UAB Blazers

Hello There, Guest! (LoginRegister)

Post Reply 
UAB’s Andy Kennedy on getting back into coaching, recruiting...[NEED SUBSCRIPTION]
Author Message
WesternBlazer Offline
Hall of Famer
*

Posts: 20,436
Joined: Jan 2008
Reputation: 85
I Root For: UAB
Location:
Post: #1
MyBB UAB’s Andy Kennedy on getting back into coaching, recruiting...[NEED SUBSCRIPTION]
UAB’s Andy Kennedy on getting back into coaching, recruiting and the ‘Gene Bartow standard’ [NEED SUBSCRIPTION]

https://theathletic.com/2626282/?source=twittered
06-04-2021 08:19 AM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Advertisement


The Answer UAB Offline
Heisman
*

Posts: 7,564
Joined: Aug 2004
Reputation: 34
I Root For: UAB!!!
Location:
Post: #2
RE: UAB’s Andy Kennedy on getting back into coaching, recruiting...[NEED SUBSCRIPTION]
Is there a hero who wants to c&p the article here :) ?
06-04-2021 09:22 AM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
CyberBlazer Offline
Bench Warmer
*

Posts: 239
Joined: Nov 2010
Reputation: 9
I Root For: UAB
Location:
Post: #3
RE: UAB’s Andy Kennedy on getting back into coaching, recruiting...[NEED SUBSCRIPTION]
First-year players and first-year head coaches may think they’re ready for everything college basketball and a new program will throw at them. Then reality hits.

So again this offseason, The Athletic will check in with select freshmen and head coaches about their first year — the things they learned in Year 1 that will shape Year 2 and beyond. Next up: UAB’s Andy Kennedy. The former Cincinnati and Ole Miss coach — he is the Rebels’ all-time leader in wins — was doing TV for ESPN after leaving Oxford. Then his alma mater called. Kennedy’s Blazers finished 22-7 during his first season in Birmingham.

After your Ole Miss tenure ended, you did TV work for two years, and I thought you were really good at it. A lot of coaches who get into TV love that lifestyle so much they never go back. Was your plan always to get back into coaching, or did the pull of your alma mater just prove irresistible?

Well, I appreciate the compliment first off. I enjoyed doing TV. It was great for me on a lot of levels. As a coach, you’re just consumed 24/7 with your team even when you’re watching basketball. Like even now, with the NBA playoffs, you’re watching schematically. Like, hey, would this work for my team? Can I put that action in, or this and that, and whatever? So when I didn’t have a team, doing the broadcast stuff, it allowed me to see the game differently quite frankly, because I was able to enjoy it more often and see it differently than you would when you are a coach. But to your question, I’m 53 years old. If I were 63, I would have probably stayed in the TV realm and rode it to the finish line. But I still had a hunger to coach.

People would always joke and say, man, this broadcasting thing is the best ever — you never lose a game. But I would always answer with, yeah, but you don’t ever win one, either.

I just finished my 24th year in coaching. Honestly, I enjoy the grind, and I enjoy the competitive aspect. I had some opportunities after Year 1 (in TV) that didn’t make sense for me. But then when my alma mater came calling, in a town in Birmingham which is my home away from home, to me it was a no-brainer. I was very, very fortunate to get this opportunity.

I’ve heard from coaches before who did TV and then returned that they learned a lot from going to practices and talking to other coaches for the broadcasts. Did you pick up anything from that experience that you could use with your team?

Yeah, that’s a great question and a great point. A lot of times people don’t understand as a coach, the only practices that you are going to are the ones that you’re involved in. I mean, your opponents aren’t asking you to come to their practices, you know? And because of my background and the relationships that had been forged, most especially in the SEC which was the primary league I was covering, I had a great relationship with those coaches. And they were very, very open to allow me to come to practice. They allowed me to sit in the film sessions. So it gives you a unique perspective on things. It can reconfirm some things that you’ve always done, but it also gives you new ideas that you can implement when the opportunity arises. And I did that last year, took some things that I had seen that I liked and immediately put them into my current situation.

