Q & A With Coach: Ken Scalmanini – Men’s Basketball

Q & A With Coach: Ken Scalmanini – Men’s Basketball

At the end of February, head coach Ken Scalmanini and the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s basketball team completed the program’s 16th winning season in a row, 15th under his leadership. During his 15 seasons as head coach, Scalmanini has led CMS to six SCIAC titles, including four-straight from 2009-12. “Coach Scali” as he is known, took a few minutes out of his schedule to talk about the CMS men’s basketball program, his playing days, the Pomona-Pitzer rivalry and life when he is not coaching the Stags.

Each season it seems like the Stags are competing for a SCIAC Championship and the program has had 16-straight winning seasons. What do you attribute the success to?

Ken Scalmanini:
We have great colleges and a great product, so I am able to get some of the top student-athletes from all over the country that fit what we are looking for. The typical CMS student-athlete is one that is disciplined which is an attribute that fits the basketball team’s style of play nicely. Our success really comes from having a great product within the CMS community.

What is the coaching philosophy that you have built the men’s basketball program around?

The guys on this team understand discipline so I think year-in, year-out we defend pretty well. Usually we are one of the top teams in Division III in defensive field goal percentage and points allowed. The backbone is solid team defense, but the motion offense is the tradition here. Coach Wells ran the motion offense here as well before I did. It’s an offense that allows a lot of freedom on the court. The combination of defense and the motion offense that we play is fairly unique together.

Do you have any favorite moments or games during your time at CMS?

It’s always kind of nice beating Pomona-Pitzer to be honest. Everybody is at the game and there is a lot more attention around the game since it is such a big rivalry so the whole community is involved. A few of those wins have been awfully nice, especially the ones that were close games. Each year there have been some memorable games so I don’t know if I can pick just one, but I would say, generally, the Pomona-Pitzer games are a little more special because it means a lot around here. It’s a unique situation where members of each team run into each other in class or around campus the next day. I don’t think there is another comparable rivalry in the country.

You played your college basketball at Cal Poly Pomona. What kind of player were you?

They say you coach like you played and I guess it’s true. I wasn’t the most talented guy, but I played really hard defense, I was a really good shooter from outside and I could play a variety of positions. I was always put on the other team’s best player and if I didn’t score any points in the game that would be fine, as long as I limited what the other team’s best player did on offense. I was the Sixth Man Award winner three-consecutive years so I was a sub. I wasn’t great at one thing but I was solid at most and that’s how I like to coach.

When you aren’t coaching the Stags, how do you spend your time?

I spend a lot of time with my family because I spend so much time with hoops. My daughter is in dance and I coach a lot of my son’s teams. I run basketball camps in the summer and I train kids in the community on their basketball skills, so I have a pretty narrow focus, I’m pretty sports oriented.

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