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Pat Kelsey, College of Charleston Men's Basketball Head Coach

Zach Gleb Show / Zach Gleb
The Truth Network Radio
March 9, 2023 7:03 pm

Pat Kelsey, College of Charleston Men's Basketball Head Coach

Zach Gleb Show / Zach Gleb

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March 9, 2023 7:03 pm

Pat Kelsey joined Zach to discuss his emotions after the Cougars made the NCAA Tournament and when he knew this was a special team. 

Zach Gleb Show
Zach Gleb

In fact, Kelsey. Coach, first off, congratulations going to the NCAA tournament again. We appreciate the time. How you doing? Hey, Zach. I'm doing well.

Thank you so much for having me on and thanks for thanks for saying that. We're really excited about the opportunity. So I just listed all the numbers there as we brought you in to be going to the tourney, the amount of wins that you guys had. Would you believe that before the start of the season? Like, could you envision this success happening this year?

No, I'd be lying to you if I said I did. I thought we had a really good chance to be a good team, a really good team if everything went right. At the end of the day, here's the thing. We have a special group. You know, I've told somebody recently that hopefully I coach for a long, long time. But there's no way I'll ever coach a team like this one. The maturity, the toughness, we have veteran presence, but it's just such a buy-in from everybody. We play different. We play nine, ten guys.

And that takes a special group that needs to buy in to the power of the unit versus the individual. And it works. It works with this group, and I'm really blessed to be their head coach. Well, that's what stood out to me about your team. It's the depth.

It's the diversity. You have six guys that at least average nine points a game. You just said how many guys you play.

You just don't know who's gonna show up night in and night out, and that's a good thing to have this time of the year. Yeah, Geno Ford, who's the coach at Stony Brook, who's a state of Ohio legend. He's the same age as me, and he scored like 4,000 points, and I scored like 400 points. But he said after our game in the first round of the tournament that, you know, Charleston's tough for a lot of reasons, but one that, you know, they have six or seven guys that could score 25, 30 points on a given night. And then the best player, I shouldn't say the best player, probably the most valuable player on our team averages four and a half points a game. And that's a young man named Jalen Scott that just does everything else. He guards the best player on the other team.

He facilitates just kind of the glue that makes everything go and makes everything work. Having said that, he's not even the point guard. That's Ryan Larson, who is a grad transfer from Wofford, who is an extension of the coach on the floor, which all point guards are. And it just makes it such a luxury as a head coach to have those type of veteran guys on the floor, not to mention the Pat Robinsons and the Dalton Bolands, who are both D2 All-Americans. Oh, by the way, Jalen Scott, who I mentioned a second ago, was an NAIA transfer.

Many people have called us sort of the land of misfit toys. We have three Division II transfers, an NAIA transfer that all start, a bunch of international guys. We have a very interesting roster. You mentioned Ryan.

He had 23 in the conference clinching championship game, the CAA championship. You talk about him coming over. I know it's the nature of the sport right now, Coach Pat Kelsey, where you have transferring and that's just the nature of the beast, but you never know how guys are going to fit into your culture with all those different pieces that you're talking about.

Why has this all kind of been able to blend together to have success, which seems to be so seamlessly? Well, I think that's the biggest challenge in the new era of college athletics, especially at a high level of Division I basketball and football, is the off-season is a lot of roster management, and then I think the magic that you have to try to work to build a team in a short amount of time is very important, and I think that starts with having a great staff, which I have. I wouldn't trade my staff for any in the country.

I don't care if it's Duke, UCLA, Boston Celtics. They're as good as I've ever been around at. The three big things that a staff has to focus on, and one is the overall development of your players, and that includes relationships, that includes discipline, that includes love, that includes all that. Second is recruiting.

Obviously, it's not about the X's and O's. It's about the Jimmy's and the Joe's, and then the third, it's about your basketball system and their ability to teach and articulate our system to our players and sell it on a daily basis, and our guys do that as well as anybody in the country. Pat Kelcey, when did you realize that this group had something special in them? Well, I would probably say when we won the Charleston Classic. So, you probably know the Charleston Classic is one of the premier November college basketball pre-conference tournaments. You know, you have the Maui Classic.

You've got the deal down in the Atlantis. You've got several other ones, but Charleston Classic is in that mix, and we're allowed to be in it once every four years. We've never won it. We've never been to the finals, and to beat Davidson in the first round, Colorado State in the second round, and then to beat Virginia Tech in the third round, it was a magical three days in what we call our city.

Here, one of the most magnificent cities on planet Earth, and it was just a rocking environment for three days. It energized the city, and it really gave a belief to everybody in this town and on our roster that we could be something special, and then it just took off from there. For me, and I know that you guys won 20 straight games at one point, but I'd like to see how a team overcomes adversity. You dropped back-to-back games, Hofstra and Drexel, and then that didn't really move you guys to go in the wrong direction. You guys end up winning 10 straight to end out the year, and you take home that CAA championship. Throughout the course of the season, it's not if you're going to face adversity, it's when.

Things were humming and rolling along. You don't want to say it to your players. You kind of do. You just let them know adversity is coming. You're going to hit something, whether it's the course of a game through the course of the season.

We use a formula called E plus R equals O, ER events. Those are things that you can't control that just happen. What you can control is your R, and that's your response, how you respond to stuff.

By focusing on your R and controlling what you can control, you usually get the best outcomes. Our guys did a great job after we got punched in the mouth with a couple tough losses back-to-back in responding in a really mature, professional way. We used it as a catalyst to springboard us toward a championship. Are you at all a different coach from the coach that we saw at Winthrop when you had a great run?

