Twitter – @andersontobin
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tobin Anderson is heading into his 8th year as the head coach of the St. Thomas Aquinas Spartans. Anderson has guided St. Thomas Aquinas to five straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Tobin joined the Spartan staff in 2013, as the 7th head coach in the program’s history, bringing over 16 years of coaching experience at the Division I, II and III levels. Anderson came to STAC after a two year stint as an assistant coach for Division I Siena College.
Before his time at Siena, Anderson was an established head coach at the Division III level at Hamilton College and Clarkson University. While at Hamilton, he posted a 118-63 record over a seven year span, with a .652 winning percentage. The Continentals reached the league tournament five out of his seven years, including a tournament championship and a trip to the NCAA DIII tournament.
Prior to arriving at Hamilton, Anderson earned his first head coaching position at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y. In his five years with the Golden Knights, he broke the school record for wins, with a 19-10 season in 2001-02.
Anderson spent three years as an assistant coach; two years at Le Moyne College, from 1997-1999. He also started his college coaching career as an assistant at Clarkson in 1996, where he would later return. He has been involved in numerous basketball camps and clinics and has produced two basketball individual instruction DVD’s. He is a lecturer and clinician at the nation’s two most prestigious basketball camps; Hoop Group Elite and Five-Star Basketball Camp.
Tobin graduated from Wesleyan University in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies. He was a four year starter, two year captain, and is one of the top ten leading scorers in school history.
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Please take some notes and get ready to learn and grow as you listen to this episode with Tobin Anderson, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at St. Thomas Aquinas in Sparkill, New York.
What We Discuss with Tobin Anderson
- Growing up as the son of a coach
- Learning from watching his Dad coach
- Becoming a gym rat as a player
- Playing Division 3 basketball at Wesleyan University after having dreamed of playing Division 1
- Getting his start in coaching at D3 Clarkson in New York state
- Next stop LeMoyne as an assistant
- Becoming a head coach back at Clarkson at age 27
- Moving on to D3 Hamilton after three seasons
- The Influence of Five Star Basketball Camp on his career
- Being a D1 assistant at Siena
- How he got the opportunity to coach at St. Thomas Aquinas
- Having his Dad as his assistant at Hamilton
- How his experience as a player helps him recruit and relate to his players
- His relationship with the late Howard Garfinkel
- Why coaching has so much more to it than just basketball on the court
- His ability to relate with players
- The keys to building a staff and the roles of a head coach and an assistant
- Advice on transitioning from assistant to head coach and vice versa
- Mentoring assistants and helping them grow
- Being able to delegate and relinquish tasks to assistants
- What he has loved about coaching at each level of college basketball
- The off-season coaching rules in college basketball
- Why it’s easier to take over a losing program – they want change
- Why finding players that fit your program is so important in recruiting
- What he looks for in recruits
- How he builds competitiveness into his practices
- Helping players navigate social media
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THANKS, TOBIN ANDERSON
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TRANSCRIPT FOR TOBIN ANDERSON – ST. THOMAS AQUINAS COLLEGE HEAD MEN’S COACH – EPISODE 330
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host Jason Sunkle. And tonight we are pleased to welcome to the podcast from St. Thomas Aquinas College in the state of New York, Tobin Anderson Tobin. Welcome to the podcast.
Tobin Anderson: [00:00:14] Thanks, Mike, it’s great to be here.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:16] Excited to have you on and get a chance to dig into all the different things that you’ve been able to do in the game at all of the levels in college basketball.
Want to start out by talking to you a little bit about how you got into the game of basketball when you were a kid?
Tobin Anderson: [00:00:29] Yeah. Great, man. I appreciate you having me on and looking forward to talking to basketball here. So yeah, I mean, my journey starts when I was younger. My dad was a high school coach in Iowa, so he was, you know, a really good coach, small town.
So I, I started going to practice and games and I was probably old enough to walk and I don’t remember missing a practice. I’m like one of those kids that like, I wanted to go to every practice and I would, he’d have JV practice in the morning. I’d go to that. And then I go to varsity practice in the afternoon and I’d shoot on the other end and watch the team practice. I couldn’t get enough of [00:01:00] that. So I was a gym rat from the time I was able to, to walk and talk and, you know, I just love basketball. I love being around the guys. I love being around the team. I love, love seeing him play and he had some Down years. So, I mean, I was riding team was 0-19.
I think I was 10 or 12 years old since I had years too. but you know, it’s like I saw him build a program. I saw how hard he worked. I saw how he treated the guys. My dad was a great coach. He, you know, he picked up the guys in the morning for practice. He drove him home. He drove him to school in the summer time.
We loaded up in a car and drove around Iowa, go to summer camps and playing in tournaments. And he just treated the guys so well. And they were part of the family we had got, we had, we probably every night had a guy. At our dinner table, one of our, one of his players having dinner and spending time with us.
So it was like an extended family. So I really got a chance to be around every part of coaching. And I knew, I wanted to be a player. Obviously I wanted to be a really good player and I knew having some, some, speed and size deficiencies. I was not going to be a great player, but I felt I could be [00:02:00] as good as good as I possibly could be.
So I always had a key to the gym. I, you know, I played all the time. I wanted to play in the NBA. I think my, my mom and my dad sat me down in the eighth grade and told me that was not going to happen. And I want to play the highest levels. I became a really good high school player playing for my father.
It was fun to play with my father. I mean, I saw guys don’t, Steve offers a little bit older than me, but I watched Steve Alford play for Indiana and watched him cause he played for his dad in Indiana and it kind of gave me a blueprint of, of how things could go. And it was hard at first playing with my father and then I ended up loving it and enjoying it and he pushed me and nothing was easy.
And I became a really good player. I was a good player in high school in Iowa as a whole, you know, for an All-state player. And, yeah, I wanted to play division one. And so I went to, I went to a prep school in Maine, Maine Central Institute, one of the best prep schools in the country and this before prep school basketball became like a big thing.
So I went to Maine as an Iowa guy. well, even the confines of the cornfields to go to Maine, for a, for a season and I got to Maine and there was, there was about 15 guys were better than [00:03:00] me. We had an unbelievable team. We had guys that went to Oklahoma State and Georgetown and Minnesota and really good players.
So I was a backup on a really good team and it kind of convinced me that I. Although I wanted to play division one, I was better off finding a level where I could have a great career. And so I went to, I went to Wesleyan University in Connecticut where Bill Belichick, his Alma mater, Eric Mangini went to school there.
It’s a really good liberal arts school where the best schools in the country. And I was really not too interested in the education is more purpose than playing basketball. And, you know, I had a good four year career at division three, so I went division three. And I played and I started for four years and I was a thousand point scorer and two year captain on some, some pretty average teams, but I was able to, from my year of prep school, understand that I wanted to be on the floor.
I wanna have a chance to play. That was the best level for me. I was not a division one player. And so I thought that was a good place for me to go and have a good career and meet some people. And so that was great and once I knew that I couldn’t go on and play at [00:04:00] a really high level, I knew coaching was the Avenue.
I wanted to take it being around my father and, and having a chance to be around Mexico. My prep school coach in Maine, who ended up being at North coast Bryant for a number of years, coached at UNL V, coached Loyola, Marymount, a really good coach and a good guy. So I was around him, Herb Kenny, my college coach was the president of the national association of basketball coaches. I was in his office one day and Dean Smith called. So, I mean, he had some good connections too, so I knew I wanted to go into coaching. That was the next best thing for me. I was not going to go play overseas and make a lot of money or play at the next level.
So I got an, I went to Florida State for grad school, got my master’s degree, and then went from Florida State to be an assistant coach at Clarkson division three school up in Potsdam, New York. I was there for my, my first coaching job with Walt Towns. Walt towns came from. From Dartmouth is a great guy and my mentor, just a great person.
So I was with him for a year. I went to Le Moyne, for two years, division two with Dave Paulson. Is that a head coach? George Mason, Dave recruited me away from, from Clarkson and, I was excited cause I was going from D three to D [00:05:00] two. I thought I don’t make a lot more money, actually get my salary cut in half.
The opposite is where it’s supposed to go as to making no money, you know, living on a futon mattress. But, but the scholarship level, we had good players working for Dave and I was, I was lucky enough to Clarkson job came open. After my second year. So I got the Clarkson job as a 27 year old, you know, a guy with all the answers I had.
All I knew, I knew how I wanted to do things. I’d been around basketball my whole life and, and, You know, when you’re a head coach that young, it humbles you because there’s a lot of things you don’t know. And I was able to make some mistakes and learn and get better. We had some really good years of Clarkson and we had three, three of the best five years in school history with the postseason three years.
And then I was able to go from there to Hamilton College, a very, very, very good division three school in upstate New York as well. And the coach that before me, there was Tom Murphy. He’d won 602 games in his career. So I was following a legend. I was following a guy, you know, it’s like following aDean [00:06:00] Smith or Coach case.
So it was a, it was definitely an eye opener to go into a place that the guy had one for a long time. And I was, I was still pretty young and I made some mistakes there as well and learned, learn to kind of, you know, to, to make sure I, I was, I came in as a good listener and let’s listen to what people had to say.
I didn’t have all the answers then either and I think I kinda learned that as time went along and I was there for seven years, had a lot of success there, like one. like 65% of our games, when a bunch of conference championships had a lot of success and I could have stayed there forever. I was kind of getting the itch to go try division one.
So I, I went to Sienna, Sienna, college division one in the, in the Maac with, with Mitch Bounoguro. I’m a big five-star basketball camp guy grew up in the Five-star camp. I was around that for, for 15, 20 years. So I was close with all the guys who were there, you know, the Pete Gillens and people like that.
John Calipari was there all times. So I went with Mitch to Sienna for two years as an assistant. And, you know, Sienna’s a kind of place where if you don’t win, you got to go someplace else. And so [00:07:00] we were doing a good job and I think we were close to getting it turned in the year after we left, they actually won 20 games.
So it’s, but, but we didn’t win fast enough or, or enough games or go to the NCA tournament. So Mitch got, let go. And as well as I got let go as well with Mitch. And so, yeah, also it’s a tough experience cause you’re. Trying to find a job at that point. And I was lucky enough to know the athletic director at St.Thomas. I recruited his son at Clarkson, so I had a chance to own a little bit of the job was open. I had no idea where it was at. I had no idea what the situation was, but I needed a job. And I went there at st. Thomas and walked into a place that had not one. In about 20 years, there were, there were five and 25 year before we got there.
They had one, I think there were out of 310 division, two teams. I think they’re ranked 302 out of those 310. And we were able to, I brought a great staff in and we got things turned around and we really got some good players. We got lucky on some guys. And you know, now we’re, you know, the last, the last I’ve been in for seven years now, and the last five years have been the NCA tournament.
We’ve won the [00:08:00] most games in New York state of if any team, any, any level the last five years were, What else? 25 plus wins the last five years in a row, which is great. And, you know, most importantly, we’ve had great, great guys, great people. we built it, we built a really good program and I think we got a chance to be really good again the next year and beyond.
So, yeah, I’m, that’s where I’m at now and, and things are good. And, and I’m enjoying joining coach and like, like you said, at the start I’ve coached at all three levels. I’ve coached division three. Of course division two and I’ve coached division one. So I’ve had quite a journey, you know, from Iowa to Maine, to, to Connecticut, to now in New York, you know, and the five star camp I was living around, you know, I was with the camp with Ron, Artest and Elton Brand, and LeBron James was a sophomore there.
So I was around some really good players, got a chance to see that. For, you know, up close. And so, yeah, it’s been, it’s been a great journey and I’m hopefully I’m I told my wife I’m never going to retire. So I’ll be coaching Tom, 75, 80 years. There’s no, I’ve got nothing else to do. So I’m going until I’m done.
Mike Klinzing: [00:08:58] There you go. That makes a ton of sense. [00:09:00] All right. I want to unpack. There’s a bunch of things. That as you were talking that I want to go back to and be able to touch on and try to bring out some of the things that I think can be relevant for our audience of coaches. So I want to start out by going back to talking about when you were a player with your dad, and we all know that that situation, when you have a father, son coaching situation, can.
Can go multiple ways, both in terms of the relationship between the father and the son, and then the other players on the team and whatever. So if you look back on that time, do you have any advice, not so much from you as the playing from a playing standpoint, but from a coaching standpoint, what are some things there’s a lot of high school coaches out there, obviously who have the opportunity to coach their, whether it’s their son or their daughter.
So what advice would you give to somebody who’s in that situation as a coach? What do you think would lead to both a successful partnership player coach, but also preserve the father, son or mother daughter type of situation as [00:10:00] well?
Tobin Anderson: [00:10:00] Yeah, that’s a great, that’s a great question because, you know, we did it, we probably didn’t do it the perfect way we were, you know, my dad and I, we didn’t, we didn’t, we came home from practice and it wasn’t like we stopped being.
Coach and player, we were still, we still talked about the game. We still talked about practice. We still watch tape. So it was, it was 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But by love that I got, I wanted to be pushed. So I think it depends on the, on the, on the, the type of kid you have. Like, my dad knew that I was the kind of guy who wanted to really be pushed and wanted to work hard and, and, and get every ounce out of myself.
So I think he, he was able to push me and motivate me and inspire me in a lot of different ways. That maybe some, some kids aren’t that way, you know, like, I definitely think I’m a self driven person, but I think my dad had a lot to do with that because he kind of planted the seeds of like, Hey, I’m not going to go very far unless I work hard unless I work really hard now, as time went on, he was able to step away and I became the guy pushing myself, you know, and I don’t think he, he was over the top, but I think he definitely, you know, there was [00:11:00] times that, you know, I think I heard some of Steve offered to I’d come home and.
And I’d say, man, I really played well with his open gym and he’s like, well, I heard, I heard the guy down the street had 45 points at a, in a, in a summer league game or something like that. We just he’d find ways of. Of constantly pushing me to get better. So I think as a coach, you gotta read your kid, you gotta read how, how, and like, I think you have to let, let your, let your, your, your son or daughter, kind of get a feel for what, what they want.
How, how hard do they want to be pushed? Like I w I don’t regret anything as far as how I’m playing for my father. Like I would, I do it a hundred times. I never would, it was a great experience, but it was not always easy. And there were some times it was tough. And if we lost. In high school. I mean, I took a brunt of that, of the head, the responsibility we’d go home and we’d do a, we discuss that game.
You know, we got wake up in the morning. We’re still talking about what happened the night before. So by, you know, looking back on it now, I wouldn’t change a thing. Like I love playing for my father and I got a lot better and he was able to, to help me and guide me in. But then also I was the kind of guy that I wanted.
I wanted to be pushed.
[00:12:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:12:01] Have you had any conversations with your dad? After the fact, obviously in the moment you can kind of analyze it, but now looking back on it, have you had conversations with your dad about what his perception of that situation was like?
Tobin Anderson: [00:12:14] Yeah, this is pretty much the same as mine, the funniest.
So here’s the funny part. So, so after, he retired from coaching, he went from Iowa to South Dakota and he retired when I was at Hamilton. So he came to Hamilton, was my assistant coach in Hamilton for the seven years I was there. And saw some who were able to go from being a platelet, the coach player thing to do.
I was the head coach. He was the assistant. And that was, that was great because the same thing he had been through so much, he’d worked so hard. He knew so much and is a little bit, a little bit different dynamic there. I think just not so much the father’s son, the fact he’d always been a head coach. And so sometimes I’d have to tell him.
No, I don’t want to do things that way. And when you’re the head coach for like, he was for 35 years, he doesn’t want to hear some.
Mike Klinzing: [00:12:59] It doesn’t even understand what [00:13:00] that word means at that point.
Tobin Anderson: [00:13:01] No. No. So we, so that was, that was a great experience. We had, we had a really good time and, and he enjoyed, we enjoyed coaching together.
but so yeah, he’s his perspective of mine was the same way he knew that that, that, we were, we were both guys who were gym, rats love to be around the game and loved, loved basketball. And now my brother, my brother, who’s three years younger. He wasn’t like that he didn’t, he played in high school, but he was not the kind of guy to get in the gym.
He’s not a gym rat. He’s not a guy loved basketball. He does something else that runs a very successful business. So he, he went his own direction and my dad didn’t try to change him at all or make him, you know, it’s just like, that’s just the way he’s going to be. So I think, I think we were pretty, pretty similar in our beliefs.
And I mean, I don’t know where, where do you get that from? I have no idea, but like I’ve, you know, I’ve, I couldn’t do much else. I think, I think I was, I’ve been around basketball my whole life and that’s just that’s, that’s why, that’s what I. You know, I feel like that’s what I do. You know, that’s my, I love it.
There’s never, never a time when I come into work or I have to go recruiting or, come to practice, or I’m not excited [00:14:00] about being there. And that’s, that’s a great thing to be able to do that. But most guys, people are not very happy with their jobs are happy with what they’re doing. Like I love. I love what I do.
And that’s a, that’s a great thing.
Mike Klinzing: [00:14:11] Well, that’s something that any coach would love a kid like that, regardless of whether they’re your own kid or not. If you have, if you have a team full of players that are self motivated that love the game and that want to work at it and get better, as you know, that leads to a pretty successful situation for you, whether it’s your individual situation or your team, if you can put together a group of guys like that, And you really got something and you can exactly build the kind of program that you want to build.
And I’m sure we can talk about this as we get more into, you know, building your program at St. Thomas, just about the type of guys that you look for. I want to talk a little bit about your recruiting and the decision that you made to. Go and play at the division three level and get an opportunity to play.
And I heard, you mentioned a couple of times that you wanted to be a division one player. And obviously we all know that today and also in the past [00:15:00] that that’s something that a lot of kids aspire to. And in a lot of cases, it ends up maybe not being realistic for those players. And sometimes they miss out on opportunities that the NAI or division three or division two level, because they’re so focused on, I gotta be division one.
Where there might be a better situation for them at a lower level. So maybe just talk about that. Particular decision that you made, and then maybe how you frame conversations with players that you’re recruiting. Cause obviously at the D two level, what you’re hoping to do is find a guy who probably could be a very good player at the division one level.
And for whatever reason has fallen through the cracks, whether it’s athleticism or just they’re overlooked or size or whatever it might be. Yeah. So just talk a little bit about that, both from your perspective, the decision that you made in the moment and then how you’ve used that experience. As a coach to help you in the recruiting and talking with players.
Tobin Anderson: [00:15:53] Yeah. What would help me was going to go to prep school. And that was because I would have probably gone [00:16:00] division one or walked on someplace at a high school. I was so, and this is before social media and all the, all the, you know, the peer pressure and you know, there’s still peer pressure. It’s much, much greater now about guys wanting to go division one and put it on their Twitter and put on social media and your teammate, your teammate goes division one.
And that. That kind of makes you feel like you have to do the same thing too. So I was, I was before that era, but I was, I was determined that that was the, that was the thing that you had to go to vision wise. You’re going to be any good at all. You hit that. That was a level. And I was not recruited at a high school.
I mean, I was one of the top five or six players in Iowa, and I had nursed that one school that was, had any interest to me in division one at all. So, I would have walked on and probably gone someplace for a couple of years and been like, man, I want to play. You don’t want to go someplace and play, but I would have wasted two years of my playing career by sitting on the bench, just, just to play division one.
So going to prep school where I had to play behind some guys, I played behind two great point guards, a kid Mike Williams, went to UMass and a guy Dennis Leonard, and went to VCU or don’t JS Madison two great point [00:17:00] guards that like I found out from that year sitting on the bench, like I don’t, I got four more years of playing college basketball.
I don’t want to. sit on the bench and not play. I want to be part of a team where I’m, I’m a major factor. Now. People are different. Some, some guys can do that. I just, I wanted to play. So the, the going to prep school and having to spend a year sitting on the bench gave me the experience of knowing that being on the floor is a lot more important than the level you play at.
And so what you just said there, Mike is so important when I talk to guys now, Is that’s the thing is like, do you want to go someplace? There’s two things we try to sell. We try to sell the opportunity to play. You know, you come division two in our level. It’s probably a, maybe a better fit for certain guys.
And that’s where you’re going to get guys who probably should be where they’re at with us. And then the opportunity to win now where it’s like, you can come to st. Thomas Aquinas, you can compete for national championship. And a lot of low division one schools are fight like crazy just to go, you know, 10 and 22, we’re trying to go to 500 or having the one chance to get when their conference tournament [00:18:00] and go to the dance and get beat by, by Kansas.
And that’s nothing wrong. There’s nothing wrong with that. But to me, it’s like, I think ever be part of a team that has a chance to win 30 games has a chance to go to the NCA tournament chance to win a national championship. And. to be able to play, you know, I think guys get better by being on the floor.
I mean, I know as a player, you get a lot, I got a lot better by actually being in the games and playing as opposed to sitting on the bench. So, you know, we, all the guys that have played for us that have been really good players that we’ve, we have stolen some guys who should have played division one.
We did, we definitely have, and they, they got better because they came in and played when they were freshmen and they played when they were sophomores, they had a chance to play 30 minutes of game by the time they’re juniors. Now, all of a sudden. They’re probably better than the guy. Who’s been a division one, sit on the bench now for two years and he’s looking to transfer.
And our guy now is an all conference player playing on a team has got a chance to be a top 10 team in the country. So my experience definitely helps to sell recruits in that direction because, yeah, I mean, I, I ended up making a really wise decision, but I, I’m not going to tell you, I’m not going to tell [00:19:00] you that I was, I was ready to go to Creighton and walk on or go to Iowa and walk on or go to Notre Dame and walk on.
And the best fit for me honestly, was going to vision three and have a chance to play. So I, I got a little bit lucky because of what I did.
Mike Klinzing: [00:19:12] Yeah, I think it, for each person, it ends up being, you have to find the right situation. And when you do, then you end up with a positive scenario happening for yourself.
And that’s obviously what happened to you is you found the right program. You found an opportunity to play and it turned out to be a great decision. And we know there are guys. That probably have that same decision that you make that maybe decided, Hey, I’m going to try division one. And they end up in the right place for whatever reason.
And it works out for them. And conversely, I’m betting, there’s a lot of guys that still have sort of an overinflated opinion of themselves and end up going to a division one school, like you’ve talked about, and then they get recruited over and they’re sitting on the bench and their career, which could have been one that.
Was filled with a lot of playing time and a lot of fun. And a lot of accomplishment ends [00:20:00] up being spent, as you said on the bench. And if you’re a player, especially if you’re someone who, when you were describing yourself, I always think of myself in that same light of a kid who just couldn’t get enough basketball and just wanting to keep playing and playing and playing and working hard and getting better.
And all those things. The idea of, I know the year. My freshman year at Kent state, I sat on a bench and played, I don’t know, maybe played between like four and six minutes, a game as a freshmen. And that was by far the hardest year of my basketball career to go every day and bust your butt and work hard and practice.
And then game time comes and you just have to sit there and, you know, it was, it was tough and you put your time in, and then eventually it led to me getting a chance to play my final three years. But. And I was a borderline, I was a borderline recruit. I was the last recruit out of a group of seven freshmen.
And I was probably a kid who was in a somewhat similar position to you where I had lots of division threes that wanted me. I had lots of any schools that wanted me to come there and I just [00:21:00] kept. Looking around kind of like you did at the people that were around me, especially like as a high school player, I didn’t have the, the you’re a prep school to kind of open my eyes.
But as a high school player, I would look around and say, I play against this guy all the time in the summer. I play against that kid all the time. I’m better than him. I’m as good as him. Why is he going there? And I’m not going anywhere. And so I just kind of kept pushing along and ended up getting an opportunity.
And I ended up being with the right coaching staff with the right style of play. Fit what I did. I had a kid transfer ahead of me. And so there was just a lot of things that worked out and then I worked hard to take advantage of it, but it’s just, it’s so interesting to talk to different people who come to that crossroads in their playing career.
And I think ultimately when you talk to guys like yourself who have made. The right decision and that right. Decision, whatever it is, doesn’t matter if it’s division one, division, two NAI division one, whatever, when that person’s made the right decision, you can hear it in their voice because there’s no sense of regret at all.
It’s like I ended up in the place where I was supposed to end up and ended up having the [00:22:00] kind of career that I really wanted to. And I think that’s something that we want as coaches. That’s something that you want for your players, whether you’re their high school coach or you’re their eventual college coach.
You want them to be in the right. Place for them so they can maximize their experience.
Tobin Anderson: [00:22:14] Yeah. And just like you were saying, I mean, there’s a chance I could have found the right division one school and, and been there for, and stuck it out and eventually found some playing time at get, it could have worked out too.
So you never know. Right. You never know for sure. You know, you don’t know for sure. It’s, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a, you know, you do do the best you can with the best information you have and, and, you work hard and see what happens.
Mike Klinzing: [00:22:33] No doubt. All right. Talk to me about five star.
Tobin Anderson: [00:22:35] Yeah. Oh, I mean, I couldn’t, I could get tears in my eyes.
Tell him about five star. I got love five star. I was, I went there as a camper for two years. I came back as a coach when I first got the job at Clark, someone there to recruit. And I met him. I was, I was there for like the last week of July and I met Howard Garfinkel. The guy that I got, that I knew herb welling.
Knew Garf really well. So I said, Hey, I want to work your camp. And he’s he, Garf just blew me off. I had no, no business, you know, talking to him. [00:23:00] And he was, he was fall and had the full staff all ready to go. And so the last day I was there, he came up to me and he said, Hey you around next week, I said, yeah.
And he’s like, well, I got one spot open if you want to work. So I. I stayed. I canceled my plane ticket. I stayed and worked that last week a camp. And from that time on, that was my first year before I started coaching. I worked about five or six weeks out of the summer for I think, 15 years. So I was like, I was there.
I lectured, I had a chance to station 13, the famous station 13. I was around great coaches. You know, when my first year there was, you know, Kevin Sutton, who’s at Rhode Island now. Was at one end and Anthony who’s in North Alabama, he was another end. And, you know, Al roads when 800 games in Indiana was at the other end of the quarter around great coaches and great players.
And so it was just a unbelievable experience. It’s like, it’s like, I don’t know, it’s hard to describe. It was just, it was like for a basketball guy was pure basketball and this before all the crazy recruiting stuff was going on, it was still crazy. But you know, he’d have you have [00:24:00] John Calipari would come in and lecture and spend the whole day into a coaching clinic or you might have, you know, Mike Taylor would come in or Hubie Brown would come in.
And I was having, I was at a dinner with Hubie Brown with when I was 24 years old at this table listening to a coaching story. So it was an unbelievable experience. I learned a ton. I was able to be around some great coaches around some great players. It motivated me. It, it pushed me. Garf was a, was a tremendous mentor to me throughout my whole life.
My whole career, we were, we really got along great. He was, he was so good to me and, you know, advise me the whole time and always helped me with coaching jobs. And, and we were great friends the whole way through. He passed away a couple of years ago, but I’m in fact, our best player, it’s it stack. He was he’s personally responsible for sending send them to me.
So it was a. I couldn’t, you know, if I could go back and do that again, I’d go back and do five star a hundred times over. Like I loved, I loved being there and I I’d work in the, and those were, those were hard days. You’d go, you’d go from six in the morning till till midnight. And you might go for seven straight days and it was [00:25:00] nonstop, but you loved it.
Like you love being there. And some of my best friends. and coaching our guys, I met through five store there. I’m almost, almost, and I, a lot of my recruits come through, you know, a guy from Indiana would call me up. Hey, I got a total of a player for your guy from, Pennsylvania guy from, Texas. And it’s a lot of connections, a lot of great people.
So I really enjoyed, enjoyed is a very, that’s not a strong enough word. Like I there in August. And it was like, it’s like, you just hated to leave. Like you just loved being there. And so, and I was around some great player. I saw LeBron as a rising sophomore. I saw, you know, all, all the guys that came through Chris Paul was a junior.
John Wall is a camper. Was there, Roger Mason, who was there. I mean, just some incredible players. And he got a chance to work with them every, every day and spend time teaching them and in stations in and things like that. So it was a. Great experience. And I really loved it. I, and I miss it. I miss miss miss that.
That’s, it’s kind of gone by the wayside now, SAR basketball and it’s, it’s too bad because it was a, it was a great thing, a special thing for, for the players and for the coach. And so it was awesome.
Mike Klinzing: [00:25:57] It’s so different. The [00:26:00] way things are today with our system. And again, not to sound like the old man get off my lawn speech, but it just, I think players today, it’s so hard for.
Let’s just think about if you’re a top 100 player in the country, it’s the experience that you have today being on whether it’s the Eydl or the under Armour circuit or Adidas, whatever, whatever it is that you’re on, you’re playing with. Gear that’s being paid for. And you know, you’re getting flown around the country and you’re playing in these nice gyms and, you know, there’s Scouts packed in everywhere.
And then you’re like, well, the system used to be, you would go out and play on these tennis courts outside and trudge up the Hill and, you know, eat the food. And if you were really good, you got to work in the cafeteria. So you could go to camp for free and it’s just. This the, the way that five star was set up, it was set up for basketball junkies, and it was set up for the time, the way the basketball [00:27:00] culture was during the era.
When you grew up in the era. When I grew up where I spent so much more time as a basketball player, playing outdoors, whether when I was really young on my driveway, and then when I was older, just playing on the playground and that’s essentially what. You were playing on when you got the five star you play outside on the tennis courts on the cement nowadays.
I mean, there’s a lot of kids that probably haven’t played more than 24 hours total in their life, on them, on the black top. I mean, in all honesty, they just, just don’t do it. And I think kids today, when you talk to them about that, they kind of look at you all goofy. I’d like, I, that really is what went on and I don’t think they can really understand how.
Special. That was, and I know you mentioned what, what always amazes me about the five about five star is it’s not just the players that went through. It’s not just the coaches that went through. It’s the combination of those two that I don’t think ever [00:28:00] was duplicated or ever obviously will be duplicated ever again.
Tobin Anderson: [00:28:04] Yep. Yup. And you’d be out outdoors on the courts in Pennsylvania, and you’d be watching to all Americans go head to head on, on a cement tennis court at 10 o’clock at night. And nobody’s at that point, there was no coach college coaches they’re recruiting, and it would be some of the most incredible games.
And just watching those guys go at it and guys played for the love of the game and, and, you know, I, I, that was pure basketball. And like you said, the great thing about Garf was Garf took care of the players. But he also took care of the coaches. Two guys came through, they got better. They learn how to teach.
Like I think a lot of my teaching came from, from being a five star and having to teach, guys were really good players and have to get their attention and make them make them better and, and, and run a station where there’s, you know, you gotta do a great job. You gotta come prepared. And in Garth had all these guys come through before.
So I bet, you know, he might say, Hey, you’re doing a good job, but you’re not, you’re not as good as Ed Schilling or, you know, John Calipari, naming coaches. And I’m like, no, why. You know, like he always [00:29:00] pushed you to be better. So, yeah, it was a special thing that I, I don’t think, I don’t think in today’s era, like you said, I don’t think that’s something that would, it’s just, it was great.
And, it’s probably gone. It’s just not going to come back again. That’s and it’s too bad,
Mike Klinzing: [00:29:14] you know, that they’re working on an audio. Podcast series about the history of five star. Have you heard of that?
Tobin Anderson: [00:29:20] Yeah. No, I’ve yeah. I’ve talked to the guys about that actually. Right. Actually, they had a camp that day camp this summer in New York city and I actually, I came back and ran it and Oh, awesome.
Yeah, it was, it was awesome. It was give us screaming just, but not, not.
Mike Klinzing: [00:29:31] Right. It’s not the same. Absolutely.
Tobin Anderson: [00:29:32] It was indoors and it was a day camp. And not the same does that, but, but, but listen, it’s things move. They times changed. Like you said, we’re not, we’re not trying to be the old man here sitting around saying why was she was like, it used to be, but it was, it was definitely a special time.
Mike Klinzing: [00:29:45] Yeah. I’m rooting for Karl too. And those guys to be able to get it, to be able to get it going and to be able to at least keep the name and the legacy alive. You know if PRC and Karl can get that done. I think that would be tremendous if they, [00:30:00] again, somehow figure out a way to, as we’ve said, they’re not going to bring it back, obviously in the form that it was, but if they can carry on the legacy of Garf in some way, what a great tribute to be able to keep that, keep that thing going, it would be, it would be tremendous.
All right. Next thing I want to talk to you about is. When you started to really shift your mindset from playing to coaching in a sense of while you were in college and you were playing, were you starting to think like a coach prepare like a coach, starting to take notes, starting to think about what you might want to do?
When you started your coaching career, was that something that you started doing when you were playing or was that something that you knew you wanted to coach, but you didn’t really start focusing on the nuts and bolts until after you got done playing?
