In this week’s coaching conversation, University of Toledo head coach Tricia Cullop joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on how to build by culture and the blue collar gold standard.
As the winningest coach in University of Toledo Women’s Basketball history, Head Coach Tricia Cullop has transformed the program into a nationally-recognized powerhouse. The 2022 WBCA Carol Eckman Integrity in Coaching Award is a testament to her success in creating space for authenticity and community on and off the court throughout her 30-year coaching career.
Under her leadership, Toledo has made nine trips to the postseason and has hung five championship banners, including a postseason WNIT title in 2011, a MAC Championship in 2017, and three MAC regular-season championships (2010-11, 2012-13, and 2021-22). The Rockets’ 2011 WNIT Championship was the first major postseason tournament title won by a Mid-American Conference team. Cullop has been named MAC Coach of the Year a record-tying four times (2009, 2011, 2013, and 2022).
A respected leader in her profession, Cullop served as the President of the Coaches Association (WBCA) during the 2019-2022 and 2020-2021 membership years and continues to be an active member today.
Cullop was an assistant women’s basketball coach at Radford, Long Beach State, and Xavier, before taking over as head coach of Evansville in 2000. With an eight-season winning record, conference championship, and WNIT appearance, she was named the Missouri Valley Coach of the Year in 2008.
Tricia Cullop Coach Quotes:
“What I like to do is, after the game we meet at center court, I tell them a couple of things like, ‘Next game, we’re going to have to rebound a little better. But listen, let’s meet about it tomorrow.’”
“Our fans absolutely love meeting our players. We go straight to media. So, our media people love us because they don’t have to wait for 45 minutes to get their stories.”
“What my players know about me is that I always tell them, ‘It’s never as good as it seems. It’s never as bad as it seems.’ So, if we’ve won or lost a game, there’s always room for improvement.”
“A simple thing . . is trying to make sure that we have more one-on-ones when we’re criticizing the kids and that we make sure that we praise a little bit more in public so that they understand how much we really appreciate them.”
“Praise even your best players more . . to build their confidence because you don’t realize sometimes that even your best players really struggle with their confidence.”
“For an average player, it takes them a little while to bounce back from a mistake. For an elite player, it’s an instant.”
“I try to remind myself [about] my demeanor, my attitude. They [the players} are going to watch me and how I handle stress and how I react to adversity. I might have a moment or two, but I’ve got to snap out of it quickly, because I can’t ask my players to do that, if I’m not doing that.”
“After you choose your coaching staff, how you choose every player matters . . We look at three things: Academically, can they be successful here? And do we have the majors that are appropriate for that particular student-athlete. The second one is, athletically, can they help us? . . We’ve got to make sure that not only are they a great player, but they are somebody who can help us win at a high level. The third thing is what helps us narrow it down even more, and that’s attitude. I want people who represent our program with class . . and that care more about winning than they do about individual accolades.”
“We want we want to outwork people and, to the best of our ability, we want to be the best academically. We want to be the best people we possibly can be to represent our program . . and we want to represent this university the best way possible. You put those two things together, and that is our blue collar, gold standard mentality. We don’t expect anything to be given to us, we want to go out and earn it.”
“It’s really important that, as we prepare the scout, we’re saying, ‘What is the strategy? What is it they really like to do? And, and can we find some ways, maybe one way and another counter way, to make sure that we’re limiting those opportunities for them.”
“We really try to work on communicating with the person that’s a helper stating it so that they know they’re rotating and so that everybody knows how that rotation is going to occur.”
“We have a Practice Captain every day. So, it’s not just our captains of the team that have been elected, everybody on the team rotates through it.”
“You may have a kid that’s kind of quiet in practice. And the day you give them the Practice Captain title, you find out. they’re an amazing leader. But had you not given them the opportunity, you would never have known.”
“I may give my team three balls. And every time they turn it over, we take the ball away. And what they hate about it is I really don’t care what the score is, if you run out of balls you lose. And so, they really value each possession a little bit more.”
“I want them to be able to read and react . . I don’t want them to be a robot, I don’t want them to be mechanical, I want them to have a great IQ for the game, and know what to do and when to do it.”
Tricia Cullop Breakdown:
1:00 – Not Meeting Post-Game
8:00 – Done It That Way
11:00 – Mindset Training
14:00 – Challenges During COVID
17:00 – Built By Culture
20:30 – Blue Collar Gold Standard
22:00 – Great Schedule
25:00 – Playing Man to Man
27:56 – 28:41 – Membership Sales Ad
29:00 – Advantages of Switching
35:00 – Rebounding
38:00 – Special Situation
41:00 – Constructive Criticism
46:00 – Captain Ideas
49:00 – Highlights and Lowlights
51:00 – Individual Freedom
53:00 – Ball Screens
55:00 – Perception Precedes Communication
Tricia Cullop Links from the Podcast:
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