it’s, it’s good to have some negative emotion and, and get some competitiveness or whatever the case is. But I think for me, it’s, I’ve learned over the years for us, at least it’s finish your time segment, move on to the next thing and then make sure we come back the next day and obviously figure out what was going wrong and then make sure we address it.
[00:37:29] Mike Klinzing: Do you have some go-to drills that are part of what you do every day or most days that you feel are really important, whether it’s from a just skill development standpoint or things that you like when you’re working defensively or offensively that are staples of your program, or are you trying to keep it fresh every single day where we’re just approaching a skill or a particular thing that we’re working on in a different way?
[00:37:55] Jerry Buckley: I would say we’re fairly consistent as far as what we do to year to year, but I think now they’ve been doing it for some time. I like to make sure there’s something at least two or three new drills we pick up every year just to give the kids a different look.
One thing that you know, like we talked about that the whole block practice thing with like shell drill. Like we certainly do shell drill, but I’ve gone a lot more to that cutthroat drill, which I learned. You know, actually it was a YouTube video. Brett brown did a clinic, I think internationally years ago.
And it’s been awesome. It’s consistent movement. You know, you’ve got three teams of four and four and, and it’s all, it’s a defensive drill. They get a point for a stop and you can basically kick a team off if they’re not doing what you want to do. So if they’re not talking, they’re not on weakside, they’re not getting a hand up over the ball, whatever the case is.
So they’re constantly being evaluated for what Fort’s getting done. So that’s been great, I think because again, it brings that competitiveness as opposed to shelter, which can just be less than dynamic where guys are just kind of going from spot to spot. Now it’s live and competitive and you have winners and losers.
And I feel like that’s something definitely over the last five years, we’ve tried to emphasize more and that’s been more successful.
[00:39:08] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. Cutthroat is fantastic. From a standpoint of getting kids to compete. It’s funny this past spring, my son’s AAU team, our coach was. Mia. He had to go and he couldn’t, he couldn’t be there.
And so we didn’t want to cancel practice. So he asked me, Hey, Mike, will you step in and run practice? And so we did a bunch of drills and different things and, and worked on some of the stuff that, that they had been working on. And then at the end, I’m like, all right, we’re going to play some half cord. And we just did it.
We did our cutthroat three on three. Cause we didn’t have enough guys to go the traditional four, four, but you know, at first they’re like, we’re only going to, we’re only going half court. Can’t we go up and down. I’m like, no, let’s try this. We’re going to go a little three on three. And it took ’em seriously, like 45 seconds before.
The intensity level was probably as high or higher than it’s ever been. Just because again, you got, when you’re standing on the sideline, like you better be, you better be paying attention and ready to come in because if you don’t, you’re just going to be right back off the floor right away. And so it’s just, I think that that for any coach who’s out there, if you haven’t incorporated that cutthroat drill into whatever it is that you’re doing, I love what you said in terms of your awarding points for defensive stops.
And there’s obviously all different ways that you can structure that. I mean, you can give extra points for offensive rebounds, or you can get a point for deflections or there’s just so many different variations and ways that if there’s certain things that you want to emphasize or work on, that you can incorporate that into the drill while at the same time, keeping that intensity high and keeping.
Live and game, like, which obviously has the most transfer to actual games. When you start talking about it to me, I think coaches out there, everybody, everybody should be incorporating some form of cutthroat for some certain period of time during practice. Cause I just think it, it brings out that competitiveness that you talked about and it allows you to work on such a variety of different things.
[00:41:02] Jerry Buckley: Yeah. And like you said, if you have the guys you can be really minimum or at least using 12, 12 guys or are involved, you’ve got three teams of four, whatever it is like you’re, they’re running in and out. So it’s not just guys standing on the sideline. Who’s subbing when like they’re all involved, which is great.
[00:41:20] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. When you guys practice, I’m just curious. Do you guys go varsity by yourselves? Does JV practice with you sometimes practice with you? What’s your philosophy on that?
[00:41:29] Jerry Buckley: We are primarily going to be varsity only. We have. It basically like a lot of times our JV will come in in the morning, like at 6:00 AM, just with gym time space.
