Video, quotes: Indiana introduces Chuck Martin as assistant coach
Indiana coach Tom Crean announced the newest member of his coaching staff, Chuck Martin, in a news conference on Monday afternoon at Assembly Hall.
Martin, who worked last season in the scouting department of the Oklahoma City Thunder, was introduced to the media along with his wife, Lee, and spoke about a variety of topics, including his work with the Thunder, his recruiting philosophy and much more:
A full transcript is available after the jump.
Transcript via ASAP Sports
COACH CREAN: Thanks for coming out this afternoon. We’ve been wanting to do this, but we wanted to get the timing right, and we’ve got so much going on, and frankly, Chuck has literally hit the ground running in the time that we’ve hired him. We’re trying to do everything that he needed to do. It took a little bit longer because of the work he was doing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which I was in complete agreement with because when you’re high on somebody people don’t want to lose, especially somebody as successful as the Thunder, that only makes you feel better.
But we wanted to bring Chuck in and wanted to time it when his wife, Lee, was going to be here. First and foremost, it’s a great honor to have Chuck and Lee Martin here. They’re family, getting ready to join us. Chuck is someone that I have known for some time, but as much as I didn’t know him as well as I knew his reputation and had mutual friendships that had respect for him and had seen the work that he had done over a period of time, going all the way back to UMASS and certainly with Drexel, and then competing against him in the Big East when he was at St. John’s with Norm Roberts, and in seeing what he did in a short period of time, really, not only with the recruiting at Memphis, but with the player development at Memphis.
When you’re going to make a hire, you’ve got to make your staff as good as they can possibly be and be as well rounded as they can possibly be. Recruiting is a part of it, but teaching, skill development, all those things are a really big part of it as well. But maybe the biggest thing, and this is where it came back to constantly after I had targeted Chuck when Kenny Johnson left to go to Louisville, and when I had targeted Chuck as somebody that I had a strong interest in and started to make calls, the common thread that came back, to a person, was what kind of person he is. All right, to the terms of great guy, really good person, great man, great coach. Those are the kind of things that excite you, because I had already seen the intellect and the knowledge and the personality in the sense of what he had done in college coaching and what he had done with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
To me, what it kept coming back to me for how I felt talking to Chuck, when he would come in here and we’d talk basketball when he was coming in with the Thunder as I was talking to another great coach, he happened to be scouting for the Thunder, but I was talking to a great coach and he inspired me. He gave me ideas, actually some things that we actually even put in. It reminded me right away of how I felt when I first started to see Bennie Seltzer, actually, when he was with Kelvin Sampson at Oklahoma, and working with him at USA. And when you get inspired by other people and you’re looking forward to seeing them the next time, I think that’s a great trade, and I’m always looking for that.
I want as complete a staff, but I don’t want to look at a staff and say I don’t know if they can do this, I don’t know if they can do that. They’ve got to be able to do everything. The thing about Chuck is he’s done it. I’ve covered everything he’s done as an assistant, what he’s done with the Thunder, but he was also a head coach. When you’ve been a head coach at a place like Marist, and you’ve had to bring the balls out and sweep the court and handle everything, and Lee making sure that she’s the mother way from home for those young people, you can’t put a value on the experience of somebody that’s done it at every level, but somebody that’s worked their way up without that silver spoon. Sometimes it can happen in staffs and it can happen with teams. You can wake up on third base and thought you hit a triple. That’s not how it works. I really appreciate the way Chuck has been with me for a while.
When we got in depth with this, it was clear that we needed him and that he could bring a lot. He could bring a lot not only on the court, but he could bring a lot off the court. He could not only bring a lot in recruiting, but he could bring a lot in the sense of player development. So I couldn’t be anymore excited for myself, for the staff, for this program, and for the University to have Chuck and Lee Martin here with us. So I’ll turn it over to Chuck.
