Tag:Mike Hopkins
Posted on: July 23, 2011 7:08 am
Edited on: July 23, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Friday just the first day of a 10-day grind

Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts. 

By Jeff Borzello

LAS VEGAS -- It's been 16 hours since Mike Hopkins called me from seven feet away in his rented Infiniti SUV at 7:15 a.m.

There are four other coaches here in a remote gym. In fact, we're not even in Las Vegas anymore.

Sixteen hours of watching, evaluating, babysitting, driving -- and it's only the first day of a 10-day grind.

"It's always worth it," Hopkins said.

He said the mere possibility of a kid going to another school for lack of attention is reason enough to spend all these nights in small gyms.

"When recruiting a kid, wouldn't it make you sick if he said, 'Well, you didn't recruit me hard enough,'" Hopkins said. "I'm not leaving until the kid sees me, looking like a billboard."

Of course, it's not all self-motivation. Competition with the other coaches helps give a little extra energy in late July.

"You play games with yourself," Hopkins said. "I see other guys here and I'm like, we'll see on day 10."

Can Hopkins, who admittedly was a little tired late Friday night, pull off a week and a half of 16-hour days?

He smiled and nodded.

"To get a kid? Definitely."

Posted on: July 22, 2011 10:00 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 10:02 pm
 

Unfortunate truth: July means family life suffers

Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assisant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts.

By Jeff Borzello


LAS VEGAS -- The hardest part of being an assistant coach is not losing a game, losing a recruit or losing sleep.

For Mike Hopkins, it's being away from his family for so much of the year.

"It's very hard," Hopkins said.

The actual season lasts more than five months, with road trips and late nights in the office taking up much of that time frame. Factor in more than 20 days on the road in July, recruiting trips throughout the year and in-home visits in the fall, and assistant coaches are forced to truly make the most of their time at home.

"It's a long season," Hopkins said. "The biggest thing is the pull that you have [from home and from the job]. It's almost like, when are you home?"

While at home, he said he puts his phone in a different room after around 7 p.m. and only check it periodically during the rest of the night.

"I was getting too many phone calls," Hopkins said. During my time with him, his phone rang dozens of times and buzzed with text messages on countless occasions. Being on the road is a different story. His sole mode of communication with his family is via phone.

Hopkins, who has a wife and three kids back home in Syracuse, speaks to his wife on the phone several times a day. He tried to FaceTime on his iPhone at one point, too. (It failed, due to lack of Wi-Fi in the gym). A text message from his son early in the morning made his day, while videos of his daughter jumping off a diving board and going down a slide for the first time brought a smile to his face.

"You don't want to miss any moments," Hopkins said.

For an assistant coach on the road, it's becoming harder and harder to do that -- but some still find a way.

Photo: AP
Posted on: July 22, 2011 6:52 pm
 

Unreliability with tourneys, teams in Las Vegas

Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assisant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts.

By Jeff Borzello


LAS VEGAS -- Coaching staffs spend countless minutes planning out their recruiting schedules, down to how many minutes it takes to get from one gym to another.

It's a science to figure out how to see as many targets as possible.

Friday afternoon, Mike Hopkins and I left one game early to catch a prospect at a gym 25 minutes away. The kid wasn't there -- he was playing on a different team.

"No question [it's annoying]," Hopkins said. "It is what it is. It's part of the deal, it happens all the time."

At an event like the Peach Jam, where everything is in one place, it might not matter. In Vegas, though, it changes the entire schedule.

"We spend 20 minutes going there, we could've gotten something to eat, gone over here, over there," Hopkins said.
"Time is of the essence, when you're going from gym to gym to gym."

And it's back to the drawing board.

Posted on: July 22, 2011 5:11 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 7:05 pm
 

July recruiting: Babysitting vs. real evaluation

Jeff Borzello is taking all day Friday to tag along with Syracuse assisant Mike Hopkins. He'll be checking in every couple of hours with updates, anecdotes and tidbits from the recruiting trail. Check here for a timeline of the posts.

By Jeff Borzello


LAS VEGAS -- More than half of the recruiting that goes on during the month of July is, for the most part, babysitting.

Coaches go to games of their prospective recruits, and they simply sit there in order to make sure their target knows that they're there and watching.

In some cases, though, evaluation does occur. Assistant coaches need to verify things they have heard about, or give a second opinion on what another coach has seen. For Mike Hopkins, it's all about figuring out how the kid fits into Syracuse's system.

"At Syracuse, we've always had great forwards," Hopkins said, rattling off Carmelo Anthony, John Wallace, Billy Owens, Derrick Coleman and others. "We have to find people that fit what we do."

Some of the targets on this day happened to be top-25 prospects, but the ranking isn't the most important factor when evaluating.

Hopkins said doing that leads to teams with players that don't mesh well.

"It's bad business when you take guys only because they're rated high," he said. "Some coaches say, 'Oh I heard he's good, why aren't we recruiting him?' They want to go on the golf course and talk about who they got. That's how you win the press conference, not games."

Hopkins said it ultimately doesn't matter if a kid is rated No. 50, No. 100 or not ranked at all. When watching a player for the first time, the hype goes out the window.

Coaches simply look for a kid who will help the program and fit a role.

"It's about having a great team," Hopkins said.
Posted on: July 22, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Starting the Mike Hopkins Las Vegas experience

By Jeff Borzello

LAS VEGAS -- Right before I went to sleep at 2 a.m. on Thursday night, I received a call from Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins.

Hopkins had just landed in Vegas and was still waiting for his rental car. He said he was going to get back to the hotel and check his schedule to figure out what time to meet up Friday morning.

Now, considering Hopkins was still on Eastern time and would not get to his hotel until at least 2:30 a.m., I didn't expect to meet until at least 9 a.m. Color me surprised when I received a text in the wee hours: "Leaving hotel at 7:15."

Three hours of sleep, travel nightmares, driving around all day to remote gyms.

The life of an assistant coach on the road.

Similar to the way Gary Parrish followed Tom Izzo and Jeff Goodman trailed Ryan Marks, I will be riding shotgun with Hopkins all of Friday to see what life is like as a high-major assistant coach.

Keep checking back here for stories from the road, what it's like to be the head coach-in-waiting and more of Hopkins' perspectives on the life of an assistant coach.
 
 
 
 
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