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Tod Kowalczyk is the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at the University of Toledo where he just completed his 11th season. Kowalczyk has guided the Rockets to five 20-win seasons in the last eight years and has posted a 167-95 win-loss mark during this stretch.
Prior to his arrival in Toledo Kowalczyk was the Head Coach at Wisconsin Green Bay for 8 seasons where his teams went 136-122.
Kowalczyk prepared for his time as a head coach with 13 years as an assistant at five different institutions, with his final stint coming at Marquette under current Georgia Head Coach Tom Crean where he coached the 2006 NBA Finals MVP Dwayne Wade.
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Grab your notebook before you listen and learn from this episode with Tod Kowalczyk, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at the University of Toledo.
What We Discuss with Tod Kowalczyk
- Knowing he wanted to be a coach from early age as a result of watching his Dad, a 30 year high school coach
- His journey from being a player at Minnesota Duluth to the coaching profession
- Why he believes players that want to get into coaching should find a coach to play for that will mentor them in the coaching profession
- His bad experience at Rutgers and the opportunity to be an assistant at Marquette under Tom Crean
- Coaching Dwayne Wade at Marquette
- The opportunity to become a Head Coach at age 36 at University of Wisconsin Green Bay
- Why he chose college over high school coaching for his career path
- Who you work for is the key to your growth as an assistant coach
- The importance of scouting when it comes to developing as a coach
- Defining himself by wins and losses as a young coach
- How getting married and having a family has made him a better coach
- Incorporating his family into the program at Toledo
- Sports parenting and how he handles that role with his own kids
- His best advice for parents of recruitable players? Don’t coach your kid during the games
- What he looks for in a player while watching them in high school and in AAU
- The efficiency of scouting AAU tournaments
- How the game has changed since he first started coaching
- Coaching is better because of technology
- How things in the game trickle down to college from the NBA
- The importance of the ball screen in today’s game
- How Synergy has allowed his players to learn from NBA Stars in the film room
- Filming practice and utilizing that film to evaluate and improve player performance
- Building relationships between players and coaches
- How team culture is passed from player to player in workouts and in the locker room
- The Blueprint for Toledo’s off-season
- The need to recruit skilled basketball players with toughness
- Players have to be able to bounce back quickly from poor performances, even within a game
- Getting players to see the value in being a 7 or 8 out of 10 and avoiding the ones and twos
- The challenge of navigating the new NCAA rules changes and the transfer portal
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THANKS, TOD KOWALCZYK
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TRANSCRIPT FOR TOD KOWALCZYK – UNIVERSITY OF TOLEDO MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 483
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle this morning, but I am pleased to be joined by the head coach of the Toledo Rockets. Todd Kowalczyk. Todd, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.
Tod Kowalczyk: Glad to be here, Mike.
Mike Klinzing: Excited to have you on and be able to dive into some of the interesting things that you’ve been able to do in the game of basketball throughout your career.
I want to go back in time to when you were a kid. Tell me a little bit about your first experiences with the game of basketball and what you remember when you were younger getting into the game for the first time.
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:00:28] Well, I was very fortunate, very blessed to be raised by two wonderful parents. And my mother was a stay at home mom, but my dad was a high school basketball coach you know, for30 plus years.
And it appear high school itself. South side of Green Bay, Wisconsin and I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be a coach because of him. You know, I saw the, his love of the game and. How he impacted lives and, and he loved to compete. [00:01:00] as a child, I went to a lot of his practices.
A lot of his games, he tell you, I take along and coaching clinics back then were, were very big, went down to watch. I remember watching the Al McGuire’s practices you know, and because of him, I wanted to be a coach and to take a step further. I, I really in high school decided I wanted to be a college coach.
So when I was going through the recruiting process, I was a division to recruit a pretty good player, not a great player, on a really good division two team. You know, and I went to Minnesota Duluth simply because you know, tell us to recruit to not that I didn’t care about academics.
I was a very good student, but for me, the education was, I wanted to go play for a college coach that would help prepare me to be a college coach. And I guess. Ultimately helped me get into the profession and that’s kind of what happened. That’s my, yeah. I play for a guy named Dale Race. I felt very confident that you would help prepare me to be a college coach.
And I think if you, [00:02:00] want to be a college coach, that’s, that’s really go play for somebody that will mentor you and help you grow and help you get into profession. And the day I graduated he told me to stick around for another year and I did, I was an assistant coach for him.
And then, and then because of his relationship with Judd Heathcote and I also got to know Tom Izzo as well and work their camps when I was in college try to pursue a GA spot at Michigan State. And it came down to two people, Tom Crean and myself and I lost that battle. Simply Tom Crean had a relationship at that point in time.
It was more of a coach and whether it was a manager at Central Michigan, but he had a relationship with, with a young Chris Webber at the time. You know, and, and the next time Judd could help me. He did, he lost Jimmy Boyland, there’s two Jim Boylans on that staff and they spell their names different one with a Navy one’s with ni Jim Boylan, senior played a Marquette, was on his staff with Israel.
[00:03:00] And Jim Boylan Jr. Obviously is not related, but he did. This was dad coach to the Chicago Bulls and they coach University of Utah. Then it would be a long time. But anyways, Jim Boylan, the older Jim Boylan and get the job in New Hampshire in, at a young age Judd Heathcote called me up out of the blue and said, Hey, would you be interested in going to New Hampshire?
I said, I absolutely would. Jim Boylan called me up five minutes later. Did not interview me. Say, listen, judge told me to hire you. I’m offering you a job. Can you be here in a week? So I packed up a, a Ford escort didn’t have a whole lot of money in my pocket to pack up a Ford escort. Hey, I had no idea where I was going to live, had no idea what kind of money I was going to make. I never asked. So I, I got out there you know lucky enough, my father gave me a car. It was not a nice car. It was a four on the floor, you know little, little Ford escort barely moved, but I got out there and, and stay with Jim Boylan and Sammy for a couple of [00:04:00] nights.
And he finally told me what I was making in coaching. And I made $5,000 a year. And that was my salary as the third assistant at the time at university of New Hampshire. And, and I lived in a, in a sigh. So the first thing I did, I went and got the newspaper to find roommates needed and had a couple bad experiences.
Ended up, ended up some actually funny experience was probably not appropriate for the podcast
Mike Klinzing: [00:04:26] Probably not appropriate for the podcast.
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:04:27] Probably not understood ended up, ended up living in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and his own house. Five better miles with a, with a young guy who just graduated from architecture school. And then three females that just got a narcotics anonymous.
And there were also just really good people that obviously had had some struggles in their background, but great roommates grape you up, but it was $200 a month. It was all I could afford. I worked for a moving company, moving office furniture on every Sunday just, just to have enough money to eat and make ends [00:05:00] meet.
And, and the best part is Jim Boylan gave me a lot of responsibility. I did. That was when you could do a live scouting. So I was out in the road, live scouting quite a bit. Learned a great deal from him and we were not very good. We were three and 25 and five and 23. That part of it was miserable.
