High School/AAU Coaches Sound Off (Part 1)

In Michigan's search for its next basketball coach much has been made of the next coach's ability to recruit and relate to the high school and AAU coaches in the state. Ironically, no one has spoken to many of the people that must be related to, so GoBlueWolverine has been busy doing just that. In part one we spoke to coaches from the last two state champs, both of which hail from Saginaw.

Interview with Saginaw High Coach Lou Dawkins
By Sam Webb

Looking back on Tommy Amaker's tenure, what would you say went wrong?

"I truly believe these kids…the kids in the state of Michigan want to see a face.  It's hard when you see Coach Pearl. Coach Tubby Smith, and Thad Matta come thousands of miles away to your gym a couple of times a month, and you're right up the highway.  That makes a big difference to these kids man.  You look at the top players that have gotten away from here, and it's unbelievable.  I truly believe that visibility is a big key for whoever comes and takes that program over."

Was that your biggest problem with Michigan?  Was there a problem with the style of play or the coaching?

"It was visibility.  That was the biggest key.  Something else that I see as well is a practice facility.  One of my kids, Daniel West, committed to Bradley.  Bradley will be in their new practice facility this coming season in 08.  To the basketball world, they're a million miles apart from a traditional basketball power.  So if Bradley can build a brand new practice facility, I don't see why Michigan couldn't.  A practice facility is huge to these kids now, man.  Colleges are looking at pro facilities to grade their practice facilities.  Technology is a key.  I can't believe that Michigan hasn’t figured that out yet."

Were you surprised that your former coach, Tubby Smith ended up at Minnesota as opposed to Michigan?

"I think Minnesota's by selection by Coach Smith was a surprise to everyone.  When I talked to Coach Smith the other day, he was surprised that Minnesota was going to come after him that hard.  He didn't know until that day.  If there would have been some more time in between, I'm quite sure Michigan would have been right there.  But that package that Minnesota gave him… man I believe he is the highest paid coach in the Big Ten… or right up there.  That's without the shoe, radio, and TV deals.  Once they throw all of that in there he probably looking at a 3 - 3.5 million dollar deal for a season."

Have you paid attention to some of the candidates that are being mentioned for the Michigan job?

"Yeah.  One I know for sure is Chris Lowery.  Me and Chris are partners.  We played against each other in college.  He played at SIU and I attended Tulsa, so I know Chris very well.  The young man can coach his tail off."

How good of a fit do you think Chris Lowery would be at Michigan?

"He'd be great!  From just me traveling on the AAU circuit last summer, almost every venue I went to he was there in attendance.  Not just him, but one or two of his assistants.  He goes gets basketball players.  I truly believe that a lot of these so called national institutions get caught up in the national rankings and don't go get the basketball players that really know basketball.  A lot of those players may live in a small town and cannot get on one of the high profile AAU teams.  There are a lot of gyms out there that a lot coaches don't know about."

One of the other guys being mentioned a lot is John Beilein from West Virginia.  What do you think about him?

"He's a good coach.  He has a nice system. His teams get down and dirty on the defensive end.   He would have to come here and maybe look at a high school coach that knows the area.  That's going to be huge.   A lot of coaches have a tendency of bringing their staffs with them.  In all likelihood he would probably need to hire someone locally around the Detroit, Flint, Saginaw areas AND keep Mike Jack on staff to get into those kids houses and go in there and get those boys.  I believe Mike Jack landed Alex Legion and Corperryale Harris.  You have to look at all of that.  If Coach Amaker wouldn't have hired Mike Jack, he probably wouldn't have gotten those players, so you have to take all of that into perspective."

How about Karl Hobbs from George Washington?

"I met him last year when was recruiting Larry Wright.  The guy can coach.  A lot people wrote him off this year and didn't expect him to make the big dance, but he did.  It seems like to me he has that player coach/relationship.  If you have a great relationship with you players, they'll go out there and do anything for you. "

I'd be remiss if I didn't ask about Draymond Green.  Where does his recruitment stand?

"Indiana has called and offered the young man.  Tubby has been calling.  He was on his way to the Breslin on Saturday, but he got caught in traffic on 96.  He contacted Draymond around 7 and knew all of the boy's stats.  He wants Draymond to follow him to Minnesota.  Wake Forest has been calling, Michigan State has been calling…it's wide open.  Tennessee has been calling.  When I get back from the Final Four this weekend I'm going to sit down with him and his mom and we'll go from there. "

Interview with Saginaw Arthur Hill Coach Greg McMath
By Andre Barthwell

"I liked the staff at Michigan, but up in Saginaw we just never saw coach Amaker enough. He came to one open gym up at Arthur Hill and that was it. We feel that Michigan has not given the Saginaw area the respect that we deserve up here. We feel like Michigan didn’t want a relationship with us. I mean, it was good to see Coach Mike Jackson but he is not Tommy Amaker or whoever the head coach will be at Michigan. Kids need to see the head guy a little more rather than just the assistants. They get excited to see the head coach at a major program. Sometimes coaches just come in just to see what we are doing and how we work at our school. Our doors will always be open up in Saginaw… at Arthur Hill, Saginaw High and Buena Vista… for any coach that wants to come and talk and get to know us. It will be up to them to get that done. There is some good basketball played in the Saginaw Valley League, and up at Michigan they need to know that. Also they need to start looking more closely at their facilities because to today’s young guys, it is very important to them to be able to go and shoot when they need to or work on their games at night, in the day time….whenever they want to.  I look at these colleges in our area and see the progress they are making on facilities.  Michigan State is getting ready to put more money into there basketball facilities and they are nice already. Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky and Cincinnati all are putting money into a new facilities, Michigan needs to work on relationships and facilities because in today’s basketball, that is what is important."

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