Last week, UCF hosted Coaching University, a coaching intensive clinic that brings some of the finest teachers from college and professional basketball to focus on the framework of what it means to coach beyond the Xs and Os.
Former UCF men’s basketball assistant coach Brendan Suhr created the coaching clinic and is motivated by his passion to teach others through coaching.
On June 30, coaches got the chance to learn coaching techniques from both Suhr and former Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy in a demonstration and lecture session inside The Venue at UCF. Using players to demonstrate plays and coaching points, the clinic is aimed getting coaches to broaden their coaching strategies.
Like many people in his profession, Suhr gets his passion for teaching on the hardwood from other phenomenal basketball minds.
Hall of Fame basketball coach Hubie Brown was one of the first people to get his coaching juices flowing.
“It started when I was a high school kid. I was fortunate enough to play for Hubie Brown,” Suhr said. “[I] grew up in an area of New Jersey where basketball was king, and so I was surrounded by great basketball people who just taught me. When I had Hubie as a coach in high school, I wanted to be a great teacher and coach for life.”
As a result of some of his influences early on and his dedication to the game, Suhr went on to become a highly respected coach and teacher of basketball. In his 40-plus total years as a coach and executive, Suhr has won two NBA championships with the Detroit Pistons, a Gold medal with the famed 1992 “Dream Team” and served nine years as vice president of the NBA Coaches Association. But he’s always felt that his greatest achievement has to do with impacting the world through coaching.
“My whole purpose in life now is to impact and influence as many people as I can worldwide through coaching to kind of change the world,” Suhr said. “I just want to help coaches, and I want to help business leaders, and I want to help regular individuals who just want to improve. And I just believe that coaching is the highest form of leadership.”
The chief operation officer of Coaching U, Alex Cervasio, has observed and worked with the many practitioners of basketball. Because of his experience working with Suhr at Coaching U and his many years as a consultant for sports enthusiasts, Cervasio believes the key to being a great coach is to learn every day.
“I think beyond basketball, everyone needs to be a life-long learner,” Cervasio said. “I think too many coaches, especially younger coaches nowadays, are afraid to admit what they don’t know. For instance, if Stan Van Gundy comes in— he’s the Detroit Pistons president and head coach — to be able to ask him a question and talk to him afterward … you’ve broken a barrier that can go further from that. So I think these events are good, because they allow coaches to step out of their comfort zone together and foster some learning opportunities.”
Suhr and Cervasio share the common belief that the Coaching U clinic is meant to reach the coaches and leaders on a level that will help them and their players in their everyday life.
“I think they focus too much on Xs and Os,” Cervasio said. “I don’t think you necessarily win any more because you know this play or you run an out-of-bounds play. I think, especially today, it’s about motivating millennials to realize that they can achieve something that they didn’t think they could.
One thing Suhr consistently preached was the importance of coaching people. When it comes to teaching the next generation of coaches, Suhr looks to bring in coaches who share his heart when it comes to teaching the game.
“The people we bring here to help impart wisdom and knowledge in these folks, they’re cut from the same cloth,” Suhr said. “They just want to share, they want to help people — that’s pure.”
Christopher Davis is a digital producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter @ChristopherDTV or email him at ChristopherD@CentralFloridaFuture.com