McDermott, others find success playing for fathers

By Eric Olson

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 31 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

FILE- This Feb. 8, 2011 file photo shows Creighton coach Greg McDermott, right, talking with his son, forward Doug McDermott, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Drake, in Des Moines, Iowa. Fathers coaching their sons can be an albatross for both, especially in a high-profile sport like Division I men's basketball, as fans, media and teammates watch their every move.

Charlie Neibergall, File, Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. — Theresa McDermott is enjoying the ultimate season for a basketball wife and mom.

Her husband, Greg, is head coach of 13th-ranked Creighton. Her son, Doug, is the headline player for the Bluejays.

"Now I've got what I always wanted — Greg to coach Doug," she said. "The way it all evolved was perfect."

Theresa's joy notwithstanding, fathers coaching their sons can be an albatross for both, especially in a high-profile sport like Division I men's basketball. Fans, media and teammates watch their every move.

Is dad giving son playing time he wouldn't get if someone else were his coach? Does son receive preferential treatment? Did son really earn that scholarship or was it a gift from dad?

One thing's for sure. It's a lot easier when the son is the best or one of the best players on the team.

At Creighton, Doug McDermott is the third-leading scorer in the country (23.5 ppg) and getting mentioned as a candidate for national player of the year.

At Central Michigan, coach Ernie Ziegler's son Trey is averaging 16.1 points and 7.0 rebounds to lead his team and rank among the best in the Mid-American Conference.

At Detroit, coach Ray McCallum's son Ray Jr. is scoring a Horizon League-best 15.6 points.

At UC Davis, coach Jim Les' son Tyler has been used mostly as a sixth man but leads the Big West Conference in 3-point shooting (.462), and his 9.9-point average is second on the team.

The fathers and coaches interviewed said that they spoke with other coaches who have gone through the experience before they invited their sons to play for them.

Seems the pros outweighed the cons every time.

"In my mind, overall, our relationship is a lot stronger both as a father-son, coach-player, because we've got the two intertwined," Jim Les said.

There is a long line of fathers who have coached their sons. Among them: "Press" and Pete Maravich at LSU, Al and "Allie" McGuire at Marquette, Dick and Tony Bennett at Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wade and Allan Houston at Tennessee, Bob and Pat Knight at Indiana, Eddie and Sean Sutton at Oklahoma State, Homer and Bryce Drew at Valparaiso, Tubby and Saul Smith at Kentucky.

Greg McDermott had never coached Doug at any level before he and his son arrived together at Creighton last season.

Doug had signed a letter of intent with Northern Iowa before Greg resigned from Iowa State to take the Creighton job. UNI coach Ben Jacobson, a longtime friend of the McDermotts, released Doug so he could join his dad in Omaha.

Their first year together had some rough patches.

"Sometimes Doug would say to me, 'Is my coach yelling at me or is my dad yelling at me?'" Theresa McDermott said. "Doug had a difficult time, like, 'How do I take this from this guy?' This year, he just gets it."

Greg acknowledged he sometimes was harder on Doug than other players, and there were times when Doug would respond to dad's — ahem — coach's instructions with the rolling of his eyes.

"Not that he was uncoachable last year — because he wasn't. He just didn't know how to react to what his dad was saying as a coach," Greg said. "That's been better this year. It's a period of adjustment for both of us. It's gone as smooth as we could possibly hope."

When Doug leaves the dormitory to go to his parents' house, basketball talk stops at the door and "Coach" becomes "Dad."

"He doesn't need me drilling him on how he's supposed to defend a ball screen," Greg said, "when he's out for a Sunday dinner."

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere