“MENTALITY” PART 10 WITH UALBANY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH DWAYNE KILLINGS – PRESEASON PRACTICE & PREPARING FOR GAME ONE- EPISODE 552

Dwayne Killings - Mentality Part 10

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

Email – killingsdwayne@gmail.com

Twitter – @CoachKillingsDK

Welcome to episode ten of our Hoop Heads Podcast Series called “Mentality with Dwayne Killings – Season One at UAlbany” The series will continue to document Dwayne’s first year as the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at the University at Albany. 

We plan to record and release 2-4 episodes per month with Dwayne and/or players, coaches, administrators, media members, and others associated with the Great Danes Basketball Program to get an inside look at what being a first year head coach at the Division 1 level is all about.

On this episode Dwayne and I discuss the Great Danes Pre-Season preparation leading up to their season opener with Towson, Dwayne’s first game as the Head Coach at the University at Albany.

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Listen and learn from UAlbany Men’s Basketball Head Coach Dwayne Killings as we discuss his first pre-season with the Great Danes.

What We Discuss with Dwayne Killings

  • The challenge of building a program from the ground up with new players and new coaches
  • Trying to compare UAlbany with his previous stops as an assistant and how those programs were built
  • “What kind of statement are we going to make on Tuesday night about our program and about us as individuals?”
  • Giving an effort that’s reflective of winning
  • “I love energy. I love communication.  I like our guys to be connected.”
  • Divvying up staff responsibilities during practice, who’s focused on what key concepts?
  • Why he limits film work to 15 minutes
  • “I want to get the most out of practice, it’s like just the competitive piece getting our guys to compete at the level that I think is what we need.”
  • “It’s never going to look perfect. But are you playing hard enough? Are you competitive enough? Are you understanding what we’re trying to do?”
  • “I think our kids value winning at a very different level than when they first got here.”
  • Run your program with the mindset of what’s most important
  • “I promised myself, I wasn’t going to waiver from whatever we’re going to start doing.”
  • “What we’re doing, you gotta believe in it. You gotta fall in love with it. You got to invest in it and you gotta be patient with it.”
  • Why he has kept control of the practice planning process
  • “We need urgency. We need patience.”
  • How relationships with players are different for a Head Coach vs. an assistant
  • “I want to have a family atmosphere with our program. I want to make sure that our players are challenged and they accept it and they grow from it.”
  • The demand on a head coach’s time throughout the day
  • “I’m trying to be more creative of how we can invest back into our guys.”
  • “I’ve tried really hard to connect to the community and do more for the community.”
  • “Your decisions create your reality.”
  • “They’re going to value you more because you value them.”
  • Developing leaders among his players
  • Helping his staff to grow and develop
  • “Winners have a way. Winners have a special way that they talk, the way they walk, the way they play, the way they interact with each other.”

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THANKS, DWAYNE KILLINGS

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TRANSCRIPT FOR “MENTALITY” PART 10 WITH UALBANY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH DWAYNE KILLINGS – PRESEASON PRACTICE & PREPARING FOR GAME ONE- EPISODE 552

[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle on this Sunday morning, we are pleased to welcome back to the podcast to preview the season opener coming up on Tuesday with coach Dwayne Killings, the head men’s basketball coach at U Albany for our special series “Mentality”

Dwayne. Welcome back, man. It’s been a little while.

[00:00:21] Dwayne Killings: It has, good to be back. I’m good, man, I’m good.

[00:00:23] Mike Klinzing: Scheduling has been a challenge between your schedule and my schedule and trying to make this work. Now we finally were able to get it done on a Sunday morning AM. So appreciate you getting up at least relatively early, probably not early compared to your usual starts at a work week.

I’m guessing.

[00:00:38] Dwayne Killings: Interesting. I can fall asleep pretty well, but I wake easily and then I’m up.

[00:00:42] Mike Klinzing:  So where are you in the prep for your game on Tuesday? How are you feeling about things as we sit here on a Sunday morning, two days away?

[00:00:50] Dwayne Killings: Yeah. Yeah. I feel pretty good. I’ve said it a couple of times I think we are where we are, because this is where we’re supposed to be as a team because this is where we’re at right now.

We’re [00:01:00] doing some good things and then there’s some things that we still have to grow and kind of figure out, but I was actually thinking the other day and I said this to my staff I think you take all of your experiences. All the places I’ve been, all the places my staff has been and you try to compare it.

And I think the hard thing is like when I went to Temple, Coach Dunphy had just taken over for Coach Chaney. So that was kind of a real rebuild and kind of building the program all the way over from all the guts and the culture and just how you’re doing things, how you’re saying things. And that was hard.

And we got it right. Obviously, while we were there for Coach Jackson, Coach Tos they were part of a brand new staff, but interesting. And yeah. The assistant coach got elevated to the head coach. So the culture and the how, and the feel is so different for those guys. So sometimes where you feel like we should be further down the road or we should be doing different things.

