It may be Tyler Dawsey’s first head-coaching job, but it’s not like he’s stepping into the unknown.
Dawsey, who was an assistant boys basketball coach at Maurepas last season, was tabbed at the school’s new head coach, principal Kenny Kraft said.
“I got the new job, and they were excited that I was coming in because I did help out with them last year,” Dawsey said of the team. “To see a familiar face want to come back to a program that didn’t win a game, they knew that I was there for the long run and knew that I was there to really invest in them and try to get them better at basketball. If it was about wins and losses, it would be very easy for me to hunt a job somewhere else, but I was very thankful and blessed to have this opportunity.”
Dawsey, a 2016 Doyle graduate, is also a recent graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, and Kraft said he was impressed with Dawsey’s work with the team last season.
“He did a good job,” Kraft said. “It’s hard to find good, young coaches these days and times, and he came in and did a great job, and it was an easy decision to put him as head basketball coach here at Maurepas.”
“I’m very confident in Tyler,” Kraft continued. “He’s going to come in and do a great job. We’re excited to start a new chapter in Maurepas boys basketball.”
The Wolves didn’t win a game last season with a team that featured no seniors or juniors, which Dawsey said was a challenge in itself.
“We were playing a varsity schedule with a JV team,” Dawsey said. “The expectations were just kind of to … get them to go as hard as they can for the whole game without the scoreboard being in mind. We knew that the outcome might not be what we wanted it to be at the end of every night, but we figured if they were going as hard as they could, they were meeting their potential.”
The plus for Dawsey and Garrett Stewart, who was the Wolves’ head coach last season and is expected to return as an assistant coach, is the team showed improvement as the season progressed even though the record might not have reflected it.
“The losing, it was tough,” Dawsey said. “It was tough for me. It was tough for Garrett. It was tough for the boys, but at the end of the day, they were having a hard time seeing how much they improved. After every game, if we played somebody two times in a year, that second game, the coaching staff would come up to us after the game and be like, ‘man, ya’ll have improved so much. Keep working hard with them.’
“That was really important for us to hear, and we would express that with the boys (that) other people are noticing ya’ll are getting better,” Dawsey continued. “If you just keep mentality of getting better every single day, by the time ya’ll get (to be) juniors or seniors, we may be able to put together a schedule that helps us out and puts us in a position where we could at least have a .500 season or maybe even a winning season one day.”
Dawsey said another challenge was keeping the team motivated during the course of last season, which he said will remain on the shoulders of the coaching staff.
“I think it starts with the coaches, and I think we come in with that mindset of we’re here at practice to try to help ya’ll get better, then we expect ya’ll to do the same and kind of feel that fire from us,” Dawsey said. “Hopefully we can spark one of their fires, and that can kind of go down the line. It really starts as a coaching staff that we come to practice every day ready to get going and ready to get better and not give them a chance to buy into that woe is me mentality. Basketball is a long season, it really is compared to the other sports. It was, at times, hard last year, but we tried to come to practice every day trying to throw a fresh drill in every now and then -- just give them something new … Just getting out there, trying to get after it every day just to try to make them better at practice.”
Dawsey is hoping the team’s familiarity with him and a decent-sized junior class numbers-wise will help the Wolves this season.
“I think if that junior class really buys into what we’re trying to teach them, I think that will set a good standard for the next years to come,” Dawsey said.
“Our end goal is not just, ‘hey, let’s go win,’” Dawsey said. “That’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for what can we do this game to get better to move forward and help us out in the future.”
While the numbers might be there, Dawsey said another challenge for the Wolves is a lack of size.
“We’re going to have to play to our strengths,” Dawsey said. “We’re going to try to play fast, try to get a lot of shots up and try to be little pesky people on defense. It’s hard for a small team to sit back and try to play ground-and-pound when … we may have one or two kids over six foot on our team … When you look at that as our biggest kids on the roster, we have to take a different approach (than) what people are used to. It’s going to be a process of trying to teach these guys to buy into this process, but I think once they get there and I think once they get used to playing with that style, I think in a couple of years we’ll be better than where we are at now, for sure.”
Dawsey said he’s already seen some signs the program is headed in the right direction.
“I think the boys are really starting to get this mentality of ‘he’s here to try to change things, so if we listen and we buy into this, we might can be that class that changes things around for Maurepas boys basketball,’” Dawsey said.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about wins or losses,” Dawsey continued. “It’s about are we doing what we can do to get better every single day? As long as we get that product from our formula that we’re trying to put together, then I think we’re going to be happy because results will eventually speak for themselves.”