COACH MARTIN: Thank you for coming. I say Lee and I are really honored to be a part of the culture and the tradition here at Indiana. It really is second to none. We did our homework before making a decision to join Coach Crean and his family here, and I’m honored to be a part of Coach Crean’s staff and his family. I feel the same way about him. I’ve watched his career throughout the years and have an enormous amount of respect for what he’s been able to do not only on the court, but quite honestly what he’s been able to do academically here in Indiana the last four years where the APR has been unbelievable. Then you couple that with the success in the draft, you know, when he called and said, hey, would you like to be a part of it, to me, it was a no brainer. I wanted to be a part of something special. Clearly, Indiana and Coach Crean is something special.
Q. Chuck, can you elaborate more on what drew you to Indiana?
COACH MARTIN: Well, first, the history here, you just can’t deny it. I think the things that have happened here at Indiana are really unbelievable. You can’t deny it. But more importantly, the connection with Coach Crean. Every job I’ve taken in my career has been an immediate attraction and connection with that person and those people that have really helped me throughout my career. Every decision I’ve made in my career is because I’ve felt like A, he’s a good person, and B, I’m going to learn something.
I’ve clearly learned something with the Thunder. It was a phenomenal year. I learned a lot in 12 months, and I feel that way with Coach Crean. I really want to be a part of his staff. I wanted to be a part of his staff because I felt like I would be better. That’s kind of how I’ve made all my decisions in my career. Who can help me develop – Who can challenge me as a coach, as a person – And I’m willing to go through the challenges to grow. That’s really it. You know, there was a chemistry with Coach Crean right away.
Q. You talked about player development. Is there a certain will you be working with bigs more than guards or have you figured all that out?
COACH CREAN: You know the beauty of it – We don’t have to figure it out yet because he can do both. Anytime you’ve been a head coach, you have an understanding of both sides of the ball, all positions, things of that nature. He’s worked with some outstanding coaches. The common theme for the programs that he’s been with different people, different personalities that were the people that he worked with at St. John’s, UMASS, Drexel and at Memphis, but all very good teachers that said the same about him.
To me, one thing that when I’ve done this, I’ve made my best moves is put him on the floor to see how he was. We had him work out some of the managers, some of the graduate managers, and not only was I observing what he was doing and picking it up, but I was taking notes. When you get that, you just feel really good.
We’ve had great discussions on offense. We’ve had great discussions on defense. We were looking at something last night. I’m studying some film, and he comes in and shows me every facet of this certain sideline out of bounds that he ran and had success with. That is the kind of stuff that stimulates me, makes me better. That’s what I want the entire staff to have. As we sit right now with the staff, every member has been a head coach at Division 1 level, and that’s pretty strong. I’m not sure there are a lot of staff that’s can say that. I’m not sure there are a ton of head coaches that would want that, but I do.
I think it’s all about … the thing about recruiting, if you can’t teach and coach and make plays better, eventually your recruiting is not as important, because what’s going to happen is when you sign them and they get there, they’re not interested anymore about the recruiting. They’re interested in can you make them better – Can you make them better and will you really spend time with them?
To a man, that’s what came back with Chuck, and the relationships with players that he has, and then I think the added thing is what he’s seen from being with the Thunder. There couldn’t be a lot better franchises when it comes to preparation, Intel, detail, true values, sticking with it, and building something from the ground up with what the Thunder have done.
I know they didn’t stand in his way of leaving, but also they didn’t want to lose him. I think those are really good things. Because when we’ve had somebody that’s had that NBA experience on our staff, most recently it was Calbert Cheaney, when I was back at Marquette we had Jerry Sichting, who is now lead assistant with Phoenix. When you bring in somebody like that, that’s automatically going to get recruits’ and players’ attention. Not just because they did it, but they absolutely know what it takes.
The fact that we’ve had three lottery picks in the last two years, and the only other program in the country that can say that is Kansas, and for the most part our guys didn’t come in one, two, three in the country. Victor didn’t have one, two, or three scholarship offers. So development is going to be a huge piece of it.
So both ends of the ball I mean, both sides of the court, both ends with the guards and the bigs, I feel really comfortable with him doing either one.
