Jackson Herald reporter Ben Munro caught up with new East Jackson boys’ basketball coach David Akin last Wednesday to discuss his film study habits, his have-no-fear scheduling strategy and whether or not CDs are still part of his musical collection in 2016. Munro: At your introductory press conference, you talked about how dedicated you were to film study. How expansive is your video library for basketball?
Akin: I’ll put it this way, I used to work at Georgia for the basketball program there. I was video coordinator, and at that time, I started to break down all NBA playoff games for the players to learn from. That was in 2009. So, since 2009, I have every NBA playoff game broken down. I don’t know how many games that is. I don’t know how many hours of footage. But let’s just say it’s more than enough to do what we need to do.
Munro: Do you have anything before 2009?
Akin: Oh, yes. I have NBA TV and I record all the past NBA Finals series and I take those games and I break them down. A perfect example is back when the Spurs played LeBron James. I will go back and watch that film and see what they did to stop him. You can go back to the Jordan days. I’ve got film of that. I go back and break down those games to kind of see what he did and the Bulls did to be so successful and what other teams did to try to stop him in the finals.”
Munro: How would you describe your coaching style?
Akin: Very intense. Very demanding. But with that said, I don’t want these players to have any regrets when it’s over. There won’t be any, “Man, I wished I’d practiced a little harder.” There won’t be any “If I had only worked harder.” … On the back end of that, as demanding as I am, as intense as I am, I’m very caring for our kids. I’m already picking them up, taking them home. We’re going out for lunch, going for breakfast because they need just some help in that area. I’m having all the guys over for the NBA Finals ... As tough as I am on them — that tough love — at the same time, there’s that other piece to it, that is very loving and caring. And I know that if I care for them and love them, and I let them know that, they’re that much more willing to listen and be coachable.”
Munro: You’ve already brought some innovations here, adding the college three-point line and a shot clock (for practices). How are the kids liking the college three-point line?
Akin: They love it because I tell them, “Look, I’m not guaranteeing that you can play in college. What I will guarantee is you will have a smoother transition than (a player from) another school that doesn’t have it.”
Munro: Any plans to add the NBA three-point line?
Akin: Not yet. No. Not yet. If I did that, they would never, ever shoot a high school or college three-pointer ever again.
Munro: Speaking of the NBA, I’ll ask you straight up: Curry or LeBron? (NOTE: Golden State led the NBA finals 2-0 at the time the question was asked)
Akin: Last year and this year, I have come over to the Steph Curry side. Not to say that LeBron is not a good player, but I think it’s evident in his play that he’s having the ball stripped for really the first time ever in his career on a consistent basis. He is turning the ball over more than ever … Steph Curry is not struggling as much, so I think you see a slight decline in LeBron and obviously Steph Curry continues to improve his game to a point where the only person who can stop him is himself.
Munro: Switching gears, what kind of player were you?
Akin: I had (former East Jackson coach) David Boyd my senior year (at Berkmar). He got me to play at a level that I didn’t think was possible. And a lot of what I do now is based off my own personal experience that I was not a college prospect my junior year. My senior year, coach Boyd turned me into a college prospect … In college, I was one of the typical “I thought I was a lot better than I was” (type players) … I really wasted my college career. It was very unfortunate. It was very promising going in. The coach had big plans for me, and I screwed it all up. You can take it one more step and say that’s why I’m so much tougher on the kids … Because I know I screwed it up. I look back on my career as a failure, and I don’t want our kids to ever do that.”
Munro: What was the best box score that you ever put up as a player?
Akin: I would not remember. However, I would not be able to wow anybody with a box score that I put up.
Munro: You’re in your 30s. Do you still own CDs, and if so, what are you listening to now?
Akin: I do own CDs. I don’t buy them anymore. I listen to basically Christian or gospel music, and that’s all that’s in the car. I do use iTunes now … I still take my iTunes and make CDs out of them and put them in my car because I don’t want to have to fiddle through my phone while I’m driving.
Munro: Do you have any common musical ground with your players at all?
Akin: I don’t think I do. I don’t know. What I was going to do this year is start going to church with every single one of them — try to go to every single one of their churches. I don’t know if they listen to that music on their own, but I know from being in the weight room, I have no common ground whatsoever with the music that they listen to. Maybe 30 years ago I would have, but not anymore.
Munro: Last thing: What can we expect from this East Jackson team this year?
Akin: We are going to set the expectation very high. I am not scared to play anybody. We scheduled six exposure events this year. We’re actually hosting one here. We are going down to play Pace Academy to start the season. They have the best player in the state (Wendell Carter), some say the best player in the country. And that’s exactly why I scheduled them. Because I’ll play anybody any time. Just you tell me where, and we’ll show up. And that kind of mentality, more so than anything, is what I’m looking for this year. I’ll get to the wins and losses later … that doesn’t really bother me because it’s all preparing for the state tournament — and we’ll be in it. The kids know that’s the expectation, and that’s what will happen. I’m telling you right now it will be. That’s just the way it’s going to be. But we will play anybody anytime, and that mentality is really what this whole first season is about.