Can you think of any one example of that?

Believe it or not, just some drills. Just some things that can kind of conceptually lead into what you’re trying to do. We redefine ourselves every year based on our personnel and what is in the best interests of the team. Last year was no different. So some of the things that I had seen just by going to other peoples’ practices, I was able to implement.

You played at UAB and were an assistant there for a while. Was there anything about the place that seemed different or surprised you when you came back?

Yeah, it was different. I mean, I’d been gone a long time. I graduated here in 1991 for the founding father, Gene Bartow. When I finished, it literally was a commuter school. There were a few buildings here and there. And now it’s really turned into a dynamic, energetic campus. With the football stadium coming online here in the next few months, it’s going to be a game-changer for coach (Bill) Clark and for the athletic department, because it just changes the whole narrative around sports. We’re building a practice facility, and there’s going to be some renovations to Bartow Arena in the future. So yeah, there’s a lot of positive things happening on campus.

The league and the opponents that were typical of back in the day also changed. And, this year, to the bigger picture, COVID-19 was a game-changer for us all in the way that we do our business. As I said, I was going into my 24th year — my 14th as a head coach. The 23 years previous still did not prepare you for all of the uncertainty that COVID brought about. So this was a very, very bizarre year on many fronts.

I read a quote from you during the season where you said you didn’t really feel like you were even part of a campus. Just how weird did this first year feel?

If you think about my situation, I was out for two years working for ESPN. This job opens. I get it. I think maybe two days later, we go into the global lockdown. So I didn’t get a chance to see the guys that were returning, that I was inheriting, nor the guys that we brought in. I didn’t even get a chance to physically meet them until like July of last year to start this process.

When my gig ended at Ole Miss in March of 2018, I was really fortunate that my oldest daughter was at Samford, which is in Birmingham. My youngest was graduating high school. A lot of times college coaches get stuck in college towns even after the fact because they’ve got kids in school. After my youngest graduated, she went to Auburn. We moved to Birmingham just because it was kind of a central place, home away from home. So I knew a lot of people that were intimately involved in the UAB program from Day One. And some of them, I still haven’t gotten the opportunity to reconnect with based on COVID and all of the things that come with it.

So it was just a bizarre year. You know, you have the checklist that you want to go down and try to create excitement for the program, through your student body and being involved in campus activities. And last year, we could do none of that. So I’m looking forward to having those opportunities as the fall semester rolls around.

Despite the challenges, you had a really good year. You were 16-2 at one point. Were you surprised by how successful you were right out of the gate with a new team?

Well, we went 22-7, and 22 wins was the most for any first-year coach in the country last year. We obviously use that in recruiting, so I’m aware of it (laughs). I give my guys a lot of credit for both handling the transition of a coaching change, which is difficult enough, but also for all of the things that we had to go through as it related to COVID. The testing, and trying to be socially distanced and having the discipline off the court, which was not easy for any of us, much less young kids in college. So the credit really goes to them.

I felt like we had an opportunity. But I’d never gone through Conference USA. We were one of the leagues that did the one opponent on back-to-back nights thing because of travel. I think this might be the biggest geographic conference in America. I mean, we go from El Paso, Texas to Huntington, West Virginia, to Boca Raton, Florida. We’re a pretty diverse league. One day we would go play North Texas, for instance, on a Friday night in Denton, and we’d turn around and play them on Saturday afternoon in Denton. So that in itself was very, very bizarre. Nothing was normal. I thought we were able to take a step forward and create momentum in a time and place that was very difficult to do.

Yeah, it is a spread-out league, and the conference scheduling was odd. You lost to Western Kentucky in the C-USA tournament, and you hadn’t even played them all season.

We played 18 conference games, but four of the teams in our league we never even played because of COVID. That’s just what they had to do to adjust. Here’s another thing. John Calipari is a good friend and he did me a favor — it sounds crazy that someone’s doing you a favor when you have to play Kentucky in Rupp Arena — but we had a budget situation and he ended up buying us in a guarantee game. And I lost that game because of COVID-19. And then we had Georgia Tech in a series, and we lost that because of COVID. Our big opportunities in the nonconference could have helped us long term if we were able to win. I’m not sure we could have beaten either of them, but if we would have done so, it would certainly have changed the dynamics of our season.