It’s hard to compare all because this is brand new. And then we brought in nine new [00:02:00] guys so I think we’re, we’re trying to get it. All right. You know what we’re becoming. I love the potential of our team.  some guys have really grown since we’ve been on campus. And  you just think about the game for Tuesday, it’s time to compete against somebody else.

And what I just tell our guys is what kind of statement are we going to make on Tuesday night about our program, about us as individuals. And then at the end of the day we, we have to be able to. Identify ourselves when people watch this, that we’re playing hard and we are giving an effort that’s reflective of winning.

And when you think about being organized and what you need to run, how you’re going to attack on offense and what you’re going to do, defensively, we’re going to make mistakes because it’s new and the speed of the game and the environment playing against fans in front of fans for the first time will be an adjustment for us.

But at the end of the day, if we’re playing the right way and we’re connected I think we can overcome some of those opportunities. What I call them opportunities for growth.  we’ve got to grow and some of the growth for us will happen in game. [00:03:00]

[00:03:01] Mike Klinzing: What has the practice environment been like for you as a head coach versus what it was like at your various stops as an assistant?

Was it, has it been like you expected in terms of you being. The guy putting it together and trying to not only get in the basketball piece of it, but also building in that culture piece every day and making sure your guys are connected. What’s that been like compared to maybe your expectations in terms of pre-season practice?

[00:03:32] Dwayne Killings:  I think the thing for me that I try to focus a lot on culture moments. I mean helping our guys understand like, Hey, this is how you went this is why that loose ball so important. And if a guy didn’t dive on it, let’s, let’s talk about what that ball could mean for you.

Valuing possessions you started doing situations, Time and score. If guys aren’t making the right read or the right play, or they’re not understanding, Hey. [00:04:00] Can I get a quick too, and I miss it, what that impact is like down the other end and what that could lead to, you have to teach that.

And I think you have to be willing to be patient to kind of stop it. And I think a lot of times you can’t get down the practice sheet because if we’re not great at boxing out or our transition defense isn’t right. We gotta figure out a way to get that right in practice as an assistant for me I just kinda always erred on how do I help my head coach?

How do I help the kids being in this capacity?  I love energy. I love communication.  I like our guys to be connected. I like us to be connected to the staff. I like it to be loud. I like it to be intense. And if it’s not I them in that of our staff and our players I just think that you have to create, especially for a new program.

You have to create the game intensity in practice so they can adjust to it when you get to games. And we have guys, we have four freshmen that are going to be in a rotation. We have a point guard that came to the Juco system that was last year it was on the team, but obviously with [00:05:00] COVID the different environments.

So it’s the first time we’re going to play in front of fans on Tuesday nights.  being, I think mindful of all those things. And I think the thing that I try to be is I know there’s a buzzword mindfulness, but be mindful of all these different elements that you’re trying to manage to move the team forward day by day.

And and I challenged our guys.  I believe in it. Grew up in this business, through guys that not confrontation who just challenged them and challenge them to be better. Challenged them to think bigger, challenged them to do more.

[00:05:37] Mike Klinzing: How have you divvied up the responsibility of your assistant coaches and your staff during the practice setting?

Are you having guys look at a particular position set of players? Are you having guys one guy that’s looking mostly at offense. One guy looking at defense is how have you help your staff to maximize what they’re bringing every day to help your players and your team to get better? [00:06:00]

[00:06:00] Dwayne Killings: Yeah.  at the beginning, I thought everybody was trying to do everything.

So I tried to streamline it. So before the top of the practice plan, I’ll give each guy like a focus like you’re focused on, we call them tags boxing out. You’re focused on that.  another guy as a point of the screen, other guys, the weak side, and not saying that you can’t coach that if you’re not, that’s not your focus, but.

You’re focused on one thing, that’s it? And we can’t miss that. So sometimes like if you come back and you start talking about, Hey, this guy wasn’t on the weak side, he wasn’t at the circle. Well, then I would say, well so-and-so, that was your responsibility today. So why don’t we bring it up enough?

And  I think you gotta be accountable for some stuff, because like, I have a lot of grades for the guys that I worked for before getting this position. You have a lot of, like, for me you go from. Your phone’s ringing all day. You got to meet with your AD. You got to talk to a couple of donors, you got to make five different decisions.

There’s something that comes at you that you didn’t expect. And I don’t really get a lot of [00:07:00] moments for me to just to kind of get myself together and then boom it’s practice. And I got to manage our staff or players or managers, the environment. That’s a lot of different things that go on. So giving those guys that focus from a bigger picture coach Jackson is our defense.

And  some of it, we slowed it down because. What he may have come from is a little bit different from what I want. So you got to kind of marry the two. Matt Griffin he does a player development our shooting program. He’s been tremendous in that.

