New UCLA assistant coach Ed Schilling talked to us recently in his office.
Q: we’re here with Coach Ed Schilling. New on the job here at UCLA for… about three weeks?
ES: since the Final Four so…
Q: since the Final Four. Yeah, so we’re about three weeks. First, tell us just a little bit about the whole… your whole transition… How it's been, arriving here, and then immediately hitting… first of, the workouts and recruiting. How this has all been.
ES: well, it’s been great. More than anything, it was not something that I obviously was looking to do. I was in a great situation in Indiana. I had a lot of things going on from our… everything from getting guys ready for the draft, my NBA players in the summer. Then I get ready for training camp and all that. To a not-for-profit which is Champions Academy which is college-age on down, so we had everyone from Doug McDermott, maybe a college player that you know, all the way down to little kids…
ES: …that we run year-round. You know, we’ll have foreign kids come in and work out. We had kids during the year from other countries. So I had that going on, plus I coached a high school team, Park Tudor High School. It's, I think people know, [Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell], who plays starting point guard as a freshman at Indiana, was one of my players. But anyway, I didn’t teach at this school or anything. I just coached the team which was fun. I did four years of that. In addition to then other little things like adidas Nations and things like that so I had a really good situation so I wasn't looking. In fact, I turned down many college jobs over the last few years. Not that they’re not special, I don’t mean that, but I just… I’ve had opportunities and I just loved what I was doing, but the opportunity to go with Steve Alford was so appealing because one, I know I've known him since high school. I’ve coached against his dad. I actually guarded Steve in college when I was at Miami of Ohio. I played with Ron Harper who was with the Clippers for a little bit and the Lakers for some championships, the Bulls, the Cavs. But anyway… so I played against him plus we actually wrote a book together.
Q: yeah, he told me.
ES: yeah, so… when…
Q: he said you might still have it. He didn’t know if it was in print.
ES: oh yeah. I still have one some place. One of the three. No, it’s actually… you can go to Barnes & Noble and get it and stuff like that. But anyway, but… so we’ve been friends for many, many years. And so when that became available… and the fact that it was UCLA. I mean, it’s the … being a John Wooden, you know, if there’s anybody I wanted to be like as a coach, it was John Wooden. Being an Indiana high school coach, I got a chance to, through Doug Erickson and I guess Steve Lavin at the time, got me… sit four hours in his living room. And so, to come back and actually be where he was and where the legend was formed over so many years and the impact and to be with one of your best friends in the world, it was just too much to pass up.
Q: I can see that. How long did it take before… when he offered you the job before you accepted? Was it pretty quick?
ES: yeah, it was quick. I talked to my wife, and it was one of those things where, “Yeah, we can’t not do it.” And then, I had, you know… it was such a special, unique thing that it made it such that it wasn’t a lot of deliberation. I mean, if it was just Steve Alford, it would’ve been tough to pass up. UCLA. But you put the two together, and it's… it was one of those really, really special once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
Q: so your wife’s a coach.
Q: now, what’s she planning on doing out here?
ES: well, she due June 28. So she was coaching a high school team and obviously, she coached here in California. She played at Tennessee for Pat Summitt for three years. Was the starting point guard in two national championship games. And then, played her last year at Santa Barbara and then was on the staff there.
Q: oh, that’s right. That’s right.
ES: yeah, so, even played in some WNBA. So, more than anything, she’s just going to work on being a mom here. So…
ES: … the timing was great because, you know, she wanted to do that, and she was kind of helping do the women's part of Champions Academy and coaching it. With the baby, this allows her to just really focus on that for now.
Q: so you’re going to raise California kids?
ES: exactly. That’s right. Two Indiana people, from small-town Indiana, just coming to LA, you know?
Q: that’s how, you know, that’s how it is. Everybody is from some place else.
ES: that’s right.
Q: for most people anyway. So, you’ve been doing the workouts and, you know, we have to say, it’s… you know, in talking with some of the players, and it’s been trickling out on Twitter and whatever… they’ve been just overwhelmed by how great the workouts have been.
ES: oh, no, they’re kind. They’ve been incredibly receptive, they've worked extremely hard, and it’s… I’ve, I’m fortunately… I’ve had a relationship prior to coming here was about four of them. The Wear twins, with Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, I’ve known through adidas Nations so I had some… you know, we had a relationship coming in. I think that helped. And then they’ve just been so receptive. And so it’s been really, really a blessing for me.