And we actually have outdoor courts, which in Florida, luckily enough, we’re actually able to use that a little bit, especially with our freshman team. So it does get busy because we’ve got our, our girls program has a JV varsity. Then we have the three teams. So it’s just finding that balancing access.
Sometimes we get a local gym for our freshman team also, but for the most part, I think it’s important obviously getting the reps for the varsity guys. And also for the JV now JV, when they come in the morning a lot, it’s just six to seven 15, so it’s only an hour and 15 minutes, but I think they get more out of that than they would in a two hour practice where maybe they’re they’re assigned one basket or a half court or whatever the case is.
[00:42:17] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. If they’re standing on the side, not getting reps, you don’t get better, right? If you’re not getting reps, you’re not getting out on the practice floor in a game, obviously that’s the way you, that’s the way you improve. You have to be able to have opportunities. And I think sometimes if players end up standing around, if you have a JV, varsity ING together, you have to be really mindful of the fact that you have to get all those kids, all those kids reps.
Thinking about that. When you look at as a head coach, obviously there’s going to be kids that are in your starting lineup that are playing a lot. And there’s going to be kids who are towards the end of your bench that are valuable members of your team, but may not get the minutes that they want. And obviously most kids, general happiness on a team is dictated by whether or not they get an opportunity to play sure.
Out on the court. So how do you go about making sure that you keep those kids that aren’t getting maybe the minutes that. They were hoping to get, how do you keep those kids involved buying in so that you don’t end up with a situation where guy 10 or 11 or 12 is causing problems in the locker room or on the bench?
Just how do you go about making sure you keep those kids engaged?
[00:43:28] Jerry Buckley: So one of the big things we picked up, which was actually from a podcast a couple years ago, was that we do a meeting with all the kids and their parents pretty much about a week after the team is picked. So we’ve been together all summer, all fall, so we have a pretty good feel at that point for how things are going to play out playing time-wise again generally.
So we try to make sure that everybody’s on the same page with that. As far as understanding this is where we see your role, obviously you can potentially expand it. So I think from the, from that standpoint, we’re up front and then the other thing would be, I try to do a lot is that to mix the teams, especially when we’re five on five where they’re all linked in together. So it’s not necessarily always starters versus non-starters that type of thing. And in some ways that may the continuity with the starters may suffer a little bit, but from my perspective, long term, I think the camaraderie of the whole team strengthens because the least, and they also feel like, Hey, I’m getting a chance.
I’m going against these guys every day. And you can’t just say, well we’re getting, we’re getting beat up every day. Cause it’s only the five starters versus everybody else. But if things are mixed, I think that keeps the competitiveness. And also maybe the dissension a little bit less as well.
[00:44:41] Mike Klinzing: I do think it’s really important to be able to make sure that those kids, I think you hit on two great points. One is you have to make ’em feel. They have a chance that they’re getting an opportunity. And I think by mixing up the teams, you’re clearly doing that. And then two, you have to make ’em feel like they’re a part of it.
So by doing that and giving ’em an opportunity to starters, to play with reserves, I think by doing those two things, you’re, you’re giving kids what, they’re, what they’re looking for. Again, they’re looking for opportunity. And I think ultimately in most cases, I mean, there are some, probably some rare exceptions, but I think in most cases, if you really boil it down and get to the inject a kid with truth serum, they kind of know whether or not exactly that whether they should be playing or not playing or who’s playing and who’s not.
And even though they may outwardly not be all that happy or they may seem like, Hey, maybe this kid doesn’t get it. I think when you break it down and you really have, I’m guessing a one-on-one conversation with them as a coach, that, that they. They kind of understand it, most of the, most of the issues, I think playing time wise and at least in my experience, and I’m sure probably in yours come from a parent who maybe isn’t quite as realistic as they should be chirping and chirping in the kids’ ear.
So you, you mentioned one thing about the, the pre sort of the preseason after the team’s picked having a parent meaning what are some other things that you do to engage your parents and make sure that you keep them supportive of the program and, and just anything maybe that you do with them to keep them engaged?
