Catching Up with Brian Wilson: Head Coach at Connecticut College

Connecticut College Head Coach, Brian Wilson, is now coaching in his 8th season with the Camels. During his time at the helm, the women’s basketball team has achieved the program’s top four NESCAC standing finishes.

In Coach Wilson’s first interview, he made a statement that we will never forget:

“Just leading by example is taking the easy way out and I can’t get on board with that.”

We often reflect back to this comment and wanted to know more about what Wilson implements to help his players reach beyond leading by example:

A: We have found it to be much more beneficial for our leaders, their teammates, and our coaching staff, to have a clear, written description of what a Connecticut College Women’s Basketball leader looks like, how she carries herself, what we need from her, and what her responsibilities are in a number of areas.

Having a collective understanding of leadership within our program has helped our leaders identify their leadership strengths and weaknesses, which in turn has lead to opportunities to develop certain areas of their leadership. For example, one of the specific responsibilities is to set the tone. Working from that starting point, we can then have a discussion with a team leader about what specifically she can be doing in the team room, in pre-practice, or during our dynamic warmup to help create an optimal environment and set the tone.

Connecticut College is a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), which doesn’t start practice until November 1st. The rest of Division III starts on October 15th.

Q: We asked Coach Wilson about how this start date affects the “curriculum” of those first couple of weeks on the court:

A: The challenge of the November 1 start date is a little different each year for each team.  This season, we will only have 13 practices before we open up so it is imperative that we are as efficient as we can be in practicing fundamentals, installing systems, and introducing new ideas.  We start installing our base defensive and offensive ideas right away in order to set a tone of urgency.  We want our players to understand how little time we have and how important it is that we squeeze everything we can out of every minute of practice.  There are obviously some things we need to get in early in order to successfully execute a game plan in mid-November and there are other things that we may introduce early that we plan to work on throughout the fall which we may not use until second semester.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about roles – how much or how little you define them, level of communication when it comes to growing within and beyond those roles, the role of upperclassmen versus underclassmen?

A: I am making a concerted effort to more clearly communicate roles this season, which is something I have not done well in years past.  We want to be very clear about where we see each player throughout the season.  However, we want our players to understand that their roles in November won’t necessarily be the same in December or January.  Their roles are ever evolving.  We want them to embrace their role in the moment and work to change their roles outside of practice or in the off-season.

Q: What have you learned recently that has stuck with you? Any new books you recommend?

A: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being different: What makes our school/program/staff different from the rest of our conference? Do we need to play differently? Recruit differently? How can we think differently about everything we do?

“We need to be willing to be different.”  

I’m also reading Legacy by James Kerr and I love the idea of “sweep the shed” that he introduces early in the book. This refers to the philosophy that we should take care of our business so no one else has to.


Follow Coach Wilson and the Camels on Twitter @camelcoachbw & @conncollegewbb!

 

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