University of Alabama at Birmingham head coach Andy Kennedy joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on being the best version of self, changing defenses and habits.
Andy Kennedy began his coaching career as an assistant for South Alabama during the 1994–95 season. Since then, he has also served as an assistant coach at UAB from 1996 to 2001 and Cincinnati from 2001 to 2005. He was named interim head coach for Cincinnati during the 2005–06 season after Bob Huggins resigned. He served as head men’s basketball coach at Ole Miss from 2006 to 2018, where he was a two-time SEC Coach of the Year and winningest coach in Ole Miss history.
After working with ESPN for two years, Kennedy was hired as the head coach at UAB on March 20, 2020. In his first year with UAB, Kennedy led the Blazers to a program-record of most wins by a first-year head coach in NCAA and most wins for UAB since 2016. In his third season at UAB, Kennedy led the Blazers to a program-record of most wins marking their third-straight season of 20+ wins.
Andy Kennedy played college basketball at UAB, where he was a two-time all-conference performer that led the Sun Belt Conference in scoring at 21.8 points per game in 1991. After graduation, he played briefly for Charlotte Hornets before beginning his three-year professional career abroad.
Andy Kennedy Quotes:
“When you bring in nine of your 13 scholarship players that are new to your program, there’s certainly going to be a transition period, and we’re experiencing that . . I think you have to evolve . . For us, you try to simplify things. So, I think it makes you really dive deep and figure out what are going to be our core elements and try to build from that.”
“You’ve got to continue to work on being, ultimately, a better version of yourself and just continue to stack good days. if you stack good days, at the end when you go to stand on your work, you’ll like your view.”
“We all recruit to a philosophy and we all have things that we believe in. There’s a standard, and you’re not going to deviate off that standard, but I think schematically we change every year. You adhere to a philosophy, and then you look at the strengths of your current roster and try to evolve a game plan that puts them in the best position possible to be successful.”
“If you want to be successful, there’s a price that has to be paid. So, for us, we want to be consistent day in and day out, putting in the work. Because when you’re in a crisis situation, which is going to happen about 17 or 18 times in a college basketball game, you’re going to sink to the level of your habits. So, we try to instill good habits and be consistent day in and day out in our approach.”
“We want to be relentless in our pursuit of excellence, on and off the court, consistent in our approach day in and day out, and then, ultimately, we want to be grateful for the opportunity. We have so many things that we’re blessed to have and I want our student athletes to understand that, although this is not easy and no one has told you it’s going to be easy, it’s an incredible opportunity that you have to take a step forward, both personally and professionally, and to put yourself in a completely different position than where you were before.”
“We want to be disruptive . . in changing looks so that the other team cannot catch a rhythm. Basketball is the ultimate game of rhythm. Establish yours, disrupt theirs.”
“People have asked me, ‘How much time do you have to devote to it [preparing to play multiple defenses]?’ You have to devote serious time if you’re going to really do this, because not only do you have to have confidence in it, your players also have to have confidence in it, they have to know that it is effective. And we chart it throughout the course of the game.”
“When you’re a coach, everything that you’re watching, from football to baseball to basketball, NBA, you are watching it under the eye of a coach. You’re dissecting it and trying to think, is there anything that I can take from this to help my current situation?”
“Kelvin Sampson said, ‘There’s three people that can’t ever have a bad day in practice. The head coach, your point guard, and your best player.’ And I agree with that completely. The head coach can’t have a bad day. They’re going to feed off your energy. And if you allow them to slack or to cut corners, guess what they’re going to do? They’re going to slack and they’re going to cut corners.”
“I think it ultimately comes back to accountability, letting them understand that you’re going to do it right, and if you don’t do it right, you’re going to do it again. And this is the standard . . so it becomes ingrained in them. We’re all creatures of habit and I don’t care how prepared you are, your players are going to revert back to their habits. And so, we just are trying to create this right habit regimen within our team so that then they can build confidence in doing it this way. You want your teams to be humble in practice but arrogant in games.”
“Be where your feet are, do the best job that you can, be totally vested, don’t be worried about self-promotion. Do your job. Because if you win games, people are going to look at your situation from a player standpoint, from an assistant coach standpoint and say, ‘Hey, what are they doing? They’re doing something right.’ And whether it be a player or an assistant coach, ‘Hey I want some of that in my program.’ And I’ve found that is really the best way to ascend in this business.”
Andy Kennedy Breakdown:
3:00 – Transient Nature of the Game
6:30 – Secret Opponent
9:00 – Becoming The Best Version
12:30 – Be Consistent
14:00 – Be Grateful
18:00 – Adaptions on Defense
21:00 – Best Players
24:00 – Counter Move
25:00 – Empower Other Player
27:00 – Multiple Systems
32:00 – Influence Coaching
33:00 – Evaluating Talent
38:30 – Love of Coaching
44:00 – Players Accountability
47:00 – Advice for Youngsters
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