You guys were in the top 50 nationally in several defensive categories, and two of your players, Quan Jackson and Trey Jemison, were first-team all-defense in the league. How did you get those guys to buy in defensively in your first year?

Well, both of those guys were newcomers, Trey was a transfer from Clemson that is from Birmingham. I had known him, I had recruited him when I was at Ole Miss at the end of my tenure. So I had a relationship with him and his family. Tremendous kid who really gave us a presence at the basket defensively.

Quan Jackson was a graduate transfer from Georgia Southern. He was eighth in the nation in steals the previous year. He was incredible. I call him Revis Island. I thought he was kind of a lockdown corner, just incredible instincts defensively. We were undefeated at 7-0, and we’re playing Chattanooga, and there’s a freak injury. There’s a loose ball, a teammate dove for the ball and Quan was reaching down for it and hyper-extended his knee and tore his MCL. He was out about six weeks, and we lost four of our seven games while he was out. Then he came back and was certainly not 100 percent, but because he’s such a competitor he really helped us finish the year strong. So those two guys really, really helped us defensively. We were fourth in the nation in turnover margin and fourth in the nation in scoring defense.

Our M.O. early on, when we got off to such a great start, we were really turning people over and scoring in the open floor. We struggled at times in the halfcourt offensively.

You finished the regular season with a road sweep at North Texas, which went on to beat Purdue in the NCAA Tournament. How much did that give you a feel for just how good your team was?

Well, I think Conference USA is going through a lot of changes. This last year was the seventh year under its current alignment, and it was the best that the league had been rated under its current alignment. We had five teams that finished in the top 100 in the NET, and we were 83rd, which is an all-time program high. We had three teams go to the postseason, and all three teams advanced in the postseason for the first time in Conference USA history. So there were a lot of positives for the league. Hopefully, we can build on that momentum and show people that there’s good basketball in this league.

There is obviously some good history at UAB. You just broke ground on a new practice facility. You know this program as well as anybody. What do you think the ceiling is for Blazers basketball?

Well, I’ve kind of coined this phrase from Day One: my goal is to get this program back to the Gene Bartow standard. People forget he was at Westwood at UCLA, the pinnacle of college basketball. And he left there and came here and started this program from scratch. And in Year 3, he had them in the Sweet 16 and in Year 4 had them in the Elite Eight. He went to seven out of eight NCAA Tournaments. Times have changed in college basketball. But I do know that if you could put a product out there that exemplifies the work ethic of this city — Birmingham is a blue-collar city — then I know that they will support it. It’s been proven before. You know, this program has been to 15 NCAA Tournaments, two Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight. Our goal is to get it back to that level.

You had a very experienced team there in your first year with several seniors, and it looks like a lot of guys are going to stick around for another year. What’s the roster looking like for next season?

I would have to think — and with the transfer portal, everything’s changing — but I would have to think we’re going to be one of the most experienced teams in all of college basketball. Quan Jackson is taking advantage of the extra year. And so he is actually coming back for his sixth season in college basketball, because he had a redshirt year when he was at Georgia Southern. Mike Ertel is also coming back and taking advantage of the extra year. I’m bringing back our top four producers in Tavin Lovan — who was second-team all-league — Mike Ertel, Quan Jackson, and Trey Jemison. They’re all back.

And then we added a number of upperclassmen. There’s Jamal Johnson, who started out with Tubby Smith at Memphis and then went with Bruce Pearl to Auburn. He’s the son of the great Buck Johnson, a Birmingham native. So Jamal comes in here as a post-grad. We picked up a kid named Justin Brown, who comes in as a post-grad from South Florida. K.J. Buffen was the starting power forward at Ole Miss and comes in as a fourth-year junior. Tyreke Locure comes in from South Alabama. So we’ve already picked up four in the portal, along with a couple of junior college kids. And so we’re going to be much better as it relates to our versatility and in our ability to not only hopefully be effective defensively, but to be much better on the offensive end.

