MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (2024)

MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (1)

Website – https://brownbears.com/sports/mens-basketball

Email – michael_f_martin@brown.edu

Twitter/X – @mmartinbrown

MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (2)

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MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (3)

Mike Martin recently completed his 12th seasonas the Men’s Basketball Head Coach at Brown University. He is the31sthead men’s basketball coach in the program’s 117-year history. Martinlaunched his Brown career in 2012-2013 as the fourth youngest head men’s basketball coach in Division I. Martin is the winningest head coach in Brown men’s basketball history with 148 victories.

Martin began his coaching career at Brown on head coach Glen Miller’s staff as an assistant coach in 2005-2006. He was an assistant at Penn from 2006 – 2012 under both Miller and later Jerome Allen before returning to take over the program at Brown in 2012.

As a player, Martin was a four-year starter at Brown and was part of the winningest class in the Bears’ basketball history, posting a 63-45 four-year record from 2000-2004. He also helped the Class of 2004 to a school-record 39-17 Ivy League mark during that period — the best by an Ivy League team other than Penn and Princeton since 1970. He also helped the Bears to a school-record four straight winning seasons. When he graduated, Martin ranked third all-time at Brown in career treys (143), ninth in career steals (113), and tenth in career assists (232).

If you’re looking to improve your coaching please consider joining the Hoop Heads Mentorship Program. We believe that having a mentor is the best way to maximize your potential and become a transformational coach. By matching you up with one of our experienced mentors you’ll develop a one on one relationship that will help your coaching, your team, your program, and your mindset. The Hoop Heads Mentorship Program delivers mentoring services to basketball coaches at all levels through our team of experienced Head Coaches. Find out more at hoopheadspod.com or shoot me an email directly mike@hoopheadspod.com

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Have your notebook handy as you listen to this episode with Mike Martin, Men’s Basketball Head Coach at Brown University.

MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (4)

What We Discuss with Mike Martin

  • Growing up the son of a high school coach in Springfield, Massachusetts
  • “I’m not a huge proponent of specialization especially early on I think it’s great for youths to play as many sports as they can for as long as they can.”
  • “Kids are so much more prepared and just so muchmore advanced as players today.”
  • Getting the opportunity to play his college basketball in the Ivy League at Brown under Glen Miller
  • Playing one season professionally in Ireland after graduation and turning down a job from Goldman Sachs
  • Being hired at Brown to be an assistant coach by Glenn Miller who had coached him during his Brown career
  • Leaving Brown to join Miller at Penn and the staying on with Jerome Allen after Miller was let go
  • “Miller was always was someone that I just wanted to try to do everything I could to please and to make him look good and to help his program.”
  • Learning the ropes on how to watch film
  • “Adversity is the best way we learn and grow.”
  • “There’s a lot of different ways to play this game. There’s a lot of different ways to build a team and prepare a team.”
  • Getting the head job at Brown at age 29 in his first ever head coaching interview
  • Every decision is yours as the Head Coach
  • “I think I’ve grown into being able to really put a lot of responsibility on my staff.”
  • “I want to try to be as productive and as efficient as I can be in running this program. and empowering our people as much as I can.”
  • “We’re going to pour ourselves into our players as people. We’re going to show them unbelievable care and love and passion to help them become the very best they can be.”
  • “Player development is probably the hallmark of our program.”
  • “We want guys who love the game, who aren’t afraid of being told the truth. Guys who are going to be great teammates and are more invested in the team’s success and their teammates success than their own.”
  • Recruiting the player and the person
  • “Seeing these guys leave here prepared for whatever comes next and really feeling like they got the most out of this place and this program.”
MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (5)

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MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (6)
MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (7)

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MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (8)
MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (9)

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MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (10)

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MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (12)
MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (13)

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MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (14)

THANKS, MIKE MARTIN

If you enjoyed this episode with Mike Martin let him know by clicking on the link below and thanking him via Twitter.

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MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (15)

TRANSCRIPT FOR MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951

[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle this morning, but I am pleased to be joined by Mike Martin, head men’s basketball coach at Brown University. Mike, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.

[00:00:14] Mike Martin: Mike, thanks so much for having me on. Great to be with you.

