Behind the Scenes with the Worcester Wolves – The Head Coach
Following the post about the Arena and now that the basketball season is over, I want to tell you more about the Worcester Wolves, so that you’ll know where and how you’ll be spending your Friday/Saturday evenings next season – attending the Wolves games. :)
So, where do I begin? If you want to know more about something, you need to start from the core, which in this case is the Head Coach of the team, Paul James, who kindly agreed to be interviewed for our blog.
It was one of the best interviews I have ever done, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did while I was doing it. :)
1. Basketball in 3 words?
Fantastic, Entertaining, Fun
2. When and how did you start playing basketball?
I started playing basketball at the age of 13. I broke my leg while I was playing football and one day when I was in the school gym and my leg in a cast, there was basketball on the floor and I just started shooting around with it on one leg. I was told to go away and come back when my leg was better. I did and soon after I was invited to play for the school team. Six months later I started playing for the England Under 15 Basketball team. At the age of 17 I signed my first professional contract with Leicester All-Stars.
3. How did you decide to start coaching?
I kind of fell into coaching – As a professional player I had a commitment through the clubs community work in schools to go out and promote basketball in our local schools. I was great seeing kids developing skills as players, understanding and learning the game. Near the end of my career as a professional player, I was playing part-time and I decided to go into coaching. The first team I really had a chance to coach was the Thames Valley Tigers 2nd team who playing the English Basketball League Division 2 team. This was the 1996/07 season and we finished 3rd in the League and we won the Wembley Play-off Finals.
4. What do you enjoy most about being the Head Coach of the Wolves?
I think the best thing about it is bringing together a group of players from different backgrounds and turning them into a team – a winning, successful team that plays a good style of basketball, and performamnces that the supporters are going to enjoy watching.
5. What is the proudest moment in your career?
As a coach, my proudest moment was when I was appointed the England Senior Men Head Basketball Coach.
6. Which are the top 3 qualities a basketball player should have?
Good work ethic, willingness to learn new things and mental toughness.
7. How do you manage to combine being the Head Coach for Worcester Wolves, the University Basketball team and England Senior Men team at the same time?
It is extremely busy – I’ve tried to simplify the way I coach, how I put new teams together and what systems to run offensively and defensively to get the best out of the teams and the basketball programme. We I first started here, every team and coach was doing something different. There was no real coaching structure or guidance for the other teams and coaches to follow. Running the same system throughout the programme as to the Wolves with the university and academy teams has provided that structure, guidance and a consistency of how we want to play. You can call it the ‘Worcester Basketball’ experience and I want to build a basketball culture and develop it in the surrounding areas.
8. What is the key to success for you?
The key to success for me is having a group of players who are willing to sacrifice some of their talent for the betterment of the team. Also to play hard, train as you are going to play, show the winning effort every time you step on the floor.
9. What is your best basketball memory with the Worcester Wolves?
One of the best moments with the Wolves was last season when we were playing against Newcastle Eagles at their court in front of more than 2600 people and we won. It was a league game and we were down by 20 points in the 4th quarter with just 8 minutes left. It was all very surreal as we played a near perfect game from this point and managed to make up the points and we won the game by 6 points. It was a fantastic game to watch and be involved in!
10. How would you describe this season?
It was a season of what could have been, we had a team able to challenge for a top 4 place, if not better. We had issues with a work permit visas for one of our best players, Prezzie-Blue. He missed the first 14 games, which had a major impact on our performance for the rest of the season. We had some glimpses of brilliance, but it felt like we were playing catch-up for the rest of the season. It was a good season, though it could have been considerably better.
11. How would you describe the team in a couple of words?
12. What are your thoughts on the next season?
We will be trying to get better next season, especially moving to the Arena. We will aim to put a strong and competitive team on the floor, therefore it is important to have continuity from this year’s team. We’ll try to keep the core players and we will look to build and improve the team from there.
13. As the Arena will be your new ‘home’, what do you think about it?
Having seen the Arena with all the seating out, it is definitely one of the top facilities in the country for sports events, not just basketball but all indoor sports events. It is a tremendous facility and we are very lucky to have it here in Worcester.
I hope you now know why that was one of my most exciting interviews. :)
The ‘Worcester Wolves experience’ does not end with the academy and the team. They organise a Summer Camp. The camp is suitable for players with school, national and international experience and this year it will be held between the 18th and 23rd August 2013. Run by Paul James, his assistant Alex Radu and some of the Worcester Wolves players, the camp will provide a busy programme – skill stations, drills, competitions and a minimum of two games per day. All campers will be grouped by their age and ability level to provide the best possible Wolves Camp experience.
If you are already a fan or after this interview you feel like you would like to get a flare of the Wolves experience, don’t miss the opportunity to learn from one of the best coaches in England and make the most of the camp! If you want to know more, Clare Jenkins (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be able to tell you more. :)
If I were you and I hadn’t made my summer plans, I would go for it, despite the fact that I am too short ;)