Scott Nagy

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Twitter – @CoachNagy

Scott Nagy is entering his sixth season as the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Wright State University. 
A three-time Horizon League Coach of the Year selection, Nagy won 20-plus games his first four seasons with the Raiders and tallied 18 wins in the shortened 2020-21 campaign.

 In 2020 Nagy became the 61st active NCAA head coach (28th at the Division I level) to reach the 500-win mark and has won over 100 games during his tenure at Wright State.

Prior to Wright State Nagy spent 21 seasons at South Dakota State.  During that time, he guided the school from Division II to Division I and compiled an overall record of 410-240.

Nagy began his coaching career at the University of Illinois under hall of fame coach Lou Henson where he got to coach alongside his dad, Dick, who was a longtime assistant under Henson.

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Be ready to take some notes as you listen to this episode with Scott Nagy, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Wright State University.

What We Discuss with Scott Nagy

  • Growing up as the son of a coach
  • His father playing for and coaching with Lou Henson
  • Having more gym access and basketball experiences than other kids as a result of his father’s coaching jobs
  • Playing at Assembly Hall in the Illinois state high school tournament
  • How he ended up playing his college basketball at Delta State
  • Why his father always tried to talk him out of going into coaching
  • Why he’d recommend coaches major in psychology or counseling rather than education
  • Being on staff at Illinois during the Flyin’ Illini years
  • How the working for coaches with different strengths early in his career helped grow and develop as a coach
  • How deciding playing time is different for a head coach than what he thought as an assistant coach
  • Recruiting good offensive players and giving them freedom
  • Defense comes down to heart and desire and why he believes he can make players good defenders
  • Building his offense around getting to to the free throw line and the “TFZ” concept
  • His defensive system is based on not fouling and putting the other team on the line
  • Play freely, but freedom is earned
  • The best scorers in the game get to the line to boost their efficiency
  • Using a scoring system in practice to reinforce skills and habits that lead to winning (offensive rebounds, TFZ shots)
  • Learning to phrase things to players positively rather than negatively
  • How his interactions with players have evolved to fit the times and the importance of growing and adapting
  • Players rarely hear the truth about their game growing up
  • The challenge of recruiting local kids at Wright State, especially with so many D1 neighboring schools
  • Player relationships and the joy that brings
  • being mistaken for Chicago Bears’ Coach Matt Nagy on Twitter

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[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle this afternoon, but I am pleased to be joined by Scott Nagy, the head men’s basketball coach at Wright State University. Scott. Welcome.

Scott Nagy: [00:00:13] Yeah, thank you for having me.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:15] We are excited to have you on and get a chance to dig into all the things that you’ve been able to do in your career.

A wide variety of experiences that we want to be able to touch on. Let’s go back in time to when you were a kid, tell me a little bit about your first experiences with the game.

Scott Nagy: [00:00:31] Well, my dad was played for Lou henson, Jack Hartman, Lou Henson first recruited him to Hardin Simmons. And then he finished playing for Jack Hartman who went on to Kansas state.

Lou actually went to a New Mexico state where he went to a final four and then Jack Hartman went to Kansas state, but dad played for both really good coaches at Hardin-Simmons. And then he was, he was a graduate assistant there. I was born in Abilene. And Abilene, [00:01:00] Texas, where Hardin-Simmons is. And then he moved to Barton county community college, which he was the very first coach that Barton county ever had in great bend Kansas.

And I think he was there eight years. I think I moved there when I was three and he got fired when I was 11. So that was my first experience. Real experience with coaching is the, the hiring and firing and so that that’s kind of where it started for me in great bend Kansas.

I thought you know, at that age that those guys are the greatest basketball players ever. And so I my, my grade school years were there and that’s kind of where I started playing basketball and my, all my heroes were junior college players and you know, great guys. My dad was a tough coach, a very he, he couldn’t survive in today’s game.

They wouldn’t allow him. To do and treat players the way he did back then you know, in the, in the early seventies. And so but he, yeah, he [00:02:00] was a very tough guy, very defensive minded. And so you know, that, that’s where I got my start. I played all the grade school basketball and things like that.

But, but it was because my dad was a coach.

Mike Klinzing: [00:02:13] Did you get to get into the gym at the schools where your dad was to be able to play?

Scott Nagy: [00:02:17] Yeah. Yeah. You know, I got to do a lot of that and go, go shoot around at Barton county. And you know, I can remember all kinds of things. You know, my dad went from Barton county to we got fired and he was out for maybe a year.

He was out selling cars and losing his mind. And then he got back into it at east central junior college in union, Missouri. And he was there for a couple of years. So my sixth and seventh grade years I was in union, Missouri. And then, then coach Henson was at the university of Illinois and brought him over to the university of Illinois.

And so my eighth grade. Through high school. I spent champagne, Illinois, [00:03:00] and you know, I just, it, yeah, I think his position enabled me to be involved in basketball at levels price, some other people weren’t. And so I remember my first year. That in Champaign and Illinois went to the nit tournament, which seemed like the biggest thing in the world back then in 1979.

And you know, you think about Villanova goes to the nit tournament. Now they want to get rid of the coach back then. It was the biggest deal ever. They made songs about the team and you know, and, and they the Eddie Johnson was on that team. You know, Eddie Johnson who played in the NBA for several years, it was a very good point.

But anyway, I remember we went to the final four and which was in New York city and I got shoot around a Madison square garden, things like that that, that other kids normally wouldn’t get to do I got to do, because my dad was a coach in the big 10. Yeah, absolutely.

Mike Klinzing: [00:03:55] Did you, did you realize how lucky you were or was that just kind of that’s the way your [00:04:00] life was at the time?

Scott Nagy: [00:04:01] No, I didn’t realize how fortunate I was. You know, just that was just my normal life at that point.

