Q-and-A with Men's Basketball Head Coach James Dickey

Dec. 8, 2010

HOUSTON - As the Cougars continue the 2010-11 season, we recently sat down with head coach James Dickey for a few minutes to discuss a variety of topics.

UH: You have been with the University of Houston Athletics for more than eight months now. How has that time been for you?
Coach James Dickey: It has been tremendous. I have really enjoyed the city, the people and especially working here with the people we come in contact with on a daily basis. The Athletics Department staff and coaches have been outstanding.

UH: What was one of the biggest challenges you faced coming into our program?
From a basketball standpoint, the concern that you have is that you lose two great guards in Aubrey (Coleman) and Kelvin (Lewis). You are concerned about being able to replace that many points. They had a terrific run in advancing to the NCAA Tournament. It was a challenge in filling scholarships. That was the big concern. How are we going to be able to fill the void in the offensive production and leadership that those two players brought.

UH: What are some of the most things you want your team to accomplish this season?
The biggest thing is we must be good defensively. Defense gives you a chance to win every night whether you are at home or on the road. That has been a major emphasis in our practices - rebounding, taking care of the basketball and not turning it over.

Offensively, we must score by committee, share the ball, make the extra pass and be disciplined in our execution on the offensive end.

UH: What can people expect to see from you on the sidelines this season?
I certainly want to be positive and enthusiastic with our players. At the same time, we are going to be demanding in what our expectations are in terms of effort, defense and our offensive execution.



UH: Can you talk about your assistant coaches and what did each man have that wanted you to add them to your coaching staff?
I strongly believe I have the best coaching staff in the country. They are very knowledgeable in basketball, excellent recruiters and quality people who are tremendous role models for our players.

Coach (Alvin) Brooks has had head coaching experience. He loves the University of Houston and the city of Houston. He is a native Houstonian who is well-respected within the basketball community. Because of our previous relationship and knowing the type of man he is, he was a great fit for our staff as associate head coach.

Daniyal Robinson is a rising star in our profession. He is a terrific gentleman and works extremely hard. He has a great background and is certainly going to be a head coach.

Ulric Maligi is bright, energetic and is a relentless recruiter. He brings tremendous energy and enthusiasm. He has excellent experience for the short number of years he has been in coaching. He is another guy who is going to be a head coach. His accomplishments are well recognized in our profession.

To have Michael (Young) stay on our staff was tremendous because of the quality person he is, the experience that he brings and the respect that people have for him as one of the truly great players to ever play here for coach (Guy V.) Lewis as a member of the Phi Slama Jama teams. He loves this University and is another native Houstonian. He brings a great tie for us to the former players and the history of our program.

UH: When and how did you decided to get into coaching?
I knew from an early age that I wanted to coach. My dad (J.B. Dickey) was a high school coach, won a state championship in 1961 (at Valley Springs High School). I grew up in the guy. I was fortunate that I knew I wanted to be a coach. After graduating from college, I thought I would go back close to him and get a high school coaching job. My dad encouraged me to pursue a graduate assistant with Eddie Sutton at the University of Arkansas. It took me five years to get there.

In the meantime, I took a graduate assistant position at Harding, got my master's and worked for an outstanding coach in Jess Bucy. I coached at the high school for a couple of years and went back to my alma mater Central Arkansas for two years. There was no doubt that I wanted to coach. In my first year at Harding, I really liked the atmosphere, the recruiting and liked being at the college level.

Four years later, to get the opportunity to go to Arkansas and work for Coach Sutton was the big break of my career.

UH: What is your favorite part of coaching?
I love being on the floor with the players. Obviously, I realize the importance of recruiting talent, and I enjoy that as well.

UH: What is the most challenging part of coaching?
The most challenging part of coaching for me is being able to balance quality time with my family because I spend so much time on the job, and I am gone so much.

UH: Who has been your biggest influence as a coach and how?
My dad and my mom have been the greatest influence on me. My wife (Bettye) was a great player. Your family always had a tremendous influence because they sacrifice so much to do your job, and you really appreciate that support.

"From a mentor standpoint, Coach Sutton has been tremendous. He gave me the opportunity to get into major college coaching at the University of Arkansas. I spent 12 years with him, four at Arkansas, four at Kentucky and four at Oklahoma State. He helped formulate many of the things that we still do and that I believe in.

UH: During the season, what is a typical day for you?
It's long (laughing). You get in early, try to get a workout in. Then you clear your desk to return some phone or whatever might come up. You have a staff meeting with your coaches and watch film. We try to see every player during the course of the day to see how they are doing.

"You organize your practice schedule and talk about the upcoming game or the next practice. The highlight is you get to go to practice every day with your players.

"In the evening, you look at practice tape or game tape of your next opponent, return more phone calls, answer some mail. Before you know it, the day and the evening is gone."

UH: How does your schedule change in the off-season?
"In the off-season, recruiting takes the place of the practice. You still try to meet with the players. When you meet with them, you always talk about academics. The biggest change is you are not preparing for games, but there are other things to prepare for. You are working on the schedule; you are working on recruiting. There aren't many days off."

UH: What do you like to do in your spare time?
The greatest thing is to spend some quality time with your family. When my family gets moved and we are settled, I really like to ride horseback. There is not much time to do that. It's a great way to relax if you have some time. My son, Jared, has enjoyed that. That is something that we have enjoyed together."

UH: What is something about you that most people don't know?
I am a wanna-be cowboy. I like the western lifestyle. I like boots and jeans. I love working quarterhorses. They are an amazing animal. I grew up in the country. My family always had cattle and horses. That is part of my roots. Even though I spent a lot of time in the gym, we always lived on a farm."

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