U.S. coaches Kenny Natt and Pete Gaudet are out to give a boost to the game in the country. A look at their plans for the Indian men's and women's teams
Tell them they have a daunting task ahead, and they smile saying, “It's a challenge.” Kenny Natt and Pete Gaudet, who took over as coaches of the Indian men's and women's basketball teams recently, are aware of the pitfalls and the red tape plaguing the sport, but are honest with their views about how to make things better.
With rich experience as coaches, Natt and Gaudet believe Indian basketball can turn the corner. Natt has been a former NBA player and coach, while Gaudet has been a coach in various American colleges for over 40 years.
“We both came here in June,” begins Natt. “My job is to find and evaluate talent, instil discipline, develop offensive and defensive philosophies and improve competitiveness.”
A skill sport
Gaudet says he has his task cut out. “It is imperative that we put a system in place. We need to groom talent. It is obvious we lack the money, the infrastructure and the manpower.” A coach who likes to call himself a teacher, Gaudet says basketball is not rocket science, but a skill sport. “It's all about passing, shooting and hustling.”
Natt loves the younger players for their receptivity and, for the same reason, prefers training them.
“As you grow older, your bad habits refuse to go away — this is true of all fields. But younger players want to learn, and if you teach them the right way, it remains with them forever,” he feels.
Their knowledge, interest and passion for the sport were evident during the coaching clinic the two held at the ongoing senior National basketball championships in Chennai. They literally played (rather demonstrated various moves) while holding the mike in one hand.
More than enjoying the hospitality extended by the Basketball Federation of India, the duo are keen on spending time to spot talent. “We want to move out of Delhi and see the young talent available in other States. That's the way for the sport to grow,” they say.
“The reason for the clinic is it provides an opportunity for as many coaches in India to learn, and they, in turn, can share their knowledge with others,” they say.
The duo feel the Indian players need to strengthen their fundamentals, the Indian coaches need to be updated with the latest developments, and a proper system needs to be evolved. The solution, they say, is a step-by-step process with a greater focus on the grassroots.
The involvement of IMG-Reliance and NBA coaches has been one of the biggest bonuses for Indian basketball over the last couple of years. There couldn't be a better time for the BFI to restructure its affairs and put basketball back into public consciousness.