Coaching Spotlight: Nick Finley

An interview with Cottage Grove's new boys basketball coach

Cottage Grove Sentinel: What is the key to developing a program?

Nick Finley: I think culture is important. I think culture of your program is very important. And I think it leads to success in many ways whether it is on or off the court. Kids that are good, solid kids. Kids that you can take them to the mall on an away trip and you’re not worried about them stealing stuff or running around cussing. Good kids. Culture is huge. When I was up in Ninilchik, I built a basketball culture there that was fun to be a part of and that’s what I’m hoping to do here.

CGS: What makes a good player to you?

NF: When you are evaluating kids, everybody looks at different things. One coach may be looking at some, they might be really impressed with someone who can score a lot. Where the other coach might look at something like rebounds or how he hustles or if he takes charges, if he hits the floor, things like that. So every coach is different.

The first thing is, it’s just like when you meet someone, their attitude. You know, when you meet somebody and they look you in the face and you have good, I don’t know, connection with them. It’s the same thing in basketball, as in any sport, you know, the way a kid carries himself is huge for me.

I mean they need to be confident not cocky. You don’t want that at all. A kid that is going to push himself, but, I’m doing some of our practice schedules right now, some of the things we start off with is the classic suicide, you know free throw line back, half court back, you know everybody runs those. I want to see how hard kids will push themselves. Because I know a lot of these kids are athletes and they can probably just jog and make the time but I want to see how hard they can push themselves. And so I look at that and then being coachable.

So when I tell a kid something and say maybe we’re just scrimmaging or something and I say hey, you know look for this option and he goes out and looks for that option, okay, this kid gets it. He sees or he understands what he needs to do and that’s, a kid understanding their roles is important.

CGS: What’s the difference between high school basketball in Alaska and Oregon?

NF: The thing about Alaskan basketball, there’s nothing else to do up there. It’s cold in the winter and people want to be inside so basketball is huge. The gym, I don’t think there were any gyms that we went and played at that weren’t packed. It didn’t matter if there were 400 people in the village or you know, you’re playing in Anchorage, the gym is going to be packed.

And it’s fun. It was a fun atmosphere. You can look at the level, we played at the lowest level up there, it didn’t matter. It was competitive no matter what. And it was exciting and people from all over came out to watch it because, I don’t know, I don’t know why but because basketball is the thing to do in Alaska. And I think like I said those two ingredients: it’s cold and people want to be inside, that’s huge. But yeah, we will see. After the season we can revisit that question. How I feel, what the difference is. I haven’t been back here in awhile.

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