And so when we get a defensive rebound, we float down a certain way. So the different reads, the different installing some of the different pieces of that. He focuses on that. And then Hamlett Tibs does our, our main shot office, which is basically our place you just kinda.

 We talked about efficiency when we played our two scrimmages, what are we getting out of? It? We’ll look at tweaking things.  I’ve had some of them like, Hey, [00:08:00] let’s come up with some variations of what we’re doing and add on and build on it. So they’ll come with some ideas and we’ll talk about it.

And then I think as we get going in the season it also gives them kind of a roadmap to kind of help us grow our program and our opportunities for our players. And then they’ve been awesome, which is watching film with guys.  that’s been a challenge.  Our time window’s tight from school, practice and then class after practice.

So our windows really tight. We have to be really efficient with our film. What they’ve done a really good job as it is pulling guys in, throughout the course of the day to touch. And also like being in a spot. I do think kids can’t focus that long so hitting them.  We do our film with, we call it a DLC.

We do a certain amount of clips about defense and we’ll give them different focuses and certain amount of clubs about offense, give them a certain line of focus and then we give them culture. So Matt does the culture plays, so it could be a charge, could be a loose ball. Could we call it a bit energy?

[00:09:00] It’s like the bench energy  he’ll kind of spot like that or spotlight when it wasn’t right. Because we were trying to grow that. Right. It doesn’t just happen. And then. G offensive stuff. Tears was show clips of him and coach Jackson will do the defense, but it gives them a voice.  kinda, I’ll talk about some of the things I want to see jump in, but we try to keep that tight.

We try to keep our film sessions to 15 minutes. I don’t think kids can consume any more than that. I think if you’re doing more than that, you’re doing it for you. And when I say that as. You’re doing it with the right intentions, but can the kids absorb it? Are they processing it? Did they hear the first thing?

He didn’t mean it one, but not minute 12 and then minutes 20, who knows? And I don’t know if that’s the best use of time as I’ve kind of thought more and more about it. And there’s times where we have to watch the whole game to make a point and all that, but I think there’s ways to be more efficient, what we’re trying to do

[00:09:48] Mike Klinzing: Before or after practice with film?

[00:09:51] Dwayne Killings: We always do it before.  Which is hard. Now your guys do a good job of getting in the gym. I mean, our pre-practice stuff has been really good, [00:10:00] so they’re, they’re getting lathered up and you got to sit them down and then you got to get them going again. And it’s hard. I haven’t loved trying to do it after practice, just cause I think now you’re on the clock.

Cause  we have, we have to get them out by a certain time so they can eat and get to class. And then actually my video coordinator, he said at Penn State with Pat Chambers, they used to chop up film and watch it in practice. We haven’t tried that yet, but it’s on then I’m thinking about,

[00:10:25] Mike Klinzing: Yeah, it seems like if you, especially with the technology available today that you could have a board out there and be able to.

Even step off to the side, Hey, let’s 30 seconds here. Let’s watch this. Let’s watch this clip. There’s a situation that we know you’re doing a similar drill to the one you did the day before, two days ago. And you pull that up and it’s  whatever, it could be 15 seconds, 30 seconds. It seems like that that could be effective again, trying to manage it.

 it could be, it could be a little bit of a challenge. And like you said, you don’t want to stop the momentum. Just like when you think about providing feedback, you don’t want to be stopping the drill every 10 seconds, but it seems like something. You could put it [00:11:00] together and figure out a way to incorporate it.

And it could be something that could be really beneficial.

[00:11:05] Dwayne Killings: Yeah. We’re looking at it we’re at the end we’re always thinking about ways to grow. You know what I want to get the most out of practice a lot of days, it’s like just the competitive piece getting our guys to compete at the level that I think is what we need.

And I don’t always live in. You have to do things a certain kind of way. I think that you have to approach it a certain kind of way. And if we’re not approaching it in a certain kind of where we got to get it to that point, then we can talk about the next piece. Cause I think a lot of times everybody is so focused on how it looks.

You don’t make it look pretty or it needs to look perfect. It’s not, it’s not a perfect game. It’s never going to look perfect. But are you playing hard enough? Are you competitive enough? Are you understanding what we’re trying to do? Or what did you see? Cause I think sometimes. As coaches we’re like we you’re supposed to be right here.

Well, they saw something else and they reacted to that. And I think guys are high IQ and the athleticism and the way they can cover ground. There’s some [00:12:00] guys over the understanding of what’s happening. Sometimes it allows them to kind of operate a little bit differently than others, but we got to make sure that you’re not impacting somebody else’s job, where we screw up the possession.

And I think we we’ve grown. We’ve grown a lot. And I think our kids value winning at a very different level than when they first got here.

[00:12:19] Mike Klinzing: What time do you guys practice? Like what’s your daily schedule like for your student athletes and is it set up ideally the way you would want it, if you had complete and full control over what time you practice and what time it gets to go to class?

I don’t know where you are in terms of being able to set that up exactly how you want your first.

