For the Siena men’s basketball staff there truly is no real offseason, because as one season ends a new one begins. We had the opportunity to sit down with the three assistant coaches to talk with each of them about their roles and to learn more about what takes place behind the scenes in preparation for the upcoming season.
Ben Davis is coming off his first season as an assistant coach at Siena. Sure, it was a season with its ups and downs, but the lessons learned are many and Ben has wasted no time in turning lessons learned into action. Following the semifinal loss to Manhattan in the MAAC tournament the players were able to take advantage of a brief spring break as a time to take a breather, but for Ben and the rest of the coaching staff there really was no break.
“Once the season ends you’re so close to it and what’s happening you want to analyze what has happened, think about it, talk as a staff, and when it’s fresh think of ways to improve. Right then and there is a time to critically analyze”.
Planning quickly got under way on how to move forward. The staff met to discuss the season which had just ended and to look at areas to improve. They put plans in place to address specific skills that players needed to work on through the spring and summer in order to get better. Ben describes that his role is to schedule specific workout groups, lifting and conditioning sessions, and on the court skills work to help execute the plan.
Another key task for Ben is to oversee the academic progress of the team. He explains that each assistant is responsible for monitoring and meeting regularly with 4 assigned players to discuss academics. As he explains, it is important to make sure that academic success remains a priority in order to keep the student athletes on track.
“My role as a third assistant is to coordinate,” said Davis. “I handle the overall progress of the academics. Academics never stop”.
He is responsible for overseeing the overall monitoring of the teams performance in the classroom and works directly with Gail Picillo who is the college’s academic advisor for all student athletes.
Recruiting is also a priority. Arranging for the visit that would ultimately secure a commitment from incoming freshman guard Ryan Oliver was key. Along with that, several calls to high school and AAU coaches to discuss new prospects, as well as following up on the progress of prior targets, helps to formulate a recruiting plan. The coaches meet to discuss who they want to go see along with where they will go. Ben helps to budget and plan the travel for members of the staff beginning with two weekends in April which, this year, included a trip to Providence himself.
“The other important part is getting ready for recruiting. This year we can go out during the April period for two weekends, so figuring a schedule, a budget, where everyone was gonna go, making arrangements is my role”.
Beginning June 15th, the NCAA instituted new regulations allowing coaches unlimited contact via phone call and text message for high school students who have completed their sophomore year. Ben talked about his view on how it will impact his role.
“There’s more opportunity for outreach now on a more consistent basis. I don’t know if it necessarily changes the way we recruit. Mitch and the rest of us are very particular about the type of kid we want to bring in so we haven’t ever really mass recruited. The way we’ve done it before, bring a limited number of guys on campus for visits and really try to hone in on those guys. We recruit those guys hard, find guys that have good character, good academics, that fit the level of play for our team and its specific needs”.
Ben also performs other key functions in terms of preparation. He helps Tyler Simms, Director of Basketball Operations, with wrapping up video work from the season. From there he begins work on producing scouting materials for each of the past seasons opponents which will be invaluable in preparing for those opponents for the upcoming season.
“I make a book for each opponent with all the box scores, practice plans, notes from practices, the scouting report for both games, and put them in a book so next year we can go back and easily reference”.
When asked what the staff learned together from this past season Ben quickly replied that, “It’s nice to have a full roster of players”. After jokingly stating the obvious he went on to explain that the staff reflects on the strengths and weaknesses of each player and of the team as a whole and uses that analysis to build a plan working towards next season. Besides discussing individual players opportunities, together the coaching staff also throws out ideas on the team as a whole in light of the many new players that will be on the court this fall.
They look to analyze tape of other teams including high major programs whose personnel fit the mold of what this year’s team will be at Siena. They looked at tape from some teams who run offensive sets involving two big men and looked for opportunities that will translate well with their own line up.
“We have film editing software where we can put that on a DVD, upload it to the software and chop that up, look at different things and create some ideas. We looked at some stuff that Kansas did with two big guys and translated that into some workouts with some of our big guys, some skill set stuff that might pertain, looking at angles and shot reps from those angles or skill set work building that up”.
Those concepts of possible plays and sets can then be translated into planning individual workouts for the players that will build on skills work needed to fit the style of play for the upcoming season.
With changes in NCAA regulations regarding the off-season, coaches are allowed to continue for an additional eight week period during the summer with the skills work and practice activities. With the incoming freshmen now on campus and many of the returning players attending summer academic sessions, Ben helps to continue scheduling and facilitating individual and group training.
In reflecting on his first season working under Head Coach Mitch Buonaguro, Ben described what he learned.
“How to approach everything day to day. Mitch is probably one of the most positive guys. I think he’s learned this from coaching so long that you can’t get caught in what happened yesterday constantly moving on, good or bad. I think that was a big part of our success this year. He brought that attitude, the players have that attitude. I learned a lot from him in terms of his work ethic being around the game 35 plus years and still coming to work and working like he does everyday is amazing. He’s very congenial to everyone in the office. He’s genuinely a nice guy and a positive guy. I’ve earned a lot from him”.
He also speaks highly of the school and the program as a whole.
“I think the thing that grabs me the most is the overall support of the fan base, the community, just the level of interest in the program from a year round perspective. It is really impressive. With the younger alum coming back to play (Ryan Rossiter is here now) it has a real impact on our current players. The older alum come to visit in the office, or at events in the community. It seems there’s is a constant support, a constant interest in the team that’s so unique. Being such a small school and small community,seeing what this is born out of, makes it even more amazing”.
With a full year together as a staff and the addition of depth and talent. Ben describes the future of the program.
“I think it’s bright. I’m excited for it. There’s a good base to build off of what we had last year but in a lot of ways it’s a whole new team. We have a great group of guys who work really hard. I enjoy day in day out with these guys and I hope that we’re able to move forward and keep building for next year. This summer is huge for us I hope we can put a good product on the court next year”.
Tagged with: Ben Davis