A lot of schools outside the power conferences are having a hard time keeping kids once they’ve had any success. Your best players seem to be sticking around. Have you done anything to create an atmosphere there where kids will want to stay?

Well, we’ve certainly lost our share of guys in this portal, and many times it is in their best interest. I’m a firm believer in that, by the way. I was a transfer myself. So I’m a firm believer in finding where you can have the best experience. So when you look back, as old men like you and me, you don’t look back with any regret. You want to feel like, hey, I took the most and the best advantage of my time. So we encourage everybody to explore what’s in their best interest.

But what we try to do is just create an atmosphere that guys like to be a part of. You know, work hard, play hard, have fun, win games. And we hold each other accountable. The word culture, to me, is a little overused in our sports analogies. But I’m just trying to create an opportunity that people want to be a part of.

What’s something you tried to do this year from a basketball standpoint you thought would work but didn’t?

Well, for the previous 13 years of my tenure as a head coach, we’ve been a group that played at a very fast pace. You know, shot a lot of balls and were really dynamic offensively. Based on the makeup of this team, we really had to adjust some of the things that we thought we were going to be able to do offensively and really play at a tempo that I’m not comfortable with (UAB finished with 238th in adjusted tempo, per KenPom.com). But I felt like it gave our team the best opportunity to be successful. So we had to constantly pivot, like when Quan got hurt or we lost some kids for COVID-19. We tell our kids, play off two feet so you can pivot. As coaches and administrators, we had to play off two feet all year because you were constantly pivoting.

What’s something you tried to do that did work well?

Well, again, our success was based on our ability to turn you over. When I was at Ole Miss, just based on necessity, we would change defenses and try to keep people out of rhythm. We would change our defenses frequently. We continued to do that this year, but we even did some things that I’d never really done before, as it related to full-court pressures. Because it was in the best interests of our team. And, 22-7, obviously it was good for us.

We should have a more normal offseason this year. What will that allow you to do differently with how you build your second team?

I think it’s just going to get back to a level of normalcy. Last year, one of the things that I regretted was a lot of the team-building stuff — you know, team meals and just having the opportunity to interact off the court. A lot of those were very, very limited because you didn’t want to ever put yourself or your team in a situation where you’re just trying to do something team-wise, going out to a restaurant or going to see a movie, and now all of a sudden one of your guys gets COVID. I look forward to getting back to some of those things you know that we just weren’t allowed to do last year.

What constitutes success for you in Year 2?

Well, I want us to be the best version of ourselves. I know that sounds like a canned answer. I’m not going to lie to you; we all as coaches, once our schedule gets completed in the non-con and the conference sends us their schedule, we all go, ‘Win here, loss there, win here.’ We all do that. But I don’t ever really get caught up on, hey, we’ve got to hit a certain number in order to be successful. We’ve got pieces to this puzzle. I’m looking forward to starting to put the pieces together to see what is in the best interest of us as it relates to schematics and style of play. And then I just want us to be the best version of ourselves. And I feel like we’ve helped ourselves from a roster standpoint. And now, again, we’re looking forward to starting the process.

You’ve got some pretty big series coming, with home-and-homes against South Carolina and West Virginia. How did you land those?

Bob Huggins is my mentor and my dear friend. He is actually going to come to Birmingham next year and start a home-and-home. Then Frank Martin, he’s my brother. We worked together for Huggs, and then he worked for me the one year I was at Cincinnati. We’re going to start a home-and-home in South Carolina. And we’re involved with a couple of other things that haven’t gotten quite done yet. But we’re trying to play the best people that we can to put our kids in the best spot possible.

How do you see June and July shaping up as in-person recruiting has finally returned?

