"[My job is] a culture changing job and that’s what we’re going to be working on."
~ Craig Robinson, Head Basketball Coach, Oregon State University.
You might remember: a few weeks back Oregon State Coach Craig Robinson joined Channing Frye and James Jones at an event in NE Portland called "Hoops for Change." Coach Robinson was helping get out the vote for his brother-in-law, Senator Barack Obama, but he was also starting to get himself familiar with the Portland community. Those in attendance were impressed by his easy smile, kind demeanor, and Oregon-State-Orange-Nikes.
This morning, smack in the middle of the week leading up to Oregon’s presidential primary, with his sister and the (odds-on) future leader of the free world flying in and out of the state, with the challenges of turning around a struggling Oregon State basketball program (choosing assistants and learning new recruiting trails chief among the difficulties ahead), Coach Robinson made some time to answer questions from Blazersedge.
I left Hoops for Change thinking, "Coach Craig Robinson is a coach that gets it." I left our phone conversation today even more convinced of this fact. To read more about Coach Robinson and Senator Obama, check out this excellent piece by Paul Buker of the Oregonian.
Without further ado, here is the transcript of our conversation in which Coach Robinson discusses recruiting, "changing cultures," and everybody’s favorite: the Duck vs. Beavers rivalry.
Blazersedge: Coach, it was great to see you out in Northeast Portland and I thought that was a great way for you to quickly establish a strong connection with the Portland community. Would you say Portland is a center point of your recruiting strategy compared to other cities?
Blazersedge: What do you pinpoint as the biggest hurdle that currently faces your recruitment of Portland kids?
Blazersedge: In that vein, there has been a lot of talk around the Portland Trail Blazers franchise about "changing the culture" and most people point to General Manager Kevin Pritchard and Coach Nate McMillan as the tone-setters. Do you see yourself as a "culture-changing" personality in Corvallis.?
Blazersedge: What were your initial impressions of Corvallis?
Blazersedge: What transitions have you had to make in going from Brown University to Oregon State?
Blazersedge: USC has been in some turmoil this week with the scandal over OJ Mayo. Is this type of situation something that comes up during the recruiting process. If so, do you find yourself bringing up the cleanliness of the OSU program and your own reputation to recruits and their families? It seems like that would be very important to Ivy League players and their families.
Blazersedge: Understood. But does the integrity of both you and your program start to rise up to the top of the list of things that OSU can offer a student-athlete?
Blazersedge: There was a time when you’d walk into that living room situation and some kids would already have it made up in their mind: "I’m a Duck" or "I’m a Beaver." Have you started to get a sense for the in-state rivalry?
Blazersedge: Do you see yourself developing a professional rivalry with Oregon coach Ernie Kent?
Blazersedge: A new challenge for D1 basketball programs is the "one and done" player. Does that influence your recruiting outlook? Are you looking to target the 4 year starters or is it worth spending the time to chase the premier talents that may wind up going "one and done"?
Blazersedge: Who do you look to as your biggest influences and mentor when it comes to basketball and life?
Blazersedge: Are there lessons or experiences from your time in the corporate world that you draw on as a basketball coach?
Blazersedge: Are there any coaches in particular that you model your coaching style after?
Blazersedge: Recently, Senator Obama had some nice things to say about you. Have you found your relationship with Senator Obama to be a blessing or a curse to your professional career?
Blazersedge: Understood and thanks for your time, coach. Any final message for Beavers fans?
There you have it. Thanks again to Coach Robinson and the OSU Athletic Department.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)