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Catching up with the coaches: UFV basketball

Before the fledgling basketball season really gets under way, The Cascade wanted to ask some questions of men’s coach Adam Friesen and women’s coach Al Tuchscherer. We also decided some friendly competition couldn’t hurt, so we decided to compare the answers. Here are some things you didn’t know about your resident UFV coaches:

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By Paul Esau (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: October 24, 2012

Before the fledgling basketball season really gets under way, The Cascade wanted to ask some questions of men’s coach Adam Friesen and women’s coach Al Tuchscherer. We also decided some friendly competition couldn’t hurt, so we decided to compare the answers. Here are some things you didn’t know about your resident UFV coaches:

Men’s Coach: Adam Friesen
Former Jersey Number: 24
Favourite NBA team: San Antonio Spurs
Alma Mater: TWU
Middle Name: John
Cats or Dogs: Dogs
Worst Injury: Never been injured (He’s never missed a practice or game in his life!)
Best Restaurant: Red Lobster
Years Coaching: Six (five as assistant coach, first as head coach)

Women’s Coach: Al Tuchscherer
Former Jersey Number: 20
Favorite NBA Team: Boston Celtics
Middle Name: Geoffrey
Cats or Dogs: Birds
Vehicle: Toyota Tacoma
Worst injury: Cracked orbital bone
Favourite Restaurant: Garrison Bistro
Years Coaching: 16 (11 as head coach, five as assistant coach)

If you could have coached yourself during your playing days, what would you have said to yourself?

AT: Well I think one of the biggest regrets I have is that I didn’t play after high school. I had opportunity, I was recruited to play and I didn’t play just for silly reasons.  So I don’t think there would be anything on the court, I would probably like myself as a player. I think I worked pretty hard. I was a first one there, last one to leave type of player. But I think I would push myself to play after high school for sure.

AF: I would have been harder on my defensive practice habits, and I probably would have got myself to be more understanding of my teammates.

If you could coach a different sport, what would it be and why?

AT: Baseball, I would think. I really enjoy baseball. It’s a sport that I haven’t really played before except recreationally as a kid . . . but I really enjoy watching playoff MLB baseball and the strategy that goes into it, how every play is a big play and matters.

AF: Football. For sure football, because I think that the strategy of it is awesome. In particular [I would be] a quarterback coach.

What’s was the best coaching decision of your career?

AT: My best coaching decision was probably to start our club program, our Junior Cascades program. I don’t think there’s any question about that. It’s leveled the playing field with a lot of elite, blue-blood schools . . . it’s enabled us to compete at the highest level.

AF: The best decision was surrounding myself with great people. Surrounding myself with character players, but more importantly to begin with, getting myself a good support group of people who are very knowledgeable in the game . . . those people would just be [assistant coach] Kyle Graves, my dad [Yale Secondary coach Al Friesen], those would be two of the main ones.

What’s the worst coaching decision of your career?

AT: There’s always games you look back on and you kind of don’t know if [you] should have done this or done that. For me I think it was when we were still in the CCAA and we were playing in a national championship game. I think if I had that game back I would have approached it a lot different than I did, and I think my approach, I went one way with it, we were down 12 at halftime and I went with the in-your-face type halftime speech when I probably needed to go the other way and let [the team] know everything was okay. It just put us in more of a hole. So I often look back at that game and think that it was not my grandest coaching moment.

AF: Maybe [as a coach] calling for an alley-oop play for someone who isn’t feel up for the dunking task . . . my worst decision [as a player] was in the provincial final in high school in Manitoba playing senior. I had the ball with five seconds left and I had the chance to take the lead in the game and I passed it off and the ball got deflected and we ran out of time . . . I remember exactly the defence. I remember being in grade 10 but playing senior in front of a packed gym, and I remember being too nervous to take the shot.

What’s the gutsiest decision you’ve ever made as a coach?

AT: I think it might have just been taking this job, that might have been the biggest risk for me . . . I had other things going on in my life, I’d just had a daughter and I was teaching, just finishing up my PDP at SFU . . . I think there was a lot of doubt over whether this would be a good situation for me and whether I’d be skilled enough to coach at this level. But we won four provincial championships in a row, and won 76 games in a row, so it all worked our pretty good [laughs]. But that first year was kind of petrifying.

AF: The gutsiest coaching decision was putting in the amount of time I put in with [current fifth-year forward] Kyle Grewal in his early years. That was the gutsiest. I saw the talent, I believed in him, but he wasn’t always the most reliable, he was just a young kid at that time. You didn’t know how it was going to pan out, but you knew he had the personality, the leadership potential and the talent to become the player he’s become.

What has been the hardest single part of coaching basketball?

AT: Probably recruiting when we first moved to the CIS. That was pretty difficult. Some of the elite programs in the country were in our backyard. When we got here SFU, UBC and UVic had won like the last nine national championships so they pretty much had the market cornered. If there was a player of any stature and they wanted her they didn’t have to recruit her they would just say “come play for us.” And I, you know, would have to get down on my knees and beg and plead “hey, come play for us.” And [still] nine times out of 10 we weren’t getting those players. So that was a challenging time.

AF: The most challenging thing about coaching is getting guys to believe that they can constantly work harder and work more. Getting guys into the gym, building a culture where players enjoy the gym and get better when they’re in there working as hard as they can, that’s the most challenging part because it’s never ending.  Guys can always work harder, they can always use their time better, they can always work smarter.

What’s the best romantic date you ever planned and carried out?

AT: I’m probably the wrong person to be answering this question to be sure. I’m obviously married and have two kids and frankly – I’m not even sure how that happened! (laughs) . . . I wasn’t exactly a ladies’ man through college. [My wife] always talks about the first date when I made her this big gourmet meal and how that’s the only time I’ve ever cooked for her. So she thought she was getting into something she really wasn’t!

AF: Wow. I don’t know. We’ll leave it at that . . . don’t want it coming back to haunt me in practice.

What’s the best meal you’ve ever cooked?

AT: I made this lasagna dish [on that first date] that my wife still raves on about. I think it’s one of those stories that over time just gets better and better. This must have been the most amazing lasagna that’s ever been made, right? I’ve never made anything close to resembling that since (laughs).

AF: My favourite food is spaghetti, so I’d say [my best meal was] spaghetti with some really good meat sauce . . . it just tasted really, really good!

What advice would you have for the other guy across the hall? [The two coaches have offices across from one another.]

AT: He’s a young coach and he’s just got to work hard. There’s a lot of doubt that comes into it, especially since it’s kind of an unforgiving league. You mess up and lose a game, that’s how it goes. We’ve all sort of been there, so you really start to question yourself and question what you’re doing. But you just got to have your philosophy, you got to know what you do, and you got to work hard and stick to that. And if you do that [it’s] more than likely [that] things work out.

AF: I don’t think he needs my advice, but [I’d say he needs to] just keep working hard [and] keep a smile on his face.  He’s doing a great job.

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