Roger Reid, as driven a coach as you'll ever see, says you should have seen the coach he played for.
"He was relentless, he never stopped," Reid says of Dick Motta, the coach at Weber State College in 1967 and 1968. The '68 Weber team went 21-6, won the Big Sky championship and played a first-round NCAA tournament game in, of all coincidences, Salt Lake City - the same as Reid's Cougars this week.After a 68-57 loss to New Mexico State in Weber's first-ever NCAA tournament appearance, Motta was off to the NBA, where his relentlessness has spanned parts of four decades; and Reid, a senior on that Weber State squad, was off to his destiny, which at first he thought was to play shortstop in the big leagues, but soon enough found out it was to be another Dick Motta.
"Best compliment I ever had," says Reid, "Was when Coach Motta used to say that when he saw me tired, he'd stop the drills."
Reid was Motta's point guard. He played a lot, but not as much as he wanted to play. "I thought he under-used me," Reid says, smiling. "I always thought I should have played more."
Now, his players say the same thing.
He has been the BYU head coach for two seasons, after 11 years as an assistant coach. The Cougars averaged 20 wins a year in those 11 seasons. Under Reid, they've turned it up another notch, averaging 21 wins and counting. Reid's first team went 21-9 a year ago and his second team is 21-12 heading into a second-round NCAA game today at 12:20 p.m. against eighth-ranked Arizona in the U. of U.'s Huntsman Center.
Considering that both of Reid's teams were supposed to waste away in mediocre-ville (Ladell Andersen, a smart coach in his own right, didn't retire on a full cupboard), a 42-21 record is all the more remarkable. The first team was led by guards Andy Toolson and Marty Haws, the second one by 7-foot-6 freshman Shawn Bradley. They have been entirely different teams - related only by their relentlessness.
"Whoever we are, we're going to be prepared," says Reid, which is also of course what he says Motta used to say.
"I was always surprised at how he never let up, he never stopped preparing," says Reid, "We'd get this almost spiritual feeling that, hey, we can get the job done, we can win.
"They used to say Coach Motta couldn't coach. They said we were lucky. I like to think we were prepared."
Reid first coached for seven years in Utah high schools, at Payson and then at Clearfield. If there's one thing he doesn't understand about the colleges, it's the notion that coaching in the NCAA is any different, or more taxing, than coaching anywhere else. He admits he doesn't sleep, sweats a lot, and throws up occasionally in preparing for the teams in Division I. But he also admits he did that when he was a high school coach.
"Getting ready for Viewmont (High) or Layton (High)," he says, "was the same as getting ready for Notre Dame. Only sometimes it was harder. The coaches they talk about on TV aren't the only ones that can coach."
He says the first thing he realized as a high school coach was you have to work hard at making all the players feel a part of the team. He says the first thing he realized as a college coach was the same thing. He makes his BYU teams huddle before every practice and every game and chant, "Stick Together."He has found that coaching is a lot like playing, only he sweats more. He still doesn't let up. He still likes to over-prepare, if at all possible. He still doesn't stop the drills until he's tired.
Largely as a result, the 1990-91 Cougars have gone on a late-season rampage, winning 10 of their last 12, including all four of their games in the postseason. Thursday's NCAA opening-round 61-48 upset win over Virginia being the latest.
"If I think about it, yeah, I'm shocked we've gotten this far," Reid says.
But it's obvious he doesn't think about it often, if at all, preferring not to look behind, but instead to the next assault. That's how Dick Motta was. He'd plot, plan, sweat, worry, throw up, do it his way, and never look back. For that matter, he still does. So does his disciple of relentnessness at BYU. And the great part about being the coach, you never have to pull yourself out.