Mike Klinzing: [00:04:09] What was your favorite memory from being a high school? Basketball players, anything stand out one particular moment or moments that you remember?

Scott Nagy: [00:04:16] Yeah. I mean, my senior year we, we had a very good team Illinois back then in the eighties only had two classes, a and AA, and we were in the largest class.

So that would be with all the big city schools and you know, back then the, the, the elite eight was played in champagne. You know, now it’s played in Peoria, but, but you know, for us to be at champagne, Centennial high school, they’re a hometown and we made it to the elite eight and I think we beat I think it was a, it might’ve been Aurora.

No, it was Joliet. It was a Joliet school. I can’t even remember who we beat in the super sectional to go to the elite eight. And, and that, that was really a big deal. We had we were [00:05:00] 26 and four and I had Roger McLennan on my team. That was a, a McDonald’s All-American. He actually played at Cincinnati.

And we just had a really good high school basketball team and that just being able to play in an elite eight and we went to lead eight and got beat by roar west. And Kenny battle was on that team. And, and so then I went on to play and when I came back to Illinois as a graduate assistant, I got to actually coach Kenny back here.

So that was interesting, but, but you know, to be able to play in the assembly hall in front of a bunch of people you know, in, in, in your hometown, it was really a great experience for me. Yeah.  

Mike Klinzing: [00:05:40] No doubt about that. Being able to do it, like you said, in your hometown

Scott Nagy: [00:05:43] and more special, I have two classes.

I mean, you, you, you had to beat out a lot of teams get to the final eight. Now. I think they have four classes now, but two classes I mean, it was it and we were in the big class and so you had to beat some really good basketball teams to get there and we had good.

Mike Klinzing: [00:05:58] it’s exciting. I mean, I think [00:06:00] any, any high school player, you get an opportunity to play in your state final aid or your state final four and get down in the state of Ohio, obviously to get, to get to Columbus.

And back when I was playing, I never was fortunate enough to make it down, but think about playing in St. John arena and what that meant and all through the time in the high or high school basketball, it’s just, again, it’s just a special opportunity that not everybody gets an opportunity to do for sure.

Talk about your decision to go to Delta state. What was your recruitment like?

Scott Nagy: [00:06:28] Oh I wasn’t, I wouldn’t say I was highly recruited I was kind of a late bloomer. I started, I played a little bit as a sophomore. I started as a junior and you know, it, wasn’t a major contributor. And then our senior year, you don’t have already talked about, and I was a major contributor then, but I was never a big score average 10 points, a game as a senior.

And but I was a point guard I thought like a point guard. I was a coach on the floor, those kinds of things. And you know, I, [00:07:00] I would say the start of my, between my junior and senior year, people started looking at me a little bit, but they were, it wasn’t division one or I was, it was division three schools and you know, things, things like that.

So I after I, I really didn’t know where I was going even all the way through my senior year. And you know, I was started to get some division to recruiting Quincy university and Quincy, Illinois brought me in on a visit. And the one thing about Delta state ed Murphy was there and ed actually played at ed was from Syracuse, New York.

Now that’s where my dad was from and ed was a year or two older than my dad. And he ended up at Hardin-Simmons and ed was the reason. That my dad went to Hardin-Simmons cause he told coach Hanson about my dad, coach Henson. My dad was in Syracuse, New York, working on a milk truck and [00:08:00] coach Hanson called him.

And offered him a scholarship, never seen him play, but just went on the word of Ed Murphy, caches for everything. And so dad that accepts it and goes from Syracuse, New York with my mom they’re just newly married and drive all the way down to Abilene, Texas, and you know, what it changed for them.

But you know, that was kind of the start, you know coach Murphy and my dad had known each other in high school. So he was at Delta state at the time. And you know, so I went down there to visit and really liked it. I mean, it was the south was a lot different for me. It was kind of culture shock, but that’s how I got down.

There was those connections my dad, no one had and, and you know, it turned out great. I loved the state just had, had a great expense.

Mike Klinzing: [00:08:49] What was your favorite college moment? Same question as I asked you about high school.

Scott Nagy: [00:08:52] Well, well my first three years I played on in incredibly good basketball teams.

I mean, I my [00:09:00] second and third year down there, I played with an NBA player, Gerald Glass, who after his junior, after his sophomore year, my junior year, he transferred Ole miss. My first two years coach Murphy was there and then he went to be the head coach at Ole miss. And then he recruited Gerald and Gerald stayed one more year and then transferred to Ole miss and went and went and played at Ole miss.

And then the MBA. But I, that, those are the, I mean, I play with a couple of CBA players and I mean, we had really good basketball teams and played in three NCAA tournaments. My junior year. We went to, we played in the division two final four in Hartford, Connecticut you know, we’re in.

So it was a, that was a great experience. You know, I just played with some really good teams, won a lot of games there and it was, it was an unusual situation where. I got every game that I replayed they’ll state, I started in and played in. Really my freshman year, I had a, [00:10:00] a point guard that was actually from Cleveland, Ohio, Aaron Smith.

And he was, he was a lot better than me, but coach Murphy was mad at him cause he came back out of shape. And so I got to start an air play most of the minutes, but you know, I got to start the whole year and I was freshman year in the league. And I, I mean, honestly I was an average college player. I wasn’t a great college player, but I play with good players and I was smarter.

You know, to throw it to the right people. And I was a good ball handler on it and a good leader. I’ve just an average score. You know, I wasn’t, that, that just wasn’t my deal, but, but I took care of the ball and got it to the right people and was fortunate enough to play with a bunch of really good players.

But I would say playing in that division two final four was pretty cool.

Mike Klinzing: [00:10:40] Yeah, absolutely. I can imagine that would be exciting. I think your story of trying to figure out how to fit in. And when we think about just where we are in terms of the transfer portal and guys coming in and starting to drop down into the high school ranks and AAU and everything about people jumping from one place to another, I think there’s so much to be said for [00:11:00] figuring it out.

You go somewhere and you figure out what you gotta do in order to be able to get on the floor and kind of fight through adversity. And sometimes we don’t always, we don’t always see that unfortunately, in today. Game the way we way we used to. When did you know coaching was going to be in your future?

Was that something that you knew from the time you were a kid, just because of the influence of your dad, or was it more a case of you got done playing and then you looked around and said, Hmm, I want to stay involved in the game. Let me, let me check out coaching, which, which one of those routes more describes your path to coaching?

Scott Nagy: [00:11:28] It’s more of the second. And the reason I say that is, is because my dad never wanted me to go into coaching. He did everything he could do. To talk me out of it. You know, and I remember when I went to college, he’s like, don’t go into education, go into business. He did everything to steer me away from the college, from any kind of coaching route.

And so I didn’t go into education. So obviously I couldn’t coach in high school and I probably would have been, he probably did me a favor because had I gone in [00:12:00] education, I’d probably be a high school coach right now. And, and loving that. But I I didn’t, I went into business and I feel like everything I’ve ever learned, I don’t, I’m not exactly sure if I’ve ever used it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:12:14]  I got a business degree too, so there’s a little bit on the side, but I ended up going back to school for education.

Scott Nagy: [00:12:21] There’s so many people in business that have been incredibly successful that never even went to college. So you know, I’m not exactly sure how much I’ve used it.

I think. If you knew you were going to go into coach and I’ve always. Told people, this, that, if that, if you knew that’s what you want to do, you’d be better off to go into counseling or psychology, because those are the two things that we really do. And so when I when I came out of there my dad was still in Illinois and that was in 1988 and 89.

And, and so you know, I went back obviously, cause my dad was there. I could, I could go be the GA [00:13:00] there at, at university of Illinois. Be a graduate assistant, get my master’s and I looked to get my MBA, but that, that would have been a heck of a lot of work. And I just, honestly, I didn’t like school that much.

And so I got I got a master’s in sports administration, which I don’t want to say it was super easy. It was pretty easy. And I remember I met my wife. She was an undergrad there at the time and she couldn’t believe some of the classes that I’ve taken to get my master’s, but you know, I still get, I say I got my master’s from the university of Illinois and it is actually in kinesiology, even though it’s the, it was sport management, but it was under the kinesiology diploma.

So I have a master’s degree from the university of Illinois, but, but just being there and having my first shot at coaching. And of course it was a little unrealistic because my first year there coaching the, flying Illini, the problem. And, [00:14:00] you know, I would say it, it probably is the best team of the university of Illinois ever had, even though we didn’t win the national championship.

I mean, it was a, it was a freakishly athletic grade team made up of all my kids and just a lot of fun to coach. Fun to watch running around Dunkin and just, just one of the most athletic teams, if not the, that I’ve ever seen. And so so it was a little unrealistic thinking, oh, this coaching stuff is pretty easy.

Mike Klinzing: [00:14:29] You just roll the balls out.

Scott Nagy: [00:14:30] These guys go to work and to go to practice every day, just to watch these guys, they, they were you know, incredible players and it was, it was a lot of fun for sure. What was something

Mike Klinzing: [00:14:40] that. Was maybe surprising to you about coaching that you didn’t realize during all your time as a player.

I know obviously you had conversations going along with your dad and you got to see some of the things, but when you actually went and sat in on coaches meetings and did some of the prep work and all the things that we know as coaches that we put the time [00:15:00] in, but players don’t see. Was there something that surprised you that you didn’t realize coaches spend as much time doing as, as they actually do.

Scott Nagy: [00:15:06] Yeah, probably not just because I watched my dad all those years and you know, obviously at the university of Illinois, you have more personnel. I mean, he was doing it as a junior college coach. He was doing it almost all by himself. You know, I can remember him coming home after games at night in you know, he, wasn’t a highly successful junior college.

But, but I can remember him coming home and staying up late at night and watching TV and sitting with our dog and watching the three Stooges, anything that would turn up after a loss. You know, it just I do think that most players I probably have a greater appreciation of it cause I saw my dad, but most players don’t understand.

The amount of work that coaches put in beforehand to prepare their teams and the practices the amount of time we put in to just planning a practice you [00:16:00] know, in all of the things that go into that and how it works up to playing a game and, and then the preparation for a game and the scouting, then most of them don’t understand that.

And that’s okay. I think as a coach, I don’t need them to understand that, but, but I the information I give them. Or my assistant coaches give them I expect them to, to take in and you know, take very seriously because I know how much work goes into it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:16:28] Absolutely. What’s something that you were good at right off the bat as a coach.

And then maybe what’s something that was maybe not quite as natural for you that you’ve gotten better at over the years.

Scott Nagy: [00:16:38] You know, I was very fortunate. My first two jobs. Okay. So I went from, even when I was at the university of Florida, I was a little unsure whether or not I wanted to coach I knew I was getting my masters.

I looked at possibly even going into campus crusade for Christ. I mean, there, there were all kinds of things I was looking at. Cause I knew my dad didn’t want me to [00:17:00] go into coaching. And so. I think just subconsciously I was trying to do everything, not going to coaching, but it’s what I knew. You know, I knew basketball.

It’s, it’s kinda what I knew and you know, so I got this job coming out of the university of Illinois at South Dakota state university as an assistant coach. And I mean, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing particularly in the recruiting I’d never recruited before. And, and so that that was a new experience for me.

But I was just very fortunate to work for a couple of guys that, that had certain strengths and they were opposite of each other. And so my first guy was Jim Thorson and, and Jim Thorson was a good coach at South Dakota state university. I worked for him for three years.