[00:00:18] Mike Klinzing: Thrilled to have you on. Looking forward to diving into all the things that you’ve been able to do in your career. Let’s start by going back in time to when you were a kid. I know you grew up in a basketball family, but tell me a little bit about your first introduction to the game, what you remember from a young age.

[00:00:32] Mike Martin: Yeah. So my dad was a long time high school coach in Springfield Massachusetts area. And I just remember, he had a previous stint at Springfield Commerce High School. Where he coached some great players won three straight state championships in Massachusetts back in the seventies.

That was actually before I was born. By the time I was alive and old enough to realize what was going on, he was the head coach at Agawam High School, which is a suburb just outside of Springfield. And yeah, I just remember being at as many practices as I could riding the bus to as many games as I could, being the ball boy sitting at the end of the bench and just falling in love with being I guess part of a team and being in the gym and the sport of basketball.

So I attribute so much of it to my parents, my father, my family and he was the oldest of, Seven children, my mother’s fifth of 15 and so many cousins and uncles who played the sport. So yeah, basketball was just part of who I was growing up.

[00:01:39] Mike Klinzing: When you think about your playing career, how much did your dad help you influence you, work with you as a young player to help you improve your game

[00:01:51] Mike Martin: A ton, just by being around it so much and I always wanted to play well no matter who was there, but certainly I just knew he was watching through the lens of a coach and he was he never put any pressure on me to play.

He never kind of offered his opinion unless I asked for it, which I really appreciated, especially now as a father myself. But yeah, I wanted to competition was everything, it was great. An I just loved being part of a team and trying to do everything I could to become the best player I could be.

[00:02:28] Mike Klinzing: How old were you when you realized that, Hey, not every kid gets the kind of gym access that I get as a coach’s son.

[00:02:36] Mike Martin: That’s a good question. I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of that. Probably and I think about all the time now, it’s because I have three daughters who get to come work out, shoot hoops and, and play at Brown all the time.

But yeah, probably some point in middle school my mother was also really involved in park and rec basketball. So both of my parents love the game and so I was around it all the time. That’s my childhood growing up was in the gym certainly in the wintertime, probably every day of the week. And again, that’s where my passion, my love started.

[00:03:11] Mike Klinzing: How would you compare the way that you grew up in the game in terms of your development as a player compared to the way the guys that you’re coaching today come up in the game. Obviously, youth basketball and the way that we kind of develop players has changed dramatically in the last 20 years.

So what’s your perspective in terms of how you kind of got better and how you came up in the game versus your current players?

[00:03:38] Mike Martin: It’s definitely different. And I think it’s all evolution is for the most part really positive. I mean, I think I look at these guys now and they’re just so much more prepared.

So much more skilled, have such more of a base of how to play the game probably than I did. I grew up playing basketball, football, baseball, all the way through high school, all three sports. And I’m not a huge proponent of specialization especially early on I think it’s great for youths to play as many sports as they can for as long as they can, as long as they like them and as long as they enjoy them.

But I see our players now and they’re just bigger, stronger, faster, more skilled. They shoot it so deep. They’re so athletic. I think the growth of the game has been amazing. Probably I guess the ability to kind of work yourself out, right.

And not have a trainer put you through a workout or a coach put you through a workout. I think maybe that’s something that maybe we had to learn how to do when I was growing up. And I think back to just summer times with my cousins kind of just figuring it out what drills to do, what things to do to try to get better.

I think that’s maybe that’s something I’d point to as a difference, but I think far, far and away the positives and these kids are so much more prepared and just so much more advanced than I was at the same age.

[00:05:06] Mike Klinzing: Yeah, it really is. When you think about the skill level, I always kind of think about. team and I’m a little bit older than you, but I go back in time and when I was playing, it seemed like every high school team had two, three, four guys at the end of the bench that you had like the football kid that just did nothing but screen and bang people around.

Really wasn’t very skilled. And now you look at the 12th man on a high school team and they’re giving the ball and they can do stuff with it and handle it. And as you said, the ability to shoot from all over the floor from any position is just really, I think probably more than anything has really revolutionized the game in terms of just what players can do out on the floor.

And then obviously from a coaching standpoint, it impacts. the way you play offensively and then the way you have to guard defensively. Just the game in a lot of ways, if you think back 25, 30 years ago, it’s almost unrecognizable the way that, the way that it’s played today, partly because of the skill and partly, as you said, just because of the evolution of which direction the game has gone as a result of that skill improvement.

