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Interview with Holy Cross Assistant Coach Brion Dunlap
Tuesday, 13 August 2013
Imageby Joe Click
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I had the chance to engage in a Q&A Interview with Holy Cross Crusaders Assistant Coach Brion Dunlap recently.

Brion Dunlap is in his third season as an assistant coach at the College of the Holy Cross in 2012-2013. He has helped lead the Crusaders to a 16-12 record in Patriot League regular season play over the last two seasons. Dunlap came to Holy Cross after serving as an assistant coach at Mount St. Mary’s University for the previous seven years.

During his final three seasons at Mount St. Mary’s, Dunlap helped the Mountaineers to an overall record of 54-44 and a 35-19 mark in the Northeast Conference. Mount St. Mary’s also appeared in postseason play twice during that time frame, advancing to the NCAA Tournament in 2008 and the College Insider Tournament in 2009. In 2008, the Mountaineers won the Northeast Conference Tournament title and posted the first NCAA Division I Tournament victory in school history, with a 69-60 win over Coppin State in the opening round.

Prior to his time with the Mountaineers, Dunlap served as the head coach at Forest Park High School in Woodbridge, Va., for three seasons. He was the first head coach in the history of the program at Forest Park, which opened as a new school in 2000. Dunlap previously spent two years as an assistant coach at Woodbridge (Va.) High School. He was also selected as the head coach for the 2003 NOVA Hoops Classic, and served as the head coach of the Prince William Pacers AAU team in 2002-2003.

Dunlap is a 1998 graduate of Old Dominion University with a bachelor’s degree in human services counseling. He was a four-year starter for the Monarchs on the hardwood, helping lead the team to two NCAA Tournament appearances and two Colonial Athletic Association titles. Dunlap was named to the CAA All-Rookie team in 1995 and the CAA All-Tournament team in 1997, in addition to earning Chevrolet Player of the Game honors following Old Dominion’s 59-55 loss to New Mexico in the first round of the 1997 NCAA Tournament. He still ranks second all-time in the CAA and third all-time at Old Dominion with 680 career assists.

Q&A Interview with Coach Brion Dunlap....


Q.  I know you were an assistant at Mount Saint Mary's, how different is coaching and recruiting at Holy Cross?

A.  There really isn't a big difference. We want to recruit kids of high character, kids that challenge themselves in the classroom and on the court, and kids that have a competitive switch that never turns off.


Q.  What is the most difficult part of being a D-I assistant coach in the  Patroit League?

What is the best part?

A.  The most difficult part is missing time with your family. We all work hard in put in a great deal of time to be the best. We want nothing more than for our players, our program, and our schools to be successful. But it's what comes with the job and I love being a coach.

The best part is developing relationships with the players and watching their growth from young boys to young adults as they graduate and enter the real world. The different styles from game to game in conference play is great from a competitive stand point.


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.  There are many ways to get into the Coaching Industry but the best way is by "who you know". A good word can go a long way as long as you work to back it up. When I graduated from college I had to make the choice to go and play overseas or go right into coaching. My high school coach wanted me to coach with him so I decided to give it a shot. I loved it. Two years later I was a high school head coach. Then Coach Milan Brown, who was my assistant in college, became the Head Coach at Mount St. Mary's and I was fortunate enough to get in the college game as an assistant for him.


Q.  Which coaches do you draw basketball knowledge from?

A.  I've been blessed to have been around a great number of coaches in my opinion. I've gained a great deal of knowledge from my mother, my high school coach, Coach Milan Brown, Coach Jim Phelan, and Coach Jeff Capel and many others who have and will continue to have a impact on not only my growth in coaching but my life as well.


Q.  Which season was your best as an assistant? (Example: recruiting,  scheduling, etc.)

A.  Every season is the best season because of the relationships you build with your coaching staff and with your players and I'm doing what I love. The year we went to the NCAA tournament would be up there for one of the best. There's nothing like going to the Big Dance. Hopefully I will have a chance to be a part of more NCAA tournament teams.


