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 new Campbell coach Kevin McGeehan about taking over a team that lost both of its leading scorers from last year.
In April, you were named head coach; Why did you take the job? Whenever you are a long-time assistant you are always wondering when it is going to be your time. As you become more comfortable in your profession, the more ready you will feel to become a head coach. Campbell stood out to me as a program on the rise with a lot of good things to offer: travel budget, facilities, etc. We have an amazing on-campus arena as well as a bunch of other new buildings, so there is a lot of support for us to be successful. The community has a good vibe for sports.
You lost both of your leading scorers from last year (Trey Freeman and Darian Hooker). How will you be able to fill the offensive void left by the departure of these two transfers? I think we have some pretty good pieces among our athletic upperclassmen. Trey and Darian were both guards, so we will have a young back-court that we will have to move along quicker than normal. We would have never told our guys at Richmond that they needed to get 20 or 25 points for us on a specific night. We just have to play together and know our strengths. If we win because our sixth man can give us 15 points off the bench in a specific game, then that is fine.
Your non-conference schedule includes games against NC State and Cincinnati. Which of these two games do you feel will present your biggest test? Those are obviously the two biggest games on the schedule as both of those teams play at a high level. We will have our hands full for both but they are huge opportunities for us to go make something happen by beating the best. That being said, our games against Appalachian State and ECU are huge as well to see where we are.
What are your expectations for the upcoming season? If we can learn how to defend together in a switching man-to-man defense (which is a different defense than most guys have learned), we have some good athletes who will help us out. One of the things we emphasize every day is to share the ball while not passing up open shots. These core values will help us establish where we are, but it might look different from month to month as well as year to year because it is a fluid process. Every day I walk in the gym I see enthusiasm and effort.
You were captain of your basketball team at Gettysburg. What is the key to being a good leader? Leading by example is a good starting point: how you behave, how you go about your business, etc. We try to instill in our guys that their actions are most important. There has to be congruence between what you say and what you do. Otherwise you lose a little something. I am hard on my team but I am honest and fair with them, which starts at the recruiting stage.
You spent the last eight years as an assistant under Chris Mooney at Richmond. What makes him such a good coach? What is the most important thing you ever learned from him? Chris has an amazing ability to relate to people and a really good grasp of the big picture. He can see the snapshot of the entire season as a journey and figure out how to manage the team. We would all love to practice like crazy, but the key is to be peaking in February rather than November. We have been together since coaching high school and Division III together, so we learned the game together and helped develop our own philosophy.
In the 2008 CBI, Kevin Smith scored nine points in a two point loss to Virginia. Do you think that Smith should have received a foul call after drawing contact during a drive to the basket with nine seconds left? What is the statute of limitations on that?! We played really well and deserved to win. If you asked that question to the Virginia staff at the time they might have squirmed in their chairs. The biggest honor coming out of that game was when our school president (who was formerly at Virginia) came into our locker room and said that he had never been prouder of watching a team play. It was not just that call: the entire final five minutes were like that.
What are your memories of the 2009 CBI (Kevin Anderson scored 21 points in a two point win over Charleston)? I remember Charleston had a really good back-court (including Andrew Goudelock) so we knew that we would have our hands full. Kevin was one of the best so there was no doubt in my mind that he could carry us in that game, as he often did. It was a fun run for us after having the bad taste in our mouth from the loss the previous year.
In the 2010 A-10 tourney, David Gonzalvez scored 26 points in a four point overtime win over Xavier. How does your own coaching style change from regulation to overtime (if at all)? I take it game by game depending on the flow of the game. We had a loss at Xavier in an awesome overtime game a couple of weeks before, so it was nice to get another shot at them. We had belief in ourselves even going into overtime which was the key. When you practice every day it is for way more than 40 minutes, so when you have to play an extra five minutes in an overtime game you realize that you can give a little more. David made a lot of big shots for us in his career.
In the 2011 NCAA tourney, Anderson scored 25 points in a three point win over Vanderbilt. Where does that rank among the most exciting wins of your career? It probably ranks number one just because of who Vandy had (Festus Ezeli and a ton of other talent). Having lost in the first round in 2010 set our seniors up to have a big year in 2011. However, I do not want to sell another game short; back in the day my team made a half-court shot to win a conference championship!