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Season preview: CHD interviews American coach Mike Brennan

To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around. Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with American coach Mike Brennan about making it to the NCAA tourney in his very 1st year as head coach.

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In the 1991 NCAA tourney as a freshman at Princeton you scored nine points in a 2-points loss to Villanova: how close did you come to winning the game? We were up at halftime and were the higher seed, but Lance Miller made a shot in the final seconds to give them the lead.

You were an assistant to John Thompson III at Princeton and Georgetown: what makes him such a good coach, and what is the most important thing that you ever learned from him? He is a great coach and one of the best people I have ever worked for. I could not list everything that I learned from him because I learned something new every day. He is a good role model for both his players and staff.

In the 2012 Big East tourney as an assistant at Georgetown you had a 2-point 2-overtime loss to Cincinnati: where does that rank among the most devastating losses of your career? Cincinnati was a good team and it was a great game. Henry Sims had a good game for us, as did Yancy Gates for the Bearcats. Every loss is terrible, but I would not call this one “devastating”.

You were named head coach at American last year: why did you take the job? I was an assistant here for two years under Jeff Jones, so I knew that I would love to coach here: it is a fantastic place.

Last year you were named Patriot League COY in your very first year as coach: what did it mean to you to receive such an outstanding honor? Our guys worked hard from the very beginning and we had some good leadership from the get-go. I am lucky to have a great staff and I try to surround myself with good people.

In the 2014 NCAA tourney you lost to Wisconsin: what did your team learn from that game that you think can help you this year? We learned that the Badgers were a good team! It was a good experience to make the tourney and it gives us extra motivation: once you get a little taste of the tourney you want to get back there, but it is a new season.

Your non-conference schedule includes games against Temple, Louisiana Tech, Illinois, and La Salle: which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? Every team is different and every game is a hard-fought battle. It is important to just take each game 1 at a time and try to get better throughout the season.

Your team runs the Princeton offense that you learned from your former coach Pete Carril: what makes it so effective? The key is to get guys to share the ball: there is no tension on the court. You need guys with a good skill level and who can compete and work with their teammates.

You return eight of your top-9 scorers from last season: how crucial will all of that experience be to your team’s success? Experience is always better: the returning guys have a better idea of what to expect in workouts and can help lead the new guys.

What are your goals for the upcoming season, and what are your expectations for the upcoming season? Since we are in a 1-bid league, everyone’s goal is to win the league and get to the NCAA tourney. We just want to work hard every day at practice and grow as both individuals and as a team.

JonTeitel