Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tim Marrion back at SJSU

Tim Marrion is back home.

Of course, at different times during his life that has meant getting his mail in Nottingham, England, Melbourne, Australia, Pullman, Washington and San Jose but we're talking the latter address as he is the new 'old' assistant basketball coach at San Jose State University.

We recently had the opportunity to pose some questions to him, so here goes:

Q - What will be your duties and goals with San Jose State University?
TM - My responsibilities at SJSU will be a mixed bag. In addition to the basics of an assistant coach (recruiting, on-floor coaching, opponent scouting), something I'm most looking forward to is working with Coach Nessman specifically on our team's offense. I am excited about this responsibility especially as it allows me to really focus on one side of the basketball in regards to opponent scouts and even during drillwork in practice. Working with Coach [Ken] Bone & Coach [Jeff] Hironaka [while at Washington State], two coaches with outstanding offensive minds, I'm looking forward to using some of the knowledge I gained in my three years working at Washington State to help push the program forward here at SJSU.

It may be a bit premature to talk about specific goals that I have here at SJSU but I do have a few general goals. My number one goal is to help push the needle forward in any way possible and do my part daily to turn SJSU into a consistent threat for postseason basketball. From the limited viewings of the team that I've seen, I'm really excited about the potential that the group of players that the staff has brought in has. There is a significant increase in the amount of physical talent in the program and I'm looking forward to working with all of the guys.

Q - You were born in England and also lived in Australia before coming to the U.S. Were you involved in playing hoops as a youngster? If so, why basketball? How did basketball get into your blood when the national sports of both countries aren't played on a court?

TM - You've done your research! I was fortunate as a child to experience living in a few different countries and cultures. This experience opened me up to a mix of different things. It was in Australia around the age of seven that I first started playing basketball. My dad was my coach and like many children, I wanted to be exactly like him. We would go to NBL (Australian professional league) games together and I would constantly be watching everything basketball both in-person and on television. Although I still follow soccer ("football" in England) and Australian rules football, I can't imagine coaching either of those sports.

Q - How did you graduate in three years (with a degree in sports management) from Washington State when most students take five or so years? That's quite an achievement.

TM -  I chose to accelerate my undergraduate education while at Washington State, to the confusion of many of friends, because I genuinely enjoyed the challenge academically. I was fortunate to know what path I wanted to go down before I entered college so this allowed me to really map out classes and courseloads to set myself up to complete my degree a bit ahead of schedule. A college degree is something that I hold with a lot of pride and I hope to be able to continue to instill the importance of academics and working towards earning a college degree into all of the student-athletes that I'm fortunate enough to work with.

Q - You were an assistant coach at San Jose State University at age 22 -- which has to be a first. Did you ever imagine working in such a position at that age?

TM - I was extremely fortunate to have a year under my belt as an assistant coach when I was 22. I am somebody with a lot of self-confidence and did think I was capable of handling the rigors that come with being an assistant coach at that age. I learned a tremendous amount as there really is not much substitute for on the job training. It's one of those situations where I always think what if I could go back then with the knowledge & experience that I have now. I was very thankful for the opportunity and even more grateful to return to SJSU to finish off what I started a few years ago. 
Q - ESPN's Dana O'Neill recently wrote an article about the evolution of assistant coaches from primarily earning bona fides as a recruiter to now needing a much more well-rounded skill set. Your take?

TM - I would agree with Dana's assessment of assistant coaches in college basketball today. There has always been a demand on assistants to have connections within recruiting as players are the lifeline of the program - they are the ones that go out there and actually decide the outcome of the games. With that being said, there is more demand in today's world of college basketball for assistant coaches to now do something with the players that have been recruited into each respective program. There's now more of an emphasis of having well-rounded assistant coaches who are able to develop players into reaching their basketball potential.

I think every successful coaching staff is set up where each coach brings a unique set of skills to the program to help it succeed. You've got staffs with a certain coach or two who is known for recruiting, others may be known for game planning, and so forth. When it comes to hiring a head coach, I think an athletic director is going to look for somebody who embodies multiple characteristics of a successful assistant coach. This is where the importance of working on your perceived weaknesses as a coach to help you become a better well-rounded assistant comes into play, in regards to making yourself a viable candidate for head coach openings if that's what you aspire to do.

Q - Are you familiar with Villa 7, the annual summer get-together for assistant coaches across the nation? Is it something on your schedule for next summer?

TM - I am familiar with Villa 7. It's definitely a prestigious event for assistant coaches and something I would absolutely love to be one day invited to. The caliber of assistant coaches that have attended the past few years is extremely impressive, as is the number of assistant coaches who have attended Villa 7 and soon after been hired as head coaches (Anthony Grant, Dave Rice, Shaka Smart, just to name a few). It looks like a tremendous opportunity for assistant coaches who aspire to be head coaches to not only network but improve their interview skills.

Q - Can we expect a San Jose State University - Washington State basketball matchup in the not too distant future?
TM - Funny you should ask this as right before I accepted this position at SJSU, I was responsible for scheduling at WSU and spoke with Coach Nessman a couple of times about the potential of a home-home series between the two schools. It ended up not working out but talks were definitely in progress.

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