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Q&A with Ola Dean

INTERVIEWED BY ALEXIS TANASE

STAFF WRITER

   The Pinewood boys basketball team has a new man at the helm heading into the 2015 season. New head coach Ola Dean talks his past and
Pinewood’s future.

Alexis Tanase: What has your basketball career been like? Where and when did you play in high school
and college?

Ola Dean: I played at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley from 1987 to 1991. I won JV championships, played in the Division IV Norcal State Final in 1990 and was starting point guard on that team. I got into Cal Berkeley on my academics and walked on to the basketball team my junior year. I played on one of the best teams in 30 years at that time, a NCAA tournament team. I was with Jason Kidd, Lamond Murray, Sean Marks, and Yogi Stewart who were all future NBA players, and there was four NBA draft picks off that team. I graduated from Cal in 1995 and then worked in the business world for about five years, before I officially started coaching basketball. I have coached lower division basketball for about six or seven years, head coaching boys. After that I coached another six years of varsity basketball at Mercy High School Burlingame, two years at St. Mary’s College High School, and also two years at Marin Academy. This is my 13th season as a head coach.

AT: How has your experience at Pinewood been so far with pre-season training and getting to know the boys?

OD: I got hired in May with full support from the administration. I know that basketball and athletics, here, are important, and that really drew me to this job, and to be a part of the overall high school experience was very important to me. We ran a summer program and summer camps, and played in summer league with JV and varsity combined. We all got to know each other and ran a season for about six to eight weeks. With a brand new coaching staff all the way across the boards, it’s a new mindset, a new philosophy and we’re moving forward. Some of the basketball programs already are at a high level here and we’re trying to get the teams to a 90 percent winning percentage, and that’s what gets
you to state.

AT: What information can you gather about talent so far? Who stands out the most skill wise?

OD: The hardest worker in our program right now is [junior] Matt Peery… He runs hard, plays hard, and has a high basketball IQ and will be one of the leaders on varsity. Then you got [senior] Nathan Beak a real steady player. He has a great attitude and a positive mindset. Also, [senior] Ryan Knotts is one of the three guys who have really separated themselves from the rest of the pack in terms of their consistency from all the workouts in the summer and fall. Those should be the three main guys on varsity along with a few other [seniors] such as Kyle Murphy and Roshan Bal who should definitely be strong for us. Then you have [sophomore] Jaeden Bailey coming up from JV who was a late call up to varsity last year, who should probably be the future point guard of the program. Just in the program in general, you have guys that care about basketball, and really, that’s the main reason I am here; people genuinely care about basketball here.

AT: Are there any role models that you as a coach look up to?

OD: I grew up watching Magic Johnson and the Lakers play, since that’s my favorite team. He was my idol, demonstrating my belief in team basketball. I’ve also been studying the Princeton philosophy for many years. Coach Joe Scott, who is the current coach for Denver University, has coached Princeton basketball. As a program we’re even going to watch Denver vs Santa Clara to learn how to run his drills and offensive sets and see how to sharpen them. I’ll take a little something
from everybody.

AT: How do you see the team doing this season? In the long run?

OD: We’re going to be excellent; that’s the goal. I don’t know how long that is going to take, it could take a month or two months or it could take three months. And if it doesn’t happen in three months, we won’t be in the postseason run. The goal is to be excellent in every phase in the game. Positive attitudes, high effort level, unity, a “teammate first” attitude rather than a “me first” attitude. I see us
being successful.

AT: How would describe your coaching style?

OD: It’s definitely hands on, I’m not going to just sit in the chair during games or practices. I really believe in players making each other better, it’s team offense and team defense. I have to be a team player and the other coaches have to be a team player, because we can’t expect from the players what we can’t expect from ourselves. If we don’t set the example, they won’t be able to follow it.

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