Basketball coaches around the country rely on colleague-to-colleague teaching at places like the NCAA Final Four.
Coaching clinics were among the canceled sporting events that coincided with the NCAA Tournament Final Four, but the masters of the dry erase board are finding other ways to share information.
Former Northwestern State student manager Lason Perkins, now a high school coach in North Carolina, first tweeted about the idea of virtual coaches clinics on March 12, the day the NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the novel coronavirus.
Perkins played a role in orchestrating numerous clinics in the last six weeks, featuring 300 speakers giving presentations to more than 26,000 coaches.
NSU men’s basketball coach Mike McConathy is on deck to speak and will be teaching others about his offensive philosophies in a virtual clinic Saturday. Coaches wishing to access the clinic can visit https://summit.coachesclinic.com/talks/offensive-concepts/?preview=1
“I asked the Twitter world if anybody would want to get together online for virtual clinics, and I got about 30-40 responses and several hundred likes,” said Perkins, who’s the head coach at Cary Academy in Cary, North Carolina. “We didn’t have a big enough Zoom account, but I reached out to Wade Floyd who runs CoachTube out of Austin, Texas.
“He’s got a lot of experience in virtual clinics. We involved Leigh Klein, the chief executive of Five-Star Basketball Camps out of New York because of the number of coaches he knows. Now we’re up to 300 coaches who’ve participated in presentations.”
Perkins said topics range from certain offensive and defensive strategies to ideas about effectively running programs.
“We try to match each coach with a particular expertise or a topic which they are passionate about,” said Perkins, who was part of a New York Times article exploring the virtual clinics. “We did some crowd sourcing and took polls about topics coaches would like to learn about, and most concern Xs and Os discussions.
“Coach McConathy discussing his offensive philosophies has been popular in the past, so it’s a natural fit.”
McConathy is an experienced lecturer but admits he’s a novice technology user. Assistant coach Jeff Moore, who will join McConathy in the presentation, might have to be the technical brains behind the operation.
“We have to make sure we can get on correctly, but we’re really looking forward to it,” McConathy said. “The biggest advantage of these clinics is it allows coaches to look for nuggets here and there.
“Most won’t be looking to make wholesale changes, but I’ve been able to pick up certain things at clinics or maybe subtract something I’ve been doing. Any information to help us improve is welcome.”
McConathy completed his 21st season at Northwestern State and his 14th season with Moore on the bench.
A former Southland Conference Player of the Year and one of the top scorers in Louisiana Tech history, McConathy’s Demons led the country in scoring once (84 points per game in 2014-15) after finishing second nationally in each of the two previous seasons.
Perkins, who has been the head coach at Cary Academy for four years after serving on the staffs of multiple area high schools, has formed plenty of close relationships from the NSU ranks since he served on the staffs of Don Beasley in 1985 and Dan Bell in 1988.
“I fell in love with coaching at Oak Hill High School, and helped out with the junior high,” said Perkins, who was an assistant on a Cary High School staff that won a state title. “I knew I couldn’t play, but I got my foot in the door with Coach Beasley.
“Coach Beasley and Bell put their trust in me, and it gave me the confidence that I could do this as a career. I’m a kid from Highway 28 (Gardner, La.) that got his start right there in Prather Coliseum.”