Jon Teitel's "Coaching Greats" Series: Nicholls State's Rickey Broussard
Jon Teitel: You played baseball at Louisiana-Lafayette. How good a baseball player were you back then, and how did you end up switching from baseball player to basketball coach?
Rickey Broussard: I was not a great player, but I was happy that we won more games each successive year. My claim to fame was that I played alongside Ron Guidry, aka "Louisiana Lightning". He had an unbelievable fastball even back then and was a great athlete.
JT: In 1981 you coached the Acadiana All-Stars AAU team to a national runner-up finish. How close did you come to winning the title, and how has AAU ball changed over the past 3 decades?
RB: We lost to a NY Riverside (Riverside Church) team featuring guys like Pearl Washington and Chris Mullin. We were led by future Hall of Famer Joe Dumars, who was great. I will never forget that Billy Packer was at the game: he said afterwards that Dumars would be a legend if he were playing in NYC. The main change from then to now is that there are more and more good players in AAU ball. Coaches and parents understand that it is imperative to play AAU in the summer if you want to get recruited.
JT: You were an assistant coach at your alma mater from 1983-1986, where your team made the NIT during each of your three years there. What did it mean to you to return to Louisiana-Lafayette, and did people consider to you be the lucky charm because the team went to the postseason every year you were there?
RB: Back then the school was called USL. Among Southern schools we were considered a basketball school, whereas most other schools in the area were football schools. Even though it was the NIT we faced some great players/teams. In the Final Four we lost to Tim Kempton and Notre Dame, and we lost the third place game by one to Dell Curry and Virginia Tech.
JT: You later became head coach at Nicholls State, where you were a three-time conference COY. Why did you take the job, and what did it mean to you to win such outstanding individual honors?
RB: I had been a college assistant for six years at that point, but my goal was always to become a head coach. When I had the opportunity to go to Nicholls State, some of my coaching friends told me not to go there (due to a small gym, difficulty recruiting, etc.), but I looked at it as a way for me to prove myself. I was one of about 300 people in the country to be a college coach, so I was just honored to be there. We only won three games during my first season because I came in late and had no opportunity to recruit. We won 15 games the second year and got better and better each year.
JT: What are your memories of the 1995 NCAA Tournament, the first one in school history (Harold Deane scored 22 points in a Virginia win)?
RB: I felt like we had the size to compete except at the point guard spot. We played well in the first half, but Virginia coach Jeff Jones made an adjustment at halftime by backing off of our point guard to double-team our big men in the post. I felt like we could have won the game, as we played very competitively.
JT: What are your memories of the 1998 NCAA Tournament (Miles Simon scored 24 points in the Arizona win)?
RB: They just pounded us inside, as our tallest player was only 6'6". We would just pass and cut and drive. They were the defending champions, and had several NBA prospects on that team.
JT: In 2002 you became an assistant coach at LSU under John Brady but left after a couple of years. Why did you take the job, and why did you leave?
RB: I had been at Nicholls State for 12 years and thought about staying there. A lot of people I interviewed with at other schools said they could not hire me as a head coach because I was coming from such a little-known program. My salary was not great at Nicholls State, but the school president reminded me that I was the only basketball coach in the South who was making more than the football coach! It was not the best decision I ever made, but my salary went up $35,000, which helped a lot.
JT: Your younger brother Danny became head coach at St. Thomas More's at age of 23, and he has won well over 600 games there (including a 3A state title in 1986). Who is the better coach, and did Danny ever think about coaching at the college level like you did?
RB: He never thought about coaching in college, but he is by far the better coach. He is a great motivator, and knows how to teach.
JT: You currently work as an agency recruiter for State Farm Insurance. How do you like the job, and what do you hope to do in the future?
RB: I love the opportunity that I have been given. When you recruit players to come to your school, it is not a whole lot different than what I do now: give a person a chance to impact a lot of people's lives. I was #1 this past year out of 114 recruiters, so I must be doing something right, and it has paid off for me.
JT: When people look back on your career, how do you want to be remembered the most?
RB: I did not play college basketball, but I was successful as a coach despite having a couple of lean years. There are not a lot of Southland Conference coaches who have been able to be consistent winners. The two titles were great, so I am pretty proud of that. My legacy is my players who earned their degrees and became good citizens, which has meant a lot to me as I have gotten older.
Broussard is also on Jon's list of best coaches in Southland Conference history.
Central Arkansas: Don Dyer (1979-1993) 285-145, 3 conference titles, 3-time conference COY
Lamar: Pat Foster (1980-1986) 134-49, 2 NCAA tourneys, 3 conference titles
McNeese State: Ralph Ward (1952-1971) 282-194, 6 conference titles, 1 NAIA title
Nicholls State: Rickey Broussard (1990-2002) 150-183, 2 NCAA tourneys, 2 conference titles, 3-time conference COY
Northwestern State: Mike McConathy (1999-present) 184-188, 2 NCAA tourneys, 3 conference titles, 2-time conference COY
Southeast Louisiana: Billy Kennedy (1999-2005) 80-92, 1 NCAA tourney, 2 conference titles, 1-time conference COY
Sam Houston State: Bob Marlin (1998-2010) 225-131, 2 NCAA tourneys, 4 conference titles, 3-time conference COY
Stephen F. Austin: Danny Kaspar (2000-present) 199-124, 1 NCAA tourney, 2 conference titles, 1-time conference COY
Texas A&M CC: Ronnie Arrow (1999-2007) 134-91, 1 NCAA tourney, 1 conference title, 1-time conference COY
Texas State: Mike Miller (1994-2000) 87-79, 1 NCAA tourney, 2 conference titles, 1-time conference COY
Texas-Arlington: Eddie McCarter (1992-2006) 179-211, 1 conference title
UTSA: Tim Carter (1995-2006) 160-152, 2 NCAA tourneys, 1 conference title, 1-time conference COY