Your title is Mississippi State men's basketball video coordinator. Explain what a video coordinator does?
"Video coordinating, especially due to the advancement in technology the last five years, has become very important. We have access to Synergy where we have access to, basically, every basketball game that is played in the entire country. Synergy is software that is being used by something like 95% of the college basketball programs in the country in Division 1.
"You also have advanced data analysis, such as what a team is shooting from the three, shooting in the paint. Now you can get as detailed as you want, such as a player turning down a ball screen 30% of the time, when he comes off a ball screen going to the right is he typically getting all the way to the basket or pulling up for a three. At the end of the day numbers paint a picture and numbers don't lie. If you analyze the numbers you are going to get as good of a feel as if you watched them on film. Obviously, you still watch them and evaluate what you see with your own two eyes, but numbers do tell a story.
"Over the last five years video coordinating has become very important in the NBA and, especially, in college. It is important due to the technical side of things, downloading film, editing film. That is done for our own players, opponents, scouting."
You mentioned your own players. What do you do with your own players video-wise during practice?
"We will videotape the practices. And in terms of practice when I first got here I saw that Coach Howland is not afraid to teach our guys what he wants them to do when they shoot a jump shot, when they set a screen, the spacing. He is constantly critiquing players in practice. Then after practice he has the players come by and watch on film the points of emphasis that he was making in practice. A lot of times kids are doing things that they don't even realize that they are doing. But until you see yourself on film it is hard for you to really understand what you are doing wrong. And Coach Howland is a big believer in pointing that out and showing it on film.
"Coach Howland is also big on being efficient on the court. For instance, on the jump shot catching the ball, knees bent, butt down, ready to go right into your jump shot. When you catch the ball you don't drop it. When you do shoot the ball you hold your follow through. When you do shoot the elbow is locked. You have good wrist action, fingers are pointed to the rim. Those are the things that he points out every single day. He'll tell them that NBA player Clay Thompson is doing those things. He'll have me show Clay Thompson doing those things on film. He'll have me show them Ray Allen's jump shot. Then he'll have me show film of their jump shot that they shot in practice compared to Ray Allen's jump shot."
Will you do the same thing with them during the season?
"It will be similar. But it will not be as much skill development as it will be team based. Right now, in June, July and August, this is when you become a better player. Much of that is dependent on skill development. And Coach Howland believes that film is a great way to motivate the players, to help them see how good they can be."
What is the most important thing you do video-wise during the season?
"Scouting. You try to watch at least five games of each team that you are going to play. It will all be edited. It is extensive to do that but you will have tools like Synergy. You can have laid out for you every field goal a player attempts, all 400 of them. You can look at those players in certain situations."
What do you do, download all the video?
"You download the video then compile all the clips yourself and then put it into a final edit that you show to the players and coaches. But in order to get a really good feel about the team you are playing you are going to need to look at five games at least. That allows you to get a better feel for the tendencies of the players.
"There is so much to scouting. It's more than just about the players. You want to know what a coach runs after a timeout. You want to know what they are running during the last 10 seconds of the shot clock. And it goes on and on."
Recruiting-wise, what is your role with recruits when it comes to video?
"Our coaches are constantly evaluating players. They may want me to pull up all of a player's shot attempts during the summer. On Synergy you have access to all of their field goal attempts during the summer."
Having so much access to a kid must make it much easier to evaluate him.
"There are a lot of games played during the summer. You could easily see him play two or three games and he might not play well in those games. Then you mark the kid off because you think he is not good enough. But at the end of the day he is playing 30 or 40 games during the summer. You want to watch him as much as possible to really be able to evaluate him. The more you watch him the more of a feel you have for his strengths and weaknesses. You also get a good feel about his character due to how he interacts with his teammates and his coaches."
How do you evaluate someone like your last signee, Xavian Stapleton, a guy who was a backup player as a freshman?
"He played quite a bit, over 20 minutes per game. He averaged 6.7 points per game for a good coach in a good program. He is a very, very good athlete who has the potential to be a very good shooter."
What did you see on film that makes you believe he has the potential to be a very good shooter?
"He has great elevation on his jump shot, a great follow-through, good form."
We talked about your job. How did you wind up getting into the basketball profession? Obviously being the grandson of Lefty Driesell had something to do with it.
"Yes, he was definitely a big influence. I remember when they put me at point guard in the YMCA League. For some reason I was upset with that. But my granddad said, 'what the hell are you crying about, you are the point guard.' I said what is the point guard. I wanted to be like Charles Barkley. I didn't know. It was funny. But he explained it to me. There was also a time when I wanted to quit playing basketball and play tennis full-time. He said, 'the best player that I have ever had was John Lucas and he played basketball and tennis. Why can't you do the same thing?' He could be pretty convincing. So I was like 'alright, my bad granddad.' There are a lot of stories like that. He has always been very motivating and big on competition.
"My father was also a big influence on me playing basketball. He taught me how to play the game."
You haven't just been a video coordinator during your career in basketball. You also helped with academics when you were at Troy. All nine seniors graduated and the team had a 3.45 gpa during the summer term. You must take great pride in that as well, don't you?
"It is important to take care of your academics and to take advantage of a free education. It is important to represent yourself as well as you can in all areas. Basketball is not the only one that matters.
"In the interview process with (Troy head) Coach (Phil) Cunningham I spoke a lot about what I had done in academics at my previous school Young Harris College under Pete Herman, who actually coached in the SEC for a long time under Dennis Felton at UGA. Every week we did academic sheets with our players. We would go over the grades that they turned in that week. It was organized and there was a lot of followup. I talked about that with Coach Cunningham. And he was really impressed. We took that same mentality to Troy."
Academics are obviously important to you. How important was it to see that Mississippi State has a huge building, the Templeton Center, that is just for academics?
"It was huge. I have worked with Sawyer Bowering, our academic coordinator. She has been fantastic! She always keeps us updated with the guys assignments, their tests. We all work with her. She does a great job communicating with all of us. She has been really good."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.