Has anything changed really for you the last two years? Well, I think as you go through your career, you gain experience and you learn. I think when you're not learning, you're dying.

You're constantly trying to make adjustments as you go along. We play a similar style. Coach Prosser, my mentor, used to say this, and I think it applies to us.

The older I get, the faster I want to play. We never lose track that at the core of what we do and the success that we have, it always comes back to the players. It's about guys.

It's about dudes. We do a great job of identifying guys that fit in our culture and our system. Like I said, my staff does a great job of cultivating a team on a daily basis every single day. You had a good job at Winthrop, and now you've had a lot of success this year at the College of Charleston, your second year in. Was there at all any apprehension to go to the College of Charleston, or what made that the right fit for you when you said, okay, I'm going to leave something that's working to go try something else? Well, I'm so thankful for my time at Winthrop. It's a special place. It's a tradition-rich program. The city of Rock Hill is, I believe, one of the best places in the country to raise a family, and that's what we did for close to a decade. The institution was so good to me. The city of Rock Hill was so good. We'll look back on that as one of the greatest periods of our life.

My wife and I talk about it all the time. To have a challenge was exciting to us after being there for a decade. At the end of the day, I just felt like what we could achieve and accomplish and build here in Charleston is to build this into one of the premier programs in the country. And why not? You have, like I said, just an extraordinary city to sell.

There's amazing resources here. So before we let you run, I've been so impressed by Dalton Boland. Just a story. They call him Psycho D. No offers coming out of high school. Seventh year of eligibility. I read that he's super-glued a gash so he could go play in a football game to hide it from his parents. And then, oh yeah, by the way, he had his eyelid ripped off and he played with an eyepatch. Coach, I'm not usually one to ask the question of just talk about your player, but in this case, talk about Dalton Boland because I'm intrigued. He's amazing. He's amazing. He's, first of all, the toughest player that I've ever coached and it's not close and I've coached some really, really tough dudes. And you talk about all those things about playing with an eyepatch on and his screams and his toughness and he comes across as an MMA fighter. In fact, I think that's something that he wants to try as he moves forward.

But don't get it twisted. The kid is absolutely, positively brilliant. He was the number one academic All-American in the country at the Division II level. He taught anatomy at his former school as an undergrad.

That's crazy. And here he is, just this player that just plays with so much energy with a chip on his shoulder because he's been told what he couldn't do. You know, his whole career he wasn't recruited by anybody. He had to walk on at a Division II school, just kept showing up. Finally, they gave him a shot, became an All-American. Now here he is, the leading scorer on a team that's 31-3 going into the national tournament. Unbelievable story.

Hey, and guess what? He didn't score in our championship game. Didn't score. And that goes back to, I think, what we pride ourselves on and that's the power of the unit. It's about winning.

It's not about individuals. And he was the biggest cheerleader on the bench down the stretch when somebody went in and played for him in crucial minutes. How'd you guys find him? The portal. You know, the portal.

This time of year, man, you're hitting refresh every 15 minutes. You find out what prospects are in the portal and then, you know, you got to pour through a bunch of names in a short amount of time. We're big on metrics. I love Moneyball. I love baseball. So we kind of see what guys fit from a numbers standpoint.

Then they pass along to the next phase of the evaluation process. Then we want to know your intangibles. How tough? How competitive? Sport IQ?

Do you make people better? Are you adaptable? And are you about the ABCs? That's academics, basketball, and character.

And if you fit all those, you can put on a Charleston uniform. If you don't, we'll move along to the next one. Last thing I'll ask you, depending on whichever bracketologist you like. I've seen 12 or 13 seed for you guys. Would that disappoint you if you're only a 12 or 13 seed with the year that you guys have had? I mean, it's out of our control at this point.

I call it the advantage of no choice. I for sure as heck think we're better than a 13 seed, but that's what they say we are. It is what it is. You know, tell us who we play and let's go. But we're good, man. It's hard to win 31 games at the Division I level. There's a reason why high major programs don't schedule home-in-homes with mid-majors and go into those gymnasiums because they're hard places to win. And we've done it again and again and again and again.

Oh, by the way, we've done it with a stinking target on our back. You know, teams that are on the bubble aren't going into gyms with targets on their back. They're going in and people are going, oh, it's just another game. Like, all the marketing dollars for the opponents that we're playing are going into the Charleston game. And it's a t-shirt game and a whiteout and a blackout and a checker night, whatever it is. And our guys just continue to win throughout the year.

So I think we deserve to be a very good seed and we'll see how it happens on Sunday. Last thing I'll ask you, Pat Kelsey, when you're walking off the court after that game, you win the CAA, just what's going through your mind? Just how thankful and blessed I am to be the head coach at a world-class university and work for a guy in Matt Roberts, my AD, that lets my children be a part of the journey, my son to be on the bench. Your son's a star. I've seen a lot of clips of your son recently.

That's what I hear. That knucklehead doesn't know how good he has it, man. Like, he's nine years old. His 10th birthday is on the 14th, coming up here in a couple days. And, you know, just here's the thing, man, we just have such great kids on our team and they treat him like their little brother.

And they let him be in the locker room and they teach him a bunch of bad words and my wife's not happy about that. But they're just such great examples of how you work and how you go about your business and how you treat people. And I'm blessed to have those guys as mentors for my son. Well, Coach, it's been a heck of a journey. We hope to see it continue well into March.

Thanks so much for doing this and good luck the rest of the way. We don't say, like, roll tide around here. We say our city. So can you give me an our city? Yeah. Our city! That good? Let's go.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-09 20:06:59 / 2023-03-09 20:13:15 / 6

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