When Mike Klinzing hatched the idea, he wasn’t 100% sure that Dwayne Killings would go for it.
“But I felt fairly confident that he’d at least be interested in entertaining a conversation about it,” Klinzing said Tuesday during a phone interview with The Daily Gazette.
Killings, the new UAlbany men’s basketball head coach, was interested in that conversation — and, now, it’s set to be an ongoing one for the next year, and available to hear as a regular feature of the “Hoop Heads Podcast” that Klinzing hosts along with Jason Sunkle. Killings appeared on the podcast’s latest episode Monday, and that 57-minute episode served as the launch of a series within the podcast that will chronicle a year in the life of a first-year Division I men’s basketball head coach. The plan, Klinzing said, is to record approximately three podcasts per month during the next year featuring Killings, and those within and around the 40-year-old coach’s UAlbany program, to give listeners an in-depth look at the coach’s first year with the Great Danes.
Killings first appeared on Klinzing’s podcast, which produces several episodes each week, last year. The two men stayed in touch since that initial podcast interview, and Killings said Tuesday he was intrigued to take on the project.
“I think as I’m trying to build this program and trying to bring myself into the Capital Region community, but also the college basketball community as a head coach, I want to be really transparent and I thought it would be cool to take people on that journey,” Killings said. “There’s a deep desire to understand what happens behind closed doors — why did you make the decision you did, why did you hire the person you did, why are you building the program that way?
“And instead of people making assumptions,” Killings continued, “I want to give them answers.”
In the first episode of the Killings-based series, the coach and Klinzing discuss a range of topics. Among those subjects, Killings talks about the hiring process that brought him to UAlbany, what’s important to him as he constructs his coaching staff and roster for the 2021-22 season, and the new lifestyle he’s adapting to since being hired in mid-March. Killings also discusses pressure he feels as a “young, Black head coach” to succeed in his first head-coaching job because he wants to do his part “to make sure the next group of guys get their opportunity” to run their own programs.
“It motivates me because I’ve got to make sure this goes right, for everyone involved,” Killings said.
Klinzing is the founder and executive director of Head Start Basketball, which operates camps and training sessions. From Cleveland, the 51-year-old Klinzing — who played college basketball at Kent State — works as a physical education instructor at Richmond Heights Elementary in Ohio. Klinzing’s podcast started in the spring of 2018 and has produced more than 450 episodes.
Klinzing said the show has some recurring guests, but the planned year-long commitment with Killings is the first such series for the podcast.
“So I think it’ll be a great tool for people to listen to, to see what someone’s thoughts are as they’re going through and experiencing [a season], in the moment,” said Klinzing, whose show is available through a variety of podcast providers, as well as at headstartbasketball.com/podcast.
Klinzing’s show is largely geared toward helping people in the coaching community hear from their peers. He said that goal is one he knew would appeal to Killings.
“He’s just a guy that cares more than just about himself, his life, his program,” Klinzing said. “I got the feeling that he’d see the value [in doing the show] for himself, but also the greater value for the coaching community and our audience.”
Killings said his interest, too, is in helping those that follow the UAlbany program to gain a greater understanding of the program.
“For this to work how I want it to work [at UAlbany], I want everyone to have a piece of it, see into it and believe in what we’re doing,” Killings said.