From Danny, To Sandy: The Commencement of Transition
Coaching–there’s nothing like loving the family business.
by Sandy Dover / @SandmanSeven
One of the biggest transitions in life occurs when a person leaves college and finally 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 that we endure because 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. Since leaving the Buckeye basketball team as the winningest player in the program’s history while trekking into a career of teaching as a college coach, 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 coach in the NCAA, by way of a special “as told to Sandy”, open-letter San Dova Speak-Easy series, dubbed “From Danny, To Sandy”.
Previously, Danny shared his thoughts about his experiences in his upbringing with basketball through his family, his own playing days and times spent with his team. You can find that here.
What’s up, Sandman?
The Big Ten Tournament was another opportunity for our team to earn the best seed possible for the NCAA Tournament. We felt that if we won out, we should be able to get a number one seed. After Evan’s buzzer beater, we knew he sealed the deal on any question about being National Player of the Year and the attention should help us a little more with the committee. Our team played well as we finished strong and cut down the nets at Conseco Fieldhouse, and landed a great seed as a number two playing in Milwaukee. The best part about the weekend is being able to watch the Selection Show as a program at the arena because we had the opportunity to play on Championship Sunday. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of this four times while at Ohio State. The CBS crew has the brackets already printed out so they are able to tell us when the camera is coming on, so it is predictable when your seed is going to be drawn. May take some of the excitement away from Seth Davis, Greg Anthony and Greg Gumbel, but it is still great to share it with our teammates.
The NCAA Tournament and Final Four is the goal for the entire season, it is what we worked for at 6 a.m. in the sand pits during July and August. Whenever I hear the CBS theme song it gives me goosebumps, and we don’t need to talk about “One Shining Moment”…Milwaukee and Marquette University were great hosts to our team and fans. We practiced at Marquette’s Al McGuire Center and when I walked in, there was a blown up picture of a game against Cincinnati from 2003 with D-Wade honoring the Final Four team. I was able to pick out my father on the Cincinnati bench (they lost the game, but ended up winning the league). We played well in the opening rounds, especially against Georgia Tech. In the NCAA Tournament, everyone can play, all the teams are there for a reason. But we viewed each weekend like a two-game tournament. It makes our goal of getting to Indy and Lucas Oil a little easier to grasp mentally. In St. Louis, we didn’t play well defensively in the second half against Tennessee. We had an opportunity to do something special and it slipped away from us. It was my last opportunity but hopefully next year the Alma Mater can get it done with the great recruiting class they have coming in (unless I am coaching against them).
Since the change from player to coach, it has not really set in yet. I think once the banquets and award ceremonies are over, I will see the writing on the wall and move forward. It was fun while it lasted but I am excited for the new challenge. So once the season ended I had to get after it and start watching some kids play. The last month or so has been unreal. Every day there seems to be a coaching change or another opportunity that I may have an “in” with to get my first collegiate coaching job. After our game against Tennessee, I was on the road watching kids play that weekend. The Ohio State tournament was in the Schott, so I was able to catch all of the championship games right off the plane.
The McDonald’s game was in Columbus the following week and I was able to get a few media passes to check out the festivities. More of the buzz from the event was surrounding Evan Turner and his decision to head to the League or not. When John Wall, Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins showed up to the game, the attention on their decisions for next year seemed to out-shine the game. I have to give it to Evan though, he loves to hoop and compete. He wanted to head up to the practice gym and play one-on-one at half time with the UK guys. After a few days off to relax, I head out to Indy for the Final Four. I have been going since 2005, it is a great opportunity to meet new people in the coaching profession. I always have a great time catching up with old friends and hearing the rumors about who may be getting the next job. I went with a Grassroots Godfather, so it was great to hear his stories with old friends about their early days in the business.
(While I was out there, I didn’t get the chance to catch Evan’s awards presentations, but he cleaned up. Congrats ET! You earned each of those.)
Once I got back to Columbus, I got my stuff together to head up to Robert Morris for the weekend with Walsh College. An assistant picked me up and we headed to Cincinnati to watch two brothers they signed play in an HS All-Star game before heading to Pittsburgh that night. Saturday we were up early as the team worked out for Sean Miller (Arizona), Ben Jacobson (Northern Iowa), Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech), Bobby Cremins (College of Charleston), Tony Barone (Memphis Grizzlies), Mike Rice (Robert Morris), Phil Martelli (St. Joseph’s) and The General, Robert Montgomery Knight. It was a great opportunity for the kids to learn from these great coaches and I was able to pick up some good notes and drills for my individual workouts with the high school players around Columbus.
I finally got back to Columbus (again) and caught up on my phone calls for the week, I had to get back to Pittsburgh the following weekend for The Pitt Jam Fest. I felt good to get back on the circuit and watch really good talent. The most frequent question asked was about point guards and if they made their teammates better (big point of importance)…Myles Mack (Patterson Catholic) definitely showed he could do that. I was able to reconnect with a few friends from the Hoop Group party in Indy, so it was good running into them as well and, of course, talking hoops.
On Championship Sunday, I had to leave town early to get back to Columbus for the Central Ohio High School All-Star game. I was coaching the North team and a player going to Akron to play for my father next year. Always exciting to interact with his kids. Then I got to get after it in the College All-Star game. It had been a while since I had played, but I was pleased with how I played. Marcus Johnson (Dayton) stole the show with his athleticism and shooting. He can go! I have a few days off before our banquet and I head out to Akron for ‘Championship Sunday’ at King James. I will be checking the updates from Twitter during our presentations. More ‘SCOOP’ to come soon.
You can pick up more bits of Danny’s ride through the recruiting circuit on Twitter (@PetersDanny).
Sandy Dover is a novelist/writer, artist and fitness enthusiast, as well as an unrepentant Prince fan (for real). You can find Sandy frequently here at SLAMonline, as well as at Facebook, Associated Content and Twitter.