Just obviously, again, the, the coaching and everything that goes along with that. Thinking back to your time, As a high school player, what made the decision to go to Brown when you think back to trying to go through that process and figure out what you wanted to do, where you wanted to go play, what you wanted to study?

What was your thought process and how you ended up at Brown?

[00:06:26] Mike Martin: Yeah, I mean, both my parents were teachers. They were involved in education. So like my, my, I have two older sisters. One of them was number one in her high school class. The other one was number two in her high school class. I wasn’t even in the top 10 of mine, but I always knew I had to get good grades.

I had to study hard. I had to get good grades because it was the biggest priority in our household, like getting good grades allowed me to enjoy sports. And like I mentioned, I played football, basketball and baseball. So I was a good student. Education was a big priority in our household.

I knew I wanted to go somewhere to get a good education. I had some interest from Brown a couple other Ivy League schools, some schools in the Patriot League, some other Division One schools. And I just really bonded with Coach Miller. Glenn Miller was our head coach.

He had just gotten the job I think in the spring of my junior year and saw me play that summer. Ironically, I played on a Rhode Island based AAU team T. J. Sorrentine, who’s our associate head coach here at Brown now. And obviously a legendary player at the University of Vermont. I think Coach Miller first saw me because he was trying to get T.J. And he’s like, ah, I guess the Martin kid’s not bad either, but yeah, just really connected with him and his staff and he’s a huge, huge influence on why I’m coaching. I’d say obviously my father is the biggest, but after him, definitely coach Miller.

I’m fortunate. I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’m grateful that he saw. some potential in me as a player. And yeah, I just, when I visited campus I had a couple visits. My, actually probably three visits at some point two unofficial visits and one official visit in the summer and fall going into my senior year and just felt, it felt like home.

The campus, the students, the people, coaches And Coach Miller thought I’d have a chance to play. And I did, and he was coming off of a Final Four season at Connecticut College at the Division Three level. And I was confident that we were going to be successful under his leadership.

So it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. And thrilled that I did it. And still there. All these years later, still at Brown.

[00:08:38] Mike Klinzing: That’s right. All right. So as you’re heading into college, are you thinking that coaching Is what you want to do at this point or are you still just completely focused on being a player?

I guess on the course of all the interviews that we’ve done, Mike, one of the most interesting things is kind of the paths that people take to coaching and you have, I’ve kind of distilled it down. Most people fall into one of two categories. They’re either the guy that was in third grade and they were drawing plays up on a napkin and thinking about being a coach even while they were playing.

And then you have the other side of it where. They’re completely focused on being a player and then all of a sudden they’re playing careers over and they look around and go, oh man, like the game, this is it. I got to figure out a way to stay in the game. And then that’s kind of how they end up in coaching.

So I don’t know if either one of those paths resonates with you, but just what were you thinking about as you went into college? Was coaching on your radar?

[00:09:27] Mike Martin: I’m probably a combination of those two scenarios, Mike. Obviously I had the early influence being the son of a coach and being around the game.

I think my middle school travel coach would joke that we’d be in a timeout. He’d ask me what I thought we should run. And so I probably had that in me at an early age, but then playing was always what I was thinking about. And when I got to Brown I knew it was an incredible opportunity from an educational standpoint, but I didn’t fully understand all the possibilities and just the magnitude of this school and this institution. So like I get here and I’ll never forget one of my older teammates, who’s one of my best friends to this day, told me about an internship he was getting that, that next summer with Goldman Sachs. And I didn’t know what Goldman Sachs was.

I had to look it up. I didn’t grow up in that world of what was possible. And again, I knew education was important. So I say that because now I start thinking about, all right, do I want to go into finance?

Do I want to get an investment banking job and take advantage of the incredible network we have here at Brown. And through that network, I was able to go on some interviews my senior year and was offered a job at an investment bank. And I thought I was going to do that. I secured the job in the fall of my senior year, which again, tells you how special this place is and the network and the opportunities that it can lead to for you. And through all that I had a torn ACL at the end of my junior year had had knee surgery in March of 2000, I guess three, rehabbed it came back, was playing and practicing in the fall with the team, and then I broke my foot, had that operated on.

