The Anatomy of a State Champion

 

Head Cougar Steps Down to Focus On Smart Cubs

 

 

The excitment over the 2009-10 Minnesota Girls High School Basketball season is above the rim. And, gPrep will take you to the hole with all the action. Without question, the state champions are looking to repeat in their perspective classes. But, the post season belongs to no one, expecially the defending champs. It's a new chapter, and who gets to write it is anyone's guess. Everyone must work hard. Hunger feeds titles.

gPrep Q&A With Head Cougar David Smart

gPrep:What’s the hardest part about being a defending back-to-back state champion?
What's the easiest?

Coach Smart: "Repeating! KNOWING THAT THE TARGET WILL ALWAYS BE ON
YOUR BACK AND THAT OTHER TEAMS WILL ALWAYS BE AT THEIR BEST WHEN THEY PLAY
YOU. THE EASIEST... WHO DOESN'T WANT TO BE THE TWO-TIME DEFENDING CHAMP??"

gPrep: What will it take to repeat in March 2010?

Coach Smart:"A MAJOR IMPROVEMENT FROM NOVEMBER. SOME LUCK, AVOID
INJURIES AND GET HOT COME PLAYOFFS."

gPrep:: Talk about the components of a championship team.

Coach Smart:"CHEMISTRY PLAYS A HUGE ROLE, TALENT, A DESIRE TO DO
WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET THERE, SUPPORT FROM PARENTS, ADMININSTRATION, AND OTHERS, A
GREAT COACHING STAFF, A WILLINGNESS TO PUT THE TEAMS GOALS ABOVE YOUR OWN."

gPrep: You had 4 seniors to make the All-Tournament Team. How difficult is it to lose those four great players to graduation?

Coach Smart: "HARD TO DESCRIBE! THOSE SENIORS HAVE BEEN PART OF ALL
OF OUR STATE TOURNAMNET TEAMS SINCE THE FIRST TIME WE WENT. YOU DON'T JUST
REPLACE TALENT OF THAT CALIBER. THEY WILL GO DOWN AS THE BEST GROUP OF SENIORS
TO EVER PLAY BASKETBALL AT ABHS."

gPrep: What’s the single most important skill/talent a team needs to get to
the Target Center in March?

Coach Smart: "I BELEIVE IT IS LIKE I SAID EARLIER THE WILLINGNESS TO
SACRIFICE YOUR OWN PERSONAL GOALS FOR THOSE OF THE TEAM. WE DID THAT THE LAST
4-5 YEARS AND IT MADE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE."

gPrep: Describe the “perfect” team.

Coach Smart: "TEN 6 FOOT GIRLS THAT CAN ALL HANDLE THE BALL, SHOOT,
REBOUND, DEFEND AND RUN AND HAVE FUN! PLUS, A TOTAL TEAM ATTITUDE IN ALL OF
THEM! WE HAVE NEVER HAD THE PERFECT TEAM, BUT I WOULDN'T TRADE ANY OF THE TEAMS
THAT I TOOK TO STATE FOR ANYTHING. THEY WERE ALL UNQIUE AND SPECIAL IN THEIR
OWN WAY."

gPrep:: As a dad, what was it like to coach Nicole Smart?

Coach Smart: "FANTASTIC AS A DAD BUT EVEN BETTER AS A COACH! WHAT A
LOT OF PEOPLE PROBABLY DON'T KNOW IS THAT NICOLE IS PROBABLY THE MOST UNSELFISH
BALL PLAYER I HAVE EVER COACHED. SHE WOULD MUCH RATHER SEE OTHERS SCORE THAN
HERSELF. SHE COULD HAVE EASILY SURPASSED 3000 POINTS IN HER CAREER, BUT IT WAS
NEVER REALLY A PRIORITY FOR HER. SHE LOVES HER FRIENDS, AND SHE WAS ALWAYS MORE
CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR WELL BEING MORE THAN HER OWN...SOMETIMES TO A FAULT! SHE
IS AS WELL ROUNDED A BALL PLAYER AS I HAVE COACHED, AND I REALLY FEEL THAT SHE
IS JUST STARTING TO SCRATCH THE SURFACE AS FAR AS HER ABILITIES GO. I REALLY
TOOK AWAY A LOT OF HER AGGRESSIVENESS THE LAST FEW YEARS JUST TO MAKE SURE SHE
DID NOT GET IN FOUL TROUBLE. SHE IS GOING TO DO GREAT AT THE NEXT LEVEL! IT WAS
A DREAM COACHING MY KIDS BUT THE THING THAT MAKES IT WORK IS IF YOU ARE GOING
TO COACH YOUR KIDS YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT THEY WORK AS HARD OR HARDER THAN
ANYONE ON THE TEAM, I WAS VERY LUCKY THAT THAT WAS THE CASE WITH BOTH KELLI AND
NICOLE."

gPrep: What'S next for you?

Coach Smart: "WELL I HAVE RESIGNED FROM THE GIRLS BASKETBALL PROGRAM
SO THAT I CAN WATCH KELLI IN HER LAST TWO YEARS AT MAYVILLE AND NICOLE IN HER
YEARS AT UND. THIS IS GOING TO BE A CHALLENGE FOR ME BECAUSE I HAVE COACHED
BASKETBALL IN SOME CAPACITY EVERY YEAR SINCE I STARTED TEACHING. BUT, IT WAS AN
EASY DECISION IN THAT I DO NOT WANT TO MISS MY KIDS PLAYING. TIME GOES WAY TOO
FAST. I HOPE TO GET BACK IN TO BASKETBALL AFTER NICOLE IS DONE. AS I HAVE TOLD
OTHERS, IT WAS THE HARDEST EASY DECISION I HAVE EVER MADE!"

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gPrep:: Is there added pressure on the Cougars to win again?

Coach Smart: "WELL AS YOU CAN SEE FROM MY LAST STATEMENT...NO! AND
REALLY, I DON'T THINK THERE IS A LOT OF PRESSURE ON THE TEAM. WE LOST 4
OUTSTANDING PLAYERS. OUR GIRLS COMING BACK ARE GOING TO DO VERY WELL IF THEY
STICK TOGETHER, BUT I DON'T FEEL THE PRESSURE IS THERE FOR THEM TO WIN STATE
AGAIN ALTHOUGH IT WOULD BE GREAT!!"

gPrep: What’s the best basketball advice you’ve ever been given?

Coach Smart: "2 THINGS ....ONE, BE YOURSELF! I TRIED TO BE A COACH
THAT JUST SITS THERE AND STAYS QUIET BUT THAT WAS NOT ME. I AM AN EMOTIONAL
COACH, AND I CAN'T SIT FOR VERY LONG WITHOUT GETTING UP! I WAS TOLD BY SOMEONE I
RESPECT VERY MUCH THAT YOU ARE AT YOUR BEST WHEN YOU ARE BEING YOURSELF SO THAT
IS WHAT I HAVE DONE. THE SECOND THING, YOU CANNOT ASK YOUR KIDS TO WORK HARD
AND SACRIFICE IF YOU AS A COACH ARE NOT WILLING TO DO THE SAME THING. KIDS WILL
SEE YOU FOR WHAT YOU ARE!"

 

 

 

gPrep: Who’s your mentor?

Coach Smart: "MY JUNIOR HIGH BASKETBALL COACH, WHO HAS SINCE PASSED
AWAY, TAUGHT ME SO MUCH ABOUT THE GAME, MENTAL TOUGHNESS AND SACRIFICING FOR THE
TEAM SO I WOULD HAVE TO SAY HIM."

 

 

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