Tobin Anderson: [00:30:47] No, I think I probably was starting pretty soon. I was always a point guard.
So I did some subconsciously you’re thinking about what’s going on, how the game is being played. I was the kind of guy that if we’re going to play, Amherst on a Saturday, and if [00:31:00] they played on a Wednesday, I’d drive up to watch Amers play. If we after practice and go. I mean, yeah, I’m not sure with scouting.
I just go watch the game because I wanted to see what they did and how they did things. But as before. We didn’t do as much film as there is now. So I would go watch, watch teams in general and you know, the, the difficult part, I think when you are the way, I was, as far as coaching basketball live in basketball, if your teammates aren’t the same way, it gets a little frustrating sometimes.
Cause you’re like, why aren’t they the wait, you know, why aren’t they as consumed as I am? And they, they probably thought that I was an idiot. I was, I was crazy. I should be worrying more about my finance class or my economics project or something like that. And I really had no. Interesting. Excellent. I was going to go down that road.
So, yeah, I was definitely, from a basketball standpoint constantly, the more I could, the more I could watch and we’d, I watched, you know, we’d go to games all the time when you’re living in, when you’re in Connecticut, you’re so close to the city. You’re so close to Jersey. So close to two, a lot of those really good prep schools I was at, I was in probably two or three games.
Or weak [00:32:00] besides my own games, you know, that’s probably about my grades. My grades were not as good as they should have. I was constantly every night going to watch somebody else play so not. And I would, you know, I would, I would definitely took notes and did things. And I really, I really loved when it.
And we didn’t scout as much back then, but like the coach came in and we had some scouting reports stuff we did. Like, I really got into that. Like I always knew the calls always knew what was coming. I could, you know, I’d tell my teammates. I w I would have tried to help them as far as what was coming. I really got into that, but I ha I had to, because I was not.
A great athlete or a great, a great, physical specimen. So I had to kind of find ways of, of always, finding a shortcut or a way of, of, being more of a factor in a game. So, yeah, and I, I knew, I knew early on I was gonna coach. And so I was always always into that, that kind of stuff. And that was, you know, that was, that was, that was my future.
So I knew, I knew it was coming.
Mike Klinzing: [00:32:48] So when you get that job at Clarkson and you become a coach for the first time, what was something that surprised you about coaching [00:33:00] that maybe you didn’t realize when you were on the playing side of it that you just thought to yourself? Hm, this is interesting. I didn’t realize coaches did so much of this, or I didn’t realize this was going to be something that I, that was going to be in my job description.
Do you remember something that was surprising to you?
Tobin Anderson: [00:33:14] I mean, I think, I think you probably heard it from other people as well as like coaching is so little, so literally your job is actually is actually coaching, you know, so much, so much of your job is, is, being, be an advocate for your players and talking to your players, going to counselor, talking to them about issues off the court.
keeping their spirits up when they’re not playing or trying to get them better. Like, you know, as far as just their attitude wise and body language and things like that, like. So people think when you coach that, you sit around all day and do X and O’s and watch tape. And, and, and there is a part of you that does that for Mo for the most part, you’re spending so much time again, you’ve got 15 players in your team.
Like you’re constantly, every guy needs love. Like every, every guy needs attention and some guys need a lot of attention. Some guys, some guys do like one on one attention every, every day and you can’t do it for it. You know, you’ve got 15 guys. You can’t do it for all the guys. So. [00:34:00] It was just me and Walt towns, me and them.
We were the two man staff. And so, it was constant, the other stuff, all the extra things that are going on, away from the basketball part, where honestly, we had very little time to actually talk X and O’s and talk basketball. That was, that was, and he got, you know, recruiting is, so is so important. So you spend a lot of your time recruiting, so it’s, it’s, You know, the actual basketball part sometimes becomes something that it’s like a bonus for you.
You get a chance to do a little bit of that, but more of everything else. And so I think that, and that stayed true. So, you know, as long as I’ve coached, it’s like we still spend more time about our players and how they’re doing and what’s their attitude. And if there’s, if they’re not getting too tired or worn down, things like that.
And so it’s actually been nice, like the last few months here with the. With the chance to, you know, no cam snow, nobody on campus. Like I’ve spent more time actually doing basketball stuff, talking X and O’s in the last three months and then I’m gonna, ever, almost ever do. usually, so yeah, that’s, that’s the biggest thing.
I think people, the perception is that coaches just do X and O is that that’s such a small part of what we do. [00:35:00] Alright.
Mike Klinzing: [00:35:01] So when you think back to that time, what. Part of coaching. Did you think that you were naturally good at right out of the gate? Some part of it that you thought I’ve got this part, this part makes sense to me.
And then what part of it was more difficult or more challenging that you’ve had to grow in over the course of your career?
Tobin Anderson: [00:35:22] Great questions. This is awesome. That’s good stuff. Makes you think, you know? I think, I think from the standpoint I was really good with the players, like individually, like really good with, with one on one, helping them to get better because that was my background.
Like I was, I was a player, a grinder, a gym rat, a guy who was in the gym by myself all the time. So if it was just me and me and a player, No, one-on-one, I was really good at helping out player get better talking to him, teach him things like that. I think that was a niche for me was, the development piece, the individual development stuff, where I really enjoyed that one on one time or one on two time or small groups or whatever.
So I was really good at that. I think, I had to learn the recruiting part of [00:36:00] things, which in college coaches, such a big thing I had, I had had that that was a part that I had to learn. I didn’t had no idea. How much was involved there. as far as, you know, all the calls and the dialogue and not just with, with the kid, with the parents too.
I think that was something I had to, I had to learn a lot about that, that, that thing. And then I think just when you, you know, you know, when you go from being an assistant to a head coach, to just with a team, like the team dynamics and, and, you know, making sure that guys, guys take a lot of value in what you say, you can be careful what you say.
Sometimes you can’t hurt their confidence. So I think I had to get a lot better at. You know, you could lose your cool in front of the team. You could lose your emotions, you couldn’t, you know, say something that you might take back five minutes later. And so I think that was a piece that I had to get better at is, is that the team dynamic, but, I’ve always, I’ve always enjoyed the individual time with a one on one time to small groups that has been a big part of, of, of what I’ve really enjoyed about coaching.
Mike Klinzing: [00:36:50] Do you get as much of that time as a head coach, as you did as an assistant, or do you make sure that you carve out time as a head coach to be able to do that skill [00:37:00] development? Whether it’s individual or small group?
Tobin Anderson: [00:37:02] Yeah, it’s not as much as you’d like to. I mean, I wish I could do more.
What I’ve been able to do is hire great assistant coaches who are kind of in my mold or really good with the guys on the floor. And so I do a lot more now I let my lead, my coaches have a little more responsibility. Have a lot more power. They get a chance to do the workouts and I’ll, and I’ll be around and I’ll, I’ll pop in and I might say something and not, and I’ll definitely find a couple of guys, or week that I’ll definitely take in and do some stuff individually develop my assistant coaches handle a lot of that stuff.
And that’s just there. Like, I wasn’t, when I was young, they want to have some, some, some power, some juice with it, with the guys and have a chance to make them better. And so, and like, yeah, I’m, I’m a little stretched for time. Sometimes there’s not enough time to do that, but I’m, you know, we still try to as much as if a guy’s having a bad week or he’s not playing well, I try to grab that guy for 45 minutes.
He had us come out in the app, come in the morning, let’s get some shots up or let’s go work on something. Or especially let’s watch some film. I think guys really respond to film, especially during the season. So I’ll, I’ll grab a couple of guys. a day and let’s watch [00:38:00] 20 minutes of film with them individually, but it’s harder as the head coach.
It definitely is.
Mike Klinzing: [00:38:04] It’s when you think back to your time as an assistant, and now obviously as a head coach, you have assistance. What are some things that you learned when you were an assistant that impacted you as a head coach in terms of how you relate to delegate to, you know, manage your assistants?
Tobin Anderson: [00:38:23] Yeah. What I’m it’s unique for me. Cause I went from being an assistant coach to being a head coach for 12 years, to going back to being an assistant Sienna and then going to be a head coach again. So I have, I’m a much better head coach now, after having gone back and being an assistant coach those two years at Sienna, I mean, I’m, I’m, I’m a much, I just saw things in a different light.
I was able to sit back and not be as emotional and, and understand what’s going on. I, I understood. As an assistant coach, that my job is to make the head coaches job easier, make, make things, make things, take things off their plate, take things off their desk, like make, if there’s something had to be done, as an assistant, like just make, [00:39:00] make something easier for the head coach.
Cause the head coach feels all the emotion feels all the, the losses are so are so tough and, and, it’s hard to bounce back sometimes to lose your confidence as a head coach. And so as an assistant, just propping that head coach up and making them feel like, Hey, I can, I can help you out. I’m here to help you.
And I’ve always told my assistants. Dad is like, listen, like you, you know, before the day’s over, just come in and say, Hey, is there anything else coach I can do? And then if I have something, I’ll give it to you. And if I don’t, you know, we’re kind of move on. But. I think, I think it’s an assist that you can really help your head coach out by just taking things, the small things away that they’re not always constantly worry about, with the players.
And like, there’s so many things that come up on a college campus as far as housing and, and, you know, classes and grades and things like that. So just being able to help with those things as an assistant is a huge thing. So I’m, I would, I’m a much better head coach after having gone back and been an assistant and I was a much better assistant coach.
after I’d been a head coach for a while too, so that both of those things kind of helped me out a little bit.
Mike Klinzing: [00:39:59] Alright. [00:40:00] So let’s go, conversely, and talk about that time at Siena. How difficult was it for you to transition from just kind of like your dad did when he became your assistant, you go from making all the decisions.
To now you’re back to a situation where you’re back in the suggestion business rather than the decision business. So what did you learn during that time at Sienna that you took away from that experience and made you into a much better head coach?
Tobin Anderson: [00:40:27] Yep. And that’s a great. Same. Yeah, it’s a great point because when I went back to be a hit to an assistant and I thought that wouldn’t be that hard.
It was, it was really hard. It was hard to go in and not be able to make all the decisions and not be able to have the final say. And I was working for a guy, Mitch Buonoguro was a great guy. We’re good friends from five- star. I knew him for a long time. We’re better friends. You know, then we were actually, you know, that I knew, I knew more as a friend has that as a fellow coach.
And so that was good. That part was good. We were, we were close, but it’s still it’s at the end of the day, it’s his program. It’s his, he’s going in front of the team and says, what are you going [00:41:00] to say? And I had to make suggestions. And if it, if I didn’t like something that, that, that he thought I had to go along with it, and that was, it was like a hand too, but like, that’s the right thing to do, you know?
It’s like, you gotta fall in line. We left. We left the office. We’re all on the same page. We’re all fighting the same battles. So I learned, that part of things pretty quickly. I learned a lot about, staff chemistry. I think, you have to have great staff chemistry when you’re a head coach and in a, in a good program, you gotta make sure the guys.
