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Brian Stanchak

11 Dec

Homecoming for Huger

As a former Assistant Coach to Jim Larranaga at Miami and George Mason, Michael Huger is well-prepared to lead his own program. During his four years at Miami, he assisted the Canes to a total of 91 wins, including a program record 29 wins during the 2012-13 season. The transition to his new role has also been made easier by the fact that he is back “home” at his alma mater. He has the Falcons off to a 6-2 start, and is looking to lead the program back to it’s first NCAA Tournament since 1968.
How does it feel to be back at your alma mater?
It's an awesome feeling being back to a place where I played and grew up. It's changed so much. That was the first thing that I noticed when I got back here. I've been back a couple times. A few teammates and I would come back when Coach Orr was here and would play pickup against the players, but I never had an opportunity to tour campus then. Being back here now as the Head Coach you get to see so much more and it's changed so much, but it's a great change. I'm so happy and so proud of the University and the way that it's grown. 
Take us through the emotion and the process up until you got the call from Bowling Green that you were going to be offered the Head Coaching position there?
The whole thing started while we were at the NIT finals. I was a finalist for another Head Coach position and I had heard about what was going on over here. I remember sitting on the bus about to go over to practice and Coach L asked me if I was interested in the job. That was really the first time I thought about being the Head Coach at Bowling Green. He said we'll make some calls, obviously to Chris Kingston (Director of Athletics), and some other people.
That Friday, I got a call that they wanted to meet the next day, Saturday, at the Final Four. It went well. We met for about two and a half hours. It was awesome just hanging out. Great conversation. I remember thinking “now is the time”. You read in the blogs that they're interviewing this guy, that guy at the Final Four and everyone is wondering who's going to get the Bowling Green job. You're standing right there not telling anyone. You have to keep it under your hat. No one knows you played at Bowling Green and the history of any of it. You hear that the whole weekend. You keep seeing that they're interviewing this guy, that guy and your name is never mentioned so you start thinking may be I'm not going to get this the job. That's the highs and the lows. It's a big roller coaster of emotions. That happened to me about six times. Until you actually sign the contract all bets are off.
Finally, I got that call about doing a background check. As the first time going through this, you don't know a background check means if you're the guy. I'm just thinking I'm one of three. I was still going through the emotions of they probably have three guys now and they're just doing background checks. About a week and a half later, (Chris) called and said we're still waiting on a background check and we'll see what happens. He started telling me about the team and then he called back and said he wanted me to speak with one of the boosters the next day. He then called me back that night and we actually spoke for a half hour before he offered me the job.  When he finally offered me the job, he asked me if there was anything that would prevent me from becoming the Head Coach at Bowling Green. That's when I knew, yes, finally got it. 
I told my wife, we're going home. My wife and I met at Bowling Green back in 92. My wife is from Cleveland, Ohio, 2 hours away. Miami is a great place, but it's far. I'm from New York so it's closer to there. My family's been out here several times now that I've been here but down in Miami they may be came twice. I had about probably 50 family members come to the first home game. My mom, dad, aunts, uncles, cousins, everybody came out to the first home game so that was an awesome experience for me. 
What are your goals for the program this year?
My goals for the program mainly are to build it up. We have an opportunity to win. We were picked last in the league. We are off to a good start and started off strong. I'm not one that likes to wait and say this is not my team and these aren't my guys. They're my guys. Every single one of them, whether I recruited them or not. I treat them the same way, all the same, no favorites. My ultimate goal at the end is to win a MAC Championship and get back to the NCAA Tournament. It’s something that I look at every day before practice. 1968 was the last time we made it to the NCAA Tournament. That's something that's on my mind. That's something that I couldn't accomplish while I was here as a player, but I know that feeling being that we made it four times at George Mason and Miami. The thrill of being there as a coach is amazing so I can just imagine the feeling for my guys as players to play in the NCAA tournament. That's what it's about for me.
How did Coach Larranaga prepare you to become a Head Coach and be ready to take over your own program? 
He took his time. He took his time until he was comfortable with us leading the team, talking with the team and being in front of the team. He took his time with preparing us on how to coach a team and how to run a practice. I remember at one point he gave each of the three assistants a day to run practice. On several occasions he’s done that. You get a chance to take over. 
The one thing he allowed me to do was to coach the defense. Whatever I told him about the defense, from how we’re guarding the ball screen to how we should guard the stagger screen to how we can run our scramble defense, he listened to me. It could have been the craziest thing I thought of. He basically gave me that freedom to be with creative with the defense.
He also prepared us through different situations. As something occurred, he would always ask us how would you handle this situation? A lot of the times, he would listen to us. As assistants he would actually take our advice and have us execute what we said. He always involved us with every decision he made with the team.
What advice do you have for assistant coaches that are looking to be head coaches?
The main thing is to be true to yourself. Be true to who you are. Don't change who you are just because you became a Head Coach. A lot of guys become a Head Coach and they change. They change who they were. That's not good. The only person I can be is me. I can’t be Coach Larranaga. I'm not him. I'm Michael Huger. Don't change your principals. Don't change what you believe in.
You also have to learn. You have to be a sponge. You have to learn everything. You can't be afraid to take something from someone else. That's what I did. I would see something that you did that I like and I would try to incorporate that into what I did. Never stop learning and getting better as a coach. If you stop learning, you can't survive. 
Finally, you have to be able to adapt to every situation. That was probably the best advice Coach L gave me is you have to adapt to every situation. He also said you have to have selective hearing. That's big time.

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Brian Stanchak

Brian D. Stanchak is the Founder of The BDS Agency, LLC. The BDS Agency exclusively advises, markets, and represents college basketball coaches. Prior to founding The BDS Agency, Brian spent four years as a collegiate Director of Athletics and 10 years as an assistant basketball coach at the NCAA Division I level, coaching at Seton Hall University, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated from California University of PA in 2013 master’s degree in sport management studies, intercollegiate athletic administration and Seton Hall University in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in business administration, sport management.


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