The Talon staff sat down with Kendre Talley, Oklahoma Christian University’s head men’s basketball coach, to discuss the transition from player to coach and the team’s goals for the season.
What was your reaction when you were offered the head coach position?
It was a little surreal. Once you get into coaching, it’s kind of like a last stop. It happened super fast for me, so it was a blessing to have the opportunity. As far as making the decision, it was a no-brainer.
Why did you want to coach at Oklahoma Christian?
I graduated from here and did my graduate assistant year here as well. Once you put so much time here, it becomes home for you. It was my dream job. That’s why I wanted to come back. I live 30 minutes from here, so it’s not far from my family. That’s why I really wanted to come back and be here, because that’s where my roots are.
What specific goals did you set for yourself and the team this year?
I just wanted them to be able to play in an environment where they can thrive. Of course, we have team goals like winning an amount of games and everything, but I think we have to take it day by day. Our main goal is to get better as the season progresses.
Is there any added pressure with being a coach at such a young age?
No, not really pressure. I don’t look at it that way. It’s a lot of curiosity. Everybody is thinking about my age and wondering how I’m going to do and how we’re going to do. All you can do is put 100% effort into whatever you’re doing, and the rest will work out the way it’s supposed to.
Are there any new players this year that fans should be excited about?
All of our guys are unique. Since we have a few games under our belt, Dedrian Parmer, transfer from USAO where I coached my first year, is here, and he’s been doing a good job for us. Hunter Staten will do better the more he gets comfortable. We have a lot of returners and a lot of guys who are exciting.
What are your long-term goals for the team?
I want to become a respectable program. It could happen this year, it could happen next year, it could happen the year after that. What I told them is we’ve got to get back to the point where people are respecting us. That’s what we want to do this year is make a statement that we can compete with any team in our conference.
What’s been the biggest difference between being an assistant and head coach?
A lot more behind the scenes and being able to have a final say. As an assistant, I made a lot of suggestions, and now I’m receiving suggestions. I have to be able to make the decision of what we’re going to do and what’s best for the team. That’s the biggest difference.
Do you miss anything about playing?
I love coaching. It’s different, for sure, especially not being too far removed. That’s where my biggest challenge is, understanding that I can’t get out there and do it for them. You’ve got to try to put them in a situation that they’ll be in in a game so they can make those decisions and capitalize off of them.
Is there anyone who has been a mentor to you as you’ve transitioned from player to coach?
Of course, Coach Hays. He coached for a long, long time. He was my coach. Having him on the sideline to give his wisdom and advice throughout the game and throughout practices has definitely been beneficial for me. He’s kind of been my mentor in the transition. And Gary [Jones]. He’s been here since I was an assistant. He was on staff before I got here. He’s been around a while, and off the court, he helps me out as well.