I had the privileged to get an interview with Dean Lockwood. Thank you Dean for taking the time to give us such detail on the questions that were asked.
Dean Lockwood became just the ninth assistant coach ever to serve under Head Basketball Coach Pat Summitt at the University of Tennessee when he was named to the staff on July 2, 2004.
Lockwood is instrumental in all aspects of the Lady Vol basketball program, but his primary responsibilities include player development, recruiting and scouting. The 2004-05 season was his first in Knoxville since serving as an assistant coach with the Tennessee men’s program from 1986-91. Since his return to Rocky Top, the Lady Vols have compiled a record of 219-32 for an impressive .872 winning percentage, captured five SEC Tournament crowns and three SEC regular season championships, appeared in three Final Fours and won back-to-back national championships (2007-08).
The 52-year-old Lockwood is single. Active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for many years, he has been a guest speaker at numerous coaching clinics, FCA functions and community events. As a lifelong runner, Lockwood has participated in numerous 5K, 10K and 20K races around the country. Additionally, he enjoys reading and traveling in his spare time.
Interview Pt 1:
1. WHAT TRENDS, GOOD AND BAD, DO YOU SEE IN WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TODAY?
An immediate good trend that comes to mind is the overall growth of the game. It seems to me that today, more so than ever before, there is a stronger commitment to the development of women’s basketball at various levels. Coaches are working at this craft and getting better all the time; they are taking the time to learn and improve and thereby really INVESTING in the sport. Players are also investing; because they are working and playing the game more in the off-season, we are seeing better players and an improved quality of play. College basketball programs in particular, are really making a commitment to women’s basketball which is reflected in facilities, budgets, salaries and marketing efforts made at respective schools around the country.
I’m not sure that I would say “bad” when addressing the women’s game, however there are some areas of concern that I see personally. Because the stakes are higher than ever before, recruiting, as it pertains to college basketball, has changed somewhat. The pressure in recruiting has never been greater as it is the “lifeblood” of a college program…this has resulted in some unethical conduct and unfortunately this may only increase as the resources increase. Coaches are under significant pressure to win and show favorable results on the scoreboard — very few schools display patience for a staff to really build a program. This fact forces people to cave in to the pressure of taking shortcuts or to compromise their integrity in the recruiting process.
Following that line of thought, there seem to be a few more prospects today who have a sense of entitlement and false expectation of what is involved to play at the college level and beyond. Much of this is created by parents or people close to a young player who, while having good intentions, have not held that player accountable to higher standards or enforced principles of discipline, a focus on TEAM and a strong work ethic. It is very easy for people, coaches included, to become enamored with talent and forget the areas of character, work ethic, and a passion for the game. Obviously the best scenario is when talent is combined with these areas!
Allow me to be very clear here…a large number of young players out there are on a good course and are being guided well. However, we have seen slightly more young players who tend to forget that they, like all of us, are but one piece of a much larger picture and we ALL have a responsibility and obligation to GIVE and CONTINUE IMPROVING and MAKE OTHERS AROUND US BETTER as opposed to being “me-focused” all the time.
2. WHAT ARE THE MAJOR QUALITIES YOU AND COACH SUMMITT (And now Coach Warlick) LOOK FOR WHEN RECRUITING PLAYERS?
The obvious element is talent and skill level — that is often the very first thing we notice about a player however it is FAR from being the only thing. Just as a house may look terrific from the outside but be very lacking on the inside, so too can a player get noticed with talent but be lacking other VERY important characteristics.
That said, a player must have the talent, skill level and athleticism to be able to play at the highest level of women’s college basketball. They may not have the whole package right now, but they have enough in each of those areas to be in consideration. Next, their intangible qualities come into play in a big way: Do they love the game? Are they passionate about improving? Are they competitive and possessing a strong work ethic? ARE THEY COACHABLE? ARE THEY TEAM PLAYERS? Are they honest? These may also fall into the basketball character category.
Very closely tied to this, and for us this is another HUGE component — IS SHE SERIOUS ABOUT AND COMMITTED TO EARNING A GOOD COLLEGE DEGREE? We have an outstanding university coupled with a 100% graduation rate in our basketball program, therefore we must have young women in our program who are firmly committed to working and learning in the classroom and ultimately graduating from the University of Tennessee.
We then go into the off-court character category: How do they treat the members of their family? How do they treat their teammates? What do their teachers, counselors, and school administrators say about them? Have they been leaders in their school or community? Obviously, it is extremely difficult to find people who have a perfect score in every area we assess, however we DO strongly evaluate these areas and it definitely makes a positive impact when we find positive qualities.
A final, but equally important area is that of off-season work habits and a commitment to the game. Do they work at the game in the off-season? Are they willing to commit time in the gym to get better and attack weaknesses? Do they pay attention to principles of good conditioning, sound nutrition habits and getting proper sleep? These are a direct reflection of their love of the game and they type of guidance they have had up to this point in their lives.
In summary, we look for people with:
1. The talent and skill level to compete for NCAA Division I national championships.
2. The character qualities to be a champion on and off the court.
3. The commitment to graduate from college and be a woman of integrity.
4. The passion to relentlessly pursue excellence and improvement while also being totally committed to the team.
Stay Tune for Next week when Dean answers questions about What HS Players lack the first year of college, do female HS players work and study to improve their game, and recommendations for aspiring college coaches