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 Arkansas State coach John Brady about what it takes to win a triple-overtime game.
You lost your two leading rebounders from last year in Brandon Peterson and Trey Finn. How will you be able to fill the void left by the departure of these two seniors? We had a couple of guys sitting out last year who I think are as good as Brandon and Trey were, so I think our ability to rebound the ball will be fine due to our size and experience. We have always stressed that here.
Your non-conference road schedule includes trips to Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska. Which of these three games do you feel will present your biggest test? All three will be difficult challenges for us, but the most talented team appears to be Colorado. We have to play a game or two for money here.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? I like this team even though we lost some really good players and leaders. We have Brandon Reed back who played at Georgia Tech and graduated, and Melvin Johnson is a transfer who was the leading scorer at UTSA. Ed Townsel returns as our leading scorer, so if we are unselfish we have some good possibilities.
In the 1991 NCAA tourney, as an assistant under Coach Tim Floyd at New Orleans, Ervin Johnson had 13 points and 14 rebounds in a six point loss to #3-seed Kansas. How close did you come to pulling off the upset? Wow, you have gone back in the archives! We were right there in Louisville against a team that made the title game. We had a great team and Tim was an outstanding coach. It helped to have a guy like Ervin. He is a guy you get on the mid-major level only once in your career. Coach Roy Williams was very complimentary after the game about how we played.
In the 1996 TAAC tourney, as head coach at Samford, 6’9” freshman Chris Thunell banked in a three point shot with only four seconds left in regulation en route to a three point overtime win by Florida International. Where does that rank among the most amazing shots you have ever seen? It was incredible; if you coach long enough those things happen to you on both sides of the fence. We had a couple of chances at Samford to get an NCAA bid but just had a couple of tough losses. We had some growing pains but we became one of the better teams in the league.
In the 2006 NCAA tourney, as head coach at LSU, Darrel Mitchell scored 16 points including a three point shot with 3.9 seconds left in a one win over Texas A&M. Where does that rank among the most clutch shots you have ever seen? Darrel actually hit four game-winning baskets that year, including one on national TV at West Virginia the night they retired Jerry West’s number. We screened the screener and they switched big on little. Their big man dropped back to prevent Darrel from driving, so Darrel just pulled up from 23 feet right in front of our bench. We could tell that the trajectory was dead-on.
Glen Davis and Tyrus Thomas combined for 47 points and 22 rebounds in a 10 point overtime win over Texas. How were you able to have a 38-10 advantage in points in the paint against a Longhorn team with LaMarcus Aldridge and PJ Tucker? We had two good players who were good enough to play in the NBA. We recruited well and signed some good players who developed into very good players. That is probably one of the best teams in the history of LSU basketball.
In 2008, you were named head coach at Arkansas State. Why did you take the job? I wanted to work! I was concerned about sitting out a year and was not interested in going the TV route like some other coaches do. People have been supportive as we have solidified the program. We do not have the hoopla of LSU, but are good enough to win the conference this year.
In 2010, you were named Sun Belt coach of the year. What did it mean to you to win such an outstanding individual honor? It is always an honor and I appreciate that: it is more meaningful when others select you for such an award. They are always nice and humbling.
In November 2012, Peterson scored 13 points in a four point triple overtime win at Tennessee-Martin. How on earth was he able to play all 55 minutes?! I don’t know. It was probably not one of my best coaching moves to never take him out. It just shows you the toughness he has: he is averaging a double-double right now over in Sweden. It is a credit to him that he was able to avoid getting into foul trouble.
In the 2013 Sun Belt tourney, your team had 18 turnovers and shot 56% from the free throw line in a two point loss to Western Kentucky. What do you think your team learned from that loss that will help you this year? The ironic thing is that we swept them during the regular season, but it is a whole different scenario once you get in the conference tourney. The Sun Belt is basically a one bid league, whereas the SEC sends multiple teams ever year. We learned that you have to play well at the right time, take care of the ball, and make free throws.