I’m really are fighting for each other. You know, I see a lot of times at certain levels, you see guys who are constantly trying to, you know, my recruit or my scout, or, you know, that kind of thing where it’s like, listen, all it’s all about the staff and about being together and, and fighting the same battles together.
And there’s no, there’s not, anybody’s certain recruiters, certain Scouts, it’s, we’re all in it. We’re just trying to win games and do the right thing. I think one of the things we’ve had at st. Thomas I’ve had great staff chemistry, like our guys. You know, we can go out and have a [00:42:00] beer or go out and have a have dinner and the guys get along and we bust each other’s chops.
We make fun of each other. And then when it’s time to go to work, we’re definitely able to go to work, you know? And I think there’s, there’s a lot of pressure sometimes at a place like Santa division, one where you got to win, you know, and if you don’t win, you’re going to get fired. And that’s true. That’s true.
The division two and three at certain points. But like you can’t let the pressure consume you. You got to still make sure that, Hey, the end of the day, your fellow coaches feel good about, about each other. And so I think we have, we’ve had great staff chemistry. I think how you build your staff is so important.
you can’t all be the same kind of people. You can’t all, you can’t all have the same personalities. You got my associate head coach, at st. Thomas who was with me at Clarkson in Hamilton as well. He’s been with me for 10 years now is. He’s a great, great coach and a great person. He’s the absolute opposite of me where I’m emotional and I’m, I’m pretty fiery.
He’s more calm and sees things, in a balanced way. So he’s a great, great guy for me, you know, I think he’s the kind of guy that can, can go home and. And not worry about the [00:43:00] X and O’s where I’m probably going home and going crazy drawing up plays and watching film, but it works. It works so well because we’re not the same, same people.
So I’d say from going from Sienna to head coach, like get, get your staff together, having great staff chemistry, being on the same page as a part, so important.
Mike Klinzing: [00:43:15] So when you first started, did you realize that. Personality difference in your, in your staff. In other words, did you realize that you needed to have people with different personalities or when you first started, were you looking for people who shared the same philosophy as you?
Cause I would think just again, if I was in an experienced coach, my first inclination would be to find people who share the same types of philosophies that I do in terms of both X’s and O’s and style of play, but also in terms of. Demeanor. Like if I’m a call mom, you know, that type of coach, I would seem like just personally as a young coach, I would probably want more guys like that.
Like, I wouldn’t want that fiery guy cause I might not be able to relate to them. And so is that something that you [00:44:00] kind of grew into over the course of this experience at Sienna?
Tobin Anderson: [00:44:03] Absolutely. Without a hundred percent when I was, when I was younger, it was, it was get a guy like just like me. He wants to work 24 hours a day, recruiting, recruit nonstop, like, you know, living and dying by every game.
And sometimes that’s not the best, the best fit for your, for you, for you or for your staff. I mean, one of my best friends is Jason layout, his head coach. Also he goes state and where we talked four times a day, an hour, we’re the exact same person, as far as our temperament goes where we’re both, you know, You know, hard charging, like nonstop, all basketball.
and now it’s, I think I’ve matured, right? I don’t mind having guys around me who maybe aren’t the same, the same way. I don’t have to call them at midnight. And they’re not, they’re not worried about all the stuff that you know that I’m worried about sometimes. And, but they’re taking care of the things that I’m not as good.
They’re more, they’re more organized. They’re more, they’re taking care of the small things, things like that. So I’ve definitely grew into that. To, to understand. And I don’t need guys are just like be to be effective. And, and I still, I still love the young guys who [00:45:00] are, who are working all the time and, and, and they’re all about basketball, but I don’t need a hope.
We have, I have four, four assistants now and they’re all four guys are a little bit different. You know, one guy was a player. One guy was a manager, one guy didn’t play at all, you know, so it’s just a different backgrounds and it’s, it’s worked out really well. Like we’ve had great. Great staffs at St. Thomas.
Mike Klinzing: [00:45:20] How do you think about your responsibility to them as a head coach, helping them to develop if, if they have the desire at some point to maybe it’s move up a level as an assistant, or maybe it’s eventually to be able to take over their own program. How do you look at that responsibility as a head coach?
Tobin Anderson: [00:45:38] I think that’s a big part of I’m responsible. I think I have to do a great job, helping them get, get better. And I think that’s another part where I’ve I’ve, you know, used to be the old saying, Hey, one, one voice at practice or one voice with a team. I don’t, I don’t subscribe to that anymore. I want guys to speak up.
I want guy to, if they say something it’s different, they say something that’s, that’s not the exact opinion is mine. I want them to speak up. I want them to sit [00:46:00] to, to, Hey. You know, tell, tell the team what you think, tell him what to tell what you is going on. I let my, my coaches actually, they do the substitutions for us.
Like I don’t, I don’t do subs anymore. I let them, I let my, my, the guys in charge of our big guys. He subs a big guys, a guy in charge, my guards, subs, the guards, just to give them some, some responsibility, you know, give him some power there. they handle most of the scatter reports and I watch a lot of film, but they handle more of the scouting reports, you know, they’re, they’re more in charge of that kind of stuff.
So I’ve given them a lot more responsibilities times going on. And I think that helps them. be ready to be head coaches. And I think that’s, that is definitely part of my job is to get them ready and to prepare them for what’s to come. And, and I always tell a story. I had a guy who worked for me, who actually played for being written, Rob toss.
He really, really good player, good coach. And he had this drill. I hated, he just drove with the willing players. I just despise the drill and he would do it. And I’d say, well, I say, well, I don’t like that dude. And he’s like, well, I used to, when I was a player, I really liked it. So I’m like, well, let’s just, just do it.
That’s fine. If [00:47:00] you like, if you like it, do it. I mean, I’m just telling me to tell you, I don’t like it, but like, I’ve let guys do kind of what they want to do. I’m not afraid if they say something that I don’t totally agree with. And, it gives them some power with the players too.
It gives them a chance to test things out. And honestly, I’ve learned a ton. Bye. Let my coaches have their opinions and saying what they, what they, what they think. And we disagree all the time. But when it comes to, you know, our staff, chemistry and solidarity and loyalty, it’s been, it’s been off the charts.
Like I couldn’t, I couldn’t ask her for better coach that I’ve had. And I think a lot of it’s I’ve I’ve got, I’ve stepped back a little bit in giving him more power.
Mike Klinzing: [00:47:36] How many years were you in before you felt comfortable? Confident enough to be able to delegate like that?
Tobin Anderson: [00:47:42] Oh, not until I got to st. Thomas, for sure.
Yep. Not until I, not til I got to St. Thomas and that’s why after I was at Sienna, my first year, as in division three, as a head coach and your staff’s not as big as division three, I only had, I only had like one or two assistants, but I definitely was, was more of a, you know, I was more authoritative as far [00:48:00] as that kind of stuff go though with the one voice I was the only, I’m the only voice in practice.
Like. I think that’s kind of ridiculous now. It’s like, I’m looking back on it. Like why, why, why should that be that way? You know? So, I think it took me to go to Sienna to take a step back, to see how, how things were proceeded, guys want to hear from other coaches. And so I think I’ve gotten a lot better since I’ve become a head coach again at st.
Thomas than I was before.
Mike Klinzing: [00:48:22] Before we dig into your program at st. Thomas, let’s kind of go with an overarching question across levels. Just talk to me a little bit about. In your mind as a coach, what are some of the things you loved about each level and what were maybe one or two of the challenges at each level?
Tobin Anderson: [00:48:39] Yep. That’s, that’s a, that’s great. Yeah. Had bit on division threes is, and what I loved about that was that you got guys that were, you know, very well rounded. They weren’t just there on a scholarship. So they were, they loved basketball, but they also had other, other interests as well. You know, you have a guy, you know, a guy wants to be a lawyer.
He wants to be a doctor. Guy wants to. To, you know, work [00:49:00] overseas and going to go into public policy. Like there’s a lot of guys that I coached the Hamilton who are doing great things now and in Clarkston to, to do an unbelievable things off the court. So I, I enjoyed, that part of things. And I think there was a time when, out of season it was kind of good for me to, to not be around them all the time, where they got a chance to Canada’s a little bit of buffer there, but, but the part I didn’t like about division three was the fact that you couldn’t have workout.
You couldn’t, if a kid. I was a freshman. I needed help with his shot or needed help with, one-on-one moves or his defense. Once the once a year was over in division three, the, you put the balls away and the coach came in the gym with the guys until you start practice again in October. And that was, that was hard.
Like that was especially for a guy like me, who likes to be in the gym. So I’m, I did not like the inability to work with the guys out of season. I really missed that. And so we, you know, now at division two, we have. We have, eight hours a week total and we get four on the, on the court, out of season. And that’s awesome.
So, you know, a division two, I love the fact that we get a chance to do all the, all the off the courts and all the out of season [00:50:00] stuff, the workouts, the skill stuff, things like that. So that part is great. I think the division, it, I love, I love division to division. It was awesome. It’s like, it’s like division one.
It’s you know, obviously if you miss, you’ll probably miss the division one, the crowds. you miss maybe a little more, you know, as a CNA, you go play at Georgia tech or you’d go play. we, you know, you play LaSalle or something like that in front of CCN. It was a great. Mid-major program, you drew 6,000 fans of games.
So you missed, you missed some of the excitement of a, of a big crowd. Like we’re, you know, even at stacks, like we, we, we are places, it’s a small gym, but we, we packed that place, but it’s still like, it’s a thousand people, you know, so. I think that’s the part you probably miss a little bit that from division to division one, but I love the, the workouts and the out of season stuffing about part from, from, from the non scholarship to the scholarship.
I love the workouts out of season individual one. I loved, I love the, you know, the atmosphere and the big games and. You know, playing on ESPN. I mean, that’s, that’s fun for the players. It’s fun for the coaches. It’s, it’s a great thing for [00:51:00] recruiting. And that part was great. I thought at a certain point in division one, like the summer, stuff’s gotta be too big.
I think. when you have summer school classes and they have workouts all summer, the guys can go. I think guys sometimes need to be able to go on their own and get better and work on their games. And I have a coach at the gym the whole time, you know, I’m going around last summer. I’m watching some college practices and guys are doing shell drill.
In July. And I’m like, man, if I would I go nuts if I was doing shell drill,
Mike Klinzing: [00:51:27] I agree. I agree with you there. I just had a chance to get in with my former, with my former assistant coach, back from what I played. And we talked about this exact same thing, and I just said that one of the things that. As a player.
Like I love the summertime where I could just go home. And again, like we talked about in relation to five star, like, I just love to go out and play in the playground and play pickup games and work on things and get on my game. And I know how difficult. The season was and how demanding [00:52:00] the practices were both from a physical and a mental standpoint.
And I told him, I said, I don’t know if I was going 11 months of the year. And I was just like, you, I love basketball and I couldn’t get enough. And the day our season ended the very next day I was in the gym playing pickup basketball. So it wasn’t like I wasn’t a kid who loved the game, but. For if I was going 11 months at that level of intensity, both mentally and physically, I agree with you that I’m not a hundred percent sure that that’s a healthy situation for either the athletes or the coaches for that matter.
