Interview with Cougars women’s basketball head coach
Did you know that you do not have to have been a professional athlete to coach a university team? Dave Taylor is the Cougars head coach for the women’s basketball team and has been for 16 years, yet only played high school basketball.
What is the furthest you have seen an athlete of yours go?
Over the years of coaching, Taylor has seen players go overseas and play professionally. One of our previous alumni athletes just won an NBA title. He has also seen players go on and get their master’s in coaching.
Where does someone takes their masters of coaching?
Two options we found for the masters program are at the University of Lethbridge and University of Victoria.
When it comes to playing on a university team, the players normally must maintain good grades in their classes. What do you as coaches do to help your players keep the balance needed?
“Well first off, right away, the players cannot get scholarships unless they remain at a 65 per cent GPA. Then if you are an Academic All Canadian, there are rewards with that which creates some motivation for the players. Then while the team is on the road for game day, we make sure there are study spaces, we talk together as a team about marks, being prepared for organization and time management, and how to get access at the University to tutoring.”
What is a good common activity that you do with your players and other coaching staff to help with team bonding?
At the start of the year, the Cougars team works getting to know one another. Then, throughout the season, overall team bonding takes place while being on the road together and spending time together in the team room. Taylor states “the more time you spend together and just communicate with each other, the better your team chemistry tends to be.”
Do you feel like referees play an important role in the sport? How do you as a coach remain professional when it comes to taking a hard call?
Right off the bat, without hesitation, Taylor said “Of course they are an important part, they are just as critical as the players that are playing the game!” Taylor has kept himself clear and not gotten too wound up by their calls by keeping a mind set of “controlling what you can control.” He believes that over the past 29 years, there has only been one game where referees have had an impact on the game.
What are some examples of training or drills that you have stuck to throughout your years of coaching?
The Cougars spend a lot of time on re-bounding the ball and close-outs. Then, as the season moves on over the years, they play games in practice before doing actual drills.
Can you describe what close-outs are for people that do not know basketball well?
“A close-out is when your man does not have the ball. Then your man gets passed over the ball. The close-out is the action of you going to go and guard the ball. So going from being the ‘help position’ to directly being on the ball. It involves a sprint towards the ball, then you can try to block a three-point shot or get down to try and control the drive of the opponent.”
When you are getting your players ready for a big game, what is one thing you say to get your team pumped up and ready to go?
Taylor believes that it is not about showing up just for one game, it is about showing up to all the games together as a team. They do this by not looking at short-cuts or easy answers; it is pure hard work all over the season.
What is one main piece of advice that you would give an athlete that wants to play for the cougars in the future?
“The initial cut is based on you (being) talented and (having) focus on skill development. Then based off the skills that they have, (and) it comes down towards character and are they a good fit for our team and what we want.”