We, and my first year I got there, we went to the final. And then, or maybe I, I can’t remember as a first year or second year, but we went to two NCAA tournaments. I mean, we had a, [00:18:00] just a good basketball is my third year where we went to a, we won 19 games. And so two NCAA terms, one final eight, 19 games.

And my head coach got fired now. Coach Thorson was he was a tremendous And the X’s and O’s, and the fundamentals in all those things, which are things that I still needed to learn. I knew enough about it, but I need to learn how to teach it and how to put a practice together. He was, I mean, still things I do today.

With practice. Now I put a practice together are what he did. And so I learned a lot from him now where he was not strong was the relationships with the players. He wasn’t very close to them. He didn’t have a good connection to him. And so that was kind of my job as the assistant coach was, was to create that connection in.

And I think that’s probably for most assistant coaches, that’s usually their job. You know, a head coach has to make the tough decisions, be the heavy hammer. You know, decide who plays, who does and all those things. And so the [00:19:00] assistant coaches are the ones that kind of have to cover up some of some of that stuff.

And it’s not always that way. Sometimes it’s the assistant coaches that are having the coaches they’re buddies. I mean, but, but, but coach wasn’t real close to the players. Coach stores. And so I had to work hard at that part of it. And you know, I learned how to recruit. I you know, we recruit some really good players and south coast state was a top division two school at the time.

And division two was different than. Than it is now. I mean, there, there are fewer in South Dakota state was such a it had over 10,000 students, which for a division two school was a, a large school. And so we had some things going for us other than the fact that we were way out in the middle of nowhere.

But we we drew we’ve led the nation attendance. I mean, we had some, some neat things going for us. I mean, South Dakota state was. What Ohio state is to do the state of Ohio. I mean, we were the largest school and people were interested in what we were doing even when we were division two.

So and, [00:20:00] and then he got fired just because he and the aid, quite frankly, didn’t get along. And you know, I was 26. I tried to get the head job. And went through the interview process and didn’t get it. And so here here I am for three years have done a great job, really, as an assistant coach.

I mean, we went to the final eight, went in silly turnover, recruited good players. And I’m out of a job. I mean, you talk about an eye opener for me to to just, just how much an assistant coach is connected to the head coach, whether the head coach leaves or gets fired and you’ve done a great job and you’re out of a job.

And I was, and I, and it frustrated me so much. I consider just even getting out of coaching right then, which I’m glad I did. But I was disillusioned for sure. And thinking, man, I hear I’ve done a great job and I’m without a job. And on top of that in the middle of that, we find out my wife’s pregnant with our first, I mean my, my father-in-law thinks that his daughters married a loser and [00:21:00] I mean, it was, it was a mess for sure.

And, and I got the assistant job at Southern Oman university at Edwardsville and Jack Martin Taylor was the coach there. And Jack had been the head coach at Drake and Jack played down at Houston with some really, really good basketball teams. He played with Elvin Hayes. Was really th the, the interesting thing is Jack was almost the opposite of coach Dorson.

Jack was tremendous with relationships with the players. He would meet with his players once a week. And he he was great at the motivational side of it and probably not quite as strong on the X’s and O’s. And so I went from a coach that was strong and X’s and O’s, and the fundamentals and the team.

But not great on the motivational and that side of it. And so I got to learn that side of it. And then when I worked for Jack, I kind of got it to work the other side of it, the, the X’s and O’s, and be more of the fundamental coach and the [00:22:00] teacher. And so I really, I was very fortunate on both sides.

You know, as a division two coach or the only assistant and you get a lot of responsibility. And so I got to coach a lot but, but I got to kind of do both sides of it and learn a lot. And that really helped me. You know, when I went back to South Dakota state as the head coach at 28 years old,

Mike Klinzing: [00:22:20] how did you, during those assistance stops, did you keep a notebook?

Did you keep a journal? How did you. Catalog the things that you were learning along the way in preparation for what you hoped was eventually going to be an opportunity to be a head coach?

Scott Nagy: [00:22:34] Yeah. You know, I wish I was more organized than that. I’m not, I’m not really organized in terms of writing things down and keeping notebooks.

And I’m thankful over the years, I’ve had assistants that are and have kept my stuff. But coach Dorson was really good at that. And so I I kinda had all his stuff with me when I went to SIU E I mean, Coach Dorson was great at that stuff. And. [00:23:00] So I had that stuff. And but then w when I finally became a head coach, I had assistant coaches that were, that were better at that.

And keeping that stuff. I mean, I would always have people ask me, Hey, do you have this on paper, this drill? You know, and I mean, like I had it in my mind, I didn’t have it on paper, but my, some of my assistants had it. And so I would refer them to my assistants. I wasn’t, I wasn’t real, real. Keeping good notes.

Mike Klinzing: [00:23:25] What was the biggest adjustment when you went from being an assistant to being a head coach? Obviously we could. Spend two or three hours talking about all the differences, but just stepping into that other chair for the first time, slide over whatever the 18 inches like you always hear about what was the big, what was the biggest difference in your mind that you remember back when you took over a program for the first time?

Scott Nagy: [00:23:46]  A couple of things. One, I can remember being assistant coach complaining to my head coach about this player, that player. Cause he wouldn’t guard like he supposed to be defending and you know, he would. [00:24:00] Give the effort on the defense and then like he gives any offensive and, and still the head coach is playing him because he’s a good offensive player.

And then I remember being a head coach and, and thinking I mean, you got to put players on a floor that can put the ball in the basket and you know, so it’s easy to be an assistant coach and complain about things. I, I remember that. And I remember just the different feeling in pressure that I felt just, I mean, it wasn’t even close from, from being a head coach from being an assistant coach to going to a head coach and the amount of pressure that I felt when I got the head job at south coast state, it was kind of a neat deal because when I went back to South Dakota state there were several players on the team that I had recruited as an assistant.

