By: NEIL KING
In Coach Scott Cooper’s first year coaching the men’s basketball team, there were many ups and downs on the court and a couple of personal tragedies that weighed on his team. The Titan’s finished 12-18, according to IU South Bend’s website.
Still, when he talks about his first season at the helm, he smiles.
Cooper said that despite the hardships of the season, he managed to move forward with his team and accomplish the goals that he had set for the season. Most of those goals were working towards building a program instilled with his style and philosophy.
Walking into a partially done recruiting class with little knowledge of what he was working with, Cooper wanted to get a feel for where the team was at this season and help the players adapt to his style of playing.
“Anytime a coach comes to a new team there is an adjustment period,” Cooper said. “You have to take inventory of what you have and understand how it can be used to help the team.”
Cooper said it wasn’t just him that had to adjust to his new surroundings, but also a team of basketball players that had to adjust to a new playing system.
Cooper said that he like to run a press system on defense that pressures the opposing team and forces them to adjust to the pace of play that his team wants. The titans ran about four different presses this year according to the coach, and kept the coverage mostly man-to-man.
One thing the team plans to add next year during recruiting is more size, Cooper said. The previous men’s coach left at a time when the recruiting class wasn’t solidified yet. By the time Cooper came to the team, it was too late to do much about it.
The bulk of the 20-win team that was in effect the year before Cooper came in had moved on by the time he arrived on campus.
Unsurprisingly, Cooper said that bringing in fresh recruits to add to the talent already on the team is something he’s looking forward to.
So far into this off-season the team has lost four major players from this past season including Jordan Grant, who, according to Cooper, was a big part of what the team was able to do. The coach has already received four commitments for next year that he’s excited about.
Specifically, Cooper talked about T.J. Benner and Osha Mitchell coming into the team and making solid contributions next year.
“Next year we’ll be better than this year,” Cooper said. “In two years though, I think we’ll have a really exciting team.”