Mass coach Bruiser Flint is back on the UMass campus getting ready for another season of Minutemen basketball. With only about a month before the start of preseason, coach Flint talks about a summer that passed quickly and provides updates of members of the UMass basketball family who have moved on during the steamy summer of '99
I don't know about you, but to me it seemed like one minute it was July 4 and the next minute school was back in session. Summer was gone before I knew it. My friends ask me, "Bru, where did the summer go?" I laugh, because when I was a kid, summer seemed to last forever. But as adults, we are so busy with our jobs and preoccupied with the every day rigors of life, that time has a sneaky habit of getting away from us.
I hope everyone did get a chance to enjoy the unusually warm summer we had in Western Massachusetts. With all the traveling I did, I can attest to the heat in other parts of the country. It was steamy everywhere I went, both outside and inside gymnasiums.
Summer is traditionally the peak time of year to evaluate players. With camps, tournaments, AAU ball summer is the prime time to recruit. So, if you're wondering how I spent my summer vacation, it wasn't much different than any other time since I got into the coaching profession.
Simply put, I was either recruiting or on campus running a number of UMass basketball camps. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the summer months. I did spend time with my wife Rene and daughter Jada. Summer is a good time for me to make up for all the days I am on the road during the basketball season.
As I reflect on the summer of '99, one word comes to mind: transition. Not in a basketball sense, like going from offense to defense or getting transition baskets, but in a personal sense. A lot of people who have been close to me or a part of the UMass basketball family were in a transition during the summer.
I guess it started when Tony Barbee returned to our staff from Wyoming as an assistant coach. I am happy to have Tony back in the program. As you know, Tony was an outstanding player and role model for other UMass basketball players, and he will have an equally strong impact coaching our players and in finding new talent no matter where it may be around the country.
The next positive coaching transition came when Tyrone Weeks joined the St. Bonaventure staff as an assistant coach. Tyrone is one of my favorite people, and I have mixed feelings about him sharing our house secrets with the Bonnies. (I am joking.) Tyrone is destined to become a great college coach and given his background, the sky is the limit for him. Tyrone epitomized what the college experience should be. He persevered through a lot, both on and off the court. He gave a lot and he got a lot, and it worked for everyone. Throughout his career at UMass, there were ample times Tyrone could have tossed in the towel, but he stuck it out. He is an exceptional role model for college kids. St. Bonaventure is lucky to have a person of his caliber on its staff. (I wish Tyrone much success, except against us)
If you missed the newspaper headlines, coach Cal (Calipari, former UMass coach) landed an assistant's job with the Philadelphia 76ers. I am happy for John in so many ways. First, he's back with Philadelphia coach Larry Brown, who gave John his start at Kansas. Secondly, he is back in coaching, which is really what Cal loves to do. I am partial to Cal being with Philly. The 76ers are my favorite NBA team. A lot of people have asked me whether Cal is hoping to get another head coaching job in the NBA. We will just have to wait and see. The Philadelphia papers quoted coach Brown as saying he didn't think Cal would be an assistant for long, so you can draw your own conclusion.
Finally, another part of the UMass basketball family who was in transition this summer was "The Voice of the Minutemen," Marc Vandermeer. Marc landed a great job as voice of the University of Miami. He currently handles play-by-play for the Hurricanes football team and will have similar duties with the basketball and baseball teams. I wish Marc luck.
We're getting close to the start of preseason practice, and that means you'll be getting more frequent updates from me. Until then, if you have a question for me or a summer story to share, email me. I look forward to receiving them.