And some of them are seniors and some of them are juniors. And so they were excited to have me back, obviously, because I had built a good relationship with those guys and recruiting them and coaching them for a year. And so it was just kind of a neat reunion that we had with [00:25:00] those players. And you know, Brad Soderbergh who came out of, of the Dick Bennett system was the head coach there for a couple of years.

And then Brad went to be the assistant coach for Dick Bennett of Wisconsin. And so I went back. And there, there’s just a big difference between the Dick Bennett system, not defensively in terms of, well, I think there’s almost no difference in terms of what Dick Bennett does and what we do, but authentically there’s a big difference.

I I’m, I give our guys a lot of freedom offensively. Like my, my whole deal has been recruit good offensive player. Because I, I think it’s really hard to, I mean, you can help a kid be a better offensive player, but they’re they’re just people that have a God given ability to play offense in and put the ball in the basket that other guys don’t have.

But every player I’ve ever coached, I know I can make a great defender. I mean, that’s the way I. And because I think that comes down to more heart and desire than it does ability where I think [00:26:00] sometimes I’ll offensively. It doesn’t matter what kind of heart you have offensively. It matters more. So do I have the ability to do it?

And, and so I’ve always tried to recruit good offensive players guys that can handle it, pass it, shoot it. And then I just hammer home the defense and I give him a lot of freedom, offensively. Good offensive. We turn them loose. And so most of the teams that I’ve ever coached, we’ve scored a lot of points.

Like we put a lot of points up on the board. And so those players, when I went back south coast state, they were excited to see me cause they knew I would free them up offense. You know, cause they were. Brad felt like you know, w in order for south coast states win Nash championship division two, that, that we South Dakota state can’t recruit the athletes that some other people can.

And so we’ve got to play slower and and I’m thinking just the, yeah. And so I turned our guys loose in it. I mean, we early on we were putting up hundreds on people. I mean, we were really getting up now floor. We had a tremendous, maybe one of the best point guards I’ve ever had was that very first year kid, I recruited germane showers out of [00:27:00] racing, Wisconsin.

And he could just go and he had had a shackles on him for two years on the offensive end. I mean cause, cause Brad wanted to always slow it down and Jermaine wanted to go and. So you know, I went in there and just kind of freed those guys up. We, we were picked, I remember we were picked to finish fifth and league out of 10 and we blew the league out.

We won the league with my first three years there. We won the league every year. I think we were 75 and 10 and three years. And. I mean, it, it was, it was almost surreal. Honestly, I would look at my assistant coach, Matt Morgan, Taylor who was Jack’s son. And I would look at and sometimes go like, what is going on?

I mean, I mean we were so young and so dumb and still learning how to even be a coach. And here I’m a head coach and we’re just winning. Three straight titles and everything just seems so easy. And I remember my dad saying, Hey, you need to get out of there. You’re not going to make any more friends than you have right now. [00:28:00]

And so but, but that first year, honestly, as a head coach is probably the most fun I’ve ever had because I got to go back and coach guys that I recruited as an assistant and we just had a great relationship and they were excited to have me. And we had, we, we had a great team. We really did.

We won the league and made it to the regionals of the finals and lost four days stayed who had a great team. And in the following year, we went back to regionals and before DEI state went to the final eight and you know, I’m just a young guy. I still learn how to coach, but I got to coach a lot of guys.

He was a unique situation where I got to coach guys that I had recruited as an.

Mike Klinzing: [00:28:37] Yeah, that doesn’t happen very often. I’m sure. That, that I can’t, I can’t think off the top of my head have too many experiences there. Somebody would be recruited by an assistant coach, then they’re gone. And then they come back as the head coach.

I don’t think that happens very often. When you think about your offensive system, and even though you’ve taken the shackles off your team and you want them to be able to utilize their skills, how has your offensive system. [00:29:00] Changed over the course of your head coaching career, just in terms of sort of the way the game has evolved around threes and pick and roll, which when you go back 25 years ago, there wasn’t a whole lot of teams running that type of style, more people running the Bobby Knight motion, offense.

And even if you were getting up and down the floor, you still didn’t have the volume of threes in the, in the amount of amount of ball screens that we have in the game today. So how would you describe how your offensive system and philosophy has changed over the year?

Scott Nagy: [00:29:29] You know, I don’t think it’s changed a lot.

I mean, because I’m a very simple thinker. I really am. I you know, I look at statistics, I’m, I’m a very you know, everything I do is, is just, it just works around numbers. Numbers are very easy for me. They’re very easy for me to understand. And so statistics are very important to me. And so.

You know, the, the w the one thing about the three point shot I mean, when it, when I remember when it first came out Rick Pitino, [00:30:00] you know, had had this system where if you shot 33% from three, that’s like shooting 50% from two effectively. And it’s true if you just, if you cut out everything else and say if we shoot 33% of three, we’re going to score exactly the same number amount of points as we do.

If we shoot 50% from two and all that’s great. I, I get that. And I think people fall in love with the three point shot and Steph Curry’s really changed that. But I think the, the big thing, in my opinion, that people are, are missing in we’ve really stressed in our programs. And I think if you go back and you look statistically, you know what we’ve done and how we’ve scored, the amount of points that we do is the free-throw line.

And if you shoot a lot of three. Yeah. You know, if that’s your deal, then the one thing that’s going to happen is you’re not going to get to the free throw line. And if, if I, as a coach could go to the free throw line every time down the floor, that’s what I’d want to do. Cause that’s like shooting 70%.

If [00:31:00] your team should send your percent from the free throw line, that’s like shooting 70% from the floor. Yep. And, okay, so if we’re taking a lot of threes, chances are, we’re not getting filed. And so my, my whole philosophy was always. Designed around getting the ball to the rim in. And so I’ve always had good post players, always have people.

We throw the ball into even guards. We post our guards. We like people that can post and play with their back to the basket. We like people that can drive we in and over the years, we we’ve developed. What we call the 10 foot zone. The TMZ is what we call it. You know, I got it off of a TMZ the 10 miles on it.

