The RTC Interview Series: One on One with Will WadePosted by WCarey on June 24th, 2013
Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the offseason. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After a 13-19 campaign in 2012-13, Chattanooga found itself in a coaching search. That search ended on May 13 when the Mocs named Will Wade as the program’s 18th head men’s basketball coach. While Wade is just 30 years old, he has an impressive résumé from working with several established, veteran head coaches. Wade’s coaching career began as a student manager at Clemson where he worked under both Larry Shyatt and Oliver Purnell. After graduating from Clemson in 2005, Wade stayed on with the Tigers for two more seasons – one as a graduate assistant and another as the director of operations. Following his time at Clemson, Wade moved on to Harvard where he served on Tommy Amaker’s staff for the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. After his two seasons at Harvard, he then took a position on Shaka Smart’s staff at VCU where he helped coach the Rams to postseason appearances in each of his four seasons in Richmond. Among those four postseason appearances were three consecutive trips to NCAA Tournament and a Cinderella run to the 2011 Final Four. RTC correspondent Walker Carey recently had the pleasure of speaking to Will Wade about his career and his plans for his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.
Rush the Court: You have been on the job at Chattanooga for a little over a month. What have you been able to accomplish during that time?
Will Wade: The time has gone very quickly, It has been a smooth transition. In the first month, we have hired a staff, recruited three new players and met a ton of boosters and donors. We have been very active in the community.
RTC: Other than your ties to Tennessee as a Nashville native, what attracted you to the job at Chattanooga?
WW: Tremendous growth opportunity. Chattanooga is a basketball town and we have been very good in the past – we can do it again. We have a great arena, a lot of local interest, our own practice facility, and an administration that wants to win. That is all of the ingredients needed for us to be successful.
RTC: In your introductory press conference, you discussed a “CHAOS” plan for both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. What exactly do those plans consist of and how similar are they to the “HAVOC” plan you were a part of during your time at Virginia Commonwealth?
WW: Similar to HAVOC but we will do some things differently, as well. Offensively, we want to be a high scoring team who shoots the three-ball well and is relentless on the glass when we do miss. We want to get a lot of early, easy offense off of our defense. Defensively, we will pressure in the full court for 40 minutes. We want to be in the top 20 nationally in steals and turnovers forced from our full court pressure. We want to be extremely active and get our hands on the ball.
RTC: Working with veteran coaches like Larry Shyatt and Oliver Purnell at Clemson, Tommy Amaker at Harvard, and Shaka Smart at VCU over the course of your career has exposed you to several distinct styles of basketball. Would you comment on something you learned from each coach and how you will hope to apply it to your first head coaching job?
WW: I think you take a little from each coach and combine it into your system. From Coach Shyatt, I learned the value of rebounding and emphasizing rebounding on both ends. Coach Purnell is a tremendous program builder, so I learned the nuts and bolts of having a building plan, sticking to that plan, and seeing it through. Coach Purnell is also very positive – I learned the power of positivity through him. Coach Amaker is one of the elite recruiters nationally. I gained great recruiting perspective under Coach Amaker and learned about how best to get your message across and connect with the person you are communicating with. I was with Coach Smart for four seasons and learned a great deal under him. A lot of the X’s and O’s will be from Coach Smart, especially the full court press. I also learned to value relationships with players and the power of spending a ton of time off the court with our players.
RTC: In a conference that has seemingly been dominated by Davidson for the last several years, how can a team like Chattanooga – that has not been much of a contender over the last few seasons – work to bridge the current gap in the Southern Conference?
WW: I am focused on Chattanooga becoming the best Chattanooga we can become. My blinders are on and I want to make us the best we can be. At the end of the day, if we maximize all of our resources, we will be successful.
RTC: You have assembled a quality young staff (assistants Turner Battle, Casey Long and Wes Long) with some impressive playing and coaching experience. What excites you about each coach and what they bring to the equation for the Mocs?
WW: Turner Battle is a tremendous recruiter and developer of guards. He was a high level guard (at Buffalo from 2001-05) and really knows what it takes to succeed at a high level on and off the court (he was an Academic All-American with the Bulls, as well). Casey Long has a great personality and is a people person. He develops relationships quickly both with our players and recruits – people gravitate towards him. Casey will be a great relationship guy while also being a former high level player at Chattanooga. He is someone who is loved in the community. I have known Wes for a long time and he is a cautious thinker who has head coaching experience. He will help me spend my time in the areas that matter. He will also be able to cover for me when I am out with donors, etc. Wes has been a head coach and thinks like a head coach, so it is great to have his perspective.
RTC: Having last season’s leading scorers forward Z. Mason (14.9 PPG) and guard Gee McGhee (12.1 PPG) remain in the fold was obviously quite important to the team’s identity. What are you looking for from those players in terms of leadership and taking charge of a team in a “transition” phase?
WW: I am looking forward to getting on the court with all of our players. Z. and Gee were key pieces last season and I expect them to play even better this season. I am really excited about working with all of our guys and becoming the best team that we can become. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but I am excited to get on the court.
RTC: Lastly, what is the most important thing you hope to accomplish during your inaugural season?
WW: I want to establish a culture within our program that centers on our six core values (integrity, respect, positive attitude, accountability, premier service and continuous improvement). I also want to become a team that goes all out on every possession and always competes.