Can Kel­ley re­turn Al­covy to promi­nence?

The Covington News - - SPORTS - SHA­KEEM HOL­LOWAY shol­loway@cov­news.com

To say the Al­covy basketball pro­gram has been in a flux for the past cou­ple years would be an un­der­state­ment. Now with a new coach in Duane Kel­ley, the pro­gram could fi­nally be headed in the right di­rec­tion. In our Q&A with Kel­ley, he speaks on sum­mer work­outs, his style of play and get­ting the pro­gram to the state play­offs.

The Covington News: How’d you come about get­ting the job?

Duane Kel­ley: I just ap­plied for it. I got an in­ter­view. I guess, af­ter the in­ter­view, they felt I was the best per­son for the job (he laughed). I’m kind of fa­mil­iar with re­build­ing pro­grams and things of that na­ture. I think that’s one of my strengths. I guess they saw that and de­cided to of­fer me the job, and I’m happy to have it.

CN: How will you go about re­build­ing?

Kel­ley: Well, the first thing we’re go­ing to have to do is out­work ev­ery­body else. We started in the sum­mer with our sum­mer work­outs. We’ve been run­ning and lift­ing weights and try­ing to get the kids in shape to get ready for the style of ball that I like to play. We’re go­ing to con­tinue that in the fall. Af­ter the first week of school, three days a week we’re go­ing to be lift­ing and run­ning, and we’re just go­ing to try to get big­ger and stronger like that. We’re go­ing to work on our strength. We’re go­ing to workout ev­ery day, three days a week and try to be­come bet­ter basketball play­ers and bet­ter young men. I know a lot of peo­ple looked at the job and maybe thought it was some­thing that they didn’t want, but I looked at it as a chal­lenge. We’re go­ing to have to get in that gym and bust our butt and try to im­prove ev­ery day as in­di­vid­u­als. Hope­fully that pays off come reg­u­lar sea­son.

CN: Tell me a lit­tle bit about your style of play.

Kel­ley: I’m an up-tempo kind of guy. We like to get up and down the floor. We like to create pres­sure and turnovers with our de­fense. My style is sim­i­lar to what you see at Louisville and VCU. You get peo­ple out of their com­fort zone and try to play at a faster pace. We hope that our con­di­tion­ing will al­lows us to be stronger ball play­ers at the end. Our phi­los­o­phy is no one is gonna beat us be­cause we’re tired (he laughed). For 32 min­utes I guess you just bet­ter be ready to get up and down the floor, be­cause that’s what we want to do.

CN: What have you been work­ing on this sum­mer?

Kel­ley: We’ve been work­ing on try­ing to get kids to un­der­stand the ba­sic con­cepts of man-to-man de­fense. I think a lot of times kids don’t un­der­stand that con­cept of get­ting your feet into po­si­tion to de­fend your man and to be able to help when you’re not guard­ing on the ball. I think our big­gest thing, we've just been try­ing to teach ba­sic man-to-man con­cepts, how to keep your hands in pass­ing lanes and how to make peo­ple go from

“I know a lot of peo­ple looked at the job and maybe thought it was some­thing that they didn’t want, but I looked at it as a chal­lenge.”

— Duane Kel­ley

Head coach Al­covy men's basketball

side-to-side in­stead of just hav­ing a clear path to the bas­ket. The big­gest thing is just chang­ing the mind­set. When you’re com­ing off a 2-24 sea­son, a lot of times I think peo­ple tend to have a level of ap­a­thy. Right now to be hon­est I think we’re prob­a­bly con­sid­ered the laugh­ing stock of New­ton County. I think that’s what peo­ple see when they see us. We’re just try­ing to teach kids ba­sic man-toman prin­ci­ples and over­all de­fen­sive prin­ci­ples. Our motto is one con­tested shot or no shot. We want to play good de­fense, keep our man in front of us, keep us be­tween the bas­ket and the per­son we’re guard­ing, and that’s what we’re go­ing to try to do. We’re just do­ing basketball 101 ba­si­cally.

CN: Would you say you’re de­fense-first or of­fense-first?

Kel­ley: De­fense. Me per­son­ally, I’m an of­fen­sive guy. I like to fill it up, but I know you don’t win (he laughed). You’re not go­ing to win just con­cen­trat­ing on of­fense. I un­der­stand the im­por­tance of de­fense and we stress de­fense daily. I know we can score be­cause hope­fully we’re go­ing to be able to score off op­por­tu­ni­ties cre­ated by our de­fense. What we try to do is we try to fo­cus on stop­ping other peo­ple from scor­ing right now, and the other stuff will come. I’ve got great help from my as­sis­tant coaches in try­ing to put our ba­sic de­fen­sive phi­los­o­phy in play, and just try to grow from that. We can sit here and talk about pres­sur­ing, run­ning and cre­at­ing turnovers, but if we don’t have the ba­sic fun­da­men­tals of play­ing de­fense with your feet in­stead of your hands, what­ever we want to do won’t be suc­cess­ful.

CN: You said you have a his­tory of re­build­ing pro­grams. Tell me a lit­tle about that.

Kel­ley: My first head coach­ing job was on Cook County. They hadn’t won a game in two years when I got there. We won nine games our first year, the next year we went over .500 for the first time in 15-20 years. I went from there to North­east-Macon — they hadn’t gone to state in maybe 10-12 years. I won five or six games the first year. Our pro­gram went to the state ev­ery year we were there [af­ter that]. I went from there to Stock­bridge. At Stock­bridge, even though they had a his­tory of be­ing suc­cess­ful in terms of win/loss per­cent­ages, they had never gone to the state play­offs. We were for­tu­nate enough in my four years there to win the first re­gion cham­pi­onship in school his­tory. We went to at least the sweet six­teen or the elite eight ev­ery year we were there. We try to de­velop a sense of pride in the pro­gram. We try to get our kids to un­der­stand that putting on the uni­form of – in this case of the Al­covy Tigers – it means some­thing, and to take pride in it be­cause right now no­body else is.

Q&Q A

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