For Siena Assistant Coach Craig Carter, the off season is a time to learn, to teach, and to improve. It is a time for him to study his craft as a coach and to help his players study their craft to improve as players. It provides the opportunity to analyze the coaching profession which will enable him to grow and have an even greater impact on the team. In speaking with him it is clear that he is a very thoughtful and engaging individual. He is often described by his players as a go-to guy. Someone they can talk to, relate to and trust. This comes from his core belief as a coach.
“You have to coach people’s hearts before you coach their heads, and people have to believe that you genuinely have their best interest at heart before they listen to anything you have to say technically about the game of basketball and I think our guys do know that we really do care about them”.
Once the season ends, Coach Carter is not one to watch tapes of games from the past season right away. He feels that being so close to those games it is too difficult to remove the emotional element. He would rather wait and watch with a clear perspective to avoid missing the details.
“I’m not a big proponent of watching games right after the seasons over. I think you might be a little too emotional at the time I think you might need to take a step back and watch them when you’re not really worried about who won or lost and watch it with a clear mind”.
Carter loves to spend time breaking down film and preparing segments to watch with individual players. Although he prefers to allow players a small break away from basketball during the summer, he tells how players want to be respectful, and they want to learn their craft, so the summer is a great time to give them small doses of watching film to learn about opportunities for improvement. When we recently spoke with him, he was preparing to meet with Evan Hymes to review tape one on one. He explained that Evan had come to him and asked to take a look at games from this past season where he didn’t play his best. He wanted to learn from it and get better as a result. So with Coach Carter’s help, he could study his game to be even better for the upcoming season.
Along with preparing the players and the team to win another MAAC Championship, Carter has personal ambitions of his own. He makes it no secret that he would one day like to be a head coach. But he knows that his personal goals will be achieved through the team goals. He knows that getting his opportunity will come through the success of the team and the Siena program. So it serves not as a distraction, but a motivation to get better, and to win.
“In order to be a head coach I have to make coach B successful first. I’ve been in coaching 16 years. Coach has been in the business almost my whole lifetime. I’m learning from him. There are some suggestions I can give him but ultimately he has all the knowledge. It’s my job to make him feel comfortable taking his knowledge and giving it to the guys”.
He further explains that being an assistant coach waiting for an opportunity can have its challenges.
“It’s humbling and you have to be egoless. We all feel like, I’m Dr. Naismith. I have all the answers but when realize you really don’t you become a better coach”.
He is a student of the coaching profession. He described to us that while watching the recent NBA playoffs, he studied the coaches and their demeanor, and their interaction with the players. He recommends that the players do the same when watching a game. Not just for the sheer joy of watching basketball, but as a learning tool to watch how the players conduct themselves.
He tells his players, “We can’t be the Boston Celtics but I’m watching Doc Rivers, and you should be watching Rajon Rondo, you should be watching Kevin Garnett and you should be watching Ray Allen and how they go about their business. You should be able to watch and bring some of it into what we do”.
So whether it’s watching tape, watching other coaches, attending summer camp of the Boston Celtics, or participating in a private meeting of NBA and college coaches in Florida, he is always striving to learn, and improve.
With all of that in mind, Coach Carter wishes he could fast forward to the fall and have the season begin. In the mean time he and the rest of the coaching staff will be hitting the road for the three July recruiting periods which run July 11th-15th, 18th-22nd and 25th-29th. He says recruiting is not just about getting good ball players but getting good ball players for you. Although he may use different approaches in recruiting, there is a type of player he prefers to find.
“I like recruiting a need and I like really understanding how we like to play, and what kind of player Coach likes, and the things that help win the league. I think that in our league having good big guys always helps but the league is won on the perimeter. The teams that get the best perimeter play for the most part always win this league. I like guys that are really hard to guard off the bounce and can really play-make in different positions, that pass well, have a high IQ and have a high skill set and a willingness to get better and work hard; guys that just love the game”.
Finding those players will be the key to continuing the success of the program. Players who possess not just physical talents, but those that are good kids with the drive to succeed are the cornerstone of the tradition of Siena Basketball. Carter admires watching the players who have passed the torch of hard work, determination and leadership to those that follow. He has watched the leadership of players like Antoine Jordan be passed on to Kenny Hasbrouck, who passed it on to Ronald Moore, Alex Franklin and Edwin Ubiles. They in turn passed it on to Ryan Rossiter, whose leadership led to the transformation of OD Anosike and Kyle Downey. He is seeing the continuation of that legacy this summer as evidenced by Evan Hymes determination and Rob Poole’s efforts in the weight room.
“The one thing I love about Siena is that the program takes care of itself from within. There are certain mantras that are passed through to everybody. This is how we do things here and if you want to be here and be part of this program you better learn how to do things this way and that comes from the kids”.
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