Played the last 20 games of my senior year, we came in second place for the third time of my four years at Brown. Back then, there was no Ivy League tournament, and I just remember as the season was winding down, it’s like, man, I’m not done playing. I want to see if I can play more. So I played in Ireland that following season after graduation, I turned down the job offer that I had already accepted in investment banking. I got back from Ireland and Coach Miller, we’d always talked I think he actually offered me an opportunity to be his volunteer assistant coach right after I graduated.

And I said, coach appreciative, but I want to try to keep playing. And then fortunately for me coach Miller had another opening when I got back from that season playing in Ireland. And I’ve been coaching ever since that was 19 years ago in 2005. And started as his volunteer assistant coach.

So I guess it’s a long way of me answering your question. It’s probably a combination of both drawing up plays in third grade and also realizing that while I was a solid college player I wasn’t going to make a living playing the game. So coaching is probably the next best thing.

[00:12:28] Mike Klinzing: Alright, so when you get on, I always think this is kind of an interesting question and just an interesting dynamic when you play for a guy and then you end up becoming a part of their staff because obviously the player-coach relationship is different from the coach-coach collegial relationship. So when you guys made that transition and you go from being a player under Coach Miller to being on his staff, what do you remember about the way that you had to handle that and then the way he handled sort of easing you into that relationship.

[00:13:01] Mike Martin: Well, he was amazing just with the responsibility he gave me from day one. He’s always coach to me like coach Miller will, until, until the rest of my life will always be coach Miller like, and, and so whether I was playing for him or working for him at Brown or later on at Penn he always was someone that I just wanted to try to do everything I could to please and to make him look good and to help his program, right?

Whether I was a player or an assistant coach and but he gave me a ton of responsibility. I saw early on just how much more there was to being a college basketball coach than what I realized during my time as a player. And it was a great staff to be a part of.

Kevin Jaskiewicz and Andy Partee were the two assistant coaches besides myself that first season. And they were both assistants all four years that I played here at Brown. So we had continuity and they all mentored me and put their arm kind of around my shoulder and took me under their wings.

Coach Miller teaching me how to watch film, how to watch any game through the lens of a coach and what to be looking for how to try to prepare for an opponent. In addition to all the other incredible things he taught me, but that really impacted me.

His ability to. Put a team together, his ability to put a plan together and prepare for an opponent and, and, and try to his, his, his adaptability and flexibility with how we could play based on who our best players were, are things that we try to do here now 20 years later.

[00:14:41] Mike Klinzing: You mentioned that there were a lot of things that you didn’t realize that went on kind of behind the scenes with coaching while you were playing.

And I think that’s pretty typical from a player standpoint, right? You show up at practice and, Hey, there’s the coaches and they must work on a practice plan at some point. And they put you through the workout and then you’re done and whatever you go and eat dinner or whatever it is you’re going to do.

So what, what was one or two things that you were like, man, I didn’t realize that they do this much of that.

[00:15:09] Mike Martin: Well, The one thing that sticks, I mean, there’s so much, but the one thing I’ll share, it’s kind of like back then we hadn’t, we still were doing VHS film. And I was as the third assistant, we didn’t have a director of operations.

We didn’t have a video coordinator. So I was doing all those operational duties, team travel, hotels, practices, and I was also trying to carry out our video exchange program. So like back then you’d get stuff in the mail from your opponent’s opponents and they’d say, can you please send us your film after you play here’s the envelope mail and try to get it out as soon as possible.

I’d be in the office all night copying our film on a double decker VHS. And remember spending, we played a New Year’s Eve game, I believe, I don’t know if it was Quinnipiac or it was, somewhere on the road. And I came back and I think it was a snowstorm and we got back late at night on New Year’s Eve.

And I was in the office well into the new year copying film to send out. And so yeah, that’d be one kind of thing that jumps to mind.

[00:16:19] Mike Klinzing: What’s something that when you think back to those early years of you being a coach, what’s something that you felt like, man, I’m not really very good at this yet.

So something that you really had to kind of work at and study and get better at your craft. Yeah.

[00:16:34] Mike Martin: I mean, everything. No, I mean, seriously, like you think about just how much you grow as a person in your profession or whatever it is you choose, I’m 19 years into this. So like, And I still have so much growth ahead of me right now, but I think how to evaluate people and players and recruiting I was awful I think how to and fortunately I wasn’t I had a ton of responsibility in scouting and working guys out and all those different things, but fortunately, I didn’t have to try to put together an offense or a defensive package.

