The RTC Interview Series: One on One with Eric RevenoPosted by WCarey on September 4th, 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 email@example.com.
In a world of ever-evolving technology, Portland coach Eric Reveno is recognized as one of the leaders in bringing the use of technology to the world of college basketball. To paint you a portrait of Reveno’s use of technology and how the coach is viewed in the basketball community, here is a snippet of his biography on the Pilots’ website:
“Reveno, long recognized as a leader in the use of sports performance analysis technology, spoke in Sydney, Australia during the Fall of 2008 at a worldwide summit hosted by SportsTec, one of the foremost providers of video & technology solutions to the international sports community. The cutting edge approach to technology has become a staple of the Pilot program in teaching, player development and recruiting. As a result, Reveno was the lone representative from the United States asked to speak to an audience of performance professionals from some of the top sports leagues and organizations in the world. Dave Telep, ESPN.com Senior Recruiting Analyst, said that, ‘Reveno is unofficially the most technologically advanced man we’ve met in college basketball. His new iPhone is wired up to the point where he’s got his recruiting database, clips of his offense, directions to gyms in Vegas AND his favorite Johnny Cash songs all in one.'”
After speaking with USC coach Andy Enfield, UCLA coach Steve Alford, and Butler coach Brandon Miller in the past few weeks, RTC correspondent Walker Carey (@walkerRcarey) recently had the pleasure of speaking with Portland coach Eric Reveno (@CoachReveno) about his use of technology, his career, and the rise of the Portland Pilots basketball program.
Rush the Court: Recently you tweeted about the opening of a Director of Basketball Technology position on your staff. What exactly does the position entail and how did such a position come about?
Eric Reveno: The position really entails everything related to technology in our basketball program that we utilize to try to make us better. We use technology to help our players be the best they can be and our team be the best it can be. Our use of technology ranges from the obvious – video coordinating, video editing, statistical analysis – to the flat screen TV that we use as our Pilot Teaching Board. It serves as a video kiosk where players can come up and press different things to look at scouting reports, video edits, playbook stuff, and inspirational quotes. The position is essentially an IT person for the basketball office. It is a great entry-level position in-terms of getting involved in a basketball program, but a lot of what the job will be about is the technology. We want someone who is familiar and comfortable with what we use and how we use it. The position came about because we had a vision for a position that went beyond a usual video coordinator position. We gave the position a lofty title to help inspire greater things from the position.
RTC: What attributes are you looking for in a candidate to fill that position?
Reveno: Familiarity with sports technology and video editing software, comfort level and experience with Synergy software, experience in a college basketball program would be helpful, and knowledge of analytical statistics. We have received a good amount of interest and have 30 candidates that are all pretty intriguing for a variety of reasons. We have guys who have a passion for basketball with a background in analytics. We have guys who have been managers for college basketball programs, so they have some experience with video editing work. We have not really begun sorting the list of candidates out yet, but it is an impressive list of candidates right now.
RTC: With the world of technology constantly evolving, do you expect other programs in the future to create similar roles on their staffs?
Reveno: Yes. I think they will have to. I think coaches, as a profession, need to stay technologically savvy. Those are the tools of the trade – whether it is for video editing, teaching, or technical reasons. Coaches need to stay involved with it all. To have someone on the staff that can support you with all of it is important. To have someone in the office to manage all that technology and manage the relationships with the providers of the technologies is very beneficial. You need someone who can decide which vendor to use for a particular technology and which software to acquire. I think you will see a lot more programs get involved with a position like this. Some programs might already have it. I think we just get some credit because we have named it the coolest thing so far.
RTC: Dave Telep, whom has been a respected recruiting analyst for many years and was recently hired to a scouting coordinator position by the San Antonio Spurs, once said that you were unofficially the most technologically advanced man in the world of college basketball. How did you grow to be so accustomed with different technologies and what benefits do you draw from those technologies as a coach?
Reveno: My generation was the first that just had a computer lab at its high schools. When I was in college in the late 1980s, the first Mac was coming out. I had one of the first Macs. About technology, I like to say that I like the gadget, but I want to make sure that by using them we get something out of them. I blew Dave Telep away one time back with the old PalmPilot when I had my entire recruiting database – complete with academic information – stored on a file on the PalmPilot. I think you should utilize technology to try to make things easier. I just like technology. I do not like to get ahead of things and have toys just to have toys, but I do like when I can use certain things to become smarter and better.
RTC: You earned an MBA from Stanford in 1995. Did your training and education in business result in you becoming more analytical when it came to the game of basketball?