[00:12:39] Dwayne Killings: Yeah, we practice at 2:15.  We’re pretty much off the floor was we started about two. O’clock sorry, we’re off the floor about five, but that’s with like taping pre-practice, film, all that stuff.

So our window really is. When you think about all the things you have to do by the time you get on the floor, we really have two strong hours out there [00:13:00] in an ideal world. I would rather go earlier. I would love to go at like 11. I think that’s a perfect time. Our women’s coach has that time and it just works really well for her and her family.

And I’m new she’s been here, so I wasn’t going to fight that.  I think also it allows us and requires us to be really efficient and think about.  I was on a zoom with Brett Brown. We were just talking about stuff and he said he always ran his program or his franchise with the mindset of what’s most important.

And. I thought that was gold because sometimes you’re doing things to do them where you want to do them, or you feel like you should do them, but is that what’s most important. And what’s the most important thing for the day. And  for us in our program, there’s a bunch of things. We have to attack the academic side, there’s things you have to manage on campus or an athletic department, things you have to manage with your players, with your student athletes, and then there’s practice.

And what’s the most important things on that given day in that given moment. And I, and I actually think about [00:14:00] that a lot in practice. Like what’s the most important thing right now, based off what I’m seeing, because sometimes there could be a guy that’s not focused, right?

So what’s the most important thing right now to refocus everybody or to get this drill, right. Or to make sure that we’re talking about 15 different things versus like teaching these guys that you need to be focused throughout the course of the day. Because when you play on Tuesday, if you lose your focus, we’re going to get beat on the back door and that’s going to cost us the game.

And it’s teaching guys, I think, to valuing possessions. In the game, but also in life and connecting the two and getting to understand what it takes to be a winner. Cause I think for a lot of guys that come, especially out of high school, it just happened right. High school, you’re a  good player.

And how do you mean the coaches and the programs are really good, but sometimes they don’t know what was happening while it was going on, in college it’s a different animal.

[00:14:54] Mike Klinzing: How much have you had to adjust your expectations in [00:15:00] terms of style of play and tweaks to once you’ve seen your personnel? Once you’ve seen the guys in a situation outside of the skill development that you were doing in the summer and the fall, and now you put everybody on the floor together and you had this vision of here’s exactly how we’re going to play offensively.

Here’s what we want to do. Defensively. Have you had to make any adjustments or tweaks to that based on what you’ve seen. During the preseason.

[00:15:24] Dwayne Killings: Well, I went through the whole summer without making a decision on how we’re defending ball screens. I wanted to see our guys. I wanted to just see us play.

Like who, who is really resilient.  see what kind of body types we had, see what guys’ approaches were. The guys die on screens, just cause they died on them. Or we have a kid Jamelle Horton, he can blow up any screen. That you try to set on. And it’s something that he learned before he got to college so it’s just like there, right?

So that’s an opportunity. Then we, I went back and watched a lot of the guys that transferred in the program. [00:16:00] What do they do with their last place? So if you’re asking to do something completely new is he going to be able to get that? But  I’ve been I promised myself, I wasn’t going to waiver whatever we’re going to start doing.

I’m sticking to it. And I think. So there’s this reaction to being like, if we’re not good at it right now to stop it right. And stop doing what we’re doing well, then if you’re going to reinvest your time with something else, well, then you have to redo that to get good at that. So I’ve really put my feet in the sand about how we’re going to defend in the half-court and  the different things we’re trying to do.

And then offensively. Yeah. In an ideal world, we’d be doing a little, some things a little bit different, but I think we can get there it’s, it’s like gotta make sure we’re not turning the ball over and that’ll make sure we’re getting quality possessions cause obviously all those things impact the outcome of the game may impact the defense and all that.

I think we can get there. But what’s been fun is like you’re watching your guys. And all of a sudden digging for a [00:17:00] book that I had two years ago when I was just keeping track of plays and stuff that I like and whatever. And now I’m like, this could work with this group of guys or come in and say, Hey I was watching this team and they do some really good things with this kid.

And we had a guy just like what do you think about this? But I think the fun part has been.  and watching our guys have success doing what we’re doing. I mean, we have had some possessions in our scrimmages and a lot of competition or practice you like, this is what  it’s happening to and you gotta be patient it, doesn’t just, you can’t just dive in and plays and, and give guys away and assume they’re just going to figure it out overnight.

Not when you’re doing what we’re doing right now. When you’re taking my nine new players, six guys that played for the previous program and in reality, we have 15. New basketball players and seven coaches. That’s 22 people trying to get it figured out one way. And, and then also. Making sure you have some conviction [00:18:00] because again, when it’s not working, their reaction is to be like, well, let’s do something different or this isn’t going to work.

Or I don’t like this, or, well, and I always say our staff is what we’re doing and you gotta believe in it. You gotta fall in love with it. You got to invest in it and you gotta be patient with it.