And I just tried to be as much of a sponge as I could with Coach Miller and Coach Jaskiewicz and Coach Partee because those guys were experienced. They had been really successful. And so I’m fortunate that I was impacted by them the way I was and learned the way I was at an early, early stage.

[00:17:32] Mike Klinzing: What are one or two things that you learned during your time as an assistant, both at Brown and then when you went to Penn? that you feel like have made you a better head coach, especially when it comes to maximizing your staff and making them feel valued?

[00:17:51] Mike Martin: Well, I guess the biggest thing I would tell you is adversity is the best way we learn and grow. Coach Miller took the job at Penn in 2006 after my first season as assistant here at Brown. He came after he replaced legendary Penn coach, Fran Dunphy, who’s just legendary person and coach in the city of Philadelphia.

We inherited a great team. We won the Ivy League championship that first year. And then things didn’t, things didn’t go as planned the next few years. And unfortunately, Coach Miller was let go in December of 2009. So like I’m a young assistant coach, the only kind of the person who’s most responsible for bringing me into the profession and bringing me down to Philly just got let go.

And that was scary. It was a time of kind of stress and anxiety for myself. I had just gotten married to my college girlfriend, Kristen who was a soccer player here at Brown. And we’re looking in December at probably trying to figure things out. That adversity really allowed me to grow and be, be uncomfortable.

The interim head coach is Jerome Allen at Penn, who was a Penn legendary basketball player at Penn in the NBA and then over in Europe. And I was I was given it was kind of a good opportunity. I was given the next two to three months to try to Connect with Jerome and, and work with him and prove that I could be a valuable member of his staff.

Fortunately, he was given the full time job at the end of the season. And he asked me to, to stay. So like that, and Jerome was one of my closest friends to this day. So like that adversity, Mike it was a new, obviously a totally new way of doing things. My mentor and the guy that I looked up to and kind of taught me so much about the profession.

His style was gone and a new style was there. And I had to adapt, I had to grow, I had to change a little bit. And it was a great thing for me as I took over this program just a few years later those experiences and really the opportunity I had to help Jerome because he was it was his first head coaching job.

The opportunity I had to help him made me that much more prepared for getting this job here at Brown in 2012.

[00:20:11] Mike Klinzing: Was it eye opening to see somebody do things differently because obviously you had been with Coach Miller both as a player and then working underneath him as an assistant coach and now suddenly you have somebody new.

I know that when I think about my time as a player and then early on as a coach, I had the same high school coach for four years. I had the same college coach for four years and then I got my first assistant coaching job and I was kind of working with the same guy for a number of years so it was kind of like I knew the way that those guys did it, but I didn’t necessarily know that there were a whole bunch of other ways that you could skin a cat for lack of a better way of saying it.

So how do you look at what you learned kind of transitioning from, hey, this is the way you had kind of always seen it as both a college player and then as a college assistant coach to now you’re suddenly under a different system. I know you and Jerome had obviously worked together before, so you guys had a familiarity, but just how did you look at that part of it?

[00:21:08] Mike Martin: Yeah, the hardest thing was when we were, whether it was during a practice or a game or just in a film session or just in a staff meeting, I was just so accustomed to what I thought was the best way to do things is how coach Miller ran our program.

And obviously it was going to be a little different. So I had to get comfortable with the fact that there was more than one way to do it, like you just said. So and that was awesome for me. To be on staff with Jerome and John Gallagher, who’s now the head coach at Manhattan, and then later on, Dan Leibovitz, who was legendary coach under John Chaney at Temple, and then had his own program at Hartford, he’s now the associate commissioner for the Big East.

Learning from all those guys and being with those guys, like, there’s a lot of different ways to play this game. There’s a lot of different ways to build a team and prepare a team, and those experiences, all, I consider all those guys, not just friends in college, but like mentors because they, they were, they were the guys that helped me see all the different ways and styles and methods to try to build a successful program.

[00:22:17] Mike Klinzing: When you eventually get the Brown job, you’re pretty young to become a Division I head coach. Had you been looking around at that point, feeling like you were ready for a head coaching position? I mean, again, obviously as ready as you can be. Had you been looking around, or was it just the fact that Brown’s your alma mater, you had an opportunity that you sought to go back and kind of reconnect with that program, or just where were you at in terms of your thought process on eventually becoming a head coach.