If you know that university of New Hampshire basketball tradition, there, there really isn’t any bill areas and a great job. But I said, it’s a really hard job, really hard job. You know, and, and contemplating getting out of the profession and going to go back and finish an environmental engineering degree. And phone call to interview at St. Anselm’s college. After two years at New Hampshire and worked for a guy named Keith Dickson, maybe the greatest experience I’ve ever had in coaching, working for him he’s won over 600 games, ultra successful. He’s still coaching one of the best and probably the most consistent division two program in college basketball.
But I had an unbelievable experience that he Steve Clifford was a guy that appreciated me on, [00:06:00] on his staff, but Keith was awesome. And I worked there for two years. He had some really good teams. Still keep in contact with Keith and especially the players from that team.
I was fortunate enough to recruit some really good guys that won a championship for king. And then I went down into New Hampshire. Was at Rider for four years within the same staff is Don Arnhem for guy named Kevin Bannon. Don and I became very close friends. And then when Kevin left to go to Rutgers, I went with him.
I got the Rider job did not have a very good experience at Rutgers. I sometimes when I tell you as a young coach, it’s sometimes when you’re in a, a bad situation it learn, we all want to learn, but Mike sometimes learning what not to do in a bachelor program. I learned a lot about what not to do and, and I remember a guy that really shaped my career is a guy named Bob Mulcahy.
Then the athletic [00:07:00] director calls me into his office and thought I had had some, some promise in the profession. And so it’s out of, I can give you some advice, let you know, you need to get, get out of Rutgers and leave and, and, and you know, I, I very fortunate to work for a guy named Tom Crean at Marquette, went back there in 2000 and feel really blessed that I had a chance to work for Tom.
I thought I was prepared at that point in time to be a head coach. I was not, his attention to detail is how hard he worked and how he left no stone unturned, how he taught everybody in the program that compete was really valuable for me. And it really helped that we had Dwayne Wade.
I wouldn’t be a head coach today for them. You know, but I, I really had a great experience at Marquette is special, special place. And with a part of that great resurgence. My second year there, we rose to number nine in the country finished 20, 26 or 27 wins what the NCAA tournament but because of that experience and [00:08:00] because we were that good in 2002, at the age of 36, I had a chance to be a first time head coach back in my hometown of green bay, Wisconsin and go home.
And, and my dad had a chance to come to every one of our practices. Obviously all the home games, but it was, it was, it was going home for me. And it was after 14 years on the east coast. And or I’m sorry, 12 years in east coast and two more cats or 14 years of assisstant to get my first head coaching job.
I inherited a rebuilding job there, but rebuilding job with really high character guys who were just probably you know, maybe not quite talented and up but hard working really good students bought in. I was very fortunate for my head first head coaching job. I did know issues and problems with character flaws at least had to get better.
And we got, got lucky with a couple of junior college guys that instantly you know, roses, we went from 10 wins our first year to 17 and year two and maintained our, our my, my last seven years [00:09:00] at green bay. And we were top three of that league every year. And at that time Butler was in the league.
Loyola was in the league you know you know, Jimmy Collins had it in at UIC. Bruce Pearl was doing some things out of Milwaukee. Jerry Waters came in at the end soda sort of Brad Brunell at, Wright state. It was a really good league. And for us to be a top three of that league, and I remember Brad Brunell and I always talking about, Hey, we’re, we’re always playing for second Wright state and in green bay because Butler more times than not won the league.
And at that point in time, there were one the horizon league, regular season hosted a tournament and had a bite of the semifinals. So it was kind of an unfair advantage. That’s a huge advantage, obviously. Huge. Huge, but that’s, that was kinda my path. And then in 2010 had a chance to come to Toledo, heard a lot about this program.
Tradition heard a lot about the potential to facilities And I tell people there’s anything I’m crazy, but I never was in Toledo in my life. I never interviewed here. I never stopped through [00:10:00] here recruiting. I never played here was ever in Toledo until the day of the press conference.
I interviewed at the Detroit airport. You know, and it, it was a quick process and and, and was very thankful to, to, to get this job. But to be honest with my guy, no idea, the problems that were here. And so you know, my wife and I are both so thankful. We didn’t know. Cause there was no way we would have taken a job no way.
We’re the most penalized team in college. I, our first three things that we inherited mostly are just always APR related. But we actually had a post-season band in our third year only had allowed eight scholarship players. But we had other issues and problems too. It, it was, it was a, it was a bad culture, bad character, bad students.
And we had some issues and our first year we won four games. I that’s how recruit, I don’t know how we won four games with that team, but we did. And then in year two, we had one of the best turnouts in the country won. We won 19 games a year, three, one of [00:11:00] west division, despite only eight scholarship players and having to poach each in band.
And then year four, we won 27 games in a Mac championship and most wins in school history. And from there we’ve, we’ve really maintained a really good program. We’ve had a couple of rebuilding situation, but overall over the last eight to 10 years, we’ve been one of the more I guess, consistent mid-major programs in the country.
Mike Klinzing: [00:11:26] All right, let’s go backwards for a second to your, your decision initially with your dad being a high school coach, what was it that made you decide that college coaching was the route that you wanted to go as opposed to high school coach?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:11:38] So I wanted to play in college and I thought that just the college game was maybe it was because he assumed my dad told me the Al Maguire’spractices and Marquette games.
Maybe it was because a TV, others are starting to show games and TV back then. I, maybe it was that. But I, the one thing I could tell you is if I wasn’t a college coach, a hundred [00:12:00] percent, I’d be a high school basketball coach and be perfectly happy. And I, and I I think at the college level, there’s a lot of guys that are in the profession that they want to wear a nice suit on Saturday night.
I liked that. I liked to hire guys. That would be, if they w you know, they’d be perfectly happy being a high school coach at their peer high school or glucagon or Kimberly or whatever it may be you know, and, and. You know, I feel very blessed to been into college game as long as I have.
But I I’d be perfectly happy being a high school coach as well.
Mike Klinzing: [00:12:30] You mentioned being in situations that are good situations in bad situations as an assistant coach. So when you think back to those times, or when you think about advice that you’re giving to other coaches, what, what constitutes a good situation?
Bad situation? I know, obviously there’s, there’s clearly some things that can make it good and bad, but just when you think about as an assistant in your development, in your career, what’s something that makes a good situation for you?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:12:55] As an assistant coach, who you work for. Can you learn, [00:13:00] can you grow with them and will they help you move on professionally?
Keith diction helped me move on Jim Boyle and helped me move on. I’ve worked other places. And the one thing about Tom Crean, I’ll tell you, I am, and I’ve really tried to do this with my staff. He recruited the ADA, Ken, but off at green bay for me, like it was his top recruit. And I’ll never forget that he, he worked so value so hard to help me get better night.
I’m really proud of the assistant coaches that I’ve had come through you know, starting at green bay one of my first hires as Gary aggressive, he’s won a million games I’ve seen over this college. Pat McKenzie is a head coach at St. Mary’s in Minnesota is an unbelievable job. Brian Wardle was my assistant, got the job when I left.
