From Dan, To San: Season’s Start
Richard Jefferson and Damon Stoudamire drop some knowledge on Arizona.
One of the biggest transitions in life occurs when a person leaves college and looks to build on what he or she has spent years accumulating in academia. In many cases, it’s a substantial shock to the system because of how different it is to negotiate with the world on our (and the world’s) own terms. For former Ohio State guard Danny Peters, his world seems to be in a different place altogether. He’s since left the Buckeye basketball team as the winningest player in the program’s history, while trekking into a career of teaching as an assistant coach for the University of Arizona’s men’s basketball team. Danny has been gracious enough to let me and the rest of the SLAMonline family in on what it means to embark on the daily challenge of becoming a successful college coach, by way of a special “as told to Sandy,” open-letter San Dova Speak-Easy series, dubbed “From Danny, To Sandy.”
(Originally composed on November 11, 2010)
It’s that time again, the season is officially here. It is great to turn on TNT and see the NBA games as well as the college basketball season opening up. Since I talked to you last, we had our Red-Blue game at McKale where almost 11,000 people showed up for our Dunk Contest and inter-squad scrimmage, our secret scrimmage and an exhibition game this past weekend against Augustana College. Time is flying by here in Tucson, I can’t believe I have been here for four months already. I remember getting off the plane from Columbus like it was yesterday. It all seems lumped together with official visits, preseason workouts, practice, this past week’s signing of the National Letters of Intent (great to add those guys to our Wildcat family), and now the games. Our players have really taken an ownership of their team and continue to make progress each day.
Dave Bollwinkle, a scout from the Chicago Bulls that has been involved with basketball at every level, came to watch practice this past week. He spoke to our staff about the two things that he felt made good players and teams great; players holding each other accountable, and players that invest time in their development and are willing to work to get better. I know I have talked to you about our “culture” before, but Richard Jefferson (alum and current San Antonio Spurs forward) said the same thing to our team during Homecoming weekend. RJ, along with several other donors, gave back to our program to help build a practice gym for our basketball program. RJ mentioned how humbling it was for him to see Arizona practice in a gym named after him. He spoke about how great of a resource it was for our team and using it as a tool to get better as a player mentioning his experiences of passing Gilbert Arenas on his way into the gym on Friday nights as they were heading to get some extra shots up with a manager. Damon Stoudamire, current Memphis Grizzlies assistant coach, was able to make it down for a practice as well with a road game at Phoenix. He covered the same principles when it came to getting better as a collective whole, and holding each other accountable especially on the defensive end! As our guys continue to improve on the same things that Damon, RJ and Bollwinkle spoke about, our program and team will only get better.
This Sunday is our first official home game of the season against Idaho State. Coach Miller is a tireless worker and has a plan for almost anything, so I know our team will be prepared come game time. My father always said that “you can only worry about the things that you can control,” and Coach Miller is a great example of that with his preparation. I am always interested to see how different coaches prepare for scouts. Some programs barely cover other teams and only worry about their own programs. Coach Wooden rarely scouted his opponents and focused more so on what his team was doing. As I become more involved with our preparation and providing outlines for our assistants before they start reviewing our future opponents, the importance of little frequencies can become big difference makers throughout the game. In hindsight, I would rather cover a concept in scouting with an assistant than continually get “beat” on it throughout the game and having never addressed it. Nature can be cruel because just as Vernon Law said, “experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson after.”
So Sandman, six games in 14 days, they are coming at us fast. I will check in after the Las Vegas Invitational over Thanksgiving break. Keep in touch with us on Fox Sports late night Pac-10 games and on ESPN November 27 against Kansas. Bear Down!
You can pick up more bits of Danny’s ride through the recruiting circuit and his thoughts on the game via Twitter (@PetersDanny).
Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist, and fitness enthusiast, whose work has been featured in Robert Atwan’s “America Now”, USA Today’s UWire, Yahoo!’s Associated Content, and now in Buckets magazine (as a senior writer). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at Facebook and Twitter.