[00:46:10] Jerry Buckley: Right. So we do, I’m sure as you know, most everybody does, we do a big parent meeting really that first weekend of the season after we’ve got all three teams pick, but we try to make sure they understand just kind of the philosophy of the program across the board. Also we started doing which I think again, I picked up from somebody as far as just kind of general perspective as far as, okay.
Let’s say with our freshman and JV team, you might have somewhere between 15 and 18 freshmen in the program. And now there are five or six seniors. So obviously there’s a pyramid, as far as you start up with this big pool and things get whittled down. So it’s so they understand the competitiveness of it just to be in the program.
Number one. And then also obviously the playing time and all the different stuff that comes along with it. But I think if you again, like anything else, if you’re showing that you’re treating every kid with respect regardless of their playing time and status and stuff like that. And, and they really feel bought into that.
A lot of times I think that heads off a lot of issues because they see the sincerity there, which is, again, you’re never going to be a hundred percent across the board with that, but I think that helps and they get to know us as people as well. You know, I think, and like I said, in those meetings because I think you think about in some, I know like growing up, like how many times did your parents have actually have a direct conversation with your high school coach?
They may or may not that much at all. You know, so I think sometimes that on the personal level that can help long term.
[00:47:37] Mike Klinzing: I do think that the conversations that coaches have with players today are probably far more in terms of those blunt conversations. Probably the same thing with parents today. I think because parents are so much more involved in their child’s athletic career than parents were back when you and I were kids, that it just seems that you’re going to be much more likely to have those parents that are involved, that you’re going to have those conversations with versus In our day, it wasn’t like I was riding my bike up to the park to play, or I was driving myself to wherever versus nowadays.
It’s very, very rare. You see a kid play a game without a parent in the stands. It almost, it almost never, it almost never happens. Versus you think about the amount of basketball that you worked on or played when you were a kid and same thing for me, where there was, there was no, there was no parent around to watch what I was doing or critique what I was doing, or have an opinion about what I was doing.
Cause they just weren’t, they just weren’t there. And I think as a coach, you have to be prepared to, to certainly have those conversations. Cause obviously the goal ultimately is to have the parents of everybody on your team, on board and supporting the program, whether. Child or whether that parent’s child is the star or whether that child’s parent is the that parent’s child is the 12th is the 12th man on the team.
If you can get everybody on the same page, I think now you’re on your way to building the type of culture that you want to, that you want to have in your program. So to go along with that, when you think about building a great team culture and what you’ve been able to do over your tenure at Bishop Kenny, What, what do you attribute your ability to build a great culture?
Are there things that you can point to, that you’ve done over the years that you feel have contributed to the type of winning environment that you’ve been able been able to create there?
[00:49:31] Jerry Buckley: Yeah. I think one of the key, well, first of all, I think it’s again, every situation is different, but I’ve been very fortunate to work at the school, you know?
So I don’t take that for granted as far as you know, you’re always in touch with the kids and my role as a school counselor as well. I mean, I know their grades, I know they’re discipline situations. I know they’re teachers, everything else. So that’s a huge part of it to know that you’re around they see you.
And again, they’re invested in the school and you’re invested in them. So I think that’s a big part of it. As part of that parent meeting. So separately, obviously with, with the players we’ve been doing a retreat for the last couple years, which I think has been great. And just kind of going through the basics of the program.
So the kids kind of understand the history. You never assume that they really know anything about it besides they just got there in ninth grade and we’re trying out for the basketball team. So kind of understand the history of the program as far as it goes back like this, this school this year, Bishop Kenny is celebrating 71 years so it’s been around for a long time.
And we started bringing former players back just so as kind of an alumni panel to answer que have them kind of talk to the kids just about their experience and really don’t, we, you don’t give ’em any script, just say, Hey tell ’em what your experience was. And you know, it’s been great from, like you said, guys, that have been great players to guys who didn’t play very much, but to see what they’ve hopefully taken from the experience and gone off and had their own success.