He’s done a great job at green bay. And now at Bradley I’ve had some other guys that have done fantastic. You know, the, you know you know, here, here at Toledo, I’ve had several guys move on and get a lot better jobs and Toledo Ryan, Pete, and the [00:14:00] top assistant at Ohio state Deandre Hanes now at Marquette was at left here to go to Michigan and Maryland.
Jordan mentioned left him to go Florida for many years. And now he’s a coach at Jacksonville. I’ve had some really, really good, good guys come through here. And I got a great staff now. And part of my job is to help them get better jobs. So they can ultimately be a head coach at division one level.
Mike Klinzing: [00:14:26] How do you do that day to day with them? I mean, obviously when they’re looking for jobs, you can serve as a a reference and you can reach out to your contacts and that kind of thing, but just day to day, what are you doing to help develop your staff in terms of what responsibilities are you giving them?
How are you sitting down and is it done formally, informally? Just how do you go about making sure that they’re getting what they need from you in order to develop as coaches?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:14:48] I think it is done formally and informally. I do have a whole written you know how we, how we divide up responsibilities for our staff.
Sometimes it [00:15:00] changes sometimes it’s not, if someone’s really good in a particular area, they go, but I also want to give them an opportunity to grow and learn about other things. You know, I think one of the best ways to really learn the game and grow as an assistant is through scouting. If you’re not just you’re learning what other successful coaches do.
I do believe in having a guy that is strictly on all offense for, for that particular year and other guys on defense I’ve had coordinators you know, office quarters, divas quarter before it became a thing to do. I was doing that years ago. And I think it really was helpful. But I would categorize myself as very detailed oriented, very organized in light things out for my assistant coaches.
And then because of that they learn and grow in their spots. But when they, when they master one area, we try to give them more responsible. And I. You know, if he watches play, like I’m not, I’m not one of those head coaches that has to be the only person coaching her [00:16:00] standing and talking referees get mad at me because my assistant coaches are staying quite a bit constantly being yelling at him.
And I, I keep telling the, the referees, Hey, they’re not talking to you. Right. They’re talking to her kid coaching or do they get paid a very good wage? Let them do their jobs. Now they standing up, well, go ahead. You know, but they’re not doing that. You know? And that’s my, my, one of my pet peeves with officials let the coaches, coach, they’re not on the floor.
They’re not doing anything. They shouldn’t be doing that young in a referee. That’s what they get paid to do. So let’s, let’s let them do it. And I, I give our guys agreed to your responsibility even like in the spring time. So a hundred percent, the assistant coaches time for, for coaching, I really step away from the team because I think they hear my voice enough.
I’ll pop in and watch individuals and stuff like that. But I don’t. I don’t tell the assistants what to do. They, they, they are fantastic at their jobs and you know, and, and that’s also my time to help build relationship with the players. So I’m [00:17:00] not the one that is trying to motivate them or yell at them or get angry at him.
But I don’t do any of that in the spring.
Mike Klinzing: [00:17:06] Is that something that delegation piece, is that something that you had a grasp on when you first got the job at green bay? Or do you feel like that’s something that you’ve got gotten better at over the course of your head coaching career?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:17:17] Oh, I’ve gotten a lot better at it.
I’m not sure. I would’ve enjoyed working for Todd Walter put it that way. I but I when you come up through the Tom Crean Michigan state way you know, we were in the office at eight o’clock until 10 o’clock at night, virtually every day, even in the off season weekends, you didn’t, you didn’t leave.
You were around You grinded that you worked harder than everybody. We didn’t really have cell phone use for the most part. So you made all your recruiting calls at night in the office and I was shingled and thank God I was single. There was no way I [00:18:00] could have been married at that point.
And then my first three, four years as a division one head coach, I was single. So I, I still had that mentality. And I’m not sure that Mike gets real healthy at times when you’re a single head coach. Let’s be honest Mo most, most of the people in green bay, Wisconsin, over now in Toledo, they define you in this community of what kind of person you are a lot of times, not everybody, but a lot of times by did you win or did you lose?
And when you’re a single head coach, you define your shelf that way. And that’s not a healthy way. I was very fortunate to be on a blind date in 2005 after my third year as a head coach. Met my wife, Julia and March. We’re engaged in June and married in August and the best thing ever did. And then we quit.
I was, I was 39, 40 years old at the time. So I was a bachelor for a long time and had kids when I was 41 and 43. So I started late in life, but I’m different today [00:19:00] because of my wife, because of my family. I think it’s made me a much better coach it’s, it’s made me more patient it’s made me a better listener.
A better learner is taken a lot of ego out of coaching, but it’s really impacted my life. And I know a lot of things that’s really impacted me as well. I wouldn’t say nearly to the same degree, but over the last three years, that’d become addicted to yoga and that’s been a big part of my life. And I think it’s, it’s, it’s made me a better coach.
And I think some of my ex players come through here. They can’t believe how much more mellow I am. I still like to compete. I still get, but I channel it better because of yoga. And the yoga has been a blessing to me, Saudi fit that into your schedule. Every day I go at at 6:00 AM or six 30, still in the office by eight, every staff meeting at eight 15, we practice at 9:00 AM during the season.
So I’m I’ve always been an early to rise person, but I [00:20:00] either, either go at 6:00 AM or six 30 and I rarely miss a day. And if I do I’ll try to find a I’ll do it either online or do a YouTube, but it’s been a big, a big part of my life. Yeah, it’s good
Mike Klinzing: [00:20:14] stuff. I mean, I think when you, whether it’s yoga or whether it’s something else you read about now, so many people are doing meditation and people are journaling and doing those kinds of things.
And I think they all sort of serve a similar purpose to what you were describing in terms of just helping people to center themselves and kind of get, get yourself ready for your day and sort of release the stresses that you have. And I could see a tremendous amount of value in that. I’ve been a person who didn’t necessarily, I was always a, just a workout kind of exercise guy.
And then lately in the last, I’d say probably two or three years, I added the journaling piece to what I do every day. And I’ve found that that helps me tremendously to kind of clear my mind to the clutter and then focus on the things that I need to focus because I can just get it out and get it down on paper.
So everybody finds their, finds their thing that works for them. And you know, it’s [00:21:00] just kind of a, it’s kind of interesting, again, as you get older, how your perspective changes for sure.
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:21:02] Well, I, I think it is, you mentioned, but it’s so important to do something physical every day. And for yourself, this profession can eat you alive.
In so many ways and, and life is too short look at it. You know, Kent state director of basketball operations
for our league, our whole league is in obviously sympathy with the Kent state staff. But life is too short not to enjoy it. And sometimes in this profession, we take it way too way, too serious instead of understanding, Hey, there’s more to life than just basketball, winning games. It’s about impacting the players and doing the right things and making sure you do things the right way.