This is the 10th and foot zone for us. And you know, when I started looking at statistically, that’s where all the files happen and the 10 foot zone, the TFZ and so on offensively, that’s where we want the ball. Whether it’s off the break, we want to get it there. And then kick it out. If it’s an, if, if [00:32:00] we’re in our half court motion, we somehow we want to get there either we drive it there or we throw it there.

And then any passes that come out of there because you know, the defense has collapsed. Those, those are the three point shots we want to be able to take. I don’t want to shoot 33% from three. I want to shoot 40% from three as a team. That  my goal. And I always tell our players, if you’re not shooting 40% from three, then you need to shoot less of them.

Or you need to get better shots. One of the two, cause that’s that I want that to be your goal. And as a team, we’ve had some teams that shoot over 40% now that’s tremendous. And, and, but if you, if you go back and look at most of our teams most years we make more free throws than our opponents attempt.

And when we’re doing that, we’re generally winning games. And that’s how we score points. I always tell our players you look at the M the, the high scores say, it’s take the NBA. Okay. Take Jordan back when he played LeBron now. And if they’re adjunct 30 points a game, they’re not making 15.

Jumpshots [00:33:00] they’re, they’re making maybe 10 shots, and then they’re shooting 10 free throws. Th that’s how they’re doing it. They are getting to the free-throw line and they’re shooting a high percentage. And so that, that is a big goal of our teams. And then consequently, obviously defensively, we’re trying to do just the opposite.

We don’t want the ball on a 10 foot zone. We do everything we can do to keep it out of there. And we don’t want to file. We don’t want to put people on the free-throw line. And so everything we do is really designed around that. It’s very simple and you know, we want to recruit good shooters guys that can shoot it and.

You know, I might complain that they’re your shoe to me, threes are this, that the other in a game or in practice, I might say that’s a bad shot, but I always tell them cause I meet with my players a lot and, and so a good shoe. You know, my, my instructions to him is when you’re open, you better shoot it.

I want a confidentnt player. That’s not worried about what I think all the time that won’t look over the bench and go, I want, I don’t need one guy jumping up and shooting the [00:34:00] ball, thinking, I wonder if coach wants me shooting this shot, that that’s a recipe for disaster. I want you to shooting that ball because you want to shoot it.

And you know, you’re a great shooter. And so when I sit here in my office and I tell you, when you’re open you better, Listen to that. When we get out on the floor to practice floor in a game, and I get mad at you for this shot or that shot, I need that to go in one ear and out the other. And you gotta be tougher than that.

You can’t be worried about me all the time. Listen to what I’m saying when I’m in my same mind in my office. And don’t listen to what I’m saying all the time when I’m out of my mind in practice or in a game. And so our, I, our players have always played with a lot of freedom often. Which I want them to, I mean, that’s one of the things we want our guys doing is playing freely, but you know, I’ve always told him freedom is earned.

It’s not like we’re, I’ll just frame. We can do whatever we want to do. No matter what, that’s not how it works. You earn the freedom by showing us in practice. And by showing us statistically how good a shooter you are. Cause we keep stats and practice. [00:35:00] And like, we keep rebounds and we keep turnovers and we keep shooting percentages.

And you know, if you’re shooting 30%. Then you better be shooting less of them or you better start getting better ones or you you’re just not going to have that freedom that we want you to have. And so that freedom is earned, but when you’ve earned that freedom, I need you to play with it.

And I want you to you know, I want you to be a confident player.

Mike Klinzing: [00:35:24] How do you instill the mentality to have your guys get into the rim into that TFZ? Cause I’m thinking there obviously are some players that just have. The knack for getting there. So the part of that is probably just recruiting, looking for that type of player, but I’m guessing day in, day out in your practice setting that you’re constantly preaching to them.

Hey, we got to get the ball into this zone and then that’s when we attack out for three. So how do you, what do you do? Do you chart the number of times guys get into the 10 foot zone? Is it just something that you’re constantly talking about discussing, emphasizing? How do you go about teaching that [00:36:00] mentality of, Hey, we got to the rim.

Scott Nagy: [00:36:00] I would say the best way. You know, we’ve done it over the years, what we’ve developed as a scoring system and practice. And it, it mostly is it revolves around a defensive scoring system, but it also you know, for us we’re emotion team and, and so you know, most Mo my, my. Mental energy, quite frankly, it goes mostly to defense.

I mean, that’s when I watch our teams play, I’m watching the team that’s on defense. Most of the time, not the team that’s on offense. But we have a scoring system of practice that we’ve developed. And it, it just rewards that kind of stuff. And so when you’re doing it day after day after day after day, it just becomes a habit.

It becomes a habit. We, we, we reward offensive, rebounding. We reward. You know, 10 foot zone shots over a 17 foot jump shot. You know, so like if you score on a 10 foot zone, you make it three, they count the same for us. And so our [00:37:00] guys understand that if you file it’s we subtract a point you know, if you turn a ball over, you lose two points because the defense gets a point and you lose a point.

And so we just kinda have a scoring system and practice that has really. Benefited us and, and just penalizes the things we don’t like, like turnover and it rewards the things that we do, like offensive rebounding, you know? So, so we give two points for an offensive rebound. Well, if I’m on defense, I better not give up an offensive rebound.

What do I need to do? When a shot goes up, I better block. Or they’re going to get two points. And so all the things we’re trying to get done, I mean, we’ve, we’ve always been a great rebounding team this year. We average in league or 10 rebounds, better game than our opponents. We’re one of the top rebounded teams in the country.

It, I honestly, I give a lot of credit to that scoring system that we have in practice.

Mike Klinzing: [00:37:52] Do you guys, so I’m assuming that you’re charting that, that scoring system you’re charting that live while practice is going on, right.

