Two days every week, usually Wednesday and Friday, for the last nine years Dave Dickerson has climbed out of bed with his wife Laurette and met administrators and teachers at the gym to play pick-up games.
"It reassures my love for the game," says the 38-year-old coach. "When you get to this age and go back time after time despite the aching and pains it brings, it just shows how much love you have for the game."
Quincy Davis says: "He could start for our team next year. He's got game and he loves to play."
And it's that love and dedication that Dickerson hopes becomes infectious throughout the Green Wave locker room. Dickerson, a 15-year coaching veteran, surprised no one when he landed his first major head-coaching job. Even in his heyday at the ripe age of 9 years old, Dickerson would knock on every door on his block in Olar, S.C., to organize neighborhood basketball games.
So when Maryland head coach Gary Williams plopped down in the chair facing Dickerson's desk on March 15 and told his assistant that Tulane was interested in him taking over its basketball program, Dickerson became excited. He knew all about Tulane's program through former Maryland forward Byron Mouton, who had transferred from Tulane.
"Byron and I had talks about the city and the program," Dickerson says. "I felt comfortable looking into the job."
Dickerson met with Tulane athletic director Rick Dickson for the first time at Washington Reagan Airport on March 21.
"It went good," Dickerson says. "We were scheduled to meet for about an hour and ended up meeting for three hours."
Throughout the process Dickson and the athletic administration wanted the potential coaches to meet with certain players, one being Quincy Davis. Davis says in hindsight he knew that Dickerson would end up winning out.
"The administration asked for my feedback and I simply said, ‘he's the man for the job," Davis says.
Dickerson met with his new players an hour before the press conference announcing him as Tulane's new able leader on April 1.
"I knew a lot about them basketball wise and their abilities because I had done my homework," Dickerson says. "I talked to them about my philosophies and that we would have rules and regulations to follow."
Not exactly appealing, but the players didn't exactly tune Dickerson out either.
"I could tell they were happy with the changes," Dickerson says.
They were even more attentive when Dickerson began to tell the team how he envisioned them playing.
But he couldn't be sure. That is until he met with Davis. He told Davis that he needed to meet with each player individually the following day.
"I was sort of surprised that he set it up so perfectly," Dickerson says.
Davis adds: "It was easy because all of the players were pretty anxious to meet with him."
The next day he met with each player for nearly 30 minutes each. He obviously won them over because the day after their meetings, when Dickerson threw out the first pitch at a Tulane baseball game the team met him there. The meeting wasn't mandatory, but the players wanted to hang out with him.
"Coach is a cool guy," Davis says. "I thin because he's younger he can identify with us a little better than our former coach."
"I knew then that they felt comfortable enough to want to be around me," Dickerson says.
And the players were comfortable with the goals Dickerson set in his first meeting with his team.
"To go into every game and every practice thinking that we can get better and that we can win," Dickerson says.
One would think that such goals for a team that posted a 10-18 record the previous season are lofty, or even unrealistic. Not Dickerson.
"In 15 years I've never endured a losing season," he says. "I don't intend to come here and try and rebuild. I'm not going into this year saying that we're going to have to lose some games in order to get better. We're going to win and we're going to try and do that right away."
That was especially appealing to Davis, who is a senior.
"I definitely didn't want to hear that he wanted to rebuild with it being my last year," he says.
And Dickerson's got a plan. He already knows that he wants to get the ball up the floor quickly and score points in transition. But he also knows that the biggest questions on this year's team will be at the guard position.
"Our strengths are definitely with our forwards," Dickerson says. "Conference USA is a conference that has and always has had good guards. Taylor Rochestie is a freshman that plays a lot of minutes and he's the only proven guard that we have."
The challenge of getting the most out of his resources is something that excites Dickerson.
"Being here for three months feels like I've been here for three years," Dickerson says. "You just don't win, you have to work at it."
And Dickerson is up for the challenge.
Dave Dickerson Ready For The Challenge
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