[00:50:54] Mike Klinzing: It’s a great idea. I think when you can put. Former players who have been in your current player’s shoes. I think there’s a tremendous amount of value in that. Is there anything that has ever been shared or asked in one of those sessions that surprised you that maybe you’re like, huh? I didn’t realize that, or, Hmm.
I didn’t realize my. Current players were thinking about that. I didn’t, I didn’t, I didn’t remember that my, my alums were, were thinking this while they were playing for. Right. Is there anything that surprised you?
[00:51:22] Jerry Buckley: Yeah, I’m trying to think of anything caught me. I mean, there’s definitely some things they share that are funny.
Like and, and I think like you hear all the time, the stuff they remember. Yes, the games are, are great in the championships and the wins and stuff like that. But some of this they, they remember eating on a road trip in Orlando something happened with a waiter or something, just some silly stuff like that.
So I think you, you try to have their perspective. It helps me remember, like, it’s a lot more than what goes on in that 32 minutes it’s all the stuff that goes on the, the trips together or the 6:00 AM workouts and stuff like that, that kind of goes in. So it’s nice to see them have perspective.
Again, these are guys maybe twenties and their thirties and the looking back and that’s, what’s important to ’em as much as, and, and I think it also helps the players understand it’s a lot bigger than how many minutes I play tonight and stuff like that. So again, it’s hard to have perspective when you’re in it as a high school player, but I think sometimes, like you said, when you’ve seen some guys that have been in your shoes, sat in the same desk that you did, same cafeteria, all that stuff. I think that brings kind of brings it full circle.
[00:52:29] Mike Klinzing: It’s so true. Both in terms of being able to have somebody that you can look up to. I always say that one of the things that I loved most about growing up and being a player at my high school and, and just going through that whole process, was it used to be that the recreation program in our town growing up, like we had the guys who coached us, were the kids who were on the high school team.
Yeah. And then conversely, when I got to high school, I ended up coaching those younger kids that were coming up through the program. And I, I feel like that was such a valuable piece of sort of my basketball upbringing, because it gave me something to aspire to that, Hey, someday, I want to be like my coach, who’s standing over there on the sideline.
And I had coaches as I went up through the program, I had coaches that. Star players. And I had coaches who were the 12th man, and I loved the, I loved the 12th man, just as much. Yes. In some cases more, in some cases more than the star player, because sometimes the 12th man was trying to earn his keep as a coach because in his mind maybe he wasn’t earning his keep as a player out on the court. So it’s just, I think those things are, are tremendously, tremendously valuable. And then the other thing that I love that you mentioned, there was just the idea of that perspective and being able to look back and thinking about what’s ultimately important about your experiences.
And one of the things that people always share is. You don’t really remember the scores of games and there might be one or two memorable games that, you can recall a lot of detail, but for the most part, you’re remembering the things that you talked about, like stuff in the locker room and stuff on road trips and being with your teammates.
And I think sometimes as coaches, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the wins and losses, which are obviously important to all of us. Anybody who’s competitive wants to win games. And yet I think sometimes as a coach, you have to really, really work hard to step back and have the perspective of, okay. It’s not only about the wins and losses, but it’s also about providing my guys with the best.
Possible experience that they can have. And obviously winning is a part of that, but it’s also just a matter of what you talked about. How are you treating them? What are you doing when you see, when you’re seeing ’em at school, in the cafeteria, walking in the hallway? I always say that to me, it would be tremendously difficult.
And I know there’s a lot of guys that do it today where they’re not in the building. Yeah. On a daily basis. And I, when I was my, when I was a varsity assistant coach, I was in the elementary school just, and I was literal. 50 yards across a parking lot. And even then I felt disconnected in a lot of ways because messages would go out during school.
And our other two coaches on staff were in the high school. And so they’d be able to relay messages to each other and to the players. And then I’d always be the guy that was the last one to hear everything. And I just didn’t get to see our guys during, during the school day. I might’ve had ’em when they were in elementary school in fifth grade, but now that they’re varsity players, I wasn’t seeing ’em in the same way.