I think everybody needs to be able to step away or step away a little bit because otherwise. Your battery, you never longed for it. If you’re just doing it all the time, they’ll absence makes the heart grow fonder. If you’re never away from it, you never are itching to get back. I mean, I always remember how excited I was on October 15th when practice is going to start and we’re ready to go again.
And you know, if you’re going all year round that day of [00:53:00] the first official practice obviously loses its. It loses its luster because this is no different than what I’ve been doing since the season ended last March. It’s I agree with you there. I think it’s, I think it’s dangerously close to being, being too much and I’d be, I’d be curious to do a little truth serum poll with.
Both coaches and players at the division one level and see how everybody kind of feels about it. Cause obviously there’s benefits. And we know that having coaches being able to work with players, you can help them improve and whatever. But I just think that the, the grind of that over four years has got to wear guys out.
Tobin Anderson: [00:53:37] Yeah. I think what you said is a great point. Like being excited to be in the gym, like, you know, they’re not. They’re not always like, like you are like this, some guys love basketball. Some guys just play. Cause it, cause they’re good at it. Or they just, they enjoy it. It’s fun to compete. So, you don’t want to grind those guys down where they don’t enjoy coming to the gym and be excited about like, yeah.
You said October 15th is that’s the date, right? Well, now it’s like division one. Start in like September, something like that. The dates like [00:54:00] September 28th. Well that’s. That’s not as much fun when you’re starting that early. So I a hundred percent agree with you. I think it’s lost a little bit of luster, by not having some time.
And I used to love going back to Iowa and playing summer league, some really basketball, you know, playing, playing in summer league with the Iowa guys in Nebraska guys. I was staying, I was fun. I don’t want to be in a gym doing drills in the middle of July. I think that against counterproductive sometimes,
Mike Klinzing: [00:54:21] but yeah, I mean, I just think from a mental standpoint, if nothing else, it’s just, yeah, you have to be able to recharge your battery.
You have to be able to get out of that environment. You have to be able to hear. A different voice. I mean, if you’re hearing the same voice, you have the same head coach for four years and the same staff. And you’re hearing those guys day after day after day after day after day, eventually as a player, I would think that you gotta be, you gotta be tuning that out to some degree.
If you’re hearing it 11 months out of the year for four straight years, that’s. That’s tough. That’s a grind that I’m glad I don’t have to go through.
Tobin Anderson: [00:54:51] Let’s put it that way.
Mike Klinzing: [00:54:52] Yep. Absolutely. All right. So let’s talk about st. Thomas and how you built the program. There. Go back to day one. When you get the job, [00:55:00] what’s your first thought in terms of putting together a program and trying to build what you hoped you were going to be able to build there.
What were some of the first things that you said, I gotta get these things done if we’re going to be successful.
Tobin Anderson: [00:55:12] And I mean, that was, it was, when you walk into a team has been. You know, it’s quite frankly, like really bad. Like they won five games, six games and five games, the three, the three prior years.
So they were, they were bad. So I had to get a feel for why they were bad. Like was it because of the players was because of the lack of commitment? Was it, you know, institutional? Was it, you know, what was this? I had to get information as much as possible. So I, and I become a better coach by listening as I got to st.
Thomas. So I kind of like, just try to get a feel I was living on campus. I was living in a dorm. And then some in some, some awful dorm area, my wife and kids were still up in Sienna finishing school. I had two months in a, in a townhouse down there trying to, you know, work from 6:00 AM until till midnight, trying to figure out what was going on.
Like, what was it, what was the problems there? The good thing was. [00:56:00] the guys that were still there wanting to win, they’d been so bad for so long. They, they were like, they listen, they listen to anybody who’s coming in and it didn’t matter as me or somebody else. They just wanted some things to change.
And, and, we came in with a, with a plan and, you know, the, create a, create a work ethic to be the hardest play and hardest working team. On our schedule and have a great team attitude to get better every day. And, you know, that was, that was, we just got a culture going and just started to start off at working and, and, establishing that great work ethic, what you have to have and then doing the right things off the court.
Like there was some things going on. The GPA wasn’t good. It was one thing to have a team it’s not, not performing on the court, but they’re good kids. And they’re just maybe not quite talented enough. We had some guys who, who were off the court get in trouble. grades weren’t very good. The team GPA was the lowest of any team I think on campus.
So we had a lot of stuff we had to, we had to figure out and get better at. And the good thing was I had. Five open scholarships when I got there. So, you know, a lot of times you get to a place and, you know, [00:57:00] everybody’s, everybody’s standing, you know, you know, they’re not going to leave. We had five open scholarships, so I signed.
We signed. I hired my associate head coach, Matt Capell. We signed our first three guys combined for 5,000 points in their careers. We had two guys, the score 2001 guy who scored a thousand, where were our first three signings, when got there. And that was just being lucky. It wasn’t, we were not, you know, these guys had no other scholarship offers at all.
We got them from, from, you know, checking our resources, calling people. And so we were able to get. More talent. We just got, we got better players in that, and that happened pretty quickly. So we thought it would take us probably three or four years to be relevant. And we were able to win 21 games in year number two.
So we got, we got our first year, we were 15 and 14. It’s probably my best coaching job as our first year, because we were not a very good team. We went 15 and 14 and got to the conference finals for the first time in school history. And that set the table then for the next year one in 21 and actually one of the conference that are in year.
Number two. And, since then it’s been all uphill from there. So [00:58:00] it was a, it was a, when we take our new job, it’s just like, it’s, it’s especially a place you don’t know. anybody who’s there, we had like, just, just start from the bottom and, and establish the culture to establish your off the court stuff and how hard we’re going to work.
And then get some players who believed in that. And we work hard in retaliated. So it was a, it was an all out effort, you know, not one thing. We change the locker room. We had to change the size of the wall. We had it, we repainted things. you know, we, we bought a gun, they didn’t have a shooting machine, but we, we, we, we, we were, we brought that, we got new uniforms.
We just, we try to change as much as we could early on to give him a look that, Hey, this is going to be a different situation. a new program and get guys excited about what we’re doing. So it was, I look back now. I’m lucky. Those are long years, those first couple of years, like. It was a long, those are long years.
Cause it’s, it takes, it takes a lot of effort.
Mike Klinzing: [00:58:56] Those are a lot of non direct going back to earlier conversation. [00:59:00] Those are a lot of non-direct basketball decisions that you’re making in terms of we’re painting the locker room, we’re changing our uniforms, we’re doing this different and that different, and I’m sure all those things that contribute to building the type of culture that you wanted.
And yet. As you said before, it doesn’t directly reflect. It’s not like you’re sitting there drawing plays on a napkin. You’re doing other things that are helping you to build your program. So you have the culture piece of it. And then you also have the talent piece of its own to ask you one question about each of those two.
So let’s take it from a culture standpoint. With the players. So let’s forget about the physical changes to the locker room and uniforms, and that’s kind of speaks to the mentality, but how did you get the players to buy into changing the culture? Is that something that just happens day by day? Does it start with a team meeting where you talk about these are the pillars of the program?
Just how do you go about what are maybe the first steps to building the kind of culture that you want to have if you’re a head coach.
Tobin Anderson: [00:59:59] Yeah. Well, I think [01:00:00] first of all, I’ve taken over the team to two bad programs than one, one really good program. And it’s much easier to take over a team that’s been losing because they want to change.
They want to see something different. The team that when I went to Hamilton, the guy won 602 games, Tom Murphy. They were like, why would you change anything? The guys we’ve won. We have one every year. Like why would you, why would, why would Tobin Anderson come in here and try to be different? Like, just do this, just do it coach.
Murphy’s doing so. Whereas at Hamilton, I had to fight a hundred battles because I was different, you know, and I was like, it stack, it was like at st. Thomas people were open to change. Cause like this, this is obviously not working. We won, won five games last year. So yes, we had, we had our pillars. We had our pillars of, of team attitude.
work hard commitment, communication, irritate, which we call irritates the pursuit of excellence in every everything you do. That’s something we put on our shirts the first year was we’re going to be excellent in everything. We’re going to have the best camps. The best study hall, the best team picture, the best, locker room, [01:01:00] the cleanest locker room, like, like the weight room.
We’re going to be on time all the time. Like, just so there was definitely some, some things like that that we had to establish, from that, from that standpoint. But I think. The guys with the guys give them credit. They were, they were open. The guys who came back were open to change. They’re open to hear new ideas.
And then one of the best things we did, we started out five and one, we start out five and one of our first year they won five games, zero for the whole year. We go five and one, all of a sudden people think I’m think I’m not perfect. I think I’m a guy knows what he’s talking about. ] If we’re one in five, they’re probably ready to throw me out the window.
So, Yeah, I think, I think that helps, like it helps to have success. Like that’s why when I talk to coaches, I’m like, you gotta try to win. Whether it’s through scheduling or through something. Cause if you just take over, like they, you got to see some success, you know? And so we got to five and one, and now some guys you’re like, Jesus, this guy, this is this stuffs.
It works, you know? And they were able to listen, listen a little bit better. So, you know, it’s, it’s a little [01:02:00] bit, a little bit everything, you know, you gotta have your, you gotta have your foundation of what you believe in. And as a program. And that’s the way we had that. We knew that we were coming in from quite a bit of experience, which was good.
And then we had to find the guys who were like, Hey, they were going to fight with us, scratch those claw with us, do all the things necessary to, to win and to compete. And we were lucky to find a good balance there. And like I said, go, we went to the conference finals. My first year we had, we had no business going there, but that, that, that allowed us to skip like two years of development because all of a sudden we’re in the conference finals and guys are like, man, is this stuff works.
And then the next year. We’ve got tremendous confidence that they’re listening, like crazy in the springtime. And now we will win the conference the next year. And it was all because we’d had some success. So a little bit of luck involved too.
Mike Klinzing: [01:02:45] I agree with you there a hundred percent. I think I’ve said this to some high school coaches that I’ve had conversations with here in the Cleveland area about trying to rebuild a program.
And I’ve said that. It’s easy to sell [01:03:00] culture and change and doing things this way or that way when your record is zero and zero, it gets a lot more difficult to sell those same things. When you’re one in 12. Yeah, and you can still do it, but it becomes a lot more difficult sales job when the losses are piling up.
And so I think it’s a great point that you make that it obviously helps if you win. And that goes into the next question, which is, it clearly helps you to win when you have. The type of players that a fit, the type of culture that you’re trying to build, and then B how the talent in order to be able to help you to win.
So just talk to me a little bit about your philosophy when it comes to recruiting some of the things that you look for that maybe might be different or outside of the box that help you to identify the kinds of kids that you think can be successful in your program.
Tobin Anderson: [01:03:52] Yup. And I think that the fit is so important.
It’s like, you know, that’s, that’s, I tell it to recruits all the time. It’s, it’s about, it’s about where you’re [01:04:00] comfortable, where you can have success. And so, because we, we press, we press for 40 minutes, we play really up-tempo, we’re in unbelievable shape. So we need guys to like, you know, we need pit bulls and the guys that want to play hard, that, that have the, have the desire to, to, to, to play at a, in a really high, high intensity level all the time.