Q.  What are your goals for the team this upcoming season?

A.  Our goals are to get better every day, to give ourselves a chance to win the league and the league championship. We want to go to the NCAA tournament. We want to continue to develop our players on and off the court and see their progression into young men.


Q.  What are your personal goals as an Asst. Coach at Holy Cross?

A.  My personal goals are to continue to help develop our players. To continue to guide them and give back to them what the game has given to me. To assist Coach Brown and our staff so that we can be the best we can be. To continue to represent Holy Cross the right way and hopefully add to its rich tradition. Someday I would hope to have a chance to be a head coach on the collegiate level.


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

A.  In recruiting, I would like the cost of the coaches packets to decrease or allow us coaches to get in on a daily/tournament fee. Sometimes we are there for one day and we have to pay for the entire packet. In the game, I wouldn't mind seeing the shot clock shorten to probably 30 seconds. I think a shorten clock could lead to more teaching of how to play the game, as opposed to the teaching of how to run plays.


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.  Yes our team will do a variety of community services throughout the season. We've had a number of our players go and read at the local elementary schools. They have participated in school field days, as well as the Big Brother program. We will also do clinics for the local kids.


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


A.  I think our players emulate each other, our coaching staff, and especially our head coach. Our guys have done a great job of pushing each other and gaining strength from one another. We are a big family so we look for one another for continued guidance and support. Off the court, I believe they all emulate their families. We recruit high character kids and I'm a firm believer that their character has been developed from their up bringing.


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.  I do believe the players are practicing less on their fundamentals these days. I'm not going to blame it on TV. I will say the fundamentals just needs to be more of a priority for the players. They play so much basketball throughout the summer that most of them don't have time to work on the fundamentals because they are just playing in one tournament to the next.


Q.  What are the obstacles you face when recruiting for a mid-major School?

A.  The biggest obstacle we face is probably time and depending on the school the budget can be an issue at times as well. Once school starts you want to be there with your guys all the time. You don't want to miss a workout, or a practice. But recruiting is our life line so you have to miss a few workouts and or practices maybe even a game.


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

A.  In regards to scheduling, every mid-major school wants and need home games so that is the biggest obstacle. The second biggest hurdle is probably getting the right date that will make both teams happy.


Q. Do you have a specific area/region where you focus on recruiting?

A.  As a staff we recruit nationally because of the academic requirements of the Patriot League. Since I grew up in the Washington DC area I recruit from Maryland to Florida. But our staff is a family so we all have a part in recruiting players to Holy Cross.


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

A.  All of our assistants are involved in daily activities. We recruit, we help in player development on and off the court, we watch film to develop scouting reports for ourselves and our opponents. We also do research on possible teams for scheduling for the future.


Q.  How much of a factor is a player's family when looking at a prospect?

A.  A player's family can tell you a great deal about the character of a player. A great support system can do wonders for any player. Our program is a family. So when we get a recruit his family just grows our family and continues to make it stronger.


Q.  Who are your top returnees for the upcoming season?

A.  Our top returners are Dave Dudzinski and Justin Burrell our team captains. Dave is one of the better post players in the Patriot League. He was a 2nd team All Patriot League player last season. Justin was the Patriot League Rookie of the Year his freshman year. He is one of the better point guards in our league. We are expecting big things out of both of them this season.


Q.  What obstacles do you face when bringing a point guard in straight from  highschool? Is it better to focus on prep schools for talent at the mid-major level? 

A.  I believe personally that playing Point Guard in college is the toughest position to play. You have to be an extension of your head coach on the floor while running the team and keeping everyone happy while controlling the pulse of the game. So as for obstacles, the biggest obstacle, I feel is that most aren't ready until they get into a college practice and into a collegiate game. Some may adapt faster than others but every freshman Point Guard has to and will go through a learning process with some growning pains.


That completes our Q&A interview with Coach Brion Dunlap from the Holy Cross Crusaders (Patroit League Member)





Last Updated ( Wednesday, 14 August 2013 )
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