Mike Klinzing: [00:21:49] Absolutely. Does your wife know what she was getting into when she married you?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:21:53] Aye. Aye, aye. Aye. I said, well, why don’t we go live together that first year? So you can actually see really [00:22:00] wanting to, I mean, she was at, and she would not live. Without being married. And so we decided to get married and she came from an athletic family, our brother with a great player, Wisconsin green bay played a little bit in the NBA and overseas and her sister is still the all-time leading score, I think in horizon league.
But I married into the Norgaard family, just the other sister came to the volleyball player in South Carolina. So she understood athletics and she, she loves the game and she likes, she likes to go to the games usually, but overall it’s been fantastic. How
Mike Klinzing: [00:22:35] Do you incorporate your family, both your wife and your kids.
How do you incorporate them into your program at Toledo? So that there’s not that direct line of separation between family and then your basketball family. How do you make sure that they’re involved in what you’re doing day to day?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:22:51] Well, when we first moved here, my kids were not in school yet. They were two and four years old.
And I remember listening to Coach K speak [00:23:00] one time. And he said his, his daughters and his wife went in all the road trips in a dish for two reasons. Number one they w he wanted his children. Does she, what why daddy’s always out recruiting and you know, why he always worked so hard.
He won, they won to them to, for them to feel a part of the program and equally as important. He wanted to have his players see him as a father first. And then that, that really stuck with me, even though when I, when I heard that I was single at the time. And I thought, you know what? That made so much sense in which, what a cool statement.
So when I first got here, Mike, my family went on every road trip, bus trips to Buffalo, to Northern Illinois, charter flights to European flights or wherever it may be. They went to every game. Even when they would start at school age, we took them out of school until, until my son got to about the fourth grade.
Then we decided not to do that anymore, but they want on every road trip, whether it be a five-hour [00:24:00] bus ride to them, but the state of the hotel. And it really was something that I, I would highly recommend to any, any head coach at a young family. And in our shifting coaches, oftentimes bring their families as well.
I mean, not to the same extent, I’m not sure most wives would agree with having their kids miss school. Well, my wife thought it was more important than going to school in, in, in, up into a certain, certain grade level. And that’s what we did, but I, I did this day. I think it really helped me. My family kids say
Mike Klinzing: [00:24:30] about having memories of going on those trips.
You have a good chance to have those comments.
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:24:36] You know what, that’s funny you say that I had one of the coolest Davids ever for my daughter recently. She was just talking to me that she wants to be a coach someday and she’s in the sixth grade. Now. And so why, why would, why would you want to do that?
And she says, Because she wants to have her children had the same experiences that she’s had. That’s cool. What a, what a cool statement.
Mike Klinzing: [00:24:59] Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, I [00:25:00] think that when you think about your own kids, I know that, so I have, I have three, I have a 17 year old daughter. I have a 15 year old son and then I have an 11 year old daughter.
And as before you’re, before you’re a parent, you kind of have these ideas of what you think your kids may or may not be like, and the things that they may or may not enjoy doing. And of course you realize that once you become a parent, that they kind of find their own way. And obviously I’m sure your kids just like mine have gotten more exposure to basketball than they probably have to some other things, but you try to expose them to as much as you can, but it is always interesting to just kind of see when.
They experienced things with you. And then they come back with a statement like what your daughter said, Hey, I really enjoyed that. I’d like my kids to have that same kind of experience. I know. I always felt like I had such a positive experience with the game of basketball, both from a playing and a coaching standpoint a part of you want your kids to follow in your footsteps and you hope that they do that.
So along those lines, what’s your, what’s your role as [00:26:00] a sports dad? What kind of a sports parent are you?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:26:01] I’m much more hands off than my wife is. I’m that dad that I did, I just went to my first real AAU tournament this past weekend that go, oh, we got drilled. Well, they their own for the pub in the wrong bracket.
My, my son’s in the eighth grade and plays on the under Armour circuit. It’s you take? She, she two K you Simpson’s organization. You know, we went, we went, we were in the fishers Indiana tournament. But on that data. Comes in with a t-shirt on and a baseball hat. And I don’t go near anybody. I don’t want to sit by, I can’t stand the negativity.
I don’t like it at the college level. I obviously it’s more of a part of our game, but they use whether it be the referees or the other players or the coaches, there’s so much negativity. And I just, I sit by myself. I don’t say a word. I, if my son didn’t play basketball, I’d be [00:27:00] okay with that. Now my wife would have a Fit.
She pushes him a lot harder than I do, but I just want, I just want them to be a, a loving child that finds a passion and works hard. That’s whatever, whatever that path may be. But I’m not that dad with athletics at all.
Mike Klinzing: [00:27:18] Yeah, it’s I think I’ve definitely been a similar parent to you. Although I will admit to there have been times throughout the course of my kids’ sporting lives that I’ve wanted to maybe push a little harder or maybe wanting to drag them along with me to this or to that.
And in the back of my head I always had this little nagging voice saying if they don’t want to do it, Yeah, and you’re not gonna, they’re not gonna ever, they’re not gonna ever achieve what you might want them to achieve anyway, because it all is it comes down to your own passion and drive and desire, and that’s where success really lies.
And so you hope you just get them into a thing that, like you said, that they have a passion for whatever that may be, whether it’s basketball, whether it’s whether it’s [00:28:00] something else. And unfortunately, as you said, when you go to some of these tournaments, or even when you sit in the stands during a high school game or a college game, and you just hear the things that, that people are saying, whether it’s parents or other coaches or whatever it might be, you just, sometimes I’m just flabbergasted by the things that people are saying.
And that just the unrealistic expectations that they have. And I really feel like the culture of basketball today in a lot of ways is filled with parents and kids that are always searching for that. Like their eyes are always on the next thing. So in other words, if I’m a high school player, I’m not really worried about my high school career, I’m worried about what I’m going to do in the spring and summer.
A you next year, I’m worried about what college scholarship I’m going to get instead of being like, Hey, I can tell you, and I’m sure you could probably vouch for this same thing. Like my high school basketball career was some of the most fun moments of my life. And I got to play college basketball, but I look back on high school and I’m like, I wouldn’t have wanted to be looking ahead and just trying to get through that as fast as I [00:29:00] could so I can get to college.
Those are things that I think you as a parent have to really slow down with your kids and make sure that they’re appreciating that the moments that they’re in right now, as opposed to trying to always chase that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:29:13] No question. I, I just, basketball is awesome. If I, if I could give any advice to parents of, of recruitable people, don’t coach your kid during the game.
I see it all the time as a college coach, that’s eternal. I don’t want, I don’t want a parent saying something to their son. During the course of one of our games, why would I want to let it, why is it okay to do it in a game writer school game? I let that let the coaches coach I that’s a huge turnoff when I go watch a recruit and I see the mom or dad screaming at them to do something that they want to cheer for them.
So that’s fine. But don’t coach them during the game. You want to say something to them after the game? Fine, but not during the game.
[00:30:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:30:00] Yeah, I think it’s so distracting. I, I laugh when I go and I’ll watch obviously it’s bad in the high school level, but I’ll laugh and I’ll go and watch. I was just at a, a tournament this weekend with my kids and was watching this third grade boys basketball game.
