Interview with Kenny Osborne, women's basketball coach (12/04/09)
Chris Slater: How long have you been at Concord and how long have you been coaching the team?
Kenny Osborne: Okay. Tenth year as women’s coach and my twelfth year at the school all together.
CS: What were you doing the other two years?
KO: I was the Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach.
CS: How did last year’s season end?
KO: We went 13-15 overall, and 11-9 in the conference.
CS: How has the team been ranked the last couple years?
KO: Well, the year before that we had back-to-back 20-win years. We were regionally ranked and nationally ranked.
CS: The team’s been doing pretty good the last few years?
KO: Yeah, yeah. Two years ago, we lost three really good seniors. So, last year we were kind of rebuilding. And, then we lost our point guard, after the third game, to a knee injury. So, we were just trying to get things straightened out. And, we did. It got to February and we won six in a row.
CS: How many players do you have on the team this season?
KO: Ummm… Thirteen.
CS: Is that how many you usually have?
KO: Yeah, anywhere between thirteen and fifteen is the normal.
CS: How many returning players do you have this year?
KO: Let me try to think here. It’s always easier to think of the new ones. [pauses] We have nine returners.
CS: How are your practices structured? What do you do?
KO: A lot of defensive work, a lot of offensive work. We break it down. A lot of time segments - fifteen minutes doing this, fifteen minutes doing that. Fundamental work. Team stuff. It’s a variety of things.
CS: How often do you guys practice during the week?
KO: We’ll practice six days a week. NCAA rules says you have to take one day off and it can vary from week to week, but we go six days a week.
CS: I checked the website and you guys are currently 4-0 on the season right now. How does that feel?
KO: Well, it feels good that we’re off to such a good start. You know, we’ve played very well offensively. Okay, defensively. We’ve got to get better defensively.
CS: Who were your victories against?
KO: Milligan College. Bluefield College. Davis and Elkins College. And, Alderson-Broaddus College.
CS: When is your next game.
KO: Tomorrow, at home, against West Virginia Wesleyan
CS: How many games do you play in a season?
KO: Twenty-seven. Plus, our conference tournament. So, twenty-seven regular season games.
CS: Is there a lot of pressure on the team to start a season with a lot of wins like that?
KO: No, but I think every time you win another game the pressure’s gonna mount. Because people expect more, other teams start gunning for you, so. Really, not starting out, but I think as we go along and if we continue to win, more and more pressure will mount.
CS: Who are some of your bigger challenges for the season?
KO: Do you mean opponents, or…
CS: Yeah, opponents.
KO: Well, you know, University of Charleston, West Liberty, Fairmont State, West Virginia Wesleyan, and Pitt-Johnstown. Those will be our five toughest opponents, I think.
CS: Maybe to go the other way with this, what are some of your biggest challenges this season?
KO: Well, I think, one, you’ve got to stay injury and illness free. We basically lost a week of practice there at the end of October with the flu, bronchitis, and everything else. What I mean by lucky too, if someone sprains an ankle, hopefully there are four or five days before you play again and we can get them back. We need to stay lucky there and stay injury and illness free.
CS: You mentioned you lost the one player last year, but overall, have you been good to stay injury free?
KO: Yeah, for the most part. But, that was just a freak injury and just happened. But, she’s our point guard and that’s one of your most important positions. Luckily, it happened in the third game, so she got the year back. So, she still has this year and next year to play.
CS: What would be a successful season for you, in terms of goals you set out for the team?
KO: Our goal, our main goal, is to be playing a lot of basketball in March, which means we made the NCAA tournament. You want to win as many games as you can, but I think you want to continue on into the NCAA tournament. I told them, I’d take most of their Thanksgiving Break from them, most of their Christmas Break from them, and if I can take their Spring Break from them - which still means they’re playing in the NCAA tournament - that’s my goal.
CS: Looking at the team right now, do you think you can do that?
KO: I think so. I mean, if we’re a little lucky, and injury and illness free.
CS: Who are some of your star players?
KO: We’re going with the “Sister Act” combination, because you’ve got Jolysa and Sierra Brown. Jolysa was the Player of the Week last week. Sierra is a senior, Jolysa is a freshman, sorry, a sophomore. They play in the post for us. Sydney Lindsey, a freshman from Narrows, Virginia. Camisha Alexander, sophomore, transferred to us from Youngstown State. She’s from Beckley. We’ve got another set of sisters who have played a lot of minutes - Emily and Sarah Blevins. Sarah’s a junior and Emily’s a freshman. Two more, Meghan Cole and Holly Bibb, they played a lot of minutes for us last year and they’re both very good shooters. So, I think, you know, we don’t really base on a “star system,” never have. That’s why we have different people leading us in scoring. That’s why we’re a success, it’s not a “star,” it’s a “team” approach.
CS: Who are your assistant coaches?
KO: Jamie Cluesman, Wes Aldrich. That’s it.
CS: How long have they been here?
KO: Jamie’s in her second year, Wes is in his third year.
CS: Wes was third year, you said?
CS: She used to play for the team, right?
KO: Yeah, yeah.
CS: I’ve been here for a while, I recognize her [laughs].
KO: Yeah, she got her masters and we finally got a full-time position, so yeah. She’s full time. Wes is like, retired part-time volunteer, that type of thing.
CS: I know the football team had a turn-around this year and set off a new wave of “school spirit” around campus. What are your thoughts on some of the extra attention the sports program has been receiving?
KO: Well, I think one of the things, and the football did, I felt energy and enthusiasm here on Friday. I was at Glenville back when Rodriguez was there and you’d feel the same thing. I think it helps lead the school year, gets us off to a good start. What people don’t realize is that successful sports program is a lot of free marketing and publicity. You have sports pages, you have TV. I think it helps school spirit, I think it helps student enrollment, student recruitment, fundraising, whether it be general school or athletic. I think all those things come into play.
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Notes: The story I wrote from this interview will appear in the Dec. 09, issue of The Concordian, which is the last of the semester. The interview was conducted as the team was 4-0, and they are now 5-0. In the picture of the team, Osborne is in the back row, second from the left. Click here for more information about the women's basketball team.