Was Brown the one just because of your connection to it or have you been kind of actively looking at that point?

[00:22:53] Mike Martin: No, I hadn’t. I was really young. As you said, I was hired at my press conference. I was 29 years old. I turned 30 before that first season. But no, it was like when the transition happened at Penn from Coach Miller to Jerome Allen, it was Let’s get this program back where we want to get it.

And we had a 21 win season, a post season opportunity our last year there, big five and Ivy league player of the year, Zach Rosen, who was just an incredible player and some other really good players on that team too. But we went 11 and three in the league. Unfortunately, we lost our last regular season game at Princeton.

And so Harvard at 12 and two won the bid to from the Ivy League. Again, no, no conference tournament at that point, but we got the program back to a pretty good place. And then the Brown opportunity presented itself. The job opened and obviously I had some connections to the school and wanted to pursue it.

I thought I was ready. I realized quickly after getting the job that I wasn’t even close to ready, but fortunately our athletic director at the time, Jack Hayes again, he gave me the opportunity. He saw something and I’m forever grateful for that. And yeah, obviously it’s probably the only job I would have been able to get at the time because of my affiliation and connection to the school and the program.

But I’ve learned so much since then and feel that we have really got the program to a good place right now. Obviously a lot left to do, but yeah, wasn’t like I had been interviewing for a bunch of jobs and all of a sudden got it. That was honestly the first head coaching job interview I’d gone on and I got it.

[00:24:37] Mike Klinzing: So what was, what was the one thing when you got there that you were like, Oh man, this head coaching thing is going to be maybe more than what, what I originally thought?

[00:24:46] Mike Martin: Yeah. I mean, everyone says it just like you have to make every single decision like, I mean, every aspect of your program, everyone’s looking at you and wondering what are we going to do?

Whether it’s where to eat a meal or where to stay. I was probably early on guilty of trying to do too much and not delegating enough. I think I’ve grown into being able to really put a lot of responsibility on my staff. I’ve got a great staff right now, but at that point I was probably trying to make too many decisions and trying to do too many things.

I think what I’ve learned is I want to try to be as productive and as efficient as I can be in running this program. and empowering my people as much as I can, our people, I should say. And really let’s focus on how to, what are the things that directly impact winning?

And try to do as, as best I can empowering others to make great decisions. And I think that first team I had, Mike they were I was so fortunate, like they were so coachable. They were so hungry to learn. They made me look like maybe I was ready that first season when in fact I probably wasn’t.

But those guys were our captains, Matt Sullivan, Sean McGonigal, Tyler Ponticelli they were, they were amazing. We only had a roster of 10 guys, because I got the job in June. Couldn’t add any players because of admissions deadline. So, we only had 10 guys, but those 10 guys were…our chemistry as a team was so good and their buy in, the way they believed and did not question anything we did was really unique and I remember one day in practice and we worked really, really hard.

We really tried to establish a culture of hard work and unselfishness from day one. I remember one day in practice in like October, November, going through the injury report on a Friday morning with our trainer at the time, Matt Culp, our athletic trainer. And he’s going running down the list of who’s not available for practice.

And by the time he got done, I said, wait, hold on. Maybe it’s easier for you to just tell me who is available, right? And we had four guys that could practice out of 10 and we practiced. They probably looked at me crazy, but we had four guys and we went through, like, we maximized those two hours.

And again, I think that was just a, probably a crazy decision at the time instead of just doing like some skills and some individual work. But I think it helped us establish our culture early. And those guys were like, they didn’t look at me funny. They just like, Hey, yeah, this is what coach wants to do.

Let’s do it. And the guys who are unavailable, we’re watching from the side, riding the bike, doing whatever they could. And we tried to have the best practice we could with those four guys that were available.

[00:27:42] Mike Klinzing: Yeah, I mean, that’s a credit to those dudes because you well know that not every situation you walk into where you have a new coach and you’ve got a bunch of guys returning that that coach didn’t recruit, it doesn’t necessarily always go as smoothly as it sounds like it went for you.

So that’s a credit to those guys that were a part of that team. And obviously you came in with the right mindset and those guys were able to buy into it, made your transition a lot easier. When you look back kind of at. Where you are now from where you started and you think about drives winning or what drives success in your program, what did you think coming in were going to be some keys to winning?