Q. Can you talk about getting in there with recruiting and mixing it up to get the top players?
COACH MARTIN: I’m going to sit down with Coach Crean. We’ve talked about recruiting a little bit. I’m going to follow his lead. Clearly for me I would like to get involved with the better players in the country, but that doesn’t always work. It’s about getting the right fit. I learned that with the Thunder. We’ve had guys who were very critical of the Thunder last year when we took Steven Adams from the University of Pittsburgh who averaged 4 points and three rebounds. He helped us win 15 games this year and get close to 60 wins and get to the Western Conference Finals. It’s not always about how highly they’re rated, it’s about what is their talent – Can we use their talent – Does it fit with the scheme that we’re trying to execute here in Indiana?
Q. You talk about learning something, but just adding on to it, what did you learn from your previous position as head coach?
COACH MARTIN: Being a head coach, as Coach mentioned before, you just have a wider scope. When you’re the assistant coach and you’ve never been a head coach before, you’re just focused on recruiting and the task at hand on that particular day. When you’re the head coach, you’re going home at night hoping that the kids went to study hall, they went to class, you’re thinking about tomorrow’s practice plan. You’re thinking three or four days ahead about the opponent, whether it’s Iona, Siena, Manhattan College. You’re thinking about the community outreach. So I’m better for it.
I’ve always said when my tenure was up at Marist, I always felt like whoever hired me next was going to get a better version of me just because of the experience. And I’m certainly better for sure after being a head coach.
Q. You said you had him workout with the other managers on his interview. Is that how you usually do things?
COACH CREAN: Absolutely, yeah, when I’ve done that in the past, it’s good, you give them a couple things, ideals of what you’re looking for and let them run. It’s very unscripted, and I had very, I should say I didn’t have any doubts about his teaching ability based upon relationships. The one thing that really stands out about who he’s worked for and even before becoming the head coach and going to the Thunder, we were in the Big East. I mean, Norm Roberts, we felt that was as tough and hard nosed a team as we faced. There were some other really good teams, obviously, in that league. Bruiser Flint, what he’s done over a period of time at UMASS, and Drexel speaks for itself, and it’s well documented how good a coach John is and how his team has developed.
When you look at John’s teams over the years, it’s not just about the draft picks, it’s not just about the offense, it’s what they do defensively. It’s what they do in rebound margin. It’s what they do in field goal defense, things of that nature.
So when you have somebody that their niche is they can coach, all right, and they understand the aspects of it. His niche as a recruiter is that he understands the landscape, and it’s an ever changing landscape. I mean, it’s changed drastically since I’ve been head coach at Indiana. It’s changed light years since I became a head coach. It’s changed in the last two years, and it will change even more in the next two years. If you don’t understand the landscape and all the different factions and people and know how to navigate it and read it, and you’ve got to understand it all. Sometimes it’s about the AAU, sometimes it’s about the high school. Sometimes it’s about the geography. It’s always going to be a lot of mixes in there, I think when you’re as astute as Chuck is and have the experience and the ability to work with people, get along with people, that makes it that much easier.
Q. What did you have to learn about Indiana before you could accept the job?
COACH MARTIN: Well, I’ve got three kids, so that played a major factor in the decision making. We wanted to make sure it was the right place for our kids first and foremost. Again, every job that I’ve taken, it’s always been about people. Then because we’ve had a really good connection, the wins just kind of came.
So when I met Coach Crean and his wife, I just felt it. Lee and I talked about it. There was a connection right away. We said, you know what? This feels good. I can only talk about my experience when it feels good and there is a connection and there is chemistry. I think the other things just kind of fall into place. So for me it wasn’t about the basketball because he’s done a phenomenal job in his career. He’s really well respected in our profession, without a doubt. I mean, people, if you interact with coaches and you’re a part of that fraternity, his name comes up all the time as one of the better coaches around the country. So that, to me, was not the issue. It was, okay, can I make the transition with my kids to Bloomington – New city, new state, away from family in New York, that was really our biggest challenge.
Again, getting to know coach and his family, we hit it off right away, and that was really a telling sign for Lee and I that it felt good. This is probably a good place for us.
Q. Can you just elaborate maybe a little more on what you said while you were at Oklahoma City, and what you acquired through that in coaching?
COACH MARTIN: Well, my main responsibility was evaluating the college landscape. So I would cover a number of high profile conferences throughout the country, and then they slowly transitioned me into some European stuff. So they would give me three films a week on Sundays by 5:00 o’clock, on top of the three or four games I was covering throughout the week. I would also have to cover the European players. Write a scouting report on the games that I’ve covered here in the States, and write a scouting report on the European games that I had just finished watching.
I think Coach hit it on the head earlier. The amount of detail that goes into the work with the Thunder really is incredible. How they’re able to organize information and then get it to the people within their organization so they can use it to really empower their employees, really is phenomenal. Hopefully I can take some of the philosophy that we had at Oklahoma and help Coach Crean as best I can with it.
Q. Does hiring Chuck help recruiting out east?
COACH CREAN: It certainly factors in, but I think it would factor in if there were a player in Bloomington that we were recruiting. Because I think if you can deal with people, geography matters because maybe you’re more comfortable there, you have more contacts. You know the streets. You don’t need a GPS or a map maybe. But the bottom line is where can you go in and develop real relationships and be a connecter.
The thing I see and the thing that impresses me so much about Chuck is what you really want every coach to be, and what I always tried to be when I was working with Ralph Willard or working for Tom Izzo, the more you sell them and the more you speak to what makes them and that program successful, the more it sells yourself. Chuck’s been selling himself without even really knowing it for a long time because of the loyalty he’s had with the people he’s worked for, the programs that he’s worked for and now the Thunder.
To me, that carries a lot of weight. There won’t be any area. Again, when you’re at Indiana, you can go a lot of different places. You’re always going to start at home. We have, and we have from the very beginning. When it came down to Derek Elston staying with it and getting Jordan Hulls, but at the same time, you want to get people that fit that ideal.
We’ve made a couple mistakes in the state of Indiana. Guys that we did get, and probably missed a couple we would have liked to have gotten, and that’s going to continue to be that way no matter what part of the country it’s in. But when you have people that have that trained eye, what really fits, and it starts with how your staff fits and it really fits the culture of your program, again, that’s not even 25% of it. The rest of it is how you develop when you’re there. And that is the biggest thing that we’re really looking forward to and seen in a short period of time, with Chuck dealing with our own players and even a little bit certainly on the phone and in the unofficial visits. But it’s been more just watching him connect with our own guys.
I would think, again, if we’re not the youngest team in the Big Ten, we’ll probably be one of the two. I’m not sure what the chronological age of the Michigan group is. I know we were the youngest last year when it came to age wise, and because of the youth again, we’ll be that way. It’s really, really important that you have someone that can do that.
The other thing I like about this staff is everybody’s got kids. Tim Garl, J.D. Campbell, Je’Ney Jackson, you name it, all the coaches. So they’re raising their children and they’re doing everything possible. They get it. They know what it looks like. To me, I’m always trying to learn as a parent and as a coach, and I think everybody else is the same way. We know when they get in here at 18 there is a lot of learning that has to go on, a lot of discipline that has to go into it. Sometimes you have to hug them, and sometimes it’s got to be punishment. But you have to give them everything they need to be successful, and I think Chuck has a very good understanding of that.
Q. How has working in the NBA changed the way you evaluate?
COACH MARTIN: I think the biggest thing in the NBA is there is no timetable. Like in college there is a timetable. You have to sign someone in the early period, and you’ve got to sign someone in the late period. In the NBA it’s just a draft in June, so it gives you you don’t have a knee jerk reaction. You watch him once. You watch him a second time. You go back home and you watch him on film. You speak to his high school coach, his collegiate coach, his AAU coach, you just keep going, keep going. As you continue through that process, you kind of connect the dots, and then eventually there is a picture, and you can see who this kid is on the court and off the court. That was something, quite honestly, that I did not have prior to the Thunder. I think that’s something that I can bring to Coach Crean and Indiana. Just kind of keep plugging away, keep calling, keep digging, keep watching, watch film, game footage, practice, and eventually you’ll get a chance to see who this kid really is.
