BY MATTHEW WEDDLETON // OCT. 20, 2015 //
Matt LeVangie, Curry’s new basketball coach, has had over 13 years of coaching experience at both the Division II and III level. After four seasons as basketball coach of Wheelock College, LeVangie has now taken the next step in his career as coach of the Colonels, and talks about his plans for this season, as well as the importance of establishing a culture.
MW: What led you to Curry College and how excited are you to start the season as coach of a new team?
ML: I’m pretty excited. What led me here? I think when the job came open, it was a great opportunity. They have tremendous facilities, great majors. The growth has been ridiculous. My brother graduated from here in 2003 and I think its about three times the size as it was back then and it’s got top of the line facilities and I’m excited. Every year is a new year, especially this year is all special because it is a new program for me and it’s a good league and we got great kids so I’m excited about it.
MW: This past season at Wheelock, one of your staff members, Antonio Anderson, said that you did a, “great job teaching him some of the things coaches have to learn, like watching game films, breaking things down and game preparation.” How important is watching film, analyzing, and game preparation going to be in this upcoming season here at Curry?
ML: I think it’s going to be huge. It’s a tough conference. Endicott, Eastern Naz, and Nichols all won 20 plus games and have most of their returners coming back. I just think film has become such a tremendous addition to the coaching repertoire and it’s really a vital part now to prepare your guys on what they’re going to see. I think the best prepared teams are the ones that win, so our job is to get our guys as well prepared as they can be.
MW: Curry is coming off a tough 6-19 season. How do you plan on getting this team back on track and back in to the tournament?
ML: For me it’s not a one year process. I’m not concerned about wins and losses right now. We’re more concerned about doing things the right way, establishing a culture of consistency, and establishing a culture of going hard, of playing at the highest level as we’re capable of at all times and the wins will take care of themselves. The last thing I’m going to worry about is counting wins and losses. We’re going to worry about being the best we can and playing at the highest level we can and those will take care of themselves.
MW: What have you seen with this Curry team in film or in person that you’ve liked?
ML: We had our first practice yesterday and it was rough on those guys and they answered the bell. I don’t want to say I was surprised, but I was definitely impressed with their competition level and with their sort of ability to focus on a tough first day.
MW: If there are any weaknesses with this team, what are they and how are you going to turn them into strengths?
ML: I think terminology, concepts that I’m bringing in. I think it’s going to be tough for any team that has a new coach. There’s a new verbiage, there’s a new set of rules or set of standards on how we do things and it’s tough for any guys to do that and I think that from early on I think they’re ready to accept that which gives me a lot of hope that it will go quicker than it needs to. But like anything else, these guys adjusting to the new system will be the biggest challenge.
MW: How do you plan on motivating these Curry players after a tough season and how do you plan on getting them to buy in to their role on the team each year?
ML: The No. 1 thing for us is: A. You have to create a family atmosphere. They need to able to play for each other. That’s big. They know what’re they’re working for. They know that they’re working for an NCAA Tournament bid. That’s the No. 1 goal and that’s the thing we’re going to motivate for. I think we have self-motivated guys. And I always tell my guys all the time that if you need me to get you out for a game, then this might not be the right place for you. And I think these guys don’t need me to. I think I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how focused they are on sort of putting last behind them.
MW: It appears that you’re going to have a lot of young guys on this year’s squad, so how do you plan on handling some of the more experienced teams?
ML: That’s a good question. We’re going to throw them to the wolves. We’re going to be tougher. The hope is to be tougher and to really out-execute them and understand that it’s a process. But there is no experience except for experience so these guys need to go out there and struggle a little bit. With that being said, I really like the upperclassmen. I think they’re there to help the guys. They’re very positive and I think we have some good upperclassmen leadership. So, it’s going to be a good mix of experienced guys and talented underclassmen.
MW: Is there anything you plan to teach your players besides basketball and if so, what are some of those things?
ML: I would say basketball is not the biggest thing that I hope to teach them. When they leave here, they’re going to need jobs and they’re going to need to know how to navigate their professional lives, and I think we try to teach more on building relationships and being prepared for your post-college profession more than basketball at times. We hold our guys to a high standard in everything they do. The trickle effect down being that when they graduate here, they’re prepared for life more than basketball.
MW: Is there a player on your team this year that your other players should emulate off the court or on the court?
ML: I think a lot of the upperclassmen do things the right way and I think we’re lucky to have that. We’re lucky to have motivated guys that work really hard. I know yesterday on the first day of practice that I went in the gym and guys were getting shots up 45 minutes before practice and they’re ready to go. So I think if the young guys can take a cue from the older guys, we’re going to be in pretty good shape.
MW: What is your goal for this season?
ML: To go to the NCAA Tournament.
[Editor’s Note: Reading the last answer like:]