DMACC Men’s Basketball is coming off of one of their best seasons in program history that was unfortunately cut short due to COVID-19. Ending last year being 5th nationally among D2 schools with a record of 26-4, it’s safe to say anyone would be hard-pressed finding a better team across the country.
Lots of schools are facing new challenges due to the pandemic looming over everyone’s heads and immune systems. If they wanted to make it even more difficult, they could add a new head coach to the mix. Brett Putz is taking the challenge head-on and has already catapulted DMACC from 15th in the preseason rankings back to 5th where they ended last season, including a debut victory against the #1 team in the country.
Who is Coach Putz? What does he have planned? How does he intend to build on last year’s success? Who he is as a coach? After agreeing on an email-style interview the Bears new leader got back to me with his answers faster than some professors do (you know who you are).
Cyote: What do you plan on bringing to DMACC from your previous coaching experiences that you believe will improve this team?
Coach Putz: Last year’s team was so good I don’t think it’s necessarily about improving as much as maintaining the success that they had. The experiences that I have are what our players’ goals are, so I have come in and tried to help push them every day to meet the same expectations that they’ll have when they get to the four-year level. That’s competing every day, giving your best effort in everything that you do, and bringing toughness and accountability to everything that you do day in day out.
Cyote: What have been some of the challenges coming into a program during a pandemic? Has it made the transition more difficult than you anticipated?
Coach Putz: Just all the unknown and uncertainty that goes into a season like this. Stuff was always changing early in the fall because everything was new to everyone. This will be the longest basketball season I’ve ever coached because we could start working with guys in late August and our season will hopefully go until the middle of April. That’s an incredibly long time to push guys the way you want to as a coach, so we may have done some things differently looking back on it now, but at the time you have to think about the end goal, not short term.
Cyote: How does a practice usually go at DMACC? Is there more of a focus on conditioning or hammering home your system?
Coach Putz: We typically try to start with some shooting, ball control and fast break drills to get us moving. Then we’ll do some defensive breakdown work, then come together to work on our team defense. Then we transition into offensive execution and try to get some type of live action going up and down.
Cyote: Assistant coaches can have a major impact on the program, how will your assistants improve the team?
Coach Putz: They help our team out in so many ways. They are constantly with our players helping them academically, basketball wise and just life in general. There have been so many things with the pandemic that they have had extra duties thrown on their plates and have done a good job with them to help our team and players be successful.
Cyote: There is a ton of underrated talent in Iowa, do you have any recruiting goals to bring in local guys, or are you looking around the country just as much as you are in the state?
Coach Putz: We always want to start with recruiting the state of Iowa. I’m from here, grew up here, and played in the state, so I know there’s talent throughout the state. Now it’s our job to uncover it and help continue to develop that talent once they get on campus.
Cyote: Which players on the team do you feel are going to have big impacts on the season?
Coach Putz: With all the health and safety concerns this year, it’s truly going to take a true group effort for us to have the success that we want to have. There could be days or times where we have multiple players out due to covid issues, when that happens it’ll be up to the next man on the roster to step up and make the most of his opportunity. I know coaches say that every year, but I don’t think there has ever been a year where it’s more true this year.
Cyote: What are some long-term goals you have for this program?
Coach Putz: The first one is to help these young men on our team develop as people, students and basketball players. If we can make an impact on them in all three of those areas I’d say that is a success. Then we want to continue to consistently compete for championships. We have a great tradition here, but there’s a few things that haven’t happened here in a while that we’d like to achieve.
Cyote: Being a coach is more than just basketball, what do you plan on teaching your players outside of the game?
Coach Putz: Honestly this is one of the most important parts to me. It’s about helping them develop as people. Build good academic habits, help them continue to grow as people. Communication is the big one for me. I try to harp on communicating early and often with the guys a lot. That’s one of the biggest areas with young people I see them struggling with. Knowing how to communicate effectively.
Cyote: You’ve been around the block when it comes to the game of basketball, what are the biggest takeaways that you’ve gotten from being a part of the sport for so long?
Coach Putz: There’s a ton of different ways to win a basketball game. But there’s not many ways to lose basketball games. We try to really harp on what loses you basketball games and limit those things as much as possible. As well as adding in “winning” plays that go unnoticed.
Cyote: Lots of teams have a mantra, or a saying that defines the season like ISU’s “5 star culture”. If you were to give DMACC a saying that shows what this team is about, what would it be?
Coach Putz: DMACC is truly a “Brotherhood” if you’ve played here and been a part of the program you know that we take care of each other, regardless of when or who you played for when you were here.
Putz has already led DMACC to 3 wins in his first 4 games, all of which have come against ranked opponents. Putz has shown early on that he is making incredible progress with this team. With a long season ahead of them, keeping on their current track, DMACC will be on their way to another season of prosperity.
Focusing on team accomplishments more than individual accolades is something every good coach strives for. Putz coming from not only a coaching career but also a playing career understands this, and plans on injecting that type of energy into an already successful program. These things combined have the potential to lead a program to new heights.
Athletics is so much more than putting up the best stat line, winning the most games or being the GOAT in your respective sport. It’s the life lessons you gain from all aspects of the game. Wins and losses, triumphs and tribulations. That is the type of culture that Brett Putz is building here at DMACC.
Here’s to building a brotherhood and catching as many W’s as you can along the way.
Image courtesy of DMACC Athletics.