Monarch Basketball Insider Vol 1- Jim Corrigan

August 23, 2010
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Aug. 23, 2010

Brendan O'Hallarn Monarch Basketball Insider - Vol 1 on Jim Corrigan.

There's nothing like a nice, relaxing summer. It's time to get away from the office, work a little less, and just enjoy the beautiful, hot weather.

Or, in the case of Old Dominion Associate Head Basketball Coach Jim Corrigan, it's a chance to spend two madcap, 10-day recruiting trips, watching 16 hours of basketball games, showcasing the best high school talent in the country for college recruiters.

I sat down with Jim shortly after he returned from his two trips, and he gave me a peek at the frenzied world of summer recruiting. Monarchs Head Coach Blaine Taylor and Assistant Coach Rob Wilkes, also spent 20 days on the road that month, looking for the next class of ODU basketball recruits.

For his first trip, Corrigan flew to Charlotte for an AAU event, drove to Myrtle Beach for two tournaments, to South Carolina for two more events, then drove back to Charlotte and flew home.

For his second trip, Corrigan flew down to Orlando, a Mecca for AAU basketball in the summer, for a series of tournaments all in the same facility.

"It was a little like (the movie) "Groundhog Day,"" Corrigan said. "You get up and are sitting there at 8 a.m. watching a game and drinking a cup of coffee, and you're leaving the gym after 11 o'clock every night. Then the next day, you do it again."

And it's not merely grabbing a seat, eating some popcorn, and watching a little hoops. Not when you're recruiting four future Monarchs from among thousands of aspiring hoopsters.

"If you do nothing but sit there and watch the games, it's amazing how tired you get after 14 or 16 hours," Corrigan said.

"You're not just watching to see how many points they score. You watch everything. You're watching them when they get taken out of the game, and they're sitting there on the bench not playing. You want to know how a kid handles getting pulled out when they make a mistake. You want to know what kind of teammate he is. Does he pout?

"It is absolutely a job. You're evaluating kids on a lot of different levels, and that can get tiring when you do it for 15 hours."

Does he ever get sick of basketball?

"No, but you think sometimes, `I'm so sick of bad basketball.' Some of these games are just terrible. But when you're watching a really well-played game between good teams that are competing, that doesn't get old," Corrigan said.

To the long days in the gym, bad food and time away from the family, add another challenge to the summer recruiting season: Cloak-and-dagger intrigue.

A coach since the 1980s, Corrigan knows just about every colleague from other schools he runs into on the road. And he's not keen to spill his secrets about that hidden-gem recruit.

"You don't want them to necessarily know who you're watching. They may already know, but there is some gamesmanship about how many coaches watch a kid play," Corrigan said.

"Experienced recruiters can kind of look around and see who's there, and think to themselves `Well, we're going to have a hard time getting this guy, cause the entire ACC is here.' Sometimes you're there and you're watching a different kid, and that's fine. But you have to be smart about your recruiting. You need to spend your time wisely."

Corrigan, Wilkes, Taylor and new assistant coach Lonnie Blow willingly put in this monster summer hours, but Corrigan isn't sure it's the best recipe for a healthy basketball program.

"They've created an environment where it's a lot of time away from home for us, a lot of wear and tear on us. It's not an ideal situation for evaluating kids," he said.

"I think there's a perception that in this business that you have summers off. I get asked by people all the time, `What do you do in the summer?' People should know that in July, we work very hard. It might be the toughest month of the year in terms of the hours."

Under NCAA rules, the Monarchs coaches aren't allowed to talk publicly about recruits until after they sign a letter of intent to come to ODU. Corrigan said it was a fine foray into the field, however.

"You find out in the next couple of weeks how it's really going. You find out who's really recruiting the guys you're after," he said. And the pressure's on this season, because ODU has four scholarships to offer, they most they've had in five years.

The difficulty is projecting where a kid is going to be athletically in two or three years. Corrigan pointed to ODU forward Frank Hassell and guard Kent Bazemore as two lightly recruited gems that the coaching staff saw potential in, and developed in our program. "In many ways, recruiting is more of an art than a science."

In addition to getting a sore neck, homesickness, and an aversion to bad coffee, college basketball coaches return home from the summer recruiting season with many quirky war stories. At the end of one of the sessions, Corrigan looked across the court and saw a high-profile NCAA coach fast asleep, conked out in a chair. But that's nothing.

"Last summer, I get in line in an airport, and there's a coach in front of me in line that's all upset," Corrigan said.

"He was on a one-hour flight from somewhere like Greensboro (N.C.) to somewhere in the Eastern United States, and they had sent his bag to Saudi Arabia."

Welcome to the summer recruiting season. How about those "summers off?"