Reveno: Yes, I think so. A lot of the education certainly carries over due to the analytical approach. In business school, you are around a lot of really smart people. They are solving problems – whether it is in marketing, financial planning, etc. – and the one constant that is used in solving those issues is the necessity to be analytical. You look at every issue with great thought – What is the objective? How are we going to get this done? There is also a mental discipline in basketball. We need to figure out what we are doing and how we are going to get it done. That applies all over in basketball – whether it be game planning, recruiting, etc., you really have to think things through.
RTC: Not only do you have two degrees (Reveno also earned a B.A. in economics in 1989) from Stanford, but you also played there and coached there. What kind of impact did being around such a renowned academic institution and big-time basketball program have on you as a coach and as an individual?
Reveno: Immeasurable. I would definitely have to say immeasurable. Stanford was such a big part of who I was as a student, a student-athlete, and a coach. I think the number one thing I learned there was a passion for education, a passion for trying to figure out how to do things better. I also learned a lot about humility because the scope of the talent everywhere at Stanford is very impressive. Athletics do not overshadow everything else there. My experiences at Stanford really shaped me in a lot of ways. I feel very blessed now to be at the University of Portland where academics and athletics are embraced in the same kind of manner.
RTC: At Stanford, you had the opportunity to play and then coach under the great Mike Montgomery. What did you take from him and the success that was experienced there when you made the transition to being the head coach at Portland?
Reveno: I learned a lot. The first thing I learned from Coach Montgomery was his consistency in approach. He is so thorough and so analytical in how he prepares and coaches. He thinks through everything. Everything that we tried to do on the basketball court, he tried to piece it all together. Every offensive drill we would do would lead into the next drill which would lead into running our offense. Every defensive drill we would do would tie together all the things you have to do defensively. He is very precise and detail-oriented. That kind of planning and thoughtfulness is probably what I took from him the most. I learned a lot of little things to. He was always great after games when it came to not overreacting with the players – whether it would be after a big win or a big loss. He always said the right things. I always try to live up to that. He was always very good at never demeaning a player. He always tried teaching without attacking or making things personal.
RTC: Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s have essentially dominated the West Coast Conference over the past several seasons and in the process, have become nationally relevant programs. What can Portland and the other WCC programs draw from their templates of success?
Reveno: The longevity of coaching is the first thing. Neither place has been an overnight success. Gonzaga had changes in coaching, but Coach Few recently told me he is beginning his 25th year at Gonzaga. He has been the head coach since 2000, but he was an assistant there before then. The continuity at those programs speaks volumes on how they have been able to build up the programs. It’s not a “a few steps forward, a few steps back” situation. Now, when a program takes a few steps back, people panic and they want to make a change. What Saint Mary’s does in recruiting players who fit its mold and doing things in its own way is what makes it a great program. The lesson in there for me is that every school is going to do things differently. We have to be the University of Portland and we are going to do it our way. We want our level of success to be the same, but we are going to do it in a way that is unique to us. We cannot copy a formula.
RTC: The Pacific Northwest has become a hotbed for recruiting over the past several years – with elite prospects like Spencer Hawes, Terrence Jones, Abdul Gaddy, and Peyton Siva emerging from the region. What can Portland do as a program to position itself to take advantage of this influx of talent?
Reveno: We are really excited that we are going to be signing a local kid this coming November. We recently got a commitment from a 2015 prospect from Portland. Portland, in particular, has some really good talent that we need to recruit and focus on. The Northwest, in general, has some really good players that we have been paying attention to for some time. I also think we need to win and have some success. Local players need to see that. And when local players come they need to have some success, so other local players can see that success. Kids want to go some place where they will be treated well, improve as players, and win some games. When you start doing that, you can change how you recruit. It is a tough one to talk your way through and talk your way around. We are well-liked in the basketball community up here and it is starting to help us. We are glad to see that changing.
RTC: Portland returns its two leading scorers from the 2012-13 season in senior forward Ryan Nicholas and junior guard Kevin Bailey. What can be expected of each player as the 2013-14 season begins?
Reveno: I hope the expectation for those two guys will be that they are better supported than they were last season. I think what they will find is if they are better supported, they will play even better. They will increase their shooting percentages and increase their effectiveness tremendously. We got out of sorts last season with some injuries, but we were able to come in during the offseason and get some support at the guard position and we also got the addition of a dynamic post player. If we are a better team, Ryan and Kevin can really thrive. Ryan is great in the post and can really rebound. Kevin is a guard who is an athlete and because he is one of the better athletes in the conference, he can always be exciting.
RTC: Lastly, what is the most important thing that you want the Portland basketball program to accomplish in 2013-14 season?
Reveno: I would like for us to develop a reputation as one of the hardest playing teams, one of the toughest teams to play in the conference. We play in a good conference. The whole conference is all on board. I want to be a team that you know will be really well-prepared and will really play its tail off. If we do those things, I think we can have a really exciting year.