Tom Smart, Deseret News
In his 10th season as head coach of the BYU women's basketball team, Jeff Judkins has compiled a 194-106 record. Judkins -- who was selected in the second round of the NBA draft by the Boston Celtics (the same year Boston drafted Larry Bird) -- spent five years in the NBA. After his playing days, he was an assistant coach at University of Utah and at BYU before taking the helm in 2001. After Saturday's win over New Mexico, the Cougars stand at 14-7 overall, and 6-1 in Mountain West Conference play. Judkins shares his thoughts about different coaching styles, the importance of senior leadership and the legacy he hopes to leave at BYU.
When did you first know you wanted to be a coach?
Probably when I was in high school. I was coach by Larry Maxwell (at Highland High), and I saw how much he influenced my life. I didn't know yet at what level I wanted to coach, but I knew I wanted to be able to do that. Later, when I got into the NBA, I was able to see different coaches and how they did things.
You're closing in on 200 victories at BYU. How much do those milestones mean to you?
Each coach takes it day by day, game by game, and I just try to do whatever I can to improve my team. When it's all over, I want to look back and know that I did my best. Wins help — when you're winning, people think you're doing a good job. I've been blessed; I've had really good players and really good assistant coaches, and that makes winning possible. Without them I wouldn't have any wins.
How has your playing career and past coaching experience helped to prepare you for this job?
I was coached by a lot of different kinds of coaches. And when I was an assistant, I learned under two coaches that couldn't have been more different. At Utah, Rick Majerus was a talker, a yeller, a screamer. Here, Steve Cleveland was the opposite, talking to the kids. I've always believed that to win championships you need to have defense, and you need to have balance.
You have a lot of upper class leadership on this year's team. How important is that to any basketball team's success?
You don't realize how important it is until you don't have it. They set the stage at practice, and their examples really rub off on the younger kids. I've never really had to motivate these seniors; they've been through a lot and worked hard. This group of seniors play like I did: I would try my best in every situation.
What do you hope to accomplish during your time at BYU?
I hope that when each player leaves BYU they have become a better person and a better basketball player. Secondly, I would hope that they enjoyed the game of basketball. And thirdly, I would hope that they have developed great relationships with their teammates and their coaches. That's what I love about coaching; I don't only get to know them, but I also get to know their families. Those are the relationships that are most important.
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