I don’t like guys that are. That are, that are moody. I don’t like energy, energy takers. We want guys who are, who are fun to be around. You know, we, we have really, our facilities are, if I said average, average, who would be a, would be an exaggeration. We have really below average facilities. If our gym’s not very big, it’s not a great place, but it’s open 24 hours a day.
Like there’s no, there’s no other sports in our gym besides Basketball. If a guy wants to come in and get better, it’s open at 6:00 AM. It’s open at midnight. So, we, we use our gym is as a recruiting tool for the standpoint of no one’s ever going to stop you from getting the gym and getting, getting better, sweetie.
We want a gym rats. We’re what guys who play, who play play hard. One guys who were fun to be around. Like I, I do well with guys who are outgoing on man. Pretty, pretty outgoing [01:05:00] myself. Like guys who are really quiet. I don’t do as well with, so we’ve had guys that are quiet. We try to try to make them talk more and try to be more outspoken.
And for the most part we do well with guys who just are more outgoing, that kind of personality, high energy guys. bring it on a daily basis. Those are the kind of guys we’re looking for. And so if you look at our roster, we have like right now, for example, we have two kids in Venezuela, a kid from Greece, South Carolina, two kids from Illinois, Peoria, Illinois, kid from Chicago.
I’m from Chicago, had a 31 act, turned down, turned out some really good schools that come and st. Thomas played it’s play scholarship basketball. you know, Massachusetts, we have guys, we assign it. We signed a Juco kid from Texas and juggle Kevin Georgia. So we, we do our homework, finding, asking questions.
I’ve always believed that if you ask enough questions, you’ll get, you’ll get the right answers from people. So we, we do our homework on finding guys who are good fits and want to win, who put the team above themselves. That’s everybody says that, but like, At the end of the day, like, you know, you gotta be able to sacrifice a [01:06:00] little bit like how many guys can, could come to our place and come off the bench.
We had a kid score a thousand points who never started until the last 10 games of his senior year. And never said a word never, never complained. Never, never said it. Never, never wanted to start from. Sure. You wanted to start. You never, never came to me and say, Hey coach, why am I not starting to score a thousand points?
It was one of our, one of our best team guys. And he came off the bench. So we find guys who put the team first and we searched. We searched long and hard. It’s not about just finding talents about finding the fit, asking questions, doing our background, do our research. And then when the kid comes up for a visit.
You know, for guys like him, you know, if our guys feel comfortable with it, with the guy in front, we’ve had a couple of guys that recruits came up and our players like coach, he’s not our kind of guy, you know, and said, it’s just not our, not our kind of person. I wouldn’t do well here. And we have to let him go.
So, that fit. The fit is so important that not only from a basketball standpoint, but just from a people standpoint, a person standpoint, that’s, that’s the personality standpoint. That’s more important, I think, than the basketball [01:07:00] stuff.
Mike Klinzing: [01:07:00] So what kind of questions do you ask? Both the player, and I’m assuming you’re talking to their high school coach, their coach, their parents, teachers.
What are some of those questions that you ask to try to discern whether or not that kid’s going to fit what you want to bring in?
Tobin Anderson: [01:07:14] Yup. Does he love the game? You know, does he, does he love to play? You know, does he like does, if you feel like if he loves the game, he’ll get better. And so if we want guys who love to play, and everybody’s going to say the first question.
Oh yeah. He loves to play. But then you gotta dig a little bit deeper, sometimes get a better feel for what’s what’s important to them. does he love to compete? Like how could, how competitive, how competitive is he? You know, that’s stuff that we add as probably the two most important questions are, does he, does he love to play?
And is it competitive? And then obviously the, the off the court stuff, is he a good kid? Is he never been in trouble? Is that that kind of stuff? Is he, is he a good student? We don’t need all guys who are foreign students. We need guys who are gonna go to class and do the right things. And, and listen, I want, I want guys with good programs.
There’s no doubt about that. I want, I want guys who come from winning programs from good programs that have had success. Most of our guys that we have. At stag, we [01:08:00] had a kid, the st Anthony’s play for Bob Hurley. Like there’s no doubt that kid knows how to win, knows how to compete and knows how to practice knows how to come in at six in the morning to do conditioning.
We have a kid from Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon wins 25 games a year, but New York, I mean, he’s, he’s used to winning. So mostly, tons of guys out of DC that have been really good for us that have come from great programs. So we, we want guys who come from. What are programs who’ve had success, loved to play, loved to compete are good teammates.
And, you know, those are probably the most important things for us that there was a question that we asked the most about, about them.
Mike Klinzing: [01:08:34] How do you evaluate or balance the evaluation between watching the player with their high school team and watching them on the summer circuit?
Tobin Anderson: [01:08:42] And that’s a good question.
That’s like, I’m not the kind of guy that says, Hey, the AAU is not important. It’s to be a very important because. And they either got to play against probably a higher level, competition. You’re going to see guys and guys are playing against really, really good players on a, on a daily basis. So I love the AAU stuff too.
It’s just different. Like you’re not the AAU stuff. There’s [01:09:00] no preparation. There’s no, there’s no scatter and port for the most part teams aren’t as prepared. They just it’s, you know, it’s, it’s good. Basketball, but it’s, it’s, it’s more, you know, if I said pick up, it’s not pick them, but teams don’t prepare like they do in high school.
So to me, the high school has no relevance from the standpoint of, can it be coached? Can they, can they play in a system? Can they, can they, they understand how to defend at a certain, you know, can I get to help side? Can they get to, can they understand how to close out? Can they guard the ball? that part, the coachability part comes through the high school season.
And like, I want, I want guys who’ve been yelled at, you know, I think that’s the high school part two is I want, I want guys who, who play for coaches, get up, get on them sometimes if they don’t do the right things, you know? but I can see them. But the summer stuff’s important as well, because you can see them against really good competition.
And a lot of times, you know, you can, you can tell guys they’ll rise to the occasion and play really well against good players or guys who can’t handle that kind of competition. So, and we’ve also done well with guys got a chip on their shoulder too, who want to prove that they’re better than they they’ve been [01:10:00] recruited to.
So, you know, guys who come to division two and like they think they’re division one players, let’s go prove it. You know, we’d be St John’s my third year. We beat St. John’s by 32 at their place. And that’s simply because our guys were like, I’m going to show people. We were better than the guys at St. John’s, right?
Absolutely. There was no motivational speech that night. They just couldn’t relate. They all had chips on their shoulders and let’s go, let’s go prove that we belong.
Mike Klinzing: [01:10:23] That’s awesome.
Tobin Anderson: [01:10:24] That is incredible.
Mike Klinzing: [01:10:26] That’s that’s fantastic. How do you. How do you stoke that competitive fire within your team, within your practices?
What do you do to build in competitiveness into your daily practice setting?
Tobin Anderson: [01:10:41] Yeah, I mean, I think that comes from how we start just, you know, how we do a conditioning stuff. We, we, we, we’ve got a thing. We got a thing we programmed our conditioning is very, very intense. And we got a thing called the iron man club and the iron man club is a, is a, we have a plaque on our wall in the locker room.
We have t-shirts we hand out that if you don’t miss, if you don’t [01:11:00] miss a workout all through the fall through September, October, there’s about 20 to 25 workouts. before we start practice that are, you know, their toughest six there’s, 6:00 AM on the track. 6:00 AM, in the weight room, 20 suicides in 20 minutes.
And so our guys, if you can get. If you can be on time and go through every workout. No, no, no, no injuries, no sickness. No. I got a tummy ache this morning and they can do every workout. They get they’re part of the iron man club. So right off the bat, our guys are competing. Like they don’t, they want to be in that iron man club.
So they compete during conditioning stuff that can beat her in the fall. We do a lot of stuff where he keeps score. especially in the fall, a lot of three on three stuff, legs and foreign force stuff, things like that. And then even in practice, like we still, we try to make our drills as competitive as possible, and we keep score a lot of things we do.
And it just, you know, but listen, you have to have guys who are competitive people, you know, you got get guys who, who are used to, to, to win. And that helps a lot, but we definitely, we set a tone. Like we have shooting contests. We have, we keep score on, we have pro program record for shooting contest. [01:12:00] Where the highest score gets.
It gets a little traveling trophy. They put their lockers and there’s, you know, if there’s records on the board for the program records. And so guys are, there’s a competitive spirit, I think, through everything we do from, from the weight room to the, the conditioning, to the shooting, contest to how we play and leave another plaque that has, each players.
Since we came to stack to st. Thomas Aquinas, each player’s number of wins. So it has their wins. So just, if you played in that game, you got to win. So like, you know, you guys now with like one class at 109 wins. And so we get guys now that are junior said, Hey, I want to beat, I’m going to beat that 109. I want to get to 110 and we get to 111.
And, so we have, yeah, we just kinda constantly, stoke that fire as much as possible.
Mike Klinzing: [01:12:42] Isn’t it amazing that something as small as that leader board or a little trophy that you can give them or, or a tee shirt that says I’m an Ironman, how motivating that can be. And I know I’ve used that as a coach.
And just hearing you say that, I know like when, when I was at Kent, we had a [01:13:00] conditioning program where you had to score, it was like an agility course and we would do it actually out on the asphalt and jump over these tires and all kinds of stuff. You look back at it now you’re like, I’m surprised the whole team didn’t come down with shin splints during preseason conditioning, it was kind of insane, but there was, you would get this.
It was the three 50 club. And that was just like the total number of reps that you did within this, whatever this agility course. And I remember just. Killing myself to try to get this goofy t-shirt that I could wear around that nobody, nobody besides the 15 players on the team and the six coaches even knew what it meant.
So it’s not like I could wear it around campus and people would be like, Oh, look it, look at Mike he’s part of the three 50 club, but yet I remember killing myself to get that thing and I still have it. I know exactly where it is even today, 30 years after I got done playing. So it’s amazing to me how.
Those little motivators really do work and really do have an impact on kids.
Tobin Anderson: [01:13:57] We give our guys, we give them a little superheroes, like [01:14:00] little, little like Batman or Superman or Aquaman figurines. If they get, if a guard gets five rebounds and a big guy gets eight rebounds, they get a super, we call a super superhero and they, they, they fight and complain about number that they thought if one guard had 40 swears,he had five he’ll watch the whole tape.
By himself to prove he had five rebounds to get us to get a stupid little superhero. It’s a dollar leave it. I think they love that stuff. You know, say, do little things like that go, like you said, go, they go a long ways.
Mike Klinzing: [01:14:28] They really do. And I think that’s one of the things that it’s easy as a coach, as an adult to forget, and to kind of blow off at times some of those things and think, eh, You know, that seems kind of corny or that seems kind of stupid.
Or man, they really don’t care if they get that shirt. But the reality is. We know how important that stuff is. And I always think about coaching, like my own kids teams when they were in third or fourth grade [01:15:00] and passing out the shirts for like a rec league and just being like, eh, it doesn’t really matter what number they get.