And then did those things prove to be what’s been most important? Or was there maybe something else that jumped up that you’re like, oh man, I didn’t realize that this was going to have such a big impact on where we are. So I don’t know where you wanna take that question, but just kind of what do you think have been the keys to help you to drive winning at Brown?

[00:28:41] Mike Martin: Well, first thing is I mean, we have an amazing staff and our new vice president for athletics, Grace Calhoun has helped really invest more resources in our program since her appointment in 2021. But we’ve been able to keep really good people. TJ Sorrentine, he’s been our associate head coach all 12 years I’ve been here.

So his ability and just loyalty and willingness to continue to stay here. Turning down other opportunities. I can’t tell you how important that that’s been, Mike, but I knew obviously recruiting, right? Recruiting and building a team and a culture and developing our people, those were things that I knew were super important then.

They continue to be really important now. But I’ve probably adjusted our, my methods. I know I have, right. And instead of thinking that I was just going to out recruit everybody because I’m Mike Martin and I’m the head coach at Brown when I first started. It’s like, all right, that’s fine.

Let’s not worry so much about who we don’t get. There’s great players that are going to go to our rivals in our league. And let’s be okay with that. But just make sure we do a great job getting the people that are right for us. And we talk about. Our program’s not for everyone but for the guys that it is for, it’s an amazing opportunity.

We’re going to pour ourselves into our players as people. We’re going to show them unbelievable care and love and passion to help them become the very best they can be. Player development is probably the hallmark of our program, and there’s been so many guys who’ve come in as good players and chosen Brown over good opportunities, but then leave here four years later totally different and so much better than they were when they got here. So like our culture of player development and getting the right guys for us and then building a team, we can be adaptable and flexible and versatile with how we play based on who our best players are. I think we’re going to continue to make this thing better.

And obviously we came as close as you can come to being in the NCAA tournament this past season. But want to get there we’re driven every day to try to get there and try to represent this unbelievable school in March Madness. And I think that’s how we’re going to do it by recruiting the right types of guys for us and then just being adaptable with how we play and, and pouring ourselves into them to help them become the best players they can be while also helping them take full advantage of, of their affiliation with Brown for the rest of their lives.

[00:31:10] Mike Klinzing: What are some things that you’re looking for in a player? Obviously there’s a certain level of skill and ability that a player has to have to play at your level. There’s obviously the academic component that has to be present in order for somebody to be able to be even admitted to the university. But when you think about your type of player, I guess I’m looking at intangibles, things that you’re looking for that give you an idea that a player is going to be able to have success underneath you as a head coach and in your program.

[00:31:41] Mike Martin: Yeah, so beyond just being the most talented, obviously you have to be an amazing student for us to consider you. We want guys who love the game, who aren’t afraid of being told the truth. Guys who are going to be great teammates and are more invested in the team’s success and their teammates success than their own.

And we can work with a lot of different styles of players. If you do those things, right? If you’re someone who’s driven every day to become the best player you can be, who can be coached by a group of coaches that are going to not always just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear.

And if you’re really invested in your teammates in this program we can work with a lot of different styles of players. We’ve become a really athletic team. We’ve got great length throughout our roster. That’s something that we certainly value. And then defensive versatility and the ability to play multiple positions.

Those are some things that it’s not a non starter if you don’t have those things, but those are certainly been some things that we value.

[00:32:52] Mike Klinzing: When you’re going out to evaluate a player, And you’re taking a look at them. Do you evaluate different things when you watch a player play with their high school team versus their AAU team?

Does it matter in terms of What you see in one environment versus the other. Just how do you think about evaluating a player in those two environments?

[00:33:13] Mike Martin: Yeah. I mean, regardless of the environment there’s standards and values that we want to make sure that we think you have and then we’re also going to really do a ton of work beyond watching you play with finding out who are you and what drives you and what are the people that spend a lot of time with you, what do they say about you, whether they’re your coaches, your teachers, your counselors, people who’ve coached against you, people who have nothing invested in you, but know who you are.

We really try to dive into those guys as people and do our due diligence because that’s so important. I think our program has grown tremendously because we have the right guys for us and the right guys for Brown University. So yeah, I mean, I love seeing guys in a lot of different settings AAU, high school, camp new teams, familiar teams.

