Friday, 13 March 2009

Wayne Kondro's Article on Smart, Campbell

By Wayne Kondro

It seems there’s something about unabashed gunners who become coaches - they’re magically transformed into defensive specialists.
Carleton coach Dave Smart never met a shot he didn’t like while leading the country in scoring at Queen’s University. Now, he’s even more than obsessed with defensive rotations and weak-side defensive help than a puppy with a smelly, old sneaker.
Similarly, when Smart was coaching Nepean High School, he guided a gunner named Brad Campbell, who averaged roughly 35 points per game and who, as Smart recalls, “wasn’t the world’s greatest defender.”
Now Campbell brings his alma mater, the University of Western Ontario Mustangs, into Friday’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport quarterfinals against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees at Scotiabank Place and wonder of wonders, he’s established a reputation as a “defensive” coach who’s far more interested in shutting down foes than testing whether a scoreboard has room for three digits.
Recalling some of the sideline antics that a younger, more volatile Smart was noted for at Nepean, Campbell doesn’t attribute his decision to pursue a coaching career to his ex-mentor in Ottawa.
That path had long since been determined after afternoon upon afternoon hanging out in a dugout with his father, a high school baseball coach.
But Campbell adds that “you could probably attribute to Dave to really turning me onto basketball and developing a passion for it. He was my initial kind of contact in terms of learning to play the game.”
Smart doesn’t take issue with either the characterization or the attribution. “Back then, I was crazy. I wasn’t level like I am now.”
Smart, who coached Campbell for four years at Nepean, describes the ex-Knight as “perhaps as good as a scorer as I’ve ever coached.”
And therein lies another impetus for Campbell’s coaching career.
A former baseball player who turned to basketball in grade nine after sprouting six inches over the course of a summer, Campbell proved somewhat injury-prone through high school and university.
While at Nepean, he suffered a knee injury and while recuperating, tried his hand at coaching, mentoring the Knights junior girl’s teams. He later tore his quadricep muscle in his OAC year two minutes into Nepean’s second game at provincials, dashing the Knights’ hopes of winning an OFSAA medal.
Similarly, after venturing to the University of Western Ontario to study history and toil for coach Craig Boydell, Campbell repeatedly injured his knees and while rehabilitating, again turned to coaching. He worked with the Ontario Basketball Association’s regional development program in London and eventually, in his fifth year (‘95-96) with the Mustangs, became an assistant to Boydell.
“I think I realized early, although I thought I was a pretty good high school and university player, I always felt that my career was not going to be playing professionally somewhere. And I just had a passion for coaching.”
Campbell served as a Mustang assistant for eight years and in that interval, did a stint as an assistant to Smart for a provincial juvenile squad that won a national title.
When Boydell retired, Western looked no further than Campbell for a replacement. Now in his third year at the helm, he’s already captured two OUA West postseason crowns and twice made the CIS tournament, losing last year to eventual champ Brock.
That kind of early success doesn’t surprise Smart.
“Brad’s got a pretty strong personality and he’s got of his own ideas,” says Smart, who talks daily to Campbell. “He’s not afraid to try things and succeed or fail but he’s not so stubborn to fail to not make adjustments. He’s willing to change his thinking on things.”
Campbell is married to former All-Canadian Angela Nobes and the pair have two children, Peyton, 7, and Quinci, 4, who are already being groomed to become Mustangs. He calls the helm of Western his “dream job. If I had ever went somewhere else to coach, I would just want to back to Western.”
Is he as competitive and hot-headed as his former high school?
“I’d say that I’m pretty demanding and very defensive and detailed minded. Preparation is very big for us. We spend a lot of time on preparation and we demand a lot from our players, not only physically but also, time-wise. And we think if we put in the proper amount of time that we’re going to see good results.”


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