And. No, these little guys can barely dribble a ball and keep from falling down. And you know, and they’re, they’re good players for their age, but there’s like six or seven dads that are just on the sideline at every second screaming trap on dribble, go here, pass it. And you know, these kids can barely process what’s going on themselves.
And then now they’re trying to listen to like seven different voices who aren’t even their coach, mind you. I mean, the coat and then the coach is saying stuff it’s to me, it’s just, it’s crazy. It’s one of the, it’s one of the biggest problems that we have, I think in the youth basketball system today is just if we could better educate parents, I think we’d have a, we’d have a lot better chance to develop and better players
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:30:52] for sure.
Mike Klinzing: [00:30:56] All right. So when you start when you’re, when you’re [00:31:00] thinking about recruiting and you’re looking at a few games and you’re looking at high school games, and you’re trying to evaluate a kid, how do you balance what you see in a youth versus what you see in high school? And are you looking for.
Different things, depending on the environment that you’re seeing a recruit in?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:31:16] I’m a big proponent of both. I think there are some unbelievable high school coaches that I’ve had a chance to learn from and watch their programs and recruit their employers. But then, you know what, there was a lot of really good AAU programs that coach them the right way.
You know, and I think there’s a fine line to have them both be a part of, of, of the process. And you both deserve credit. You know, I, I hate to see when, when, when there’s kind of a fight between the AAU program and the high school coach and instead of working together, but a lot of times they’re there, they work so well together.
High school programs, obviously you’re playing for your, your school. It should [00:32:00] mean more because of that. You’re playing for a state championship or a conference championship. AAU You’re basically playing for that weekend. You know, and know Bob, now you should say what the problem with you is if they play so many games or in high school, you’ll get 20 of them.
You might play 80 during the Bernie AUC season. So if you lose, it’s kinda like having a bad round of golf does get in tomorrow. No big deal, right? Here’s a big deal. I mean, it is. And whatever they, you, you can’t, it, it may not mean as much, but, but AAU basketball is so good. And what it gives college coaches, the opportunity to do is to evaluate a lot of guys, very reasonable amount of time, reasonable mom expenses otherwise you can watch maybe one, maybe two kids in a high school game.
That’s all. If I go to a high school game, I’m only watching one guy, maybe two on a special occasion we’re in a, you, you might be, there might be eight guys on the [00:33:00] floor that can, that can play at your level. You can just be more efficient over time, even watch 10 games in a day versus two a week and high school basketball.
Mike Klinzing: [00:33:11] How do you identify your initial list of recruits.
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:33:12] I think it starts by, let’s say we’re looking at 20, 21 kids last year. Well, we 20, 22 and 23 may catch our eye or watching a particular individual that we want that are the younger kid, you know? So when we’ll watch games, like they just see them that way.
We would do subscribe to some really good services. We spent quite a bit of money on those. Some are better than others, but I really have a lot of respect for the recruiting service people. They work exceptionally hard, don’t get paid that much money, but they do it for the love of the game. And I trust their opinions to give us names, to have us go evaluate those people.
And then, then obviously you know it’s, it’s our eye test of, of what we want. [00:34:00] And we’re a very skilled program. Why? Cause you know, eventually we’ve been very, very successful by having skilled guys and guys that can pass, catch and shoot versus just athletes and, and I think, I think one of the most important positions nowadays is having a, a perimeter oriented format and that can really stretch a flora, the team, the good teams I’ve had all that guys that can really shoot it at that position, the teams that were maybe underachieved those guys couldn’t shoot.
And it would, it does, it kills your offensive spacing people don’t guard and they may be phenomenal. Rebounders are really physical. It doesn’t, it, they, they, they clog things up offensively and it’s hard to score with guys like that. And I’m really good too. Like this year we had a very good team, mag champions we won the league outright by two games.
And we, we, we led the country into point field goals made [00:35:00] on the season. I think we were second in threes per game. So we like, we like to recruit shooters. I think you also, at our level, you went with guard play. You have to have really good guards. You know, and, and this year we had great guards.
And I think if you look at the good teams throughout the country, look at Baylor and no offense to their post guys, they won because those three guards are fast and that’s, that’s how you win in the game of basketball. You have to have really good guards and enough of them and I say this to to our, sometimes to our fan base and to our media here the, the rebuilding years ago we’ve had, or, or down years we’ve had, we’ve won 17 games in those two seasons, Mike.
Hello. There’s a lot of programs that would look at that as a good season. Those are really, those are to be honest with you a really bad year. So not, I don’t want to say awful, but some, some of our fans would say that’s an awful year, [00:36:00] one 17 games. And you know, maybe they’re right. But both of those years, we had the best post player in the league and, and arguably two of the best post players ever to play it’s legal.
We won 17 games. There are really good players. It just goes back to my point, you went with really good guards, the Nathan Booth with a great college center it’s doing exceptionally well in Europe. We won 17 games of senior year. Same thing two years ago with Lucan app, a really good player playing professionally six 11, and a lot of great things.
You’re a great career. And she won 17 games. You know, we didn’t and we didn’t surround those two guys, maybe with that, with good enough guards during those two years. And I learned a lot about that, but you, you have to have quality guards to them.
Mike Klinzing: [00:36:47] How has the game evolved since your first year as a head coach at green bay, in terms of style of play?
Like I’ve had conversations with guys that I played with or coaches that have been around since [00:37:00] back a long time ago, obviously what I played but I’d always find it interesting that one, I think in my entire college career at Kent, I might’ve ran five pick and rolls my entire career in four years.
And the other thing is I can honestly say the number of times that I drove to the basket got defended by help defender and then kick the ball backwards out for a three. I could probably count that maybe on one hand and those passes all would’ve maybe went to the corner. Certainly none of them went back out to the top or to the slot or to the wings.
So just talk a little bit about in your mind, how you’ve evolved as a coach, along with the way that the game has evolved and changed over the course of your head coaching career
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:37:38] I think the game is at an all time high. The game of basketball is in a great place and only getting better. I know I have sent some of the old school coaches when I say this, but then players are better today.
They just saw it. I don’t like getting into arguments of who’s a greatest of all time and all the different generations [00:38:00] of the players today, their bodies are better. Their skill set is better. They’re more, they’re more committed year round to the game. And the other thing might get better. Coaching is better because of technology.
We have more resources. We have more staffing the games at an all time high. It just is. And I love the NBA and things kind of start there and filter down. But you look at what the Miami Heat did last year and what what a Quinn Snyder is doing, what the Utah Jazz, how they play and how they move the ball and how skilled they are.
You know, and we’ve really adapted a lot of NBA things to our program. But this past year, especially we switched a ton of balls. We used to be swapped a lot in the post. You know, you’re right. We even before you played at Kent state, there was a great Bob Nichols was a fantastic coach here.
Little buddy point guard named Jay layman. Jay was a phenomenal radio now and I had that conversation with him. Mike of, Hey, when [00:39:00] you play for Bob Nichols, how many balls feeds would shed for you in four years? And the answer was zero. Now there might be, might be, I guarantee you there’s over 60 per game.
There might be as much as the 140 combined with both teams in one single basketball game. That’s a big NBA thing and it’s filtered down you know, but I think out people utilize skilled post players. Now who’s better. You know, the unskilled people are, are, are finding it really hard to, to play at any level.
You know, and people want skilled basketball player that pass to catch it, shoot it and, and, and you look at what the NBA doing. They don’t, there’s not a whole lot of post players right now in that league. They’re just locked in back to the basket gods.
Mike Klinzing: [00:39:46] Our day, the 63, 210 pound football player was on every high school roster.
I mean, every high school roster had that kid. And you look at today, those kids don’t exist. You look at how skilled the 10th, 11th, 12th [00:40:00] player is on a high school team compared to, again, the days when we played, I mean, it’s just, it’s like night and day in terms of the skill, the skill level. How do you as a college coach, how do you help your kids develop their skill?
In playing the pick and roll both offensively and defensively. What are you doing day to day drill wise? How do you just go about trying to help your kids get better at making the reads on both sides of the floor?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:40:26] Well, a combination of both. And you said a lot of drawings, a lot of repetition, a lot of reach the you, and here’s another reason why coaching is so much better than ever has been synergy.
And I, if you said that were two my father was retired, successful high school basketball coach. He would look at me like I get that head synergy and they don’t know what synergy is. Synergy has been. It’s been unbelievable. You know, our, our players can, can, can literally [00:41:00] go and watch any NBA player they want in a matter of seconds, Chris Paul, one of the best finishers.
So what will the synergize Chris ball and have Morgan Jackson see, all of his finishes at the basket is right-hand there’s left-hand or Ray Allen, one of the best utilizers or screens are coming off of screens or Steph Curry and clay Thompson, those, those great shooters. How are they creating space off the screens off the ball?
We can, we can synergize that. And literally within 10 seconds, have everyone at clay Thompson’s made three-year stuff, you know three sites. I think it’s as a combination of, of drill to combination of putting them in reads, obviously repetition is the biggest part, but it’s also film work and having them watch and observe some NBA players or really good college players,
Mike Klinzing: [00:41:47] film work that you do with your kids during the season, let’s say to prep for a particular opponent.
And then how much are you spending with them in the off season, sending them stuff that, Hey, these are guys that you should look at things that you can [00:42:00] work on during the off season.
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:42:02] Like probably not as much as you think. I’m a big believer in, in less is more sometimes going into season and how you practice.
I think too many, too many head coaches don’t understand mental fatigue as well. So if we’re playing Kent state we’ll we’ll two days before we’ll bring them in and we’ll literally, we’ll show them a game of Kent state vs. Akron moon, but only show them 10 to 12 minutes of the game. I like Tom Crean was a big fan of just breaking it down, off offensive defensive clips.
I don’t like to do that cause I don’t think you get the flow of the game. If you show just a game, you can fast forward or take out the commercials, whatever, but they need to see how they transitioned from offensive DCIS in the flow and the patient. All of that stuff. So that’s what we’ll do when we initially talk about 18, like can stay go through individual [00:43:00] stuff.
And then the day before, then we’ll show them just to cut up of their plays and their personnel. Now the players may come in and watch a little bit more than that on the, on personnel, but that’s really it. I mean, I think it, I think they too many coaches watch too much film with their team and the players that the player is going to be at, at the arena for four hours, which is what we’re allowed to do anyway.
But you only practice for two, but then they have to lift and watch film. They look at it as a four hour practice. They don’t look at it as well as on the floor for an hour and a half. I coached them. Well, we only went an hour and a half, 2 million dens. There’s still the mental part. They still had to lift.
They still had to watch film it. So they’re there for four hours. So it was a four hour practice. And I just think that that gets very taxing over time but I that’s, it goes back to our conversation when I was a shingle guy versus a married guy. I’m a little bit smarter. I, I you know, through, because of my family and because of [00:44:00] yoga, maybe I’ve relaxed in a lot of those things, but I don’t, I don’t kill her guys with was still know even myself.
I used to watch it much dealing with that. Could I try to worry more about us now than your opponent? And I, I, I tell myself, I I’ll only watch two games. Usually I’ll watch three, but I never allow myself to watch four on an opponent. I just think it it’s becomes wasted time where I feel like I spend more time with my players more time, maybe on a recruiting phone calls or more time watching us watch every one of our practices.
I learned more about that than I do. Watching a fourth game on Akron or cans. I think it becomes overkill at that point.
Mike Klinzing: [00:44:44] Filming your practices. When do you, when do you sit down and watch those? Is that immediately, as soon as practice is over, you guys sit down as a staff and watch practice.
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:44:54] I bring in the preseason I’ll watch every unite.
I only watched the live parts of [00:45:00] practice. I don’t watch the dead time or the shooting time. So basically if it’s an hour and a half practice, I may watch 15 minutes of her or, or an hour of it. And then one assistant coach will also watch it. I’ll make clips in anywhere from eight to 12 clips, we start the next, the next day.
The first thing we do is show clips of the previous practice best appreciated. And the assistant coach will make notes. They may bring the players into watch a particular thing. So they, so the assistant coaches are really only watching practice one every three or one or four days. Well, I watch every one that once you start playing games, the assistants really don’t watch practice anymore.
I do. I continue to do that all season long. I won’t watch the day before we play that practice because we don’t do a whole lot live. But I, I get more out of watching us in practice than I do. You know, again, watching the opposition in a game that maybe they don’t, I that’s why I just go back to, [00:46:00] it’s more worry about us more than the opposition
Mike Klinzing: [00:46:03] Now, clips.
How do you balance showing the players things that they did well versus things that they need to improve on?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:46:10] I think, I think you gives you get more out of it if you show the good so if I’m showing practice clips if it is going to be 60, 40, 70, 30 in the positive direction, unless we had a really bad practice and then I don’t know occasion that’ll be that.
But going back to your point on fill the team. I tell myself before that she should only twice while I allow myself or the staff to, if we have a bad game to visit we just didn’t play well for whatever reason, sometimes we’ll just move on. But if we’re angry about it twice a year, we could, we could have an hour and a half film session.
We watch him watch the whole game as a, as a together. But that’s very rare, [00:47:00] very rare that we do that as a
Mike Klinzing: [00:47:00] team. You gotta be judicious about which one that
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:47:03] is, right? Yeah. You can’t, you can’t in this day and age, you can’t treat players like that or talk to them that way, or you need to adapt and change with this generation in this, in this profession.
If you’re not willing to adapt with technology or how to coach. You may not, you may not be coaching very long.
Mike Klinzing: [00:47:23] Yeah, absolutely. How do you build, how do you build the kind of relationships that you’re looking to have with your players? What’s some of the things that you do to, to connect with them on a deeper level obviously is as you continue to go on in your career, you get a little bit older, but your players stay in that same age range.
So how do you have to adapt, as you said, to be able to continue to build the kind of relationships that you want to have and that you need to have to be successful?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:47:45] I think you, you spend time on, and I try to do that quite a bit. I think if you asked one of my assistant coaches especially the assistants that have been other places, we probably do that more than other, other places.
I, I take him to [00:48:00] lunch a lot. I sometimes it’s one, sometimes it’s three, four guys. But I do quite a bit of that. We have more we’re at our house quite a bit. No, not, not just my house, but also the assistant coaches houses to be part of their families. No, Julie and I are very blessed to have a lake house by an hour away.
The players know that they’re always welcome to come up there and some come up there two or three times a summer just to go on the boat and go tubing or water skiing or whatever it may be. And we’ll always have hamburgers form or whatever it is or, and see them. We do that. We do that as a team, at least once a summer, the whole team comes up there.
But individually at any given weekend, we could have one or two guys just pop in. I think stuff like that. It’s really important to have that type of relationship and family atmosphere. And I think it goes a long way when you, when you really truly care about them and their families as individuals and as students and as men versus a basketball player, [00:49:00] it just goes further.
And, and, and that, that might be the greatest part of the job is watching these guys grow up and mature and, and, and, and we, we get them as, as young men, but. They, they leave as men. Then I that’s one, one of my pet peeves. I don’t like when, when, when college coaches refer to them as kids, I think maybe she had an, a football more than basketball or, and we got great kids.
They’re not kids, they’re not kids, they’re men. And we need to treat them like that and hold them accountable as well.
Mike Klinzing: [00:49:30] How do you build relationships between the players? In other words, how do you try to get your team to bond? Because obviously year in, year out, you got a group that graduates, you’ve got a new group coming in.
You got to figure out how to make them fit together and work together and hopefully like each other. So how do you do that on a you know, on a regular basis.
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:49:51] I think through individual workouts where they’re working together and the older guys, hopefully bring the younger guys into the gym you know, we’ve done we’ve hired the Navy shields to come in [00:50:00] and train us for a week.
We’ve done all the other, all the, all the cliche things going bowling and paintballing, and just trying to spend time and Mike, to be honest with you, I’m not sure that matters. I’m not sure does you look at this COVID year? We had a really close team. Our guys spent very little time next to nothing with each other outside of the locker room and practice.
And I thought we had a really close team. You can’t force it. You can’t, you can’t force a 23 year old man to want to hang out with an 18 year old guy that can’t go to a college party or go to the local bar or whatever it may be. It’s I think it’s more, you can’t, I don’t think you can force that.
And I think maybe a little bit is overrated. But the locker room, the practice sessions is underrated. If that makes any sense.
Mike Klinzing: [00:50:57] No, it does. I think what [00:51:00] it seems like in the, I guess I can kind of talk about this from my perspective. I think a lot of times it’s organic and you just get guys in the locker room and you foster an environment that gets them to interact and gets them to to buy into what you’re doing as a team.
And then I think that oftentimes can promote that type of comradery that you’re hoping to develop. And I think you are right. That just, just because we go to a bowling alley, doesn’t necessarily mean that, okay, now we’re all going to be now we’re all going to be friends, but I think it’s just something that the coaching staff can help to facilitate by the way they interact and the type of relationships they build with the players.
And then the players see that. And, and, and I think it just started, like I said, I think it happens organically almost as much as it happens. As you said, through being through it being forced.
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:51:45] Well, I think two thoughts come with their number one. It’s, it’s just in coaches. You know, and I, I I’ve certainly believed this.
I got an unbelievable coaching staff right [00:52:00] now. I’ve had some really good ones in the past. This coach he’s deaf I have right now is so close and their chemistry is so good. And it’s really number one, they’re really good guys. And they really like each other with a lot of common interests and our families are close, but I think when your top assistance has zero ego, it filters down.
Jeff Massey, you went through for seven, eight years, phenomenal coach as good of a human being. As, as, as good of a mentors I’ve ever been around a man he’s got zero, excuse me, zero ego. And that goes through the rest of them. So that naturally goes down to the players. And the second thing about the players, if you recruit high character men from good families, that locker rooms a lot better versus.
Recruiting a really talented guy that may have some issues or problems, or the family may have some issues or problems that comes into your locker room and [00:53:00] that that can negatively impact a lot and I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. I’d like to think I’ve learned some valuable lessons. I know I’ve had some really good success with transfers.
You know, and I’ve had others that maybe you’ve had good numbers, but we’re not a success in my eyes. And it comes down to, are they, are they leaving because they’re there, they’re going to a place or are they trying to get away from a place? You know what I mean? So they’re chasing something or they’re running from something.
And the good, the good changes we’ve had are just, they wanted to chase the dreams here versus a bad relationship or bad deal that they had.
Mike Klinzing: [00:53:42] You mentioned earlier about your assistants and them kind of taking over the summer workouts. And it’s another thing that is changed in division one basketball over the years, in terms of your access to players and the ability to have those off season workouts and all those things.
And you talked about how you kind of take that step back, [00:54:00] because all during the year, they’re hearing your voice and just, what’s your, what’s your opinion, what’s your feeling on, on the summer and just how you guys approach it and what you’re trying to get out of it when you’re in the summer months?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:54:12] Well, spring for us is nothing but getting each player better at their skill level. We are, we are doing very little next to nothing defensively and working understood offensive students. The summer, we do a lot of team stuff and we’ll put in our defense, we’ll put in our transitional offense. We’ll scrimmage quite a bit in the summer and get up and down.
And it gives us as coaches an opportunity to. Evaluate our new guys. You can see the guys that are as good or better than you thought, or maybe equally as important. If you made a recruiting mistake, he comes to the light pretty quickly in the summer. And that impacts that July recruiting period and, and maybe, Hey, [00:55:00] we, we thought this guy was going to be a guy that that may not be the smart.
We need to go recruit that position again the following year. But in the summer, we’d do quite a bit of team stuff. I, we do, we, we, we put things in a lot quicker than most programs but yet individually, just, just a lot of one-on-one time with an assistant coach and a player, getting up reps and doing some offensive things, but we’ll do a lot of, a lot of team detention team offense.
Mike Klinzing: [00:55:28] So If you had to point to one or two things that you would say have led to the success that you’ve been able to have a Toledo, what were, what would be one of the one or the, what would it be? Those things that you’d point to that? You’d say these are the keys to, these are the keys to our success.
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:55:42] I think recruiting a skilled basketball player said that that have a toughness about them.
And that come from winning program in some of the recruiting mistakes that we have made looking back at it, they didn’t come from winning high school programs or good high school program. You know, they may have [00:56:00] scored 26 points a game, but their team wasn’t very good. So I think recruiting, winning guys that are skilled and that, that really no auto play, but I I think when you have a skilled team and I think another thing that has really under evaluated Mike, You cannot be a fragile player either.
You have to be old and fragile, meaning not necessarily taking negative coaching but also taking when you’re playing poor. When can you get rid of that? The first half of the second year after that that’s out a player here, Ryan Pierson was all like Claire came with me from green bay and he was the king of taking a bad game in the first half and turning it to the 12 points and eight rebounds.
