Assistant coaches the unsung heroes of basketball programs

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

The head coach is the CEO of any basketball program.
But that coach must have assistants he or she can trust to implement his philosophy with the players.
Oak Harbor boys coach Eric Sweet has three assistants that he trusts, and it has shown in recent years as the team has turned the corner in the last five seasons, going 74-40 (.649) while winning league and sectional titles in the process.
Eric Dusseau, a 2004 Oak Harbor graduate, is Sweet’s right-hand man. He is the varsity assistant and has Sweet’s respect. They’ve been together for seven years. (Dusseau also coaches football and baseball.)
There’s also Rob Hahn, who has been with Sweet for nearly a decade, and the freshman coach is Colin Ish, now in his second year with the program.
“Having great assistants is the staple of great programs. Eric and Rob have been with me for a long time; we’re on the same page on a lot of things,” said Sweet. “Having assistants that know your program and can implement what you want helps make your program better.
“Between Eric and I, we do the major part of the varsity games,” Sweet said. “Rob is the JV coach and Colin is the freshman coach. Eric is a great film watcher and helps with the scouting report; he’s able to pick up on tendencies – we’re very much on the same page. He’s a hawk when it comes to watching film.”
Many assistants move on to head-coaching positions at other schools after a while, but Dusseau and Hahn have stayed with Sweet for quite some time. Sweet knows he can trust all of his assistants, especially Dusseau.
“If (Eric) wants a timeout, it’s pretty much done. It’s very rare when he says take a timeout and we don’t. He’s great at doing play calls – 95% of the time it works,” said Sweet. “He’s very instrumental; he knows when to do things and when not to. I just do it because I trust him; he’s had great years of success with me. We have an unspoken bond.”

“A strong staff”
Josh Bragg is the boys coach at Clay, one season after serving as an assistant under Joel Visser. His assistants are Art Eli, Josh Johnson and Brandon Roberts.
Eli, is a varsity assistant and was an assistant at Central Catholic when Bragg played there. Eli is known to many in the area for serving under Tom Kontak at Genoa and then Oak Harbor, both schools where the duo had great success. Johnson, who coached with Bragg at Swanton, is the JV coach, and Roberts is the freshman. Bragg also credited Nolan Falls for his help with the freshmen team.
“All of these guys are extensions (of me),” said Bragg. “Our freshmen run the same offense, and our JV and varsity match up in practice.”
The coaches have met weekly since Bragg was hired as the head coach in May.
“We would meet almost weekly from May all the way up through tryouts so we’re on the same page with our offensive philosophy, offensive sets, defense, defensive rotations, and all the ways we’re going to do things,” he said. “We had strategies mapped out from the beginning
“The assistants are at offseason workouts, they help with scouting, they’re putting in a lot of time as well and the future of the program can only be as good as your assistant coaches. I think I’m pretty fortunate to have such a strong staff.”

“Great role models”
Cardinal Stritch girls coach Tim Yenrick speaks highly of his two assistants, Kay Nissen and Mikayla Simon. They’ve helped him tremendously as he took over the program less than two weeks before the season began.
“I can’t say enough about them. Coming in just before the season began, we had to go recruiting. We actually recruited Kay Nissen (aka Coach K), a Stritch alum (1977) — she was part of the state championship girls basketball team at Stritch — and she’s been really good to work with,” said Yenrick. “We’re just kind of getting to know each other; we’re kind of from the same era at Stritch (Yenrick graduated in ’81). She’s been really good with the girls, doing a lot of fundamental work, and we’re in rebuilding mode. Having Kay and her enthusiasm, she’s been good to work with.
“Mikayla Simon is my other assistant — she’s a teacher at Stritch, and the trainer for Stritch athletics. Makayla is at the school, and she knows the girls really well. It’s a real nice mix. Both coaches have been a big help with practices and helping us build the program; they’ve been helping with the youth clinics and weight training and getting those things in place. I can’t say enough about them. They’ve been great role models and a positive influence. I think they bring a lot of fun to the game.”
Despite being in the midst of a tough season, Yenrick can see that things are getting better.
“This is a very tough season for us, but it’s just a whole different attitude than the first week I was there,” he said. “The kids are working hard at practice, and we’re getting a little bit better every night. I credit my assistant coaches for that.”


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association