College coaches are notorious for working all the time.
Even during the offseason. There's recruiting, scouting and scheduling. But the pandemic has taken much of that away, or at least dramatically changed how those tasks are done.
Illinois State University men's basketball coach Dan Muller is preparing for his 20th season as a college basketball coach and his ninth at ISU. He said he's never been bored until now as he, like millions of others, shelters in place.
“It is a little boring sometimes, I’m not going to lie,” Muller quipped. “Like a lot of people, I think being at home was great and it was really nice for a long time, but now I’m getting a little antsy.”
Muller said while he typically spends part of the offseason working on projects around the house, he’s already ticked nearly everything off the list.
Muller said he still trying to find ways to make the most of the down time -- for him and his players in the midst of an offseason unlike any other.
“For me, it’s about not wasting days and just watching TV,” Muller said. “How can you get better right? Staying in shape and doing things that can help you grow, reading. It’s just making sure you have the discipline to do those things because those are the things we are asking our players to do.”
Muller noted some of his players have gained a head start on training for next season. They are the ones living in states that already have partially reopened like Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.
The pandemic also has changed how college coaches recruit and evaluate talent during the offseason.
Muller said not being able to see high school and junior college prospects perform at basketball camps, or even meet them in person, creates a lot guesswork for coaches.
“We did a lot of Zoom official visits for some other kids after the quarantine began, but we missed out on finding, evaluating and seeing kids live in April,” said Muller, who has stayed engaged with Redbird fans during the pandemic via weekly ISU Athletics video chats he has with former ISU players.
He said that will likely impact what ISU’s incoming 2021-22 freshman class may look like.
Muller said schools being closed also will likely complicate the decision for many recruits regarding which schools they will consider attending since the on-campus visit is typically part of that decision process.
“I do think kids will make decisions later than they have in the past because the opportunities I think will grow as time goes on, but also the evaluation and relationship building,” he said.
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