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Interview with Princeton Assistant Coach Brett MacConnell
Monday, 12 August 2013
Imageby Joe Click
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Recently I had a chance to do a Q&A Interview with Princeton Tigers Assistant Coach Brett MacConnell.

Here is a little background on Coach MacConnell,  he joined the Princeton men's basketball program as the team's director of operations in the summer of 2012 and was elevated to assistant coach in the summer of 2013.

Coach MacConnell joined Princeton after serving in a similar role in 2011-2012 at St. Peter's College, handling video breakdowns of practices, games and opponent scouting, as well as film exchange and team travel.

Prior to St.Peter's, MacConnell spent the 2010-2011 season as an assistant at Holy Family University in Philadelphia, PA. In his duties as recruiting coordinator, Coach helped to bring in a recruiting class that formed the starting 5 of a team that doubled its win total from the previous season.

Coach MacConnell got his start as an assistant coach at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, PA., where he worked for 2 seasons.

Coach's background also includes extensive work with the Neptune, N.J.-based Hoop Group working as a coach and commissioner at Hoop Group Elite Camps as well as serving as a site director at many of the organization's premier AAU tournaments.

Coach MacConnell gradutaed from Rutgers University in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in exercise  science and sport studies. He was a manager with the men's basketball team for all four seasons, serving as head manager as a senior.

Q&A Interview with Coach Brett MacConnell........

Q.  Coach what is the most difficult part of being a D-I assistant coach?

A.  The most difficult part is balancing the hours of the job with spending time with your family and friends. Coaches by nature are usually very competitive people, and we want to do everything we can to make our program successful. The truth is you could probably stay at the office until midnight every night and still have more recruiting calls to make, film to watch, etc. The phrase "Basketball Never Stops" is 100% correct! But you have to know that there is a healthy balance between work and relaxation.


Q.  What is the best part of the job?

A.  The best part of the job is the relationships that you form with the players and coaches that you work with every day.  We are really a family and the bonds that form are really special and will last a lifetime.


Q.  What does it take to be successful in the coaching profession?

A. I think hard work is the most important trait if you want to be successful in coaching. I'm learning that you can do anything you put your mind to if you are willing to outwork the competition.


Q.  For those interested in getting into coaching, what is the best way to break into the industry? How did you get your start?

A.  The interesting thing about coaching is that there is no right or wrong way to break into the industry.  Everyone's path is different.  The best advice I've been given is to simply be the best you can in the job you are at and good things will happen.  I've really enjoyed my journey in coaching and I've worked at every level.  I have learned so much at each stop along the way. I started as a manager at Rutgers.  My first job out of college was as an assistant coach at D3 Delaware Valley College for 2 years.  Then I spent one year at D2 Holy Family University, and one year as director of operations at St. Peter's University.  After one season as DOBO at Princeton, I was promoted to assistant coach, and I hope to be here for a long time!!


Q.  Which coaches do you draw basketball knowledge from?

A.  I draw knowledge from each of the coaches I've worked for in my career.  I've been lucky enough to work for a lot of great head coaches:  Gary Waters, Fred Hill, Casey Stitzel, John O'Connor, John Dunne and now Mitch Henderson.  I also have worked with great assistant coaches along the way, and continue to learn from the rest of our staff at Princeton:  Brian Earl, Marcus Jenkins and Ben Botts.  We talk hoops every day and there is always something new we can pick up from each other.


Q.  Are there any rule changes you would like to see for recruiting/on the court?

A.  At a lot of recruiting events, tournament organizers will force coaches to buy a "coach's packet" which is often an unnecessary or insufficient booklet.  At each event, the NCAA should mandate that coaches should have the option to simply buy an admission ticket; and the cost of the ticket should be limited by a maximum price.


Q.  Will your team have any organized community civic activities, like spending a day at a homeless shelter or volunteering at a nursing home?

A. We spend a lot of time each year with the children at our local YMCA.  We participate in a book club where our players read to the children, and we also get the kids out on the court for some basketball activities.  Our players enjoy it as much as the children do! 

 (Here are some photos from the Y if you want to see: )


Q. Which player do you think your players should emulate on the court? Off the court?


A. One of the great things about playing or coaching at Princeton is that you don't have to look very far for good role models.  Last year's senior class provided a great example for the younger guys on how to handle themselves on and off the court, and I know this year's seniors will do the same!


Q. Do you think players spend less time learning the fundamentals than they should these days because they are all trying to do the flashy stuff they see the superstars doing?

A.  Not at Princeton!  We may be different than most programs, but we really focus on the fundamentals every day in practice.  Every single player on our roster- big or small- is expected to be able to dribble, pass and shoot…. I definitely see kids at a young age at camps and elsewhere who seem to be more focused on the flashy stuff than they are on the most important aspects of the game though.


Q. What are the obstacles you face when scheduling for a mid-major school in the Ivy League?

A. It is really hard to get teams to be willing to play a home and home with us.  We have a home and home with one Big Ten team (Rutgers) but we'd like to have more.  Teams are just unwilling to go on the road.


Q. What do you look for in a player, to play at Princeton?

A. We look for good people first and foremost.  We want guys who want to get better each and every day, and we want guys who will be great teammates.  And of course we are looking for great students also!


Q. When recruiting a player do you look for someone who fits your system or find the most talented players and find a way to work them into the system?

A. We certainly look for guys that fit our system, but usually the most talented guys don't have any problem fitting into our system!


Q. When you get a commitment from a player do you know right away if he will be a role player or have potential to be a star?

A.  You never know for sure until a player gets on campus, but you usually have an idea. (Or at least you think you do!)


Q.  Is it easier to schedule when the team is bad or good?

A.  Everyone likes to play games they can win - so definitely easier to schedule when the team is bad!


Q.  What is your role on the coaching staff? (Ex: position development or scheduling)

A.  Each of our coaches have a hand in everything we do, but this time of year recruiting is a priority for me.  And yes I am in charge of scheduling also!


Q.  With all the media these days, how do you find kids that somehow still manage to fly under the radar?

A. In recruiting I think just about everyone gets onto the radar at some point, but now the question is can you be first?  Getting on potential recruits early is really important.  Finding those kids is often from word of mouth through a friend who coaches or trains the recruit.


Q.  Who on the team is poised for the biggest breakout year?

A. We have a lot of guys on the team who have that potential and a couple guys who are coming back from injury.  I'm excited to see who will step up!


That completes our Q&A Interview with Coach Brett MacConnell from the Princeton Tigers (Ivy League Member).

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 13 August 2013 )
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