I think the more different environments we see them both in person and on film will give us the most complete picture of who they are as a player. But then all those phone calls, all those visits with people to really find out who you are as a person is just as important.

[00:34:22] Mike Klinzing: How far along into your coaching career as a head coach, do you feel like you found yourself, found your identity as. Hey, I feel comfortable in my own skin and I know who I am as a head coach. Obviously, like you talked about getting the job at such a young age and feeling like you’re ready until you actually step into the seat. You have to figure it out. At what point did you kind of start to, not that you’re not adapting and growing and learning year after year after year and continuing to improve, but when did you kind of feel comfortable as a head coach?

[00:34:56] Mike Martin: I mean, I felt comfortable leading people from day one. I mean, I wasn’t ready and I thought I knew way more than I did, but I’ve always felt comfortable even as a player, bringing guys together and talking and not afraid of confrontation, not afraid of saying what I truly feel.

I think from day one, I’ve been comfortable in that regard, Mike, but how I build relationships with our players, my staff, how I empower everybody in our program. I’m so much different now than I was 12 years ago when I first got this opportunity. I think again, I was prepared because of how I was raised because of the people I had around me, Coach Miller, my parents, Jerome to name a few, my teammates here at Brown, certainly. But then my evolution as a coach, I would say hopefully still has a lot left to it, but I’m a much different coach now than I was when I first got the opportunity.

[00:35:53] Mike Klinzing: All right. One final two part question. Part one, when you look ahead over the next year or two, what do you see as being your biggest challenge?

And then the second part of the question, when you think about what you get to do every day. What brings you the most joy? So your biggest challenge and then your biggest joy.

[00:36:08] Mike Martin: So I’ll start with the biggest joy. I mean, and I’ll answer it two ways. First, away from what I do for a living.

My biggest joy is watching my family do what they love, whether it’s my daughter’s playing sports. My wife, she’s a triathlete. And I love watching her and being her biggest fan and my daughters as well. I have a 13 year old, 11 year old and 10 year old.

They all play hoops. They play soccer. They play a little softball. So that is my biggest joy away from here. As a coach, it’s just seeing these guys leave here prepared for whatever comes next, right. And really feeling like they got the most out of this place and this program.

That’s why I’m coaching, right? I’m coaching because I felt like my experience here as a student athlete under Coach Miller I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And I want the same opportunity for the guys that we recruit, the guys that we give everything to in terms of time to help them become the best they can be.

Biggest challenge, no doubt, is expectations. We haven’t had these kinds of expectations that we’ll have next year. I mean, we’re hosting the Ivy League tournament. I think a lot of people think just because we came so close this year and we returned Keno Lilly and Nana Usu all these other great players that it’s going to, all of a sudden we’re expected to compete for an Ivy League championship and we’re expected to win games to get to the NCAA tournament.

First of all, it’s really hard just to get in our league tournament. Only the top four make it. And that’s super challenging. There’s great teams, players, and coaches throughout our league. And I’m not afraid of the expectations because I believe we should expect to compete and win a regular season championship and a tournament championship next year, but that’s going to be new for us, Mike. We haven’t we haven’t been in this situation before. I can’t wait to take on that challenge with this group of young men. But that’s no doubt going to be our biggest challenge.

[00:38:10] Mike Klinzing: Before we get out, I want to give you a chance to share how can people connect with you, connect with your program, find out more about you. So you want to share website, social media, email, whatever you feel comfortable with. And then after you do that, I will jump back in and wrap things up.

[00:38:25] Mike Martin: Yeah. I mean, we love anyone who wants to come visit us here at Brown, anytime all of our practices are open.

We’d love to have you come watch us come spend time with us. The best way to do that is just by emailing us brownbasketball@brown.edu. and then we’re on obviously social media. @BrownU_MBB

And then myself personally on Twitter or X, whatever it’s called now is @MMartinBrown. So appreciate you having me on Mike, a big fan of what you’re doing and grateful for the opportunity here this morning.

[00:39:02] Mike Klinzing: Thanks a lot, Mike. Truly appreciate you taking the time and being a part of it. And to everyone out there, thanks for listening and we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.

MIKE MARTIN – BROWN UNIVERSITY MEN’S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 951 – Hoop Heads Podcast (2024)
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