Monday, December 14, 2009

Coker Grad writes about Coach Schmotzer

The following story is by Howard Garland, who went to Coker and who is now the assistant city manager in Darlington. This story appeared in the NEWS AND PRESS of Darlington. Thought that since basketball season is upon us and the Coker basketball team is heading to Wingate today for the last game before taking the Christmas break this would be a good subject to post.

SCHMOTZER BEGINS 22RD SEASON WITH COKER COLLEGE

In his 22 years at Coker College Coach Dan Schmotzer has brought stability to the men’s basketball program. After a win over Erskine Monday November 23 Schmotzer’s Cobra’s are 4-1 and 1-0 in Conference Carolina’s play. The only loss was a tough 72-68 overtime loss against rival Francis Marion University on a neutral court. During his tenure Coach Schmotzer has won 328 games and loss 327 which includes three 20-win seasons (the only three in Coker’s history). Schmotzer, after a recent win over Morris College, reflected on his time at Coker College. “What a great ride we have had here. There have been a lot of games and plenty of players passing through here. The payback is the bond you develop with the players over the years. I am grateful to the people that gave me the opportunity to coach at this great school.” He said.

Schmotzer arrived in Hartsville fresh from being an assistant men’s basketball at Texas Christian University (Horned Frogs) for 10 years. In his early years at Coker College Schmotzer was known for his fiery coaching style that frequently got him in trouble with referees. “I still believe in the basics you need to have some player movement and ball movement and you want your players to take good shots. On defense I don’t believe in gambling.” Coach Schmotzer’s teams at Coker College have been known for their tough defensive play and specifically the match-up-zone defense. “We still use the match-up-zone but it depends on the team we play.” He said.

This season the Cobras have some talented inside players returning but the guards are young. “We lost our all conference player Josh Poston, guard Lukas Varga and guard Stevie Evans who probably hit three game-winning shots last season that put us over the five-hundred mark for the year. We have some guys at the guard position that have been hurt by the swine flu. It is too early to tell where we will finish in the conference, but I love these kids. They have great character and are great to be around. They respect each other and know the importance of a good education.” He said.

For the 2009/2010 season Coach Schmotzer has brought in an assistant coach with NBA (National Basketball Association) connections. “We have hired Dennis Nutt as an Assistant Coach and for fundraising for Coker College.” Schmotzer said. “I really feel like we have come full circle with Dennis. He played four years at TCU and now to see his face in locker room as an assistant coach it just gives me a good feeling. The only reason that happened is due to our President (Coker College) Dr. (Robert) Wyatt. He (Dr. Wyatt) is an Arkansas diehard and if you know the Nutt family (Dennis’ brother is former University of Arkansas football coach and current University of Mississippi football coach Houston Nutt) you understand. The last 2 ½ years he has been a scout with the Charlotte Bobcats and they downsized about six or seven weeks ago. Dennis was on campus visiting and I introduced him to our Dr. Wyatt and it somehow worked out.” Schmotzer said.

Coach Nutt has been brought in to help raise funding for a new basketball digs for Coker College. The Cobras and Lady Cobras play all their home games at Timberlake-Lawton Gymnasium (capacity around 650) which is commonly known as the “Snake Pit” and a new facility is a few years away. “We have plans on the table for a whole new complex and we feel it would be a real asset to Hartsville and Darlington County. Not only would we play our home games there but the facility could be used for high school tournaments and other activities.” Coach Schmotzer said.

Coach Schmotzer has two Darlington players currently on the Cobra squad in Ricardo Smith and David Short. Both (Ricardo and David) have been out sick and they should both figure into our rotation when healthy. I thought Ricardo did a good job in our game against Morris. Coach Ken Howle (Darlington High basketball Coach) does a great job in Darlington and he has always been a friend of mine.” He said.

The Cobras opened the season with an exhibition against NCAA Division 1 foe University of Pittsburgh a top ten opponent. “That was really special to play the Pitt Panthers. Their head coach (Jamie Dixon) played for me at TCU and he has done an outstanding job at Pittsburgh.” Schmotzer said. This year the NCAA Division 2 Cobras play another NCAA Division 1 team in the East Carolina Pirates. “I think you always have a chance going into any game. We appreciate East Carolina allowing us to play them and give us a nice guarantee to supplement our budget.” He said. Last season Coker College upset Coastal Carolina in Conway.

Coach Schmotzer has changed his coaching style some in over 20 years. “The game has changes so much in the last 20 years. There is no way I could coach with the same intensity that I did 20 years ago. If I did I would probably be dead. I probably have one of my top three players on this year’s team and that is Mason Ambler. He is an extension of our basketball staff and he makes my job easier everyday. He provides leadership on and off the court and he a two-time All Conference Carloina’s selection.” Coker College’s next game is Saturday night (December 5) At Greenville, North Carolina to take on East Carolina.

Coach Schmotzer is originally from Cleveland Ohio and his twin brother (Dave) is head baseball coach at Coker. Coach Schmotzer played college baseball at St. Edward’s University and earned NAIA All-America honors.

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