[00:38:00] Scott Nagy: [00:38:00] Yeah. Like almost anything that we do, we’re keeping score by that scoring system.

And, you know so, and, and there’s consequences for not winning and our practices. I mean, we want it to be competitive. And when I say that you know, my wife always told me that all the, for every negative thing, he say, you gotta say seven positive things. And I said, you get to that ratio.

Yeah. Well, you know what, I get closer than most players think because as humans, we remember the negative things that are said to us and we don’t remember the past. But I think if he went through a practice, you’d hear me tell a kid, good job, good job. Do a good job. And then the one time I get after him, that’s what he remembers.

But, but so I’ve, I’ve learned to phrase things differently. So instead of the losers have to run the phrases, winners don’t have to run things like that. And we get exactly the same thing, but you say it in a positive manner instead of a negative manner. And so I’ll say. We’re going to [00:39:00] do this.

Winners don’t have to run a five and 30 five, five lengths of the court, 30 seconds. And so just learn how to say things positively instead of negatively, which is doesn’t come naturally for me, because I tend to think negatively.

Mike Klinzing: [00:39:14] I think a lot of people, when you talk about just that particular aspect of coaching, and I think back to the beginning of our conversation with talking about your dad and how you said he couldn’t coach in today’s era, how do you.

How do you feel like that your style of coaching has changed over the years in terms of. Interaction with players and building relationships. And that kind of again, when you think back 25, 30 years ago, there was much more of that separation of the coach and the players and the coach was up here and you do things because the coach said, versus now I think there’s much more of a you’re building that relationship.

You’re, you’re asking the players what they see. You’re trying to give them the why of what you’re doing. So how has that impacted what you do day to day and how do you think that’s changed? The [00:40:00] way you coach, in terms of your interaction with players.

Scott Nagy: [00:40:02] It’s definitely changed. I think part of it just becoming a parent and you know, learning.

That I can’t parent like my dad, I don’t get to just say, do this because I said so, because that doesn’t necessarily get the reason why across to my, my son and my daughter and I want them to know the reason why. And so, but I also know the difference between why should I do it? And Y you know, what is the reason we’re doing this?

I mean, there’s a big difference in terms of the attitude of asking why you know, sometimes it’s like, I don’t want to do what you’re saying. And the other time is what really, why are we doing this? And I, I do think that’s important now. You know, when I, when I was a younger coach, it was amazing.

I think back to how hard. I was on those teams and the things I said to him in the film sessions in how sarcastic and I was brutal. I really was, I was, I was very hard on them. And [00:41:00] quite honestly, it wasn’t fair. Some of the stuff I did now, I knew because we were winning we were winning.

It’s such an unbelievable. You know, like sales first for your 75 and 10. I mean, I could say almost anything. They were getting their reward because everybody else outside of the program was telling them how great they were. And so they were getting their reward. But I’ll tell you when I went through that stretch, when we made that transition at south coast, stay from division two to division one, and we had about a five-year stretch there where we were not very good.

And we had a hard time keeping players and I had to change. I watched kids get their tails handed to him and I couldn’t, I couldn’t coach him. Like I coached kids that were 25 and three. These kids were six and 20. And I couldn’t be the same. I couldn’t coach the same way because they were getting pounded and they were beat down and I couldn’t do that to them.

And so I, that, that’s really where, and I’m thankful for those [00:42:00] days, because I had to learn how to coach but before I just have better players than you, and we just beat the crap out of you. And then when, when you had better players than me, we went D two to D one. Everybody had better players than us.

I had to learn how to coach. And so those were, those were incredibly beneficial days to me about blessing. When I look back on it compared to just I was so used to winning all the time, everything I did, and I went through this, this process of not being able to win in it, it really made me take a look at what I was doing, kind of man.

I was what was really important to me. Was it just about winning and people seeing me as a winner because I feel like that’s where I was at that point. And all of a sudden, I wasn’t a winner and I felt terrible about myself and yeah, I’m probably doing the best coaching job I’ve ever done, and nobody even notices because we’re getting our tails handed to us.

And so that was a big process in my life. And a changing point for me to learn how to coach [00:43:00] kids better still get the same thing out of them without berating them and beating them down and saying things that don’t need to be said you know, asking for forgiveness where I never used to do that.

I used to just I mean, I would just go right through people. And so I would say humility was a great thing for me. It helped me be a better coach. Understand the players better, give them more grades. Which is what I needed to. And so I’m thankful for, for those years and, and you know, some of it’s cultural change too kids today just can’t handle what they, and I don’t care what anybody says.

I know that’s the case. I’ve been coaching 26 years, 25 years ago. They can handle more than they can handle now in terms of what I say to them. Yeah. I don’t think

Mike Klinzing: [00:43:43] Yeah. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

Scott Nagy: [00:43:44] Well, their kids are more entitled. They, they particularly the really good ones have had everybody kissing their tails and telling them how great they are.

And they’ve really not been people. Haven’t been honest with them about the things they need to change in their attitudes and. [00:44:00] So you know, there kids can, can not handle as much the criticism today, like they could 25 years ago.

Mike Klinzing: [00:44:08] I think that introspection that you just shared thinking about yourself and how you grow as a coach and just how you have to evolve with the times and being aware of it.

It’s something that I think everybody goes through, but I think it’s something that’s really, as you said, it’s difficult. It’s not easy to look in the mirror and say to yourself, especially like you said, when you’re winning that. That covers over a lot of maybe ills that are going on behind the scenes, things that you know, you might, you might think about changing if you weren’t winning, which obviously you had that stretch as you transitioned from D 2, to D 1.

I want to be respectful of your time here, Scott, and ask you one final two-part question before we wrap up. When you think of. The next year or two looking ahead. And this is obviously hoping that we’re going to get back to normalcy with the pandemic and that things are going to be the way we all remember them.

