Two former Portland Trail Blazers players, Damon Stoudamire and Terry Porter, find themselves in a whole new challenge: coaching in the NCAA. Stoudamire, whose Portland tenure was mired in legal trouble, is now the head coach of the University of the Pacific Tigers. Porter, a two-time All-Star with Portland, is the current coach of the University of Portland Pilots.
Stoudamire left a previous assistant coaching job at the University of Memphis to take over his own team at Pacific. The transition has come with a lot more than even his NBA days, as John Gonzalez of The Ringer details:
Talking to boosters. Talking to faculty. Dealing with the budget and travel. Sitting in on academic meetings that involve his players. Marketing (which frequently means marketing himself). Stoudamire is involved in all of it.
“I knew it was going to be a lot of work — how much work I didn’t know until I actually got here,” Stoudamire said. “College is different. It’s a lot different than the pros. There’s a lot of administrative work. It’s a lot of getting out in the community and helping raise money. In college, I’m the owner, I’m the CEO, I’m all of that. I’ve got to do things as I see fit. Everything comes through me. It’s made me be more accountable in a lot of areas that maybe I wasn’t accustomed to.”
Stoudamire is out of college, but he is still required to do homework—and if he doesn’t, the school can be fined $10,000.
“The other day, I got an email from our associate athletic director,” Stoudamire said. “He was saying, ‘Damon, you have to finish watching the referees tape.’ I was like, man, I already watched it.”
Stoudamire had to email a certificate to prove he’d completed the required homework about referees’ new points of emphasis, otherwise there would have been 10 grand worth of discipline.
Porter is in his second season with the Pilots, but the team’s low status has let the coach gets his feet underneath him and establish the program:
“There’s not much expectation on us,” Porter said. “Which is fine. I’m trying to use my name to restart the program. It takes time.”
Porter likens college travel to his old NBA days, without all the glitz and glam, but sees it as an opportunity for his team to bond:
“We’re not getting on any private planes. No food catered when we get there. No Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons. It’s Marriotts and Hyatts and stuff. It has a family vibe, too, at times with all the young kids. It’s really rewarding as well.”
Pacific is currently fourth in the West Coast Conference with a 1-1 conference record and a 6-9 overall record. Portland, also the in the WCC, stands at 0-2 in the conference and with a 6-9 overall record as well.
The Tigers and Pilots find themselves chasing after more-established basketball schools like Saint Mary’s (where former Blazer Patty Mills played) and Gonzaga (where current Blazer Zach Collins played).
You can read more of Gonzalez’s article, here.