Clipboard Conversations: Kevin Young, Utah Flash

20 Apr

Kevin Young, Utah Flash head coach

By Justin Young
National Hoops Report

The Clipboard Conversations series is conversations with coaches from all levels. Coaches are an interesting breed. The great ones obsess about the game. It consumes their life. So what makes these coaches tick? How do they handle the issues that come with the game? What lessons are learned from the locker room, practice, press conferences, public settings, recruiting, teaching, training and family life? Why not ask the coaches themselves? That’s the point and purpose of Clipboard Conversations.

My first coach for the Clipboard Conversation is my own brother. Sue me if you’d like for breaking a journalistic rule of keeping things non-bias and un-involved. It’s my blog. I make the rules here.

My brother, Kevin Young, is the head coach of the Utah Flash in the NBA Development League. He just completed his first year as the head coach. The Flash finished 29-24 and played in the playoffs.

NATIONAL HOOPS REPORT: First question, and I want to ask this in every Clipboard Conversation, what does it mean to be a competitive player?

KEVIN YOUNG: Consistently wanting to dominate their opponent whether be on the offensive side, whether that be the defensive side, whether it be in practice, whether it be in shooting drills, whatever it might be; wanting to beat your opponent in every facet and you don’t find those guys very often.

NHR: First year as a D-League head coach, how was that ride for you?

KY: It is up and down. Any season you have your ebbs and flows of a season but the D-League is kind of the extreme because of how much fluctuation you have with the rosters and how much of a grind the travel can be at times. All and all, we had a steady of group of good guys and that made it a lot easier. Like I said, with the D-League being such a grind, that’s important to have good guys. We started a little bit slower than I would have liked and then we caught our groove in the middle of the season. But we didn’t finish as well as I would have liked. So that was a little disappointing.

NHR: As a guy that’s not even 30 years old, you have to look back at the experience and think about the lessons learned. I have to think that the D-League is a unique situation as a coach because of all of fluctuation you have with your roster.

KY: You have to be able to adjust on the fly from a game plan standpoint. One day your leading scorer is with you and then the next day he’s not. You have to find ways to manufacture points. I’ve heard other coaches in this league say it but after being a head coach in this league I really believe that if you can coach in the D-League you can coach in any league whether it is college or the NBA. In terms of what I’ve learned about myself, the psychology of coaching – you get a good appreciation for how much psychology that goes into it. Not just the Xs and Os of it or game plans or practices. It’s about keeping your guys engaged in practice or film sessions. We only have a 50 game regular season. I can only imagine how it is for 82 games. Its got to be mental warfare to get your guys in engaged.

NHR: How hands-on are NBA teams with their affiliates?

KY: I think it depends on the situation. I look at the Thunder, I know they are extremely involved with their D-League team. Same with Rio Grande. With us, we are with the Jazz and the Hawks. I think it depends on the make-up of the team. This year the Hawks drafted a guy, Pape Sy, with the whole thought of bringing him over to the D-League. They were invested in him and pretty hands-on from the get-go because they knew they were going to have a player that was with us during times of the season. They were fabulous. From Rick Sund even down to their regional scouts to Nick Van Exel, all of their guys were tremendous the entire time Pape was with us. Now with the Jazz it was a little bit different. Jeremy Evans was kind of on the map before he even came to us. But they had a very interesting year that I don’t think anybody in the world would have predicted with Jerry Sloan leaving. When Ty Corbin took over, the D-League was on the backburner even more than what it was. They weren’t quite as involved this year. The way they are kind of rebuilding and how close we are to them, I could see that changing this summer and into next season.

NHR: How good is the talent in the D-League. When you mention the D-League to kids in college and high school, that isn’t the end result goal for most players. So, just how good is the league itself?

KY: If you look at guys at are in the NBA and are assigned to the D-League, and granted they are first and second year players, the D-League is going to get people exposed one way or another whether it is good or not so good. You have guys that have been drafted extremely high and have struggled in the D-League. That right there allows the common fan to understand the talent level we have in the league. Guys are hungry in this league. On any given team in the D-League you are going to have guys that have NBA experience. Then you are going to have, at least on the good teams, one or two guys who are very capable of being a rotation player in the in the NBA and aren’t there because a lot of times it is all about timing. In a general statement, I think the talent is a lot better than people even realize. We are talking about former All-Americans in college. You look at former first team All-American Scottie Reynolds. He’s putting up 15 a game in our league. You look at guys with those kinds of accolades and see what they are doing in our league.

NHR: You talked about Jerry Sloan earlier, have you ever seen him smile before? I can’t say I have.

KY: (Laughing) I’ve been fortunate to be around him for the last four years in practice settings, at training camp, around their program, what have you, and he’s not as rough and rugged as people make him out to be. I’m sure he can be. All my interactions with him, he’s matter of fact and he means business but he’s not quite as intimidating as the media makes him out to be.

NHR: How shocked were you when you heard the news that he abruptly resigned in the middle of the season?

KY: When I first heard the news, we were at the Salt Lake airport getting ready for a road trip I was completely shocked. 100 percent shocked.

NHR: How beneficial has it been for you as a young coach to eat at the table of Jerry Sloan, per se, for the last four years being with the Utah Flash?

KY: Well they always picked up the checks for dinner so for a young coach making no money, that was great. From a basketball coach, there was no one better to learn from him. The Jazz have always been a model organization and to learn from him from a basketball standpoint and how they do things, it was a great learning experience. Going back to my first year with the Flash, I worked with David Fredman, who was with the Jazz all the way back to New Orleans. I really understood the Jazz way from him. From coach Sloan and his basketball perspective, we basically run the same things as him offensively with the Flash. Being able to pick up pointers the way they do things and the discipline involved and how everyone touches the ball and moving it around, nobody better to learn from it than him.

NHR: Brothers or not, I would be doing my journalistic duty to go through an interview without asking you about the Eric Musselman tussle this year in Reno. What’s going through your head as he’s coming towards you going into halftime?

KY: It was a surreal moment. You don’t ever think anything like that is going to happen in a game. Its kind of surreal.

NHR: Here’s my real question, though. How do you get tackled by your own player like that?

KY: When said player is 6-6. 245 and chiseled it makes a little more sense. Maybe I should have tried to go after him first and then dealt with the situation. (Laughing).

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