CHN writer Jon Teitel has continues his interview series, this time focusing on some of the best coaches that have worked at the collegiate level. America East leads it off, with Teitel spending some time with former UAlbany head coach Richard "Doc" Sauers. Sauers coached the Great Danes for forty-two seasons, winning more than seven hundred games and helping the school move from Divison III to their current Division I status. He is now the women's golf coach at UAlbany.
Jon Teitel: In 1973 you wrote a book called "Basketball's Stack Offense and 20 Defense". Why did you write it, and what was it about?
Richard "Doc" Sauers: It was about our system of play in Albany. A lot of high school coaches in this part of the country copied it. By getting something published, it helped me get promoted from assistant professor to full professor.
JT: In 1985 you were named Division III Coach of the Year. What did it mean to you to win such an outstanding individual honor?
RS: It was great. It was the year that I won my 500th game, and they announced it in front of everyone at the coaches' convention at the Final Four. I also won the golf tournament at that convention, so it was a pretty good week.
JT: In 1992 you were inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame. How big a deal was that for you, and did you see that as a validation of your career?
RS: I was in the 2nd class to ever be inducted, and since a lot of big names got in first, it was really an honor.
JT: You graduated almost every one of your players and had 39 straight winning seasons despite never coaching a First Team All-American and working in Division III without scholarships for most of your career. How were you able to maintain your success without having a single down year, and what role do you place on academics?
RS: We did not give out scholarships until my 40th year at Albany. We always recruited guys who were pretty good students, so we only had to sweat the midterm grades a couple of times. They were not big stars: all they wanted was a chance to play.
JT: In your career of 1,000-plus games, you were only called for 6 technical fouls. What do you think about coaches who pick them up in an effort to get their team motivated, and what would cause you to actually get called for one?
RS: I did my loudest yelling while the crowd was also yelling, so hopefully the refs could not hear me. I was too cheap to motivate my team that way, so I never did that. I got a technical foul in a game at Buffalo when we were playing horribly 1 night, so I yelled at the ref: I deserved it, but it did not help us win.
JT: What is the biggest change you have seen in the sport from the start of your career to now?
RS: The biggest change was the three-point shot, and I was on the rules committee when it got voted on.
JT: You currently serve as the women's golf coach at Albany for 12 years. Why did you make the switch from men's basketball to women's golf, and what are the biggest differences between the two?
RS: I just had enough of basketball and needed a change (basketball is a long season), so the school asked me to start the team. The biggest difference is that in an individual sport, you never get the players together for practice, just for matches.
JT: You previously served as the men's golf coach. What made you make the switch later on to women's golf coach?
RS: They dropped the men's golf team in the past due to Title IX.
JT: Your son Stephen is director of basketball operations at Seton Hall. What was it like to coach him back in the 1980s, and what is the most important part of his current job?
RS: He does all the scheduling and coordinates the use of the facilities. He also does a lot of scouting and advance preparation. He is more than ready for a head coaching position. It was nice to coach him: he would even call me "Doc" at home. I treated him just like any other player.
JT: When people look back on your career, how do you want to be remembered the most?
RS: I got the most out of my players, and had them prepared for most any situation. Most of them still even talk to me, so that is nice.
AMERICA EAST'S BEST COACHES
Albany: Richard "Doc" Sauers (1955-1997): 702-330, 11 NCAA tourneys, 2 conference titles, one-time national Coach of the Year
Binghamton: NO COACH HAS BEEN THERE FOR 5 YEARS
Boston University: Dennis Wolff (1994-2009): 247-197, 2 NCAA tourneys, 5 conference titles, three-time conference Coach of the Year
Hartford: Paul Brazeau (1992-2000): 100-122
Maine: John Giannini (1996-2004): 125-111
UMBC: Randy Monroe (2004-present): 72-82, 1 NCAA tourney, 1 conference title, one-time conference Coach of the Year
New Hampshire: Gerry Friel (1969-1989): 188-335, 1 conference title, one-time conference Coach of the Year
Stony Brook: Steve Pikiell (2005-present): 58-91, 1 conference title, one-time conference Coach of the Year
Vermont: Tom Brennan (1986-2005): 264-276, 3 NCAA tourneys, 2 conference titles, three-time conference Coach of the Year