Q&A: WFU Assistant Coach Walt Corbean

Walt Corbean has patiently waited for his chance to move back into the coaching ranks from the DOBO position at Wake Forest and it has finally paid off. DeaconSports had a chance to talk to him about his new position, what new duties it will entail, and how he can impact the basketball program in the coming years.

DeaconSports: What are the biggest changes in your duties now?
Walt Corbean: Well, you go from an administrative position to one of direct involvement in the teaching of the basketball players as well as the recruitment of new players. At first when I came here, I had the misconception that a DOBO (Director of Basketball Operations) would fall under the broad umbrella of the coaching staff, and that is not the case. It is more involved with travel. arrangements, like hotel rooms, flights, camps, etc. and all administrative duties outside of the coaching arena.

DS: You had been a head coach before accepting this position so how would you describe the difference in the two "titles"?
WC: As a coach, you are interacting daily with the players in improving their skills and teaching them new ones and it is a hands on type position and our jobs as coaches is to make that 2 hour practice a learning and growing experience for the player. A DOBO has no coaching responsibilities.

DS: Did you miss that primarily?
WC: Definitely, seeing (and having a chance to greatly impact) the maturing of young men both academically and as players is a huge responsibility that I missed greatly. In the coaching environment, you are teaching, coaching, and motivating the players on a one on one basis and I missed that after 7 years of coaching.

DS: How would you describe yourself as a coach if you were asked that by a young player?
WC: I would tell him that the only way I know how to conduct business is to be straight up and honest and that I could be one of the hardest coaches he had ever played for, and I would want him to know that up front. When we get in between those lines, I will yell at you, explain to you and instruct you and do whatever it takes to motivate you in a constructive manner. I also would put my arm around you and give you a hug when you needed one and I will be someone who will be there for you even when you are away from basketball. One thing is for certain though is that at the end of the day and you lay your head down on the pillow, you will also have no doubt Coach Bean loves you and I have your best interest at heart, no matter how much I may have yelled at you.

DS: Are you a players coach?
WC: I guess you could say that but I also want them to understand I want them to respect me, more than like me like a friend, because I am their coach and they will like me if they respect me (in my experiences) but I am not out to win a popularity contest.

DS: What can you tell me about Coach Bzdelik?
WC: I learn something from him daily. He has been in this business for a long time and has coached at many different levels. Simply put, the man knows basketball.

DS: What will be your biggest adjustment or challenge when you are finally able to hit the recruiting trail in July?
WC: The biggest challenge is building the relationships with the players, their coaches, parents and others but doing it the right way. I have done that as a coach before and will renew the relationships I had even though I have been away from direct recruiting for 4 years and will have to establish some new relationships.

DS: How much though has changed in the 4 years you were "away"?
WC: Quite a bit, which is why I will rely on people like Jeff Battle, Rusty Larue and Coach Bzdelik to get me pointed in the proper directions. I will learn from them all but imitate none because I have to go about this the way Walt Corbean knows how to do it along with a little help from my friends.

DS: Have you already been reestablishing contacts on the phone with old contacts?
WC: Absolutely, I find my cell phone having to be recharged much more than I did as DOBO! Matter of fact, I have missed several calls from Coach Bzdelik because of constantly being on the phone with coaches of the High School and AAU teams.

DS: You have seen these current players for a season now, and some more than one season, so what can you tell me about how they are improving in the off season?
WC: Well, they are all working very hard in the weight room and playing to improve their skills on the court. We are not allowed to coach them right now but they all have lists of things we told them to work on coming out of this past season and they all want to erase the bad taste of last season from their mouths.

DS: Can you give me some specifics?
WC: They all need to get stronger and start rebuilding their confidence in themselves and their teammates. The big men, Ty, Carson, Nikita, and Melvin all need to be in better condition and become tougher both mentally and physically. Our guards need to improve their shot selections, ball handling, and especially their defense. We have the talent here to be good and our job as coaches is to get the best from each player and collectively the team as a unit.

DS: How soon will this team be "good again"?
WC: It will not be an overnight thing but I think the fans can expect to see fairly rapid improvement next year and even more thereafter. The fans need to know that we are very determined, coaches and players, to being the type of team people at Wake Forest will be proud of both on and off the court.

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