So I always think that that’s a challenge. So I think those are some great points that you bring up about how do you develop that program and, and keep it going year after year after year. I think that’s really a critical piece of having a successful high school program now with your school. And you start thinking about, obviously if you’re at a public high school, then you can have your players that are going to come K to 12 and you can be involved in the youth programs.
So just talk a little bit about how you look at. Attracting players. And what, what that looks like for you guys?
[00:56:01] Jerry Buckley: Sure. So we have, I think the number’s close to 19 Catholic feeder schools in the Jacksonville area. So we have, and we usually bring in, in a freshman class, we’ve had some really good freshman classes the last couple years of about 350 students.
So typically our, our makeup is about 75 to 80% of our school is from those schools. So again, that’s, and the nice thing again, with being a school with a lot of history, it’s a lot of kids who parents are going to Bishop county a lot, even sometimes their grandparents. So and the nice thing about our place is that people are coming for the overall experience.
We want them to come for the basketball program and that’s great, but you really feel like if the kids invested in the school as a whole, that that’s probably what makes the experience that much more. So it’s for, but again, you want to be, you want to be successful. You want to make sure people know that kids are being treated the right way. And, and when they have opportunities to play in college, certainly you have contacts and stuff like that. But I think to attract people to the school and know that the, the basketball program is a great bonus on top of that, I think that’s makes us most com most comfortable with it.
[00:57:07] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. I think it’s interesting when you start talking about the having, it’s just such a different world with the, with, with a Catholic school versus a public school and, and bringing kids in. And obviously there’s the educational piece that the kids get, as you mentioned, and then the opportunity to have a good academic school where they can then be able to utilize that, to help them to play college basketball.
Ultimately, that’s what they want to do when you’re working with your players. During the summertime. What are some of the things that you guys do summer wise and maybe first touch on what the rules are in Florida? Because obviously all across the country rules are different in terms of the amount of contact time you can have.
So maybe start with that and then tell us a little bit about what you guys do over the summer to get you guys prepared as you’re heading into a fall season. Like you like where we’re at right now.
[00:57:57] Jerry Buckley: Yeah. So pretty much, like I said, the, the whole month of June is, and, and in Florida you can pretty much do whatever you want.
So you can coach your own kids you can call it the Bishop Kenny high school team it’s and we have, we’ll do summer league for our freshman JV and varsity. I have my camps in the, in the summer as well. So most of the guys are working the camp. And like you said, that’s a great continuity with working with the younger kids and they’re being coached by them.
So again, that. And it helps with the culture as well. We work out typically we’ll lift right at the end of right before camp. Actually, a lot of times my camps are in the afternoon, so we’ll, we’ll have a conditioning session before camp and then we’ll work out after camp or, and that’s usually three days a week.
And then in between there. Typically like Tuesdays and Thursdays we’ll play summer league games. And then a couple of those weekends we’ll do some team camp stuff. So somewhere between 10 and 15 games we want to play in that month. And then, like I said, it’s, it’s the workouts. And we, we, for the most part, trying to really focus on offensive skills at that point in the summer obviously that’s a lot more fun for everybody to work on
But also that’s where you want to see the most development and, and have them kind of branch out with their skills and that type of thing. So that’s really a major focus for us. Obviously we have some basic defense and stuff work on, but by the end of the summer, you want to have a general feel kind of what you think your rotation’s going to be going into their regular season.
[00:59:25] Mike Klinzing: We talked about this a little bit off the top, but how do you handle. Players who are playing multiple sports in terms of your coordination with coaches of other sports to maybe work it out if possible. So the kid can, if they’re a baseball player, they can get to what they’re doing for baseball and still be able to make it some of the basketballs.
Just, how do you handle that, those two sport or three sport athletes?
[00:59:45] Jerry Buckley: Sure. I’ve really never I’ve always been very open to that and it’s very hard nowadays, as you probably know, to do that for anything just so busy and especially in Florida, our weather obviously basketball’s indoor, besides that you could play whatever you want, 12 months a year, whether it be baseball, soccer, whatever the case is.
