Kennesaw State Basketball Reflection
It has been a month since Kennesaw State basketball ended and some big changes have already been announced for the program moving forward. Lewis Preston was bought out of his remaining contract and Jimmy Lallathin was announced as the new head coach for the Owls. I believe this is the right move to make for the future of this program. Aside from the X’s and O’s, which Coach Lallathin clearly has a solid grasp of, there are other factors that make the hire exactly what Kennesaw State needs.
Coach Lallthin’s resume may not have the flashes of a D1 National Championship or several major programs as Coach Preston’s did, but he has one key highlight. Coach Lallthin was hired by Miami (OH) University Head Coach Charlie Coles
and spent four years under his leadership. Coach Coles retired with 350+ D1 victories while at Central Michigan and Miami, but it was his basketball I.Q. and his overall level of intelligence he was most remembered for in his career. He was also known as a true teacher of basketball and life. Coach Coles was interviewed when Coach Lallathin took the job at Kennesaw State by the Journal News. Here is was what Coach Coles said, ““Jimmy was enthusiastic, a good coach. He did a good job for us,” said Coles. He also referenced Coach Lallathin as a, “good recruiter, who can help players get better on the court.” I have been around the Kennesaw State basketball for nine years. Not taking anything away from former Coach Tony Ingle or Coach Preston, but Coach Lallathin, in my opinion, has the highest basketball I.Q of any KSU head coach. Additionally, he has the passion, energy and personality of a teacher. If you are near Coach Lallathin for more than 10 second he will be talking basketball and if you don’t listen carefully you’ll be lost. As he speaks it is obvious his mind works on a different level. Another clear aspect of Coach Lallathin is he a true leader. From his interaction with his players to his dealing with media at press conferences, Coach Lallathin knows how to connect with whom ever he is around, which is key for a program he has been around for three season.
The players at Kennesaw State have Coach Lallathin’s back. One of the most important players is Drew McGhee who will be a leader for this team leading into the off-season and into the 2015-2016 basketball season. McGhee is a coach in waiting and he will continue to build team continuity at Kennesaw State from the locker room into the dorm room. Coach Lallathin was a key reason why the 6’11-forward decided to leave, guess where, Miami (OH) University with one year of eligibility left to pursue his graduate degree and end his collegiate basketball career as an Owl.
Coach Lallathin has had an impact on other players on the KSU roster, but none more important than the Ohio kids. McGhee, Delbert
Love, Myles Hamilton, and Charlie Byers all hail from Ohio, which links them to Coach Lallathin in a unique way. There is a bond surrounding the coach and his players, which could lead to a more united team, but make no mistake, Coach Lallathin is all-inclusive. The last moment before leaving for a road trip to end the season, I saw Coach Lallathin shooting half court and long three-point shots with Jordan Montgomery (Orlando, Fla). It was clear there was a strong bond there as well. That is another reason why Coach Lallathin was the right choice for Kennesaw State.
Building a team and having them play to their potential is two very different jobs of a head coach. It is gathering the pieces of a puzzle and then putting the pieces together. An entirely new regime would come in and have to evaluate the pieces that were in place. Some pieces may fit and some may not. That puts pressure on the new regime to recruit the right pieces of the puzzle that would fit an existing puzzle or ride out the current puzzle until he can scrap it and start all over. That could take years to develop. Kennesaw State as a program that has suffered nine losing season in a row. The last winning season for Kennesaw State was the 2004-2005 season when the Owls finished 24-6 and 13-3 in their conference. That was the Owls final season in Division II and in the Peach Belt Conference. Kennesaw State needs a winning season and soon. With the graduation of Andrew Osemhen, this roster is completely made up of Coach Lallathin/ Coach Preston talent. There is no doubting the talent that is here. It is getting them to play to their potential that most often referred to by fans and critics. Coach Lallathin proved he was able to get more out of the players here than Coach Preston was almost immediately. That level of play continued to improve as the conference schedule played on. Being around the program and the fan base, they liked what they saw out of Coach Lallathin’s squad, which will bring more fan support into the arena.
There is a concerted effort to build a tradition at Kennesaw State beginning with drawing students to the KSU Convocation Center to establish a fan base. The KSU Athletic Department Operations does a great job in creating a fun environment for each game, however the results on the court matters. Winning is essential in building the kind of tradition that Kennesaw State wants and has the potential to build. Coach Lallathin has a greater chance of winning immediately than bringing in an entirely new coaching staff.
KSU Athletic Director Vaughn Williams made the right decision in keeping Coach Lallathin. The is momentum forward at Kennesaw State since Coach Lallathin was named interim head coach in January. The momentum continues for the right man in the right job and it is all moving in the right direction.