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Q&A: Kevin Cadle

Mark Woods

I originally interviewed Kevin Cadle a while back for a newspaper feature. Only a small amount of the thoughts of the former London Towers playcaller turned Sky Sports presenter found their way into print so here is the full, unexpurgated version - Cadle Uncut!

MW - When you started out coaching at Falkirk, what was it like to start with?

KC - It was different because for me, it was the first time I would be a head coach, running my own programme the way I wanted. It was fun, different but I had the perfect kind of team, guys that wanted to work, who were willing to work and who I could relate to on and off the floor. It was a perfect setting for a new guy coming into a new country.

MW - What attracted you to Falkirk and Britain in the first place ?

KC - J-O-B (he spells it out). I was an assistant coach, I was 27 years old and I was tired of being an assistant. I had two chances of getting a head coaching job in American which was none and none at all. 

So the guy who was here at that time, Bobby Kinzer, he was my room-mate at college and I had also coached him in Texas. He suggested to the guy who owned Falkirk at that time, John Edmonds, to give me a shot. They called me up, I hesitated for a hot minute and it was like, I gotta take this opportunity.

Initially it was come for a year or two, get head coaching experience, go back to America, get back into the college game and deal with it from there. But I got here, one thing led to another. I got a chance to coach the Scotland team and I wanted to coach the Olympic team. All of a sudden 17 years later, here I am.

MW - What is your best memory of Falkirk?

KC - Winning the Scottish Cup - the first time a team in Scotland had beaten Murray International in seven years. And when they gave me the trophy, I donít know why, but I just raised it above my head. And the crowd, I never heard such a thunderous crowd in my life. Being the first trophy that Iíd ever won, doing it myself, that was the ultimate point.

MW - You coached Scotland & Great Britain - was it a positive experience?

KC - That was so different. Having the opportunity to do that. I came in initially and interviewed for the Olympic job in 1988 which I didnít get, which was no surprise because I didnít know anything about European ball. But it was an honour to be considered in the top three. They gave it to Tom Sneedman and then they offered me job of coaching the Scottish national team and that was exciting for me. I enjoyed it.

What kind of hurt was that you had the guys from Murray, the guys from Falkirk and a few from Glasgow but there wasnít that continuity of coaching and of confidence. You donít have a lot of time with the national teams to install ideals. But each and every one of them, with the Scottish team, and the Great Britain, they were great out there.

MW - Was that the golden age of Scottish basketball ?

KC - You had Bobby Archibald, Iain (Maclean) was just coming into his prime. We had two really solid players at Falkirk in Jim Morrison and Steve Hoffman but the problem was you didnít have a big guy. There was no-one decent enough. We had lots of depth at the guard position but Archibald ended up being the biggest guy in the side which and that let us down in some of the big European games.

But what they did have going for them is the fight. They fought. We had one game where we were playing England in the Isle of Man and I got on them at half-time that they were showing no guts. And Archibald jumps up and goes Ďfellas, he can say we have no talent, we might not be fast but no-one can say that Scotsmen donít fight. Letís go out there and fightí

Paul Stewart was another one. We had decent enough talent but it was just lacking in a few spots.

MW - What has changed most since you first came here?

KC - When I arrived in the British game, Scotland and England had 22 American coaches here at that time. But most of them were veteran coaches. The guys who we see coming in now are not veteran. Overall in the league, thereís a lot of young coaches and I think that they could use someone here to help coach the coaches. 

Not to look at it in a negative fashion but back then, we used to have a lot more coaching clinics. We had that organised a lot more then. There seemed to be a lot more communication. Right now, the coaches are kind of closed, everyone is acting like theyíre holding a secret and they really arenít holding anything. 

So there was certainly more relaying of ideas in the past than what you have now. And also, it was a time when basketball was changing so guys who were  coming in had differing ideas and concepts. So what I see now is the same ideas, concepts. I donít see a lot of new, fresh things, especially from the new guys coming into this country.

MW - Does the Greg Lockridge effect this season prove the theory that inexperienced coaches canít always succeed in this country?

KC - You know, itís the case of the people in this country have to do a better job of hiring. I look at some of the people they bring in and you can see from day one that they are not qualified to be here. So I donít think it has to do with the experience factor. Itís the concentration and the emphasis they put on hiring has to be at a higher level, both for players and for coaches. This could be a super league.

Forget the money aspect. Take a team like Chester. Chester doesn't have any money but they have a solid basketball team. Robbie Peers went out and did his homework, beating the bushes. Robbie doesn't wait to hear from the first agent who issued those two favourite words to put in a sentence together that reads Ďhe's great and he's cheapí.