We’re just looking forward to getting back to some normalcy. With the rule just passing, right now we’ve got to figure out, OK, where do we need to be in June? What is the priority with this transfer portal? The days of just having X number of freshmen and X number of sophomores and X number of juniors, those days are kind of over. I think we’ve all just got to live in the moment and try to cobble together the team we’re going to have for this year. And then get ready to cobble it together again next year.

I feel for you guys sometimes. It seems like it must be such a puzzle to put a roster together right now.

It is, but I’ve always believed that we’ll adapt, just like anything else. This maybe sounds strange, and it is strange. But I think in a couple of years, it’ll just be normal. And we’ll all adapt and overcome.
06-04-2021 04:19 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
CyberBlazer Offline
Bench Warmer
*

Posts: 239
Joined: Nov 2010
Reputation: 9
I Root For: UAB
Location:
Post: #4
RE: UAB’s Andy Kennedy on getting back into coaching, recruiting...[NEED SUBSCRIPTION]
Enjoy. 04-cheers Fairly extensive interview
(This post was last modified: 06-04-2021 04:23 PM by CyberBlazer.)
06-04-2021 04:21 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
linus Offline
1st String
*

Posts: 1,072
Joined: Aug 2004
Reputation: 15
I Root For:
Location:
Post: #5
RE: UAB’s Andy Kennedy on getting back into coaching, recruiting...[NEED SUBSCRIPTION]
I think AK comes off as well as one could hope for. Smart, thoughtful, frank, funny. If I were a recruit ( thank God I’m not) I think that would get my attention
06-04-2021 04:44 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Advertisement


biglizard Offline
1st String
*

Posts: 2,007
Joined: Jan 2005
Reputation: 6
I Root For:
Location:
Post: #6
RE: UAB’s Andy Kennedy on getting back into coaching, recruiting...[NEED SUBSCRIPTION]
Interesting that we've seen 2 UAB articles in The Athletic in the last week. Given the lack of UAB coverage locally the SID and AD may have just decided to bypass them and do national publications
06-04-2021 04:44 PM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
KevMo4UAB Offline
#FreeUAB
*

Posts: 17,198
Joined: Apr 2004
Reputation: 50
I Root For: UAB
Location: Bartow Arena
Post: #7
RE: UAB’s Andy Kennedy on getting back into coaching, recruiting...[NEED SUBSCRIPTION]
I really enjoyed that. Thanks!
06-05-2021 08:01 AM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
CyberBlazer Offline
Bench Warmer
*

Posts: 239
Joined: Nov 2010
Reputation: 9
I Root For: UAB
Location:
Post: #8
RE: UAB’s Andy Kennedy on getting back into coaching, recruiting...[NEED SUBSCRIPTION]
(06-05-2021 08:01 AM)KevMo4UAB Wrote:  I really enjoyed that. Thanks!

Welcome Kev
06-05-2021 08:05 AM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
hooverblazer Offline
Promoter of UAB
*

Posts: 12,686
Joined: Dec 2006
Reputation: 88
I Root For: UAB
Location:
Post: #9
RE: UAB’s Andy Kennedy on getting back into coaching, recruiting...[NEED SUBSCRIPTION]
I think that's the first time I've heard someone at UAB mention renovations to Bartow publicly. I wonder how far away that project is and what's involved.
06-05-2021 10:36 AM
Find all posts by this user Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply 




User(s) browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)


Copyright © 2002-2021 Collegiate Sports Nation Bulletin Board System (CSNbbs), All Rights Reserved.
CSNbbs is an independent fan site and is in no way affiliated to the NCAA or any of the schools and conferences it represents.
This site monetizes links. FTC Disclosure.
We allow third-party companies to serve ads and/or collect certain anonymous information when you visit our web site. These companies may use non-personally identifiable information (e.g., click stream information, browser type, time and date, subject of advertisements clicked or scrolled over) during your visits to this and other Web sites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services likely to be of greater interest to you. These companies typically use a cookie or third party web beacon to collect this information. To learn more about this behavioral advertising practice or to opt-out of this type of advertising, you can visit http://www.networkadvertising.org.
Powered By MyBB, © 2002-2021 MyBB Group.