I had an opportunity to talk to my college coach, Joye Lee McNelis, and here assistant, Coach Brooks Donald, of the University of Southern Mississippi Women's Basketball (NOW HEAD COACH OF MCNEESE STATE) team before their shoot around here in Memphis. Coach McNelis and here staff is definitely turning that program around and with only 8 players on the roster..
Coach Donald breaks down academics both on the court and in the class room.
PJ: How and when did you get involved with basketball?
CD:I began playing basketball in second grade (long time ago) and began coaching the summer of my Freshman year in college.
PJ: How do you believe the game has developed or changed for girls since you’ve been involved? Intensity, skill level, competition.
CD: The game has changed a lot since I was a kid. The competition has definitely improved and expanded.
PJ: What skill do you believe girls are lacking the most when they arrive at college?
CD: Knowledge of the game. In this day and age, there are more athletes that advance to the next level than knowledgable, skilled basketball players. I think girls don't watch the game enough. Watching basketball is like studying. Watching basketball really enhances your knowledge of the game.
PJ: As recruiting coordinator, how do you find recruits? Camps, high school games, etc.
CD:We find young ladies in various places. Having them attend camp is a golden opportunity because we get to be around the athlete and get a feel for what their character is and how they interact with our program. Other than camps, we really like to evaluate talent in the spring & summer against National talent. We, as coaches, get to see them go up against the best in the South or the best in the country. High School games are imperative as well. We like to see them challenged against a rival team. We also like to see how (and if) they take over the game in high school. And how they respond to the lower level of talent. We also watch how they respond to coaching.
PJ: Now let's talk Academics.. Some athletes may think that if they can play basketball really good, they don't have to take care of business in the classroom. From your experience, what kind of advice can you give on the subject of academics?
CD:Well, all I can say is academics come first. I think almost everyone can look around them and find an example of someone not reaching their full potential & expectations because they did not take care of business in the classroom. The NCAA has implemented several new rules that have made it more difficult for colleges to even take chances on at risk student-athletes no matter how talented she may be. In saying that, I think it is more important than it has ever been to be strong academically and to take the ACT now as a Sophomore and a Junior. Take the test as many times as it is offered. Taking care of everything off the court (grades, homework, diet, exercise, good attitude, positive life) is more important than doing anything on that hardwood.
PJ: Is there any advice you would like to provide for young players?
CD:My advice to young players is to work as hard as you possibly can! There are so many resources on and off the floor for you to succeed to your fullest potential! Take advantage of them! Don't wait! Work on your game everyday! Be disciplined! Listen to your coaches! Be a gym rat! Watch basketball! Learn the game! And most of all, play and study with a PASSION every day!
Making It Happen in 2007,