Again, on the court as a player, and then off the court we had a saying at Oklahoma, don’t draft players, draft people. I think that’s something I really learned with those guys that I’d like to bring here to Indiana. Just make sure you recruit on a collegiate level a complete person, not just a player, but someone that you feel good about.
Q. How much did you talk with Cal about Chuck?
COACH CREAN: I talked to him or exchanged messages with all of the people that he worked for. Rob, I think well, Rob definitely talked to Norm because they used to work together in Illinois, and talked to Bruiser, and John early in it, and other people you come across. But it wasn’t like we had to do a lot of research in that area. We just didn’t know him as well. But once we started talking and got him up, again, I was already pretty into it.
We did a little checking. Jayd had called Calbert right away, when it looked like Kenny was going to leave to see what his stance was. I don’t think Calbert was in a situation where he was looking to move. I definitely talked or had one other person in did some research on others.
But, really, for where we’re at with this youth and where we’ve got to go and continue to grow not only on the court but off the court maturity wise and all those things that come in with having such a young team, when I kept hearing everything about just this is what he did here, this is what he did there, this is the kind of situation and how he deals with things and this and that, it was pretty easy.
COACH MARTIN: I spoke to Cal briefly. He reached out to me and said, hey, Coach Crean called me and we had a conversation about you. Would you have any interest – I just kind of asked, what are your thoughts? And he was great. He said if you want to get back into college coaching, it’s a special place. Honestly, what he said was he can coach, Tom Crean can coach. Indiana’s a special place. So if you want to get back into college coaching, this is a no brainer for you. Like you need to take the job if you can get it. And it was a simple, short conversation.
COACH CREAN: The one thing that stood out too is the work he said he did with his team. Because, again, John develops teams. The record speaks for itself, but long before there were so many one and done guys and two and outs, the teams that he built at UMASS and Memphis had a lot of different guys that had to come up the ladder, and he spoke highly. Even including Derrick Rose who was there for the one year, just the development guard skill wise.
But the other thing was the ability, the ying and yang, the good cop, bad cop, so to speak. The ability to bring somebody back in when they’ve had a tough day or the head coach has been on him too much, and that’s what you want in a staff. You want a staff that plays off one another constantly. I don’t want to be that bad cop every day. Better off when we’re not. You have people that can wear all those different roles.
When you’ve been a head coach like he has and have the experience he has, you have a greater feel for that than somebody that would be coming in and really not having that experience. So I felt good about that too after his coaches talked about that that he worked for.
Somebody has to ask Lee a question or I’ll never get another wife to come up to the podium.
Q. When Chuck said he got the call, what was your reaction? What did you know about it?
LEE MARTIN (Coach Martin’s Wife): I didn’t know anything, honestly, about Bloomington. I didn’t know about Bloomington itself, but I remember my memories of IU seeing it as a child and always knowing that wow, that coaching, that game seems so intense because I’ve always watched basketball as a child. So when we explained and sat down and really thought about the opportunity, it was like this is a no brainer. This is what you want to do, and you want to go back to that, then this is a special place to start it at. And it was an easy decision in that aspect.
Q. What was the kid’s reaction about the move?
LEE MARTIN: Oh, they were excited. They were like we’re Hoosiers, mom and dad? Yeah, let’s go. I was kind of taken back. Like you’re not going to miss the family? They were like they can visit, they can visit. It’s a no brainer, mom. Let’s go, let’s go. So they’re really excited and we’re looking forward to coming here.
COACH CREAN: Like all good moms, she checked on the school systems right away and made sure the school systems were what they were going to need.
Q. How old are the kids?
COACH MARTIN: 16, and going to turn 17 in July, 11, turning 12 in September, and a 9 year old who will be 10.