So money has nothing to do with it. Effort has a lot to do with it. That's what it comes down to. You need better effort from the owners and administrators, and better effort from the coaches when they decide to go after players.Ē

MW - With the differences between the pro and college games, was it hard to adjust?

KC - For me, probably unlike 98% of college assistant coaches, our programme was different. I would coach the junior team and we happened to be playing against JCs in Texas which has the best junior colleges in America. So for me to start being a head coach it was an easy transition. It was a case of finding your identity and that wasnít very difficult because all my life, Iíve been a coach.

As a kid I used to play marbles and I used to coach my teams. I used to watch college games as a youngster and I always coached the games. The coach would call a time-out and I would think ĎWhat would I do?í At times, they would do the same.

As a high school player, my coach would give his comments and just before we broke in the huddle, I would say Ďdonít forget about thisí, not to belittle him but to add something else that he'd forgotten. He said to me that Iíd need to think about coaching. So it was an easy transition. 

What I tried to find is this.. my college coach was John Bock, who was assistant coach with the Bulls when they won their first three NBA Championships. Excellent at X and Os as far as knowing the inside of the game. 

The next guy I worked with was Rich Shubrooks, not that good at X and Os but excellent at motivating. So it was case of grabbing a little bit of everything and everyone Iíd been with and then establishing my programme.

I didnít find it very difficult but what I did find difficult, or was a shock to me, was when we started 1-4, trying to get these guys on the same page, seeing some of that European mentality - they'd just fired the coach at Falkirk the year before and I was thinking Ďman, Iím getting ready to get fired hereí. Those were nervous days early but once we got on track, we did well in the first season and we took it off from there.

MW - What has been your highlight as a club coach?

KC - No question. Being at Kingston and us making the final eight of the European Cup. That was always my goal was to compete against the best teams in Europe and if we get a break during that time, maybe we'd have made the Final Four. We were competitive enough. Against Split, we were winning by three points with 10 seconds to go, Alton Byrd slips, and everybody does their job but they hit a shot, they take us into overtime and win. That was the first game in the group and they end up winning the European Cup again. If we'd beaten them, we'd have got the respect of  the referees, we'd have got the confidence we need to have.

MW - What was your motive for moving full-time into TV and out of coaching?

KC - One, there was a change in the administration at the London Towers and two, I was burnt out. And it wasnít the first time I had been burnt out do I really knew what it felt like. Iím a true competitor, I want to win every time and I put a lot of pressure on myself to be successful and I think I just burnt myself out by wanting that.

The one thing I look back at that Iím proud of is that I took Kingston and put them on the map in Europe, I took Guildford and Towers and did the same. But we were fighting against millions with tens, millions of dollars against ten dollars, and thereís a lot of mental strain there. 

It was time for me to move on, into something different in life. I remember as a kid, watching a guy, the coach at Marquette called Al McGuire (McGuire sadly died in the weeks following this interview).  I loved watching his teams play and when he became a commentator I loved listening to him. He said  Ďman wasnít meant to do just one thing. Youíre meant to have three jobs in your life.í 

So maybe this is my second one.

MW - Would you go back to coaching now ?

KC - I think now if I had to go back into coaching, Iíd be a much better coach than I was when I left. Iím enjoying television, Iíd like to make a career out of it but who knows? If push came to shove, if I had to go back, Iíd deal with it. I donít think Iíd be that far away from being successful.

MW - You also present American football on Sky Sports , is that a life long interest ?

KC - As a kid that was my number one sport. I used to live one block over from the Buffalo Bills stadium. I used to cut through my friend's yard and Iíd be there, so I used to go to a lot of games. One game it was so cold, I got stuck to the seat. My father had tickets to the game and he didnít want to go, so he gave me the ticket. It was 20 below zero, the snow was three or four feet deep.

OJ (Simpson) was my hero growing up so it really hit me with that dilemma he got himself into. For me, I always wanted to be a split end, playing junior football. Growing up I was so skinny and by the time I was 15 years old, I started to migrate more towards basketball and then a lot of people were giving me a lot of prop for my abilities. So I became a basketball player.

When I first came to Britain, that was one of the first things I missed. Back in States on Saturday I watched college football all day and then on Sundays, I watched the NFL. My first year in Britain, you got some football but it might have been last weekís game. So you'd already knew the result if you got hold of a USA Today or Herald-Tribune by that time. 

So football has always been one of my main loves.

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