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Season Preview: CHD sits down with Bryant coach Tim O’Shea

Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Bryant coach Tim O’Shea about having a great pair of mentors in Tom Davis and Gary Williams. 

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Your non-conference schedule includes games at Gonzaga, Harvard, Notre Dame and Ohio State Which of these four games do you feel will present your biggest test? You should throw in Vermont, North Dakota State, and Lehigh! It will be great to have some marquee games to help us build our identity: our goal is to advance the Bryant brand to people around the country. I am excited about all of those games, but the nice part of the Harvard game is that it is a home-and-home series and Harvard might end up as a top-25 team.

You have four players on your roster from Australia: how have you been able to tap into the pipeline from down under? Part of our strategy in the early years was to recruit some international kids. My former assistant really worked the Internet hard and it has worked out well for us.

What are your expectations for the upcoming season? I expect us to be a highly competitive team, but who know what that will mean in terms of wins and losses. I hope that we can stay healthy and put our best team on the floor each night.

You played at Boston College under coaches Tom Davis and Gary Williams, which of these two great coaches had the biggest influence on you either on or off the court? They both had a big impact. I always knew that I wanted to be a coach so it was a great education for me. Gary was more emotional and a motivator whereas Davis was more of a tactician, but they both taught me a lot.

In the 1983 NCAA tourney national POY Ralph Sampson had 19 points and 11 rebounds in a three point win by Virginia.  How dominant was Sampson back in the day? Sampson picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and went to the bench, but they actually played better after he went out: he did not have a huge impact in that game.

In January 2003 as head coach at Ohio, Derrick Tarver scored 41 points but Brandon Hunter had 30 points and a school-record 26 rebounds in 53 minutes during a four-overtime win over Akron.  How exhausted does a coach get during a multi-overtime game? We had a little guard who hardly played that year but scored a few points for us during the overtimes. Brandon was an incredible talent at that level and was good enough to eventually play in the NBA. The most memorable game was the previous year when Brandon helped us win a game on ESPN at North Carolina. In the 2003 season we had seven games in a three-month span that ended up in OT, which was just short of the NCAA record! I do not thing that coaches get exhausted…but it definitely adds to the stress level and excitement.

In the 2005 MAC tourney, tourney MVP Leon Williams had a career-high 29 points and 15 rebounds and made a put-back with 0.5 seconds left in a one point overtime win over Buffalo.  Where does that rank among the most exciting wins of your career? That is right up there: I am looking at a picture from that game over my desk here at Bryant. The picture is of the ball hanging on the rim: I call it “Good coach/bad coach” because if the shot rolls in then I am a good coach and if it rolls out then I am a bad coach!

In the 2005 NCAA tourney Mychal Green scored 24 points in a five point loss to #4-seed Florida.  How close did you come to pulling off the upset after being down by 20 in the 2nd half before tying it up in the final minute? It was just like the Buffalo game. We had three possessions to take the lead in the final couple of minutes but just could not get a bounce or a call to go our way. Florida was seriously spooked after our big comeback. At the end of the game most of the crowd were standing and cheering for us, which was awesome.

As head coach at Bryant you went 2-28 in 2012 but went 19-12 in 2013, how were you able to turn things around so quickly? It was a process as we transitioned from D-2 to D-1, which included some scheduling issues. I knew the first four years would be incredibly difficult but we were committed to seeing our D-2 players through the process of playing a D-1 schedule. We had a strategy of making our team competitive, which is what happened.

In the 2013 CBI Frankie Dobbs (your new director of basketball operations) had 10 points and 11 assists in a five-point loss to Richmond.  What did your team learn from that game that you think can help you this year? First off, it was tremendous to make a postseason tourney in our first full year of eligibility. It also taught us that the season does not end in early March, and it will hopefully position us to make the next step.

JonTeitel