[00:18:17] Mike Klinzing: What’s the practice planning process like for you guys, when you think about getting all the things that you want to do on both ends of the floor, how do you determine and put together that practice plan?

So that every day you’re getting the maximum out of the time that you have with your kids. Do you start the process yourself thinking about it and then bring it to the staff. Is it something that you guys are sitting down in a meeting and everybody’s bringing ideas? Just what is your process look like for putting together a great practice?

[00:18:46] Dwayne Killings: Yeah. So right now, I think in an ideal world, like when I was at Temple University, we used to sit down as a staff, as assistants and build the practice and give it to coach Dunphy. And he add something, take something out, we’d go I’m not [00:19:00] ready for that.  and I think he was ready for that.

Right. Cause he was further into his career.  He would take some thoughts that you would have, but you would do the practice. And so right now I do it all myself. I just feel like we have to get to a certain place. Guys have to get to know me more.  I think we have to go through some things before kind of, we start doing all that because otherwise.

The staff, their intentions are right, but they’re doing and trying to add things that maybe are not exactly where I want to go with the program and the way that we play and how we do it. And being on the, how drills don’t sound right. And don’t feel right. I’ll stop it and make everything start over.

There’s an approach that we have. To be collective and be able to get our guys in the right mindset in physically and mentally ready to attack the competition. And that part is on us as coaches.  We have to coach that, like I say to our guys, if we’re, if our team’s not connected, if we don’t have urgency for not having energy, if we’re not physical, that means our staff isn’t, we [00:20:00] have to bring some of that stuff to the gym.

And I monitor that when practice first starts and I’m setting the tone for practice, and usually the assistants kind of start the drills and kind of build it and I’ll just kind of watch and see if it’s how I want it. And if it’s not, then we’ll restart and get it right. But I do listen, they will text ideas at night or I’ll ask them for some thoughts as we’re planning and I’ll ask Coach Tibs has got the first scout what are some thoughts you want to get accomplished for practice? But it’s big on I’m a field guy for one. And to it’s about, we need to get to a certain spot we need to be able to get there.

And  when I’m coaching our guys, when I’m watching our guys, I’m always thinking about how do we grow it to where I really, really want it. And I try to give these guys as many examples of situations I’ve been in the guys that worked for and give them, get them into my head about where I’m trying to go with it.

And I think a lot of it is, and why I [00:21:00] say we need urgency what we’re doing, but we need patience at the same time, which is hard because.  everybody wants to do more and has really quality ideas, but we need to be patient to make sure that we’re getting it where I want it. And, and then we’re going to feel it when he gets there.

 and I say, I say to our staff, I wrote on a board to our practice the other day. I said, We need urgency. We need patience. And our guys looked at me like I was crazy, but when I explained it we need to be patient with where we’re trying to go. We need to have urgency while we’re doing what we do every day.

[00:21:30] Mike Klinzing: How much talk as a head coach during practice, compared to how much you talked at an assist as an assistant at your various stops. Cause sometimes you think of the head coach being the overseer, the assistant coaches are in doing the nitty gritty stuff. And then you’re jumping in. How does that fit with where you are as a program?

[00:21:51] Dwayne Killings: Yeah, I mean, obviously I talk way more as a head coach than you do as an assistant.  the thing that’s interesting is, is you have to You have to manage [00:22:00] right. You managing your practice, you managing your staff, you’re managing the environment, you’re managing emotions right there in practice.

And sometimes you have to coach that to make sure that you can get back into where you want to be in practice.  Coach Woj, He gave us a lot of freedom. And over my time there each year I kind of had more and more responsibility. And you, you had more of a presence and a voice each year.

And I thought in my career, it was always easier when you recruited a guy cause you had that relationship. And that’s where I first got built this philosophy and  really invest in the relationships.  I’ll try to text kids, call guys by the office, take them out to eat. No, I can be demanding and I’ll get them going I’ll try to hold them accountable and coach them hard, but they take it because they know it comes from a really good place.

I think kids have a hard time if you’re coaching him in demanding a lot of them and challenging. But then all of a sudden, you don’t really talk to them. Great. It’s like, [00:23:00] well, no, it comes from a good place. So they, they adjust they take it and we communicate about things, I want to have a family atmosphere with our program. I want to make sure that our players are challenged and they accept it and they grow from it. But then at the same time I want my staff to challenge me and be comfortable with that. And I challenged them. I mean, we’ve had some hard conversations in our office and I’ve known these guys for a long time.

And I say to them, like, it’s a healthy thing. We just can’t be sensitive, right? Like if you’re sensitive about it and you bring that into practice. So now we’re cheating the kids we have to be able to be mindful of where we are, where we’re trying to go. Also be mindful of this is my first time as a head coach, so I need to be really comfortable what we’re doing and that needs to always be managed every single day.