And then having the kids remind you that, Oh yeah, it does. Remember it doesn’t matter what number they get. They’re killing each other to get number three or number five or whatever it was. And you forget as an adult, you’re like, why do you even care? And yet I forgot, you know, you forget that as a player, as a kid, how important those little things are that as adults we sometimes forget.
And I think you have to be really intentional as a coach about putting those things into your program. Like you’ve done.
Tobin Anderson: [01:15:34] Yup. Absolutely. You can’t forget that you’re, you’re getting older, that they’re staying the same age. So true.
Mike Klinzing: [01:15:39] That is, that is definitely true. That’s a great way to look at it. It’s a great way to phrase it because I think sometimes as you said, we, we forget about that.
We, we, we keep getting older, we keep getting further and further away from their music further and further away from the culture. And you have to really be intentional about continuing to immerse yourself in that. And I’m sure that you [01:16:00] see that every day as a college coach, just in terms of keeping track of what it is that they’re doing in social media.
And it’s a whole nother aspect to that. I’m sure. How do you handle that piece of it as a coach, the social media, both from what your players are putting out there and how you talk to them about that and how you encourage them to use it or not use it. Just talk a little bit about how you handle that.
Tobin Anderson: [01:16:21] Yeah. I mean, I think we’re, we’re pretty, pretty hands off. To be honest with you. I think we just took guys be smart. Like there’ll be guys, people will be looking at it. They’ll be following what you’re doing. I actually had to tell one of my guys who was actually graduated, who was trying to get a contract overseas.
He puts some stuff a little bit questionable up on his Twitter page. I said, listen, like, you know, guy guy wants to sign you from a certain pro pro team. Like they’re going to look at your social media. And if they see something they don’t like. They may choose somebody else. So it’s like, we constantly talk about, you know, I’ve been on a couple of committees where a guy was going to be all American or something and something like that hurt them.
So it’s like, listen, they’re going to, people are going to go. Going to look at what you’re doing. Just be smart, but like, I don’t, I don’t monitor it. We’re not like all [01:17:00] over about things, you know? I think I, I hear if something happens, it’s not great. I’ll usually I used to hear about it, but like, I, I follow most of them on Twitter.
I not a rule. I’m not, I’m not, you know, I don’t have to, you know, they follow me on Twitter, probably think I put up stupid things too sometimes. So, I’m not, yeah. I let them kind of be themselves as long as they’re smart, as long as they’re not making stupid decisions. I can’t now some stuff I probably can’t see.
I’m probably happy that I don’t. But, but I think, I think for the most part, our guys make pretty good decisions. As far as that kind of stuff goes, you know, it’s been around long enough now where I think guys, you know, they understand that now guys know, Hey, if I put the wrong thing up there, it could, it could hurt me.
Mike Klinzing: [01:17:37] Absolutely. I think it, when it was, when it was first out there, I think there was a lot more fear. Of what it could be. How do you handle just, not even from your guys, but I’m curious. This is something that I think about, well, from a coaching and a planning standpoint, and I don’t know if you deal with this very much at the division two level, I guess I think of it more, maybe at like a big time program that has a huge [01:18:00] number of fans that are following players on Twitter.
And, you know, after games there. Getting stuff sent to them on social media and that kind of thing. Do your players see much of that? And if they do, how do you help them to handle people saying, Oh, you went one for 10 tonight, you know, your, you know, your games, you know, your, your game wasn’t very good tonight.
How do you handle that with players?
Tobin Anderson: [01:18:20] Yeah, we don’t get, we don’t get a ton of ad a division two. So that’s a, that’s not as bad here in st. Thomas, but at Sienna was awful. It was terrible at Sienna. It was in fact that was more like the message boards, but it was, it was brutal. Like they were, they see it as like a.
It’s like a, want to be is a great place. It’s an unbelievable place. Unbelievable basketball, but they, they think they’re Carolina or Duke, sometimes people in town do, and there they’re great people, but it’s like, there’s a ton of attention. So there was always stuff we’d always hear about it on the message boards, in the newspapers, things like that.
And it was pretty critical lot of times, not just the players, but the coach, the coach, you know, you gotta be careful yourself. Like, I didn’t want to read. Somebody has said [01:19:00] something about, you know, my head coach about Mitch and, you know, we just had a, you just had like, guys, you just can’t, you just can’t fall.
And you just can’t fall that out. Well, of, of, of once you read one, you might read 50. And most of the time we raised 50, you know, 45 are gonna be negative, you know, so you gotta just do the best you can and be mature and, and stay away from it. But I think that’d be a really hard thing. you know, Dave Paulson is a good friend of mine, George Mason, he dresses team last summer when I was there about that, it’s, it’s hard.
Well, it usually goes one for 10 and all of a sudden, every, every fan of the rules got all the answers and what, why are you shooting? And you just have to find a way to ignore it, you know? And I think, I think I’m, that’s easy to say to a guy who is a 40 year old coach, but for a kid who’s 19 or 20, that is not easy.
To be able to do that. I think that’s probably one of the bigger challenges at that level to be able to, just to, to, to not, you know, pay attention to like all that stuff going on. I can’t imagine what the biggest challenge at that level would be.
Mike Klinzing: [01:19:52] I can’t imagine what that’s like. It’s gotta be tremendously difficult to be able to deal with both as a player and as a coach and then as a coach trying to [01:20:00] help your players. To navigate that. I’m sure that’s extremely challenging. All right, Tobin, we’re coming up close to an hour and a half. So I want to give you one last question and then give you a chance to share how people can find out more about you and your program. So the final question is two parter.
What is the biggest joy that you have when you get out of bed in the morning? What’s the thing that you most look forward to about your job every single day. And then number two, as you look forward, what is your biggest challenge as you look towards the future of St. Thomas Aquinas Basketball.
Tobin Anderson: [01:20:30] Yeah, that’s a good question, man.
I think the joy I get from is, and obviously the last few months from being away from your guys, like we, we finished before the NCA tournament. We were ready to play and on March 10th and we got canceled. So I have to run my guys. I haven’t seen my guys in person for four months, so I just, I love being around my players.
I love going to practice. I love to see them compete. I’m a competitive person, so I’m, unless I, I coach to make a difference. I coach to be around the guys, but I also coach because I’m competitive. And so I love. When our guys, [01:21:00] competed at a high level and we go play good teams and love to play against the best teams on our schedule.
Like I said, you know, playing, we played Gonzaga, we played st John’s. We played we’ll play anybody in any place any time. and I love it to see our guys when they compete at a high level and that that’s, that’s a fun part. And that could be, that could be a practice. It could be during, during the off season workout.
But it definitely true, in the season, we’d go play. It’s a good team and our guys are set a pretty high standard for how we play. So, you know, when you get, when you get a bunch of guys who play for each other and care about each other and we, and our guys definitely do, they care about each other, they care about the program.
That’s an awesome thing. And then it’ll challenge going forward. I think for us, We’ve gotten to a certain point now where we’ve been very good, you know, 25 plus wins for five straight years and five students that have ablaze. But then another thing is what’s the next step we’re trying to get to a final four, win a national championship.
And it’s hard because that’s your, your, your fishing and pretty deep water there. I mean, there’s, there’s, you know, there’s really good teams out there. A good program. Northwest Missouri state, when the national title, they went to Duke last joke, they lost a Duke by, by six points in a, in [01:22:00] a, in a preseason game.
I mean, it’s like there, there’s some really good teams out there and we’re not at that level yet, but that’s the next step for us. And so, that gets me out of bed in the morning. It gets done. It gives me going, like how could we get to that level to be able to be one of the best teams in the country?
Going from a, you know, a top 10, 15 program to be in a top three or four program. I don’t think, I don’t think we’re that far away, but we’re not there yet. So, that’s probably the biggest challenge going forward to that next step and this sustain. I mean, I think there’s, it’s hard to. It’s hard to sustain that level of success.
you know, once you relax a little bit things can go bad. So we’re trying to, we’re trying to stay hungry and stay motivated and stay on course and not get, not get too, distracted sometimes from what we’re doing.
Mike Klinzing: [01:22:41] There’s no doubt. That’s a huge challenge is to sustain and to continue to grow. And you’ve already had the types of success that you’ve had.
And so I can imagine that being with your guys and getting up in the morning and thinking about, Hey, we need to get to this next level. And when you continue to do the things that we’ve done is. Tremendously challenging at the same time, just from getting [01:23:00] to know you over the course of an hour and a half tonight, I could tell that that challenge is one that you’re super excited about day in and day out.
So before we wrap up, I want to give you a chance to share how people can connect with you, how people can find out more about your program, if there’s anything that we didn’t touch on and you want to make one final point before we wrap up, you can go ahead and do that. And then I’ll jump back in and we’ll finish up the episode.
Tobin Anderson: [01:23:20] But, you know, this is a great Mike. And then some, some, you know, I do it to enjoy, I enjoy doing these other, I enjoy talking basketball, enjoy talking about life and things like that. And, and, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s a great, it’s a great thing to be around college basketball and around a high school basketball.
And, you know, my dad was a high school coach for 30 some years, and I think the advantage of being a high school coach, sometimes you get, you have more time with your, with your players. You get a chance to spend time with them 12 months out of the year. So I think anytime you can be around young guys and young girls and influenced them and they influenced me too. And that helps you, helps you to stay, to stay hungry and young. And I’m not sure I could do anything else besides coach basketball. It’s my time. So I, I enjoy what I do and enjoy a coach. And so yeah, if you want to get ahold of me, like [01:24:00] we do a lot of stuff on Twitter’s.
My Twitter is AndersonTobin is my Twitter page and got on there and that’s my Twitter stack and stack basketball. STAC Saint Thomas Aquinas college. Basketball is our program. Twitter. We do a lot of stuff on there. A lot of videos, a lot of things we’re pretty active on social media.
I’ve got some good young assistant coaches who are great with that. my email, please email me if you have any questions, is T Andrew, so. At stack sdac.edu and anything email me, I’ll get right back to you. And, you know, a lot of things we do from a basketball standpoint, from a program standpoint, love to connect and in, I really appreciate the forum of the chance to talk to talk to you guys.
And, and it’s been a lot of fun and, and hopefully we’re all back. We’re all back, on the courts and having a season next year, how and another good season. And, and, you know, we miss, like we all miss basketball.
Mike Klinzing: [01:24:47] Absolutely. Let’s hope so. Let’s hope. So it was a pleasure getting a chance to talk to you for an hour and a half Tobin.
I can’t thank you enough for spending the time with us. We’ll put all of the contact information that you shared in the show notes. [01:25:00] So people can find you, if you want to reach out to Tobin and all that information will be there, so you can find it and reach out to them. We really appreciate your time.
It’s been a lot of fun to talk to you to learn more about your program, to learn more about your basketball journey. And as you said, hopefully we’ll all be back out on the court sooner rather than later. Although again, depending on what information you read on any given day, who knows, who knows what’s going to happen, but hopefully that’s going to be the case and to everyone out there, we really appreciate listening and we will catch you on our next episode.