At some point here, what’s your biggest challenge looking forward. And then number two, when you wake up every morning and you go into your job [00:45:00] and you get into the office there at Wright state, what’s the biggest joy that you get from what you do every single day?

Scott Nagy: [00:45:05] Well, I I would say the biggest challenge and we’ve taken this head on at Wright State.

You know, in, in, in the state of Ohio, there’s 13 division one schools. And I think when we got here just about any young man would have almost gone to any division one school over Wright state. You know, we, we sit in Dayton, Ohio, and within an hour of us, we have five division, one schools Cincinnati and Xavier and Miami and Dayton and Ohio state.

That almost any kid would much rather go play than Wright state. And so one of the biggest challenges and, and we’re still working to get over. It is recruiting locally and you know, getting people to look at Wright state differently you know, more and we’re battling a generational thing here in, in it’s it takes time, [00:46:00] but winning is the only thing that’ll change.

It just is. I mean, if you don’t win, it’s not going to. And we’ve won pretty consistently here for five years, and it’s still a battle. But, but we’re making inroads and we know we’re going to stick with. And start getting more local kids, which is what we want to do, you know? Right. I mean, we have great facilities and we have a great fan base.

We lead the league in attendance every year. And it’s, it has been easier for us to recruit kids away from here than it has kids near here. You know, you look at this year, we started three kids from Illinois and one from Wisconsin. And so that doesn’t make a lot of sense and we’d been pretty successful doing that.

And if we have to do that, we’ll do that. But we’d much rather recruit local kids and we’re starting to make some inroads. There we are two freshmen that will come in this year, are both with within an hour. And so we’re, we’re happy about that. And so that honestly, that’s the biggest challenge for us is just that recruiting piece, particularly in Ohio.

And then. What was the [00:47:00] second part of question? Your greatest joy? You know, I would say just the players. I constantly have to remind myself. You know, because, because sometimes the pressure just takes away the joy. It’s just like the expectations and I’ve gotten used to the expectations and I’m thankful for that that I’ve been involved in winning programs and people expect us to win.

And that’s a good thing. I would rather have that than people expect you to lose. But, but it can be draining. It really can. You know, you get to the point where you’ve won and you’ve won, you’ve won. And people just think, well, that’s just the way it’s going to be all the time. And it’s going to be easy and it’s not easy.

It’s never easy. And, and so I have to deal with that pressure and it can steal my joy, but the players, you know God concert reminds me to pursue these guys. And love on them. And you know that they are the reason why I’m doing this, not the wins, not my reputation, not anything about me when I make it about me, I’m a [00:48:00] terrible coach and I get uptight and I make everybody else uptight and we don’t play well.

And when I make it about the kids, I relax and we relax and we play well. And so, but, but it is, I mean, it is a constant battle and I don’t know if it will ever change. As long as I coach, I’m thankful I’ve got a great wife that can help me with that and help me see it when I do get that way. But, but I’ve just been very fortunate, honestly.

I mean I have a lot of wins attributed to me and I haven’t made one basket. I haven’t put the ball in the basket one time. I’ve been very. And they had been smart enough to hire good assistants and have coached a lot of great players. And that’s how you win. It just is as a head coach. I’m I always say this I’m a really good coach when I have good players and I’m not very good coach when I don’t.

And, and that’s, that is true. It just is. And so most of the credit goes the players and the coaches that got them here. And you know, I’m super thankful for my [00:49:00] ID. I’ve got a great Ady Bob grant who just frees me up and, and lets me do what I do and is thankful that I’m here. And so I’m in a great spot and mostly just my players are a great joy.

Mike Klinzing: [00:49:16] Well said before we wrap up, if you wouldn’t mind sharing how people can reach out to you after they listen to the podcast, whether you just want to share the Wright state basketball website, you want to share a Twitter account, a social media, anything. And then after you do that, I’ll jump back in and wrap up.

Scott Nagy: [00:49:31]

Yeah, you can just go. I mean, you can go to or whatever. You can find our basketball site. I mean, you could find him probably quicker than I can find it. I’m not much of a tech guy. I’m on Twitter. @CoachNagy, but I mean, I don’t hardly post anything and I hardly ever look at it. I I’ve learned to just get off social media because most of it serves to discourage than it does to encourage.

And quite frankly, we’re all not [00:50:00] nearly as important as we think we are. And so I, I’ve kind of gotten off of that. I’m not much of a social media. I, I keep it pretty tight in terms of how I get my information. You know, I get it from my assistant coaches. And then other than that, I don’t really search for Wright, state men’s basketball and anything else.

In that way, I don’t get discouraged when people are critical or whatever. And so I I’ve, I’ve learned to do that you know, and you can find my email on that right. State website. It’s pretty simple. It’s it’s ScottNagy@wrightstate.EDU and you can email me. If you wanted something from me, I’d have my assistant send it cause they have all of it.

And so yeah, I’m a pretty basic guy. That’s for sure.

Mike Klinzing: [00:50:39] Keep your circle tight, right? Yeah.

Scott Nagy: [00:50:41] You know, it’s funny. I tell you a quick story @CoachNagy, right. Is, is, is my Twitter. And the bear’s coach is Matt. Yes, same, same spelling. And every time the bears play every Sunday in the fall, I get it.

You can’t believe the amount of, of people firing at me on [00:51:00] Twitter, about how bad the bears are.

Mike Klinzing: [00:51:02] You’re going to be picking, you’re going to be picking the bears the next quarter, but you better hope Justin Fields is good. And maybe you just start getting some positive action. But I

Scott Nagy: [00:51:09] generally don’t get anything positive.

I only get the negative and that’s why I know it’s better off to stay off twitter.

Mike Klinzing: [00:51:14] Well, Scott, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule today to jump on with us here. Really appreciate it. And it’s everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode.

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