And  I think it goes back to the patients thing. Like we’re, we’re further, along than that. Sometimes we realize it because you want to get, you [00:24:00] want to push to get the other side. You’re like, well, we gotta get closer.  We gotta do this. We gotta install that.

Let’s make sure we got this part. Right. And then we grow it from there. But I’m really excited for our program, for our team for our staff, for our community of what we’re going to be capable of doing. And that I’m also cognizant of the fact that we’re going to have some hard nights too like this team has gone through no adversity, so when adversity hits it is going to be interesting, but there’s growth in that.

And I would say the same thing. I would have urgency if I was a fan to come out and support us, but be patient with what we’re trying to become.

[00:24:33] Mike Klinzing: How has the relationship piece with both your players and the members of your staff, the dynamics of those relationships changed in your mind as. Head coach versus what they were like as an assistant, obviously now, as a head coach from a player perspective, you’re the guy here, as we approach the opening of the season opening game, you’re the guy determining who’s going to be on the floor and who’s not.

Whereas when you’re an assistant, that [00:25:00] decision is not on your plate. And conversely, when you’re part of a staff. You’re not the you’re you’re on equal footing with the other coaches and the staff. And now you’re, you’re the guy. You have to make those tough decisions. You have to hold coaches accountable, as you talked about.

So how has that dynamic changed for you and just what’s that’s been like, what’s the feeling. If you had advice for somebody who is transitioning from an assistant to a head coaching role, what have you learned so far? Getting those relationships to where you want them, that’s different from when you were an assistant.

[00:25:31] Dwayne Killings: Yeah. Like you got to figure out the line in the summer we took our guys swimming and I actually called Matt Langel and I said, dude, do I get in the pool with the kids? And I asked guys, because I just am trying to process right.  what do you, where’s the boundaries where’s the line, it’s different.

It is a lot different after practice, as an assistant, the guys kind of come to you, right. And they gravitate towards you. And [00:26:00] you’re kind of part of the joke. And then as a head coach, sometimes you’re not they don’t come to you or the guys that you don’t know what’s going on in the assistants have their own chat group.

Right. And it’s, you’re not a part of that.  I remember early this year, like they had they had the assistants meet a couple times a week before we meet as a staff. And it was just weird not being in a meeting. Right. Because you don’t really know what that’s about, but that’s okay. It means a good thing, but it’s it’s a different, it’s a whole different deal and you gotta be okay with it.

And I get why people say, like, I don’t feel the lonely part. So people talk about as a head coach. I don’t feel that yet, but I get it, but  you’re not always a part of the meeting. The kids always come to you pre-game, everybody’s out there warming up. You’re in the back by yourself.

It’s just a different world. I think I try to be, I still try to pull our kids in and talk to them and.  touch them. But it’s, it’s just a different world. And then when you have days where you get upset, everybody avoids you [00:27:00] when you’re upset as an assistant, nobody cares you’ve got a job.

 and then kids are always trying to figure out where they fall on the line where, what number are they going to get in that may not. So there’s sometimes there’s an uncomfortness that goes into it. And we have a walk-on Luke who came with us from Marquette and he and I were really close at Marquette and he came over the house and all that.

And  I have our guys over the house, which is a different deal. And he said, he was like, I totally get it. Like, I know this is different. And  sometimes like I do miss some of the days where you can like even getting into the gym with the guys and just shooting it’s harder. Cause  your time is dominated, or you need some space to think, or you got to write the practice plan. Why don’t you just, you can’t, you gotta do media and you can’t get to the kids in the same way as an assistant. But  for like a week, I actually did this. I think this is really good. And I want to try it. Get better at keeping this part of my schedule, but our women’s coach, she takes 15 minutes.[00:28:00]

Nobody’s allowed in the gym, but her on one player and they just shoot, they shoot free throws and shoe shots and she’ll, she’ll get through the whole roster in a week. And I was like, that’s genius. You know? Cause it’s like a good, when I did it, it was a great way to talk.  a guys, it feels good. And Rob Judson, who was with me at, Marquette actually said that when he was the head coach at Northern Illinois know, he used to try as hard as he could like to try to get a couple of guys after dinner.

He said, he’d go home, get his kids situated, go back to the gym, like 8 30, 9. She would ask like a half hour shoot free throws or whatever. But he said it was like his way of staying connected to the guys. And I think that’s good. I mean, you just got to make time for it. You got to make it a priority. There’s a lot of things that pull at your time.

So I’m trying to be more creative of how we can invest back into our guys and we’re getting better.  

[00:28:48] Mike Klinzing: Talk about that off-court stuff. What’s that been like for you? Obviously it’s a piece that you had responsibilities as an assistant, but now as a head coach, the responsibilities that are coming at you.

Off the floor that have nothing [00:29:00] to do with getting your guys prepared with playing that first game. What’s that piece of it been like, how have you handled that? How has that impacted what you’re doing as. The head basketball coach on the actual basketball court.