But. You know, we, haven’t had a huge number of overlaps over the years. We actually have three guys that are varsity football players right now. And there is a big overlap as far as the seasons. It’s a little bit less than it used to be, but if your team’s going to go deep into playoff you probably wouldn’t have your football guys for four to five weeks, basically.
So once your season has started. So but you know, we definitely work it out. You know, I’ve always had really good relationships with our football coaches. So we try not to overwhelm the kids, especially in the summer, cuz they’re doing weight training and stuff like that. And, and try to have common sense, but as long as you’re upfront with the kids and also.
You have to take into perspective like, Hey, this is a kid who’s potentially division one football player. Basketball is more of a secondary sport, but it brings a lot to your team. You want to be smart with that too, and that you can’t be inflexible and just expecting to be at everything that’s in the end you don’t really help your program.
You’re certainly not helping the kids. So I think having an open mind and, and again, communication with the other coaches, but luckily we’ve never really had any issues with that.
[01:01:06] Mike Klinzing: Being able to communicate with the coaches and obviously with the player themselves and their family. I think if you do that and you’re proactive in the way that you go about approaching it, I think ultimately it can, it can work.
I think we’re when situations where I’ve seen problems, where there isn’t, where there’s a lack of communication or not understanding of what the expectations are. And then sometimes that’s where adults get into a little turf war over, Hey, this is my player versus that’s my player. And I think ultimately comes down to.
That the fact that if, if you’re doing what’s in the best interest of the kid and you’re not doing it from a selfish perspective as an adult and the kid is making the decision, I think ultimately that’s probably where that’s probably where the decision should lie. And, and the coach’s job is to try to make sure that make sure that it works.
And obviously as basketball coaches, I mean, I had this conversation with lots of people. You like, you like having basketball, guys, you like having basketball kids, that, that, basketball’s their number one thing. And yet at the same time you know, again, as you said, it’s much more rare probably than it was back in our day, where there just wasn’t, you didn’t have the year round training and ABI the ability to play year round on an organized team, the way kids do today and in all sports, it’s just incredible.
Yeah. Just what’s out there from a youth sports perspective. It’s just a totally different, totally different world. I wanted to ask you a little bit about game prep. So when you’re getting ready for. A game in season, let’s start from like the day before when you’re thinking about practice and and then, and then film.
So how much, tell us a little bit about how you try to prepare your team for a specific opponent, both on the floor, and then through your use of film, whether that’s you as the coach watching film or whether that’s, how much you share of, of the film with your players in, in preparation for a particular.
[01:02:50] Jerry Buckley: Right. So we use hudl and, and I think most programs out there do now as well. So luckily you’re the tapes are usually pretty easy accessible, so they’ll be up if the kids want to look at it themselves. Primarily for us, obviously playoffs may be a little bit different.
There’ll be some more preparation, but we play 25 regular season games. So I try not to get too much into the weeds as far as specifics with. With the other teams, obviously we’re going to go through, they play zone. They do this offensively, whatever the case is, but you know, working on it in context of what we do and trying to have that balance of we want them to be more worried about what we’re doing than they’re doing and, and have to have that positive mentality from that standpoint.
But we’ll definitely go through things in practice, leading up to that game. And then typically game day, we’ll meet right after school and watch probably 10 to 15 minutes of clips of things we want to emphasize that we talked about the day before kind of specify personnel and things like that.
And then usually if there are teams we’ll play a second or maybe even a third time we’ll, we’ll definitely go back and watch a lot of our game against them. And again, specific things we want to look at. And then, like I said, as we get into the playoffs, we’ll be much more detailed with scatter reports when, when we get to that point.
But I think what I’ve learned is that. You can kind of overwhelm guys you want to in high school, certainly we want to make sure we know what we’re actually supposed to be doing as opposed to what, what they’re covering so I think I always try to air on that side and, and make sure again, we focus on what our responsibilities are.
[01:04:23] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. I think that’s a hundred percent, right. I think it’s really, really easy, especially with huddle and the way the technology is today and how easy it is to watch film. I think it’s really easy to go. I don’t want to say overboard, but you can, you can really, you can really dive super deep into it. And a lot of times I think the players, some of that gets lost on them.
There’s a limit to how much they can handle and process. And I think you’re a hundred percent right in that if you focus on what you do and yeah, maybe you do it a little bit in the context of what an opponent does. And so you prepare for it that way. But yeah, I think high, most high school players, if you can get them to be ready to execute what you do well, then.
As long as you have some of that scouting done a little bit of the team’s tendencies and maybe some personnel stuff. I think once you get beyond that, I think a lot of times for most players, it’s probably not. All that valuable. When you start thinking about player preparing a 12 page scouting report for right.
For an opponent, just, I, I just don’t know that that really allows you to do a whole lot or really make a lot of improvements. When you start thinking about, when you start thinking about that. Day of the game and a pre-game talk. What’s your philosophy on talking to your team right before the game? Do you have a certain approach that you use?
Do you vary it game to game? Just what does your pre-game speech look like to your team? What are you guys talking about in the locker room before you head out to play a game?
[01:05:52] Jerry Buckley: So we’ll usually the way our format is typically most of the time, this is JB game leading up to hours. So our guys will go in midway through the third quarter, get changed, and then we’ll meet Something, I got just from coach fava back at Catholic, you we’ll have five keys to victory.
Just kind of go through that again. Kind of emphasizing what our key points are. Maybe some remind, obviously some reminders on personnel who we think our match ups going to be lefty, shooter, whatever the case is. And then again, anything we’ve gone through, if you put anything new in just kind of remind them.
And a lot of times I’ll have them talk me through it. Okay, what’s going to happen here on this play, who’s supposed to be doing what? So kind of get them engaged a little bit as well. So and what I found again, doing it 25 times a year trying to be consistent. And, and I don’t think the rah speech that you can probably save that a couple times in the year, but always remember like as fired up as they are, they still have 15 minutes to warm up once they go out there again.
So a lot of times whenever they’re fired up coming to locker room, that probably dies out 15 minutes later. Anyway. So try to be consistent you and have them focus on what they’re doing.
[01:07:02] Mike Klinzing: All right. What about during timeouts? How do you handle timeouts? Are you talking to your staff first? Are you going right to the kids?
Do you try to limit it to one offensive, one defensive point? What’s your timeout philosophy?
[01:07:12] Jerry Buckley: Yeah, very much so on the one offense, what defense and, and again, I’ll have them repeat it back to me once we go through it, Because I’ve learned the hard way they’re all everybody’s nodding their head, but who knows?
Well, who’s listening to what sometimes. So making sure, yeah, you really primarily one thing like depending on the situation, I may know exactly what I want to do. Or I may obviously talk to our assistants and ask for some suggestions or whatever the case is. It’s like the NBA where I think they have four or five minutes to sit and have three different meetings.
So you’ve got 30 seconds or a minute, so you have to act quickly. But like I said, making sure we come out, we go through and have them say back to me, okay, this is what we’re doing. You know, making sure we’re we’re on the same page coming out of it.
[01:07:58] Mike Klinzing: Post game. What do you talk about?
Wins loss. Just, how do you approach the post game speech? Are you going through a bunch of things from the game? Are you kind of just letting it die out quickly? What’s your process?
[01:08:09] Jerry Buckley: Yeah, I think I’ve adapted that over the years as well. I think you can hit on some key things, but a lot of times both win or lost.
You’re probably emotionally wrapped up in into it. And a lot of times we’ll probably didn’t see everything exactly how it went. So it’s, it’s important, I think to have some perspective and step away from it, but there’ll usually be some general themes, whether you feel like, Hey, we really We weren’t strong with the ball tonight, or we weren’t blocking out or running the floor the way we showed whatever the case is.
And then, but I think the shorter, you can keep it these days, the better, like we know with their attention spans are probably not huge anyway. So it also realistically keeping like trying to keep conditioning and sleep in mind and stuff like that, you finish at 8:30 quarter to nine on a Tuesday night.
They have to be back in school the next morning at 7:50. So to the 20 minute hash rehashing of every play, the game is probably you you’re going to lose ’em at some point. So I think the consistency and, but making sure obviously the next day, you know exactly what you want to cover and if there’s anything needs to be going through again,
[01:09:14] Mike Klinzing: Do you guys have long bus trips after games?
[01:09:14] Jerry Buckley: Not too bad, really. I mean, actually the way our system’s set up, we really don’t take a lot of buses. Most of the time we just meet ’em there. Because being a Catholic high school, we’ve have to pay for all the different buses that we use. So we try to limit that as best as we can. So unless we going outside the area we’re meeting, ’em.
And their parents are, or obviously our older guys are able to drive themselves. So that makes things a little bit easier to maneuver as well.
[01:09:39] Mike Klinzing: That makes sense. That makes sense. When you look back over the totality of your time there at Bishop Kenny, if you had to point to one or two things that you feel have been the most instrumental in the tremendous success that you’ve been able to have there, what are those one or two things that stand out to you that you feel like you’ve done really well as a program?
[01:10:00] Jerry Buckley: Yeah, I think our consistency I think regardless of what our talent level’s been, depending on the year, I think we’ve always been a tough team to play against because we obviously try to reinforce what everybody is, like take care of the ball, defend and rebound. And I think if you can do that, you can, you can stay at least close in most high school games.
So I think that’s a big thing for us. I think there’s been consistency and guys have grown up in our program and you see the development from ninth grade, through 12th grade. You know, obviously with, with transferring nowadays in high school nobody’s immune to that in or out, but for the most part, our guys have pretty much developed coming in as ninth or at least 10th graders and developed through.
So I think that’s probably what we’re most proud of as far as development over the course of their four years.
[01:10:46] Mike Klinzing: All right. One final question. Two parter, first part. When you look ahead over the next year or two, what do you see as being your biggest challenge and then part two, what’s your biggest joy?
When you think about what you get to do every single day, when you get outta bed in the morning, what brings you the most joy about being the head men? Head boys, basketball coach there at Bishop Kenny. So your biggest challenge, biggest joy.
[01:11:07] Jerry Buckley: Biggest challenge. I think like you said, nowadays, just keeping everybody on the same page, parents, players, all that different stuff.
I mean, I think like you were talking about with as much as the parents are involved, they’ve invested a lot financially now much more than we have over when we were growing up. So they’ve between not only paying to play out a team, but paying to get in for the weekend, which now can be 50 bucks usually.
So they’re much more invested timewise and financially. So making sure they understand the process and laying it out from, I think that’s being a parent myself, Making sure you explain things and can’t take for granted people know how things go on the high school level, wherever it is. So I think continuing to be, to communicate as well as possible is always a challenge and making sure just the openness.
So they understand the process. And the joy is just I’ve learned over the years is just seeing the kids develop. Like they come in as ninth graders kind of unsure themself and watch them like this year, we’ll have a more veteran team than we had last year. And the guys that were we had two sophomore starters last year that are now be juniors and seeing them really take the leadership roles is a great thing.
And then ultimately it’s when they, like I said, when they do come back from college and beyond just coming back, staying connected with the program where they feel like there’s there, there’s a connection with the school and the, and the staff and the guys that are there, there now that are going through the same thing they did.
So that’s a big blessing to be able to be at the same place for that long.
[01:12:40] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. All right. I completely concur. I think that’s well said. Before we get out, I want to give you a chance to share how people can reach out to you, how they can find out more about your program, whether you want to share a website, social media, email, whatever you feel comfortable.
And then after you do that, I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.
[01:12:58] Jerry Buckley: Gotcha. Yeah, easiest way to get in touch with me is email it’s JBuckley@BishopKenny.org. I am on Twitter as well, and that’s super active on there. It’s @Jerry_Buckley and then our Bishop Kenny basketball.
Twitter is @BKHS_ BBB. So, but you know, love to connect with anybody who has any questions.
[01:13:24] Mike Klinzing: Jerry, we cannot thank you enough for taking the time outta your schedule to jump on with us tonight. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you learn more about what you’ve been able to build there at Bishop Kenny down in Florida.
So thank you for your time and to everyone. Who’s a part of our audience. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.