Coaches can positively or negatively affect a player’s abilities and life.
Manhattan College’s Steve Masiello, JFK Campus’ Johnny Mathis and Horace Mann’s Ray Barile all believe as coaches they need to make sure their players believe in their respective philosophies.
For this to be done, each said a coach has to show passion for the game he coaches, be smart, possess the capability to break down a game and recruit other players who are not only talented but can improve each member of the team. Finally, a coach has to be fair and consistent with his team members as both players and people.
“There are so many factors that go into it,” Masiello said. “You have to incorporate all of them. That’s what makes coaching so difficult.”
Masiello, Mathis and Barile also said relationships with staff and players are also key as a means of showing interest in both their professional and personal well-being and the betterment of the program. The message is always about creating a legacy for them. To sum it up in one word: family.
Masiello said Manhattan was able to win back-to-back MAAC championships despite losing players such as Rhamel Brown and Michael Alvarado because current seniors Emmy Andujar and RaShawn Stores sustained the culture of what Masiello called “respected integrity.”
Players such as Brown, Alvarado, Andujar and Stores are the type of players who can relate to their teammates on a level a coach can’t but are hard players to find. But when they’re available that’s what separates the good teams from the bad ones, Mathis said.
“They go a long way in helping develop a team that you’re coaching,” Barile said. “It definitely makes my job easier.”
Off-court leadership is as much a repeated lesson as is the on-court side of it, Mathis said.
“You have to help keep the next guy out of trouble,” Mathis recalled telling his team recently. “You can hurt your team in times of a big game. Make sure he’s doing his work.”
He remembered a few years ago that one of his players decided to slide down the side of an escalator for the fun of it. That player ended up falling and hurting his wrist which affected the team because he couldn’t play for the foreseeable future.
“Off the court is more important than on,” Mathis said. “Academically, you definitely have to make sure of that. For their own purposes, they’re all to going to the NBA and Division I, in their minds. (You have) to help them be able to have life skills and sports. A lot of times they’re young and they don’t really understand it.”
Masiello, Mathis and Barile said the answer to being a great coach isn’t in what type of player they once were. Instead, until opportunities come, there’s a sense of not knowing. This is where fellow coaches and even players can be inspirations.
For Masiello, it’s Louisville’s Rick Pitino, New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick and Texas Tech’s Orlando “Tubby” Smith. For Mathis, it’s his own son. And for Barile, it’s his dad, uncle and former high school basketball coach.
“That goes with anything,” Masiello said. “Not just basketball. It’s life. The motto I live by is, ‘If it’s not broken, break it and make it better.’ I’m always trying to recreate, reinvent and rebrand myself before I get to that situation where you’re kind of caught with not knowing something. What I try to do is think of every hypothetical situation. So I try to go to the extreme of it to help me get ready for the now.”