Q: how… literally, how have those workouts gone in terms of the specific players? Talk a little bit about what you see as some of their strengths, what they need to work on… Kyle… I mean, one of the biggest questions right now, is without a true point guard on the roster, would Kyle Anderson be able to step in and fill that role as a point guard next year? How are you seeing that after the workouts?
ES: well, I know the SID [sports information director] just came in and gave me the can’t-talk-about-anything-specific. You can’t say anything so…
ES: all I can say is, you know what? They’ve done well in the workouts. I know Kyle Anderson as a point guard from adidas Nation so I’ve not seem him as anything but an offensive point guard.
ES: so I remember watching him go head-to-head with Yogi Ferrell in adidas Nations every week so, you know, they went at it. And so I know he is a high level point guard. At least offensively. Now, defensively and stuff like that, I haven't really locked in on that, but you know, I know he… coming out of high school, he was, at adidas Nations, he was a pure point.
ES: So, you know, I don't know that he’s… I can’t imagine that he’s not still. Again, I've seen them… what I’m doing with the guys in the skill work is what I do with our guys for predraft and we've had probably 60 pros come through our predraft in the last six or seven years. Quite a few lottery picks. Guards from like Mike Conley to Jeff Teague to Gordon Hayward, out here a little bit. You know, guys like Carl Landry. I’m trying to think of the guys that are playing out here on the West coast.
ES: you might know Jarrett Jack. So, you know, I've had a lot of NBA guys so what I’m doing with these guys is what I do with our NBA guys to get them ready for the predraft workouts. And so what we’re really doing is kind of laying a core fundamentals. So it's not necessarily anything that's going to be real specific to how we’re going to play. It’s just dribble, pass, shoot, defend… so we’re just working on core fundamentals. So, you know, and I think that every player regardless of position. Like we had Greg Oden in our predraft. Well, Greg Oden and Mike Conley, we were doing the same drills, as a seven footer and a six footer. Same stuff we’re doing with these guys now.
Q: that’s right. adidas Nations… your relationship with them and your involvement there, how do you think that will benefit you, being an assistant coach at UCLA?
ES: well, I know that like… I'm going through a lot of the recruiting stuff…
ES: …and it’s like, “Well, gosh, I’ve known him for three years. I’ve known him. Oh, yeah, he was on my team. He played for me all last summer.”
ES: you know, so I know a lot of these guys through Nations. Now, will that translate into them signing? I don't know, but if nothing else, it gives us great common ground. They have a feel for who I am. Back before they could do anything for me…
ES: …I was trying to help them, and so I think they see my hardest to help them become better basketball players, and they've seen me before we started all the recruiting pitch, you know, so…
Q: they saw you in your true state.
Q: they’ve become the recruiter.
ES: exactly. Or the other recruiters. It's like, “Hey, well at least I know what this guy’s like.”
ES: and out of that, they can kind of trust… “Okay, if he’s going to be with Steve Alford, then okay, they’re probably cut of the same cloth.” And so I think it gives us… if nothing else, it gives us a great entry point on some of the top players.
Q: having been a head coach at the college level, how does that… how does that help you, being an assistant coach at this level? Just what kind of perspective do you have in terms of recruiting or coaching… how do you think that benefits you?
ES: well, it’s a lot different. Those 12 inches are a lot different. And as you… I really… I was Coach [John] Calipari’s assistant at UMass, with the New Jersey Nets, and then two years at the University of Memphis. So I’ve been an assistant coach. But I've been a head coach a lot more. And I think, more than anything, I have a better feel for what he's going through. You know, when you lose a game or you have something, a bad practice as an assistant coach, it’s like, “dangit. Boy I wished we had won. Boy I wished we practiced better. *yawn* I’m going to sleep now.”
ES: As a head coach, you lay there with your eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling, and so, I think, more than anything, I have a great empathy for what's going on, and I think I can anticipate issues before they happen and try to make sure it never gets to his office, never gets to his plate. I want to make sure that we’re going to be able to take care of things. And so, you know, having been the one that’s had to make all the decisions, hopefully I'll be able to help him make better decisions and be able to keep him from having to deal with things he doesn't need to deal with.
