|Wesleyan head men’s
basketball coach Gerry McDowell, center, hangs out near the hoops with
varsity players Eric Winters '08, left, and Jim Shepherd '07. McDowell has coached
the team for 10 years.
Hoop Hopes: Coach Celebrates 10th Year Leading Wesleyan's Basketball
|Q: When did you
become the head men’s basketball coach at Wesleyan, Gerry?
A: I began coaching here in 1996, so this my 10th year at Wesleyan.
Q: I understand you entered the season with a 113-103 record. Is it true you
had a streak of seven consecutive winning seasons?
A: Yes, it is true. However, our performance in the next game and our growth
as a team this season is all that really matters.
Q: Can you briefly sum up the season so far?
A: We are evolving into a very good defensive team. Our success will depend
on maintaining a high level of defensive execution and improving our
defensive rebounding. NESCAC is a very strong conference and every opponent
will provide a big challenge as well as an excellent opportunity to make
some noise in the conference.
Q: When does the NESCAC tournament begin?
A: This year the tournament begins on February 18 with the top eight teams
competing on that day.
Q: Prior to Wesleyan, where did you coach?
A: I began my teaching and coaching career on Cape Cod at Barnstable High
School. I coached at the freshman, junior varsity and varsity levels and
learned how to teach the game. I gained experience at the college level at
Colby College as an assistant coach to Dick Whitmore. His son, Richard
Whitmore, is Wesleyan’s facilities manager in our Athletic Department.
Q: When did you decide to go into coaching?
A: My student-teaching experience while I was at Colby led me into a 12-year
teaching stint at Barnstable High. I learned that I enjoyed the challenge of
motivating young people in the classroom. Ultimately, my desire to motivate
players who are passionate about basketball led to a move to the college
Q: What type of training methods do you use for your players?
A: The biggest adjustment a player has to make is adapting to the physical
nature of college basketball. A commitment to a weight program is a must. In
order to become an effective player he must be able to play through the
physical contact that is part of the game.
Q: What are you looking for in a player when recruiting?
A: A student athlete must show that he has the ability to succeed
academically. Wesleyan must be appealing to him for a lot more than simply
basketball. After that, I am looking for mentally strong and physically
tough players. They must be resilient in order to handle the challenges of a
season. A player must demonstrate that he possesses and understanding of
team play in order to be a candidate for Wesleyan basketball.
Q: When does practice begin and how do you prepare the athletes for games?
A: All winter sports teams begin practicing on November 1. We begin the
season by working on conditioning, drilling the fundamentals of the game and
implementing our offensive and defensive approach. Developing a familiarity
of each opponent is vital and adjustments to our approach are introduced and
drilled in the days leading up to each game.
Q: Who are your key players this year, and what are your general thoughts on
the team overall?
A: This year’s captain is Jared Ashe ’07. He is an all-conference caliber
guard who is extremely competitive player and a great leader.
Q: Do your student athletes participate in other sports?
A: There are six two-sport athletes on our team. Jared is an All-NESCAC
performer on the soccer team. Blake Curry ’07, Mike Raymond ’08 and Steve
Tolbert ’09 are members of the football team. Sam Grover ’08 competed in the
triple jump at nationals last year as a freshman. Jon Sargent ’09 will pitch
for the baseball team in the spring.
Q: What is the most rewarding factor about being a Cardinal coach?
A: The opportunity to represent Wesleyan University is rewarding and leading
a group of athletes who take pride in Wesleyan is truly a unique experience.
Q: As an adjunct professor of physical education, what sports-related
classes do you teach at Wesleyan?
A: Introductory and Beginning Tennis are my physical education assignments.
It’s a lot of fun meeting and coaching students in a life-long activity like
Q: Tell me about the Cardinal Hoop Clinic.
A: The Cardinal Hoop Clinic is a basketball camp for boys and girls from age
8-15. Members of the men and women’s basketball team are vital to the
success of the clinic. They serve as coaches and teach the fundamentals of
the game, conduct drills and contests that reinforce the skills involved in
basketball and serve as role models for the campers. This summer the Clinic
will run from June 26-30. Anyone who is interested should call me at
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection