This edition of Five Questions & Quick Hitters is with Mike Durbin, the Head Coach at the College of St Benedict (St Ben's). Mike is one of the most successful Division III coaches of all-time, entering his 37th year as the Head of CSB program. Thanks for your time Mike!
1. You've had a fantastic coaching career at St Ben's. You've accumulated over 700 wins, and in a sport with constant turnover, you've remained at CSB for what will be your 37th season. What have been some of the keys to both the success you've had on the court and the bond you've built with the St Ben's Athletic Department as a whole?
I learned early on that you “win” with people! Not just players, but good students with character. Assistant coaches that love and are passionate about basketball and their responsibilities! Administrators that provide the resources necessary to make the collegiate experience a positive one for EVERYONE.
I never take anything for granted … I always review and evaluate what worked and didn’t work from the previous season. I’m not afraid to make changes. Team chemistry is ALWAYS a work in progress!
I love that we have had a junior varsity program for over 30 years … we had a MIAC Player of Year that started as JV player … we have had players that were captains and significant contributors on our two NCAA Final Four appearances that were JV players.
It has been fantastic to travel and compete around the world, as well as in all corners of the United States!
I believe we have an excellent summer camp experience for young players!
Yet most of all I believe institutional and athletically we are committed to girls and women development thru athletics, and I love that CSB basketball has played a positive role to our mission!
2. When you get a recruit in for a visit, what is one place that is off-campus that you like to show them as well, or encourage them to check out for themselves?
If a recruit is staying overnight, I encourage them to get a cup of coffee at Local Blend, in part because so many students hangout there and study! And you can never go wrong with lunch plans that include a stop at Bo Diddley’s for a sub and soup!
3. So many players are wondering what College Coaches are looking for in a prospect. What are some of the areas that players can get themselves noticed for being stand-outs and get themselves onto the radar of college coaches besides just scoring?
Wow, there are so many areas that I put importance on … I actually like to get to a recruit’s high school game early enough to watch warm-ups (how serious do they take warmups) … I like watching the recruit during timeouts; are they engaged (eye contact) with their coach and are they encouraging to their teammates! Many times, it’s not important to me that the recruit is having a good game; I want to see how they handle struggling (do they force shots, body language, engagement with teammates). I probably learn more about a player struggles than when everything comes easy. Character is also important to me because our team chemistry is important to me … I would prefer not to have weekend and end of the semester issues.
4. You have a very nice stable of Assistant Coaches. What are some of the advantages you gain in having experienced Assistants and what are some of their primary responsibilities?
I have had some amazing assistant coaches … the consistency of our program has so much to do with our staff. I have learned to delegate and trust more, and I want our coaches to be “another” voice during practices and even during timeouts. We have position coaches, and a defensive coach. One of my assistants is responsible for our scouting reports (he’s great!)
5. One of my favorite things is watching DIII coaches coaching club basketball. I think it's a great experience for the kids to learn from college coaches. How long have you been with Minnesota Comets, and what are some of your favorite things in shifting coaching from college players to High School for a little while each year?
I believe I have around 10 years with the Comets (off and on) with all ages (junior and 7th grade) … my approach to club coaching is somewhat different than others. I tell our players that I’m all about helping them be better high school players (not college players) and helping their high school teams be better! I want them to be challenged, but more importantly I want to help each player become a little more confident at the end of the summer than maybe they were in the spring! I really could care less about how many games or tournaments we win because that will take care of itself with individual and team improvement!
1. Full-court press or half-court trap: Full court
2. Favorite visiting MIAC gym to coach at: Macalester
3. Name of favorite quick hitter: Ari
4. Favorite podcast: Coaching U or Coaching YouTube
5. Late in game, up 3, do you foul or play it out: Play it out, switch
6. Best trip you've gotten to go on as coach at CSB? Oh, more than 5 words – just me Rio, with CSB (stateside) we are going to Hawaii this year (DC was my favorite) – internationally with CSB Australia or Greece
7. Favorite leisure time activity: golf
8. Go-to game day snack: Soup from McGlynn’s
9. Biggest phobia: really don’t have one
10 .Last Google search: looking for player’s highlight video