[00:29:14] Dwayne Killings: Well, so like for instance we had to do some fundraising.  Marquette was one of the highest resourced programs in the country.

We don’t have that luxury here, but we have an opportunity to grow, and I think people are paying attention to our program, but it then requires you to go out and talk to people. And my boss and I, we went to New York on an off day, could have been a day to recruit or have kids in, but then somebody supports our program.

So it does impact our ability to win games, right? Because you’re able to reinvest into the program and the kids, it just has a different it has a different way about how that happens.  It’s not necessarily ball screen defense or your flow on offense. A chance to grow your resources, but then you can do more for your kids.

That’s [00:30:00] one of the things I’ve tried really hard to connect to the community and do more for the community. I think that’s required and, and being a head coach, I think you have to impact people and the community that you live and operate in. And then I want to try to get people to come out to games.

So I think that also impacts winning because  we’ve done a lot in our short time here, we built our social media platform. We’ve told our story to as many people that would listen because what I want. When our kids walk out of the locker room on Tuesday, they see a big crowd and there’s a lot of energy and there’s a lot of excitement cause they need that.

And I think that they deserve that. And also think that they don’t have that on nightly basis. We have to overcome that. That’s a hole we got to dig ourselves out of, for a homie.  when you walk out there and there’s no energy, it’s hard. And I think you got to remember like mental health is such a big thing.

These days kids process that why aren’t people here? Do they care about us? Do [00:31:00] they care about me? Is it and it’s a whole nother thing and you got to snap them out of it to be ready to compete. But again, if that, if we have a great crowd and it can galvanize us to go on a 6-0 run, could help us win.

We have a great crowd and they’re going crazy while kids shooting a free throw and the kid misses can help us win a game. And I’m trying to get all these things into one and still make sure I have time to manage our program, have the best practice we can touch our kids, make them feel good, build up their confidence, hold them accountable, grow my staff.

I mean, it’s a bunch of different things, but I love it. I love doing it. Cause I see the potential in our program. I see the potential in my staff and our players. In this opportunity. I think we could do something really special here, and I think people are starting to see it. And then I go back and say the patience part because when we get out there for the first time with real refs and the real game, and there’s, there’s a game intensity [00:32:00] of a game pressure that I can’t create without a real basketball means.

How do we respond to that? We’ll find out. And I’m hoping we knock it out of the park, but if we don’t, we’ll go back in the office. We’ll figure out how to get it right. And then we go out to Philadelphia and play LaSalle on Saturday and come back home the following Wednesday and play Harvard at home.

And  this is a great opportunity for pro for our program, for our school for our community. And  I think people are embracing it. And I’m excited about it.

[00:32:26] Mike Klinzing: Where are your kids at in terms of developing some leadership within the players. Has anybody stepped up who stepped up? Has it been surprising to you who the guys are that have kind of filled that leadership role for your team?

How have you developed that piece of what you’re trying to do as you head into game?

[00:32:46] Dwayne Killings: Yeah, I’ve spent a lot of time helping our guys know, grow mentally. Just getting them to be mindful of what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, how they walk in the gym, how serious are they about the game, how quick they get in from point a to point B  the decisions [00:33:00] that they make, how it impacts, the next thing I say this all the time, your decisions create your reality.

And that’s both on the court and off the court get to bed on time and probably gonna have a bad day. That’s you? That was your decision. That’s your reality. Turn the ball over and you create a bad reality for us. Now it’s been transitioned to lab, Baltimore to probably get in a lab and  we’ll Amica has grown from that a lot.

I think he’s matured since we’ve been here from the way we do things, I’ve had people come in and speak to our team. David Aldridge did a zoom with our team the other day and just talk about the media and. What I love is when you do those things. And then kids come to you and start asking questions.

Cause now it’s sparked their mind and they’re growing. And my philosophy is when you start doing that stuff for them, you help them grow their minds. Now they’re going to become better basketball players. They’re going to value the possession. They’re going to value ball, screen defense. They’re going to value you more because you value them, even invested in that.

And. I think it’s coaches. Sometimes it becomes a little transactional.  I, I [00:34:00] want to invest in the kids as people and we have a kid Dre Perry who we have a kid, another kid, Justin Neely, who.  it looks up to him and say, Hey, I want you to be like a big brother to me. I thought that was awesome.

I thought that was great. So I challenged, Dre, you got to take them under your wing and you have to think for yourself, but also other people, because  you now can kind of leave a legacy and impact this kid, his career and suit you. Cause he sees some of himself in you.  we have another Matt Cerruti, and who lives in the gym.

And the thing I say to him now is who you take them with. You it’s great that you go in the gym, but who are you going to go in there and work out with?  Jarvis stoles is a kid that was here. Who’s got talent he’s got talent and I want him to do more. And I, one minute I’m telling them, you need to do more.

The next minute I’m telling you to think about other people. And the next minute I’m telling him that he needs to have more urgency and I got his head spinning, but he’s still. And he’s accepted the challenge and I think he appreciates it. Now he’s [00:35:00] got to figure out how do I be the same guy every day?

And I said, some of your leadership qualities, aren’t going to be with your words, with your actions. And  I can go down the line for our team. I try to do the same thing for my staff, and I’m not saying I have all the answers, but  I know how I got to this point in my career. And I also know.

The growth opportunities and the individuals that I have. And I think if we can continue to grow everybody, I personally have a, a coach he’s actually does work with basic high-level corporate leaders. And we just focused on messaging, you know what I’m saying to my team, to our program, to the community  he’s awesome.

He’ll watch things that come up on social media and just give some feedback and it just helps me. And he’s whole thing is you’re giving so much to other people, you guys keep filling yourself up and keep thinking about things. So I think it’s this whole thing. I got my deal up here and I’m trying to pour it all the way down to everybody in our program.

And what I love is everybody consumes, you [00:36:00] know, what we’re trying to do. And I’ll give our staff articles and send videos. They probably think I’m out of my mind, but that’s how I taught myself.

[00:36:10] Mike Klinzing: All right. So final question. After the game on Tuesday night, I’m a fan, I’m somebody that is coming in, and obviously we’re watching this iteration of your team for the very first time when that game’s over.

Obviously you hope you put a w on the scoreboard, but probably even more importantly, longterm, what do you hope that somebody who watches that game when they walk away and they get in their car when the game is over, what do you hope they’re saying about your team? And who you guys are and what you put out on the floor on Tuesday night,

[00:36:39] Dwayne Killings: That we have a program that’s passionate and connected.

But we play hard. We play hard for each other. I also built into our guys we’re playing for our community and our school. We have to represent that. And that’s hard for our guys who they haven’t been here alone and that they just haven’t experienced them long enough. But I have the all time leading scorer here at the school, he sent me, I asked him to record a message and I’m going to play it for a [00:37:00] and kid score a lot, still playing.

He went to the NCAA  tournament. And my thing to them is what he did is possible for you, which you represent him that before. And I’m hoping that people see a group that’s fun to watch. That’s tough. I think people are going to attack us with trying to assert their toughness and figure out what our toughness levels are.

And I’m hoping that our team, if you have to use a word to describe this would be connected Tufts in a way. To watch play basketball cause our guys do they have joy while they play? I mean, they enjoy playing that, especially with each other. And when I first got there filmed my first two scrimmages, I said, I want to watch the bench.

And it was awesome watching them celebrate other people’s success. And that for me was like, we have a chance and  I’m watching our staff on the bench cause I want to see  just how are they comfortable with what we’re doing, where we’re at that all tells the whole story in itself.

And I think for the fans, [00:38:00]  I also think when we walk out there I want us to have a presence. And Billy Lang said to me when we went to St. Joe’s and when you guys walked into the building, he’s like, I was impressed with your program where your program the presence of your program.

That was a big thing. Because  that tells a lot if you disconnected guys, don’t look like they won’t be in there. Just kind of swapping into the gym. It’s not it. And I’m hoping in the end and it may not be there. Day one, but I’m hoping as we go that people say, they know those guys are winners because winners have a way. Winners have a special way that they talk, the way they walk, the way they play, the way they interact with each other.

And you can, you can win some games just by looking down same. And their culture is a lot stronger than ours and we’re working at it. And we got to get that part right.

[00:38:49] Mike Klinzing: That’s good stuff. I love that. Talking about the way the winners handled themselves. Cause I think there’s no doubt when you’ve been around people that are successful.

You see that they give off an aura, you know what that’s all [00:39:00] about? And I’m sure based on our conversations over the last, whatever, it’s been five months, six months that your team’s gonna be ready to play on Tuesday night and people are going to walk away with thing. You talked about, so I wish you good luck on Tuesday night.

I know that you, I can’t even imagine how excited you are to put your team out on the floor and see what it looks like as a head coach and, and really get a feel for, Hey, what do we have? What are we trying to do? Is all this work we put in? Is it gonna pay off? And, and I know it is, and I know you’re excited about it, and I wish you the best of luck on Tuesday night.

Thanks, Dwayne. I appreciate it.

[00:39:34] Dwayne Killings: I appreciate you. And I’ll make sure we build this into the schedule.

[00:39:40] Mike Klinzing: We’re going to get it. I think, I think we can for, for our audience out there, Dwayne and I have been going back and forth. I know it’s been a while since we’ve done one, but he and I have gone back and forth on text messages for probably, I don’t know.

Right when practice pre-season practice started trying to figure this out. And so we finally were able to come together and we’ll get it worked out. If this early morning, weekends [00:40:00] ends up being a good time, then we’ll do that. If not, we’ll figure out a way to do it. So again, Dwayne, appreciate it. We should best of luck on Tuesday night and to everyone out there.

Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks!