I was fortunate to coach with Jason Delaney and Aundrey Wright for the Indy Heat 17’s EYBL team last season. What’s unique about the staff was we headed into the AAU seaspn all as high school head coaches as well. I really enjoyed our teamwork as a staff and our commitment to developing team play and a family atmosphere for our players. Here is a Q/A with Jason Delaney, head coach of that Indy Heat team and also of Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, IN
Your coaching style for Cathedral seems very similar to that of the EYBL. How important is being genuine and true to yourself as a coach, even when the talent/setting/personnel might be different?
I think it is very important to be genuine in all that you do no matter what setting you may be coaching in because players will see that. You have to stay true to who you are as a coach and what things make you successful. You have to believe in yourself because you have been placed in this situation for a reason and it is an honor to coach in both of these high level situations. You make adjustments in the EYBL, but your general philosophy needs to stay the same.
Also, our game preparation, general serious approach to the EYBL games mirrored what we would expect in HS and even college basketball. Not what people may think about when they hear “AAU Basketball”. Can you talk about that?
Our biggest responsibility with our EYBL team was to prepare these players for college to the best of our ability. This included agendas for the road of where to be when, scouting reports, mini camps, and being held to a standard in work ethic. When you look at the EYBL it has been a trendsetter for college basketball including changing the three point line to the international three point line. I think players need to see the value in preparation and then when they have success they understand why it is needed.
AAU can be tricky because it’s part about exposure, part about development, and part about winning. And balancing those can be challenging. I was really impressed with how our guys made it more about family and more about winning, and I think that’s because of our leadership. Can you talk about that?
I believe we did a really good job of building relationships with our guys and they understood that we had their best interest in mind. We had such a short time to get to know them and prepare before hitting the road in front of college coaches. I believe they saw our passion for the game, our preparation, and how we as coaches sacrificed our egos. Each one of us brought something different to the table just like our players did. We modeled what we wanted from them in terms of sacrifice and teamwork and that group did the exact same thing. They realized when they did that then everyone could shine and how fun winning was because of it.
What are some things over the years of coaching AAU that has made you a better HS coach?
I think that AAU has really helped me pay attention to the details of the game and become a better teacher. The margin of error in the EYBL is so small because of the talent level you are going against that you have to pay attention to details. The 24 second shot clock, illegal defense, and athletic ability of your opponent makes you have to become a better game manager as well. Coaches have to make adjustments and have a solid game plan going in, so there again is why scouting reports were so important.