Coach Jermaine has appeared on different shows on TV and has been featured in Quinito Henson’s column in the Philippine Star, so there’s some information already available about our first foreign coach.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Coach Jermaine Byrd after the Green Archers’ practice game with TIP last weekend. We won that game by a fairly good margin, 89-73. It was a good tune up for the team, part of the continuing process of improvement that Coach Jermaine has put in place.
After the game, Coach Jermaine called the team to a huddle, where he went over the various learnings from the game. After around 15 minutes, he called a couple of players over to give them a few pointers to help them improve.
If one were to observe Coach Jermaine from a distance, you will see the quiet intensity in the man. He doesn’t yell or scream at his players, but he does get the message across. And when he speaks, his players listen.
When he was done, he very graciously granted the request for an interview, and rather than repeat what’s already been asked in other interviews, I decided to try a different tack. Coach Jermaine proved to be very warm and personable, and was very articulate about his vision for the team he’s been tasked to lead.
Who is Jermaine Byrd the Coach?
As a coach, I’m very intense, detailed, holds players accountable, wants to develop players, help them get better every day, and I want to have the best team. So that’s me as a coach.
And Jermaine Byrd the Person?
As a person, I’m kinda different, kinda laid back, love music, love to be around kids, love to be around the gym still, but I’m kinda more relaxed as a person. Once I step into the gym, all that stuff kinda changes.
What’s your persona with the kids?
My mom is a teacher, so I’ve been around kids my whole life. She also worked at a recreational center, so I’ve been raised in a gym my whole life. So I just love being around kids. Kids are gonna be honest with you, kids are gonna tell how they feel with no kind of filter. So I love being around kids, and I love helping them.
How about your players? They’re like your kids
This is a new situation for me. I’ve coached a lot of professionals, but with this team, they’re 19, 20, 21, 22, they are kids. I can see that some of them look at me as a father figure, so sometimes I do have to watch my tone and what I say but I wouldn’t change anything. I love molding young men.
What’s your approach to the technical aspect of the game as a skills coach?
That’s one of the things that I want to clear that up. I’m more than a skills coach. When I was in the NBA D-League, you had to do multiple things. So I was a skills coach, I was a video coordinator, I was an assistant coach. I’m just really good at helping young players get better. So I just kinda took the title of skills coach. But I’ve been an assistant coach for 14 years. I’m just good at helping players get better.
What style of play do you want the Green Archers to have?
This year I want to play fast, but it all starts with defense. I want us to play solid defense, I want to get out in transition, I want to score a lot of points, I want to play team basketball. This team that we have this year is not built on one person, it’s built on a team concept. We have a lot of different pieces, we halve a lot of talent on this team.
How do you address the soft side of the game, for example, the mental aspect and developing chemistry/ You have a lot of new players so this is probably a challenge.
I need to get them to understand that you don’t just walk into the gym, and just kind of click it on. But our chemistry has been getting better with each game, each practice. We have a great group of guys who all like each other. It’s going to take us a little bit of time but I’m confident that we’ll be a good team when it’s all said and done.
Do you have a final lineup?
I do, actually, but I don’t think the school wants me to share it yet. I think they want to be the ones to announce it. I turned in the lineup yesterday, and now we’re just preparing for blue school.
We’ve had quite a number of coaches since 2010, 5. How long do you want to stay?
I want to stay as long as the school and the community will have me. I mean this is a great job. Ever since I’ve been here, the people, the community, the school, Boss ECJ they have welcomed me with open arms so I want to be here as long as I’m accepted here to be honest.
Aljun Melecio once mentioned the word “culture” and you in the same sentence in one of the interviews on tv. Can you elaborate on that?
When I got here, they had gone through a lot of different coaches in the past 8, 9 years. The first thing that I wanted to do when Danny Siegel hired me was to change the culture. To get these guys to understand that it’s about “we”, not about “me”, playing for the name on the front of the jersey and not the back. Just building a good culture, building good habits, helping these players get better, because all players want to get better, all players want to be coached, so just being myself with them and allowing them to understand that when they come into the gym, it’s an opportunity for them to get better. But I want them all to want to come to the gym, I don’t want them to feel like I’m pulling them into the gym.