Q: that’s a really interesting point. So much… the dynamic of a staff … has to do with a lot of the assistants dealing with those issues, dealing with a lot of the personal issues of the players. How… given that the feel you have for the staff and having known Coach Alford, how do you see that working there? Always seems to be an assistant coach or maybe a couple who are designated to be the guys who are kind of the glue guys of the staff.
ES: right. Well, I think Duane [Broussard] is great in that because he’s been with Steve the whole time at New Mexico.
ES: and so, he kind of knows Steve from the perspective of, “Hey, this is how we did it at New Mexico.” And then you got David Graces who kind of gives a little bit different perspective, having been in the PAC-12. He knows the conference. He's a tireless recruiter. Great with the West coast, knowing everybody in here and so I think he gives him that. What I can get him is, “Hey, I’m a basketball guy.” And what I… you know, as we kind of have different emphasis in what we’re going to be doing. I think my emphasis is going to be really on-the-court stuff, from the individual, you know, the skill work, the X’s and O’s and that type stuff, but also do some recruiting. These guys are gonna… they’re focused on locking in on recruiting, but they’ll also do basketball.
ES: it’s just a little bit different… My emphasis would be more on the on-court stuff and, “Alright, Steve, we’re going through this. Alright, hey, I know what we’re going through. I had the same thing happen when I was at Wright State in my fifth year or sixth year.” You know.
Q: sure. Could it be that maybe you get the guys who are in adidas Nations? Those would be the guys you would be… that would emphasize that you would be recruiting?
ES: yeah, I mean, I think we’re all going to chip in. I feel like the best recruiting is if it’s not just, “Hey, this is my guy. And I got this guy.”
ES: I feel like we want to be a team in every respect. We’re going to be a team in the recruiting. So yeah, I may know who Jim Shoe or whatever the recruit is, like I may have a great… but I want them to get to know David Grace. I want them to get to know Duane Broussard because I think it just strengthens our position. I feel so strongly about these two guys that I’m assistants with, that I think it's really going to take it to another level. Yeah, they know me and, yeah, that gets us in the door. Or they feel a comfort level, but I think as they get to know them, and then obviously with Coach Alford, I think now they really feel like, “Hey, this is a… this is a community.” as opposed to just like, “Okay, that Coach Schilling’s my guy.”
ES: and I want it to be… you know, I’ve seen it be negative on outside staffs where, “This was my recruit.” And “I got him.” Well, no, it’s got to be, “We got him.” And “He’s our player.” And “We’re going to coach him.”
Q: takes a coaching village.
ES: exactly. That’s right. And I think it works best that way.
Q: as you know, you’ve been doing this a long time. There’s such an emphasis now with recruits and with college players about style of play. They want to play up-tempo. It means… whenever you talk to a recruit, it’s one of the first things out of their mouth. And you deal with a lot … you’ve dealt with a lot of kids through adidas Nations. How much do you think that is a critical aspect in recruiting of getting someone to come to your school? How much do you think it means in terms of… you’re in LA where, you know, “Showtime” was king and entertaining fans through style of play. How important do you think that is?
ES: well, I think, one, I don't know of any coach that is… they want to get as many easy baskets as you can, and I think we’ll… at UCLA, we’ll play as fast as our skill and talent level will allow. You know, if you’re going to turn it over 30 times a game, you better not run. You better take a little bit better care of it. But I think it's a little bit. I think it's a factor. But I think if you win, I think… you know, now obviously, if you’re scoring in the 40s, it's a different story, but…
ES: … I know Steve is … he’s, shoot, he had games at Indiana where he’s scoring 40 himself. So, I mean, he’s going to play as fast as our skill level can dictate, and I think, due to the fact… the nature of this campus and where it is and the tradition, I think we’re going to be able to recruit guys that can play fast, that can score lots of points, but the bottom line, if you score 100 points and they’re scoring 105 and you’re losing, nobody wants to play for that.
ES: no matter. It may be a fun style, but at the end of the day, they want to win. Kids want to win, and you know, I think as you get to know Coach Alford, he’s… he wants to score points. I mean, that's how he made money in the game.
Q: sure. Thanks a lot, Coach. Really appreciate it.
ES: no, yes, thank you. My pleasure. Goodness.