He might’ve been all for six in the first half didn’t score played frustrated, but he found a knack to, Hey, look, you got to steal and run out, lay up, got a couple put back that’s to free throw line. Next thing you know, at the end of the game we won [00:57:00] and he impacted the game at 12.8 rebounds and, and with a positive impact and having good cause he wasn’t fragile.
Sometimes those guys have bad firsthalves. They can’t turn it around. They can’t.
Mike Klinzing: [00:57:12] Yeah. Being mentally tough. And especially when you think about again, this is another way that the game has changed when the back 15, 20 years ago, the, the mental side of it, nobody was really everybody was impressed by Michael Jordan and his ability to be ruthless.
And when under pressure, but you didn’t hear, it talked about as much how important that mental health and mental strength and that resilience and all those things that you want to get out of your players, which your example there of even just being resilient from one half to the next, that’s not oftentimes what certainly what a fan or other coaches might not even think about that, but it is so important when you think about, Hey, sometimes you have a bad half and you can either make it.
You can either make it a bad game or you can make it a bad half. And that’s a huge difference between wins and losses.
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:57:54] For sure. Let me ask you this, Mike, when you played 30, 30 games in college of [00:58:00] those 30 or senior year on a scale of one to 10, how many of those 30 were, were nines and tens? Who
Mike Klinzing: [00:58:08] man?
Not many. High five, maybe
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:58:11] that’s high five, five is high, maybe five is high on how many ones and twos?
Mike Klinzing: [00:58:18] Well, I’d like to think probably I’d probably, I’d probably say less than that. I’d probably say less than that. I was probably a pretty, I feel like I was probably a pretty consistent, like, this is, you knew what you were getting from me night in and night out.
So but yeah, I mean, I agree. I think when you’re trying to evaluate self evaluate,
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:58:35] so to get to my point is if you can get your players to understand, Hey, a six, seven, eight is pretty good, let’s just stay away from the one twos and threes. Cause you may not get the nines and tens as much as you think you’re going to get, or we’re going to get and Ryan Pierson, was it king of taking a one or two in the first half and he made it a six or seven.
Those are the really good players, [00:59:00] you know, and, and you thought about the consistency of the, the teams that can do that as well.
Mike Klinzing: [00:59:05] Good. Yeah. I mean, that impacts winning. I mean, when you guys let’s face it, you throw away too many. How many, how many games could you, if you throw away two minutes that you played poorly swinging outcome of a game.
I mean, as coaches, I mean, think about how much time you spend going back over film and thinking about, Hey, if we just would’ve done this minute and a half stretch differently where we turned it over twice and gave up a wide open three, and that was the difference in a, in a four point game. I mean, that stuff happens all the time.
It’s crazy how often it happens. All right. I can’t let you get out without, without giving me your best Wayne Wade story that you can share that you can share on the podcast. Give me a story about Dwayne from when you coach them. Just what separated them. What made him so special?
Tod Kowalczyk: [00:59:45] I think Tim Buckley was together really recruited them.
I think if, if any of us that were on staff or, or, or at mark head-worn time, if we knew he was going to be like this. [01:00:00] We, we, we, we told you we were lying to you. We had no idea. Now. I think by, by Christmas he was an academic red shirt. His first year he was on scholarship, but couldn’t play. But he could practice.
We knew by Christmas, he probably wasn’t going to be there for four years. But to say that he’s arguably one of the best two guards in the history of the game that never came up in conversation. We knew he was a pro at some level. And I remember when I first got the job at green bay, I was there for Dwayne’s freshman year and sophomore year, but his first year playing with his sophomore year and one of the green bay donors was a mark
I said, well, he could be eventually a Ray Allen type player and that good you’d love better and round, I mean, a lot better. And I, and I, and Ray Allen was a great player. Great player. Dwayne Wade was special. And what made him special [01:01:00] was I he’s so competitive. He was, he wasn’t a good workout guy.
He, wasn’t a good practice guy until you made it competitive. For example if I’d bring him in there to shoot, he wouldn’t be very good. But if I say, Hey, listen, we got to make 10 out of 15 and we’re going to run. He was good. Obviously you get there to shoot that, that wasn’t him. If you want to do close out drills or stuff like that, it probably wasn’t going to be great.
But as soon as you played live one-on-one or at a score on it, he was that good unbelievable, competitive and you know, and a great guy that did that just really impacted Mark Head basketball and was, was the re he was the resurgence of market basketball, without question a other, other guys and other really good teammates were a part of it.
But he was the resurgence. And then you, then you had guys like Steve Novak and Terry Sanders and Travis Diener and [01:02:00] Scott mirror Rob Jackson and Cordell Henry that Illuma Nama goes some really good player that came through there. But he was the catalyst
Mike Klinzing: [01:02:09] of it, all a question about that, and obviously went on to have just an unbelievable NBA career.
And as you said, goes down as, I don’t know where you want to put them, but he’s certainly in the top five all time as a, as a shooting guard. And you could, we could have that argument for, we could have that argument for days about where he slots. All right. Last question, two parter. When you look forward in the next year or two, what’s the biggest challenge that you see on the horizon.
And then number two, when you get up every morning and you drive into work, as the head coach said at Toledo, what is your biggest joy from what you currently do? So your biggest challenge and your biggest
Tod Kowalczyk: [01:02:46] joy? I think the biggest challenge is. Yeah, I’m just trying to navigate the changes with, with the name, image and likeness and the transfer portal and stuff like that.
So that’s always going [01:03:00] to be a challenge, but I think if you coach guys the right way and they get better, ultimately you’re not going to lose the ones that you don’t want to lose. And the greatest joy I love coming to the office this time of year. I love doing playbook stuff. A lot of head coaches delegate that, I love planning and preparing for our summer workouts or fall workouts and looking at how good I think we can become.
You know, last year we had we were MAC champs that had had a heck of a year. You know, I think we got a chance and an opportunity to be better next year. Although we lost two really good players and two guys that made big shots for us. So we gotta find some guys that can lead us in the right direction.
And they’re in our program. We just gotta get them to do it. Good
Mike Klinzing: [01:03:45] answers spoken like a true coach for sure. And I cannot thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule today, Todd, to join us before we get out, I want to give you an opportunity to just share how people can connect with you and your program, whether that be social media, whether [01:04:00] that’s just the athletics website, whatever you want to share.
And then I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.
Tod Kowalczyk: [01:04:06] Very, I respond to every, everything that people would be. I used to have coaches or any coaches about our program, so they can always reach me through email, which is just my name. It’s T O Tod’s got one D tTod.Kowalczyk@utoledo.edu.
Our practices are always open. If you’re in town and want to come watch a game, I’d be happy to give you tickets. Anything we can do tohelp grow this game. I love to.
Mike Klinzing: [01:04:39] Todd. It’s awesome. And again, I feel the same way as kind of the mission of our podcast is to help grow the game and be a resource out there for coaches.
And we thank you for being a part of it today and to everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.