Veteran College of Saint Rose head basketball coach Brian Beaury is back on the bench, and hopes the year he spent away from the game recuperating from surgery has made him a better coach and mentor.
He was already a great one: The 55-year-old Beaury has coached the Golden Knights for 29 years, compiling a 583-204 career record. He’s been named Coach of the Year in various leagues five times, and was nominated for National Division II Coach of the Year in 1989.
A member of the New York Capital Region Hall of Fame, the New York State Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame and the Saint Rose Athletic Hall of Fame, Beaury stood fifth in wins among active NCAA Division II coaches entering this season. He’s led the Golden Knights to postseason play in 28 of his 29 seasons, won eight conference titles and has earned 24 NCAA Tournament bids.
Beaury, who has directed his own extremely successful summer youth basketball camp for nearly two decades, has led Saint Rose to three appearances in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight and one trip to the Final Four, in 1998.
He was also the college’s assistant athletic director or associate athletic director for 22 seasons. A former standout Saint Rose player and three-time captain, Beaury is still among the school’s Top-10 career leaders in assists and steals. He was the team’s MVP as a senior.
So far, his Golden Knights are off to a 5-2 start. Beaury talked to The Daily Gazette about the game — and life away from it.
Q: What took you away from the game you love last year. What did you do?
A: I had surgery and had a disc replaced in my neck. I’ve had three of them replaced. That was my second surgery in 10 years. The last time, I didn’t take any time off, and I came right back a few days later. I should have taken time off. This time I did it right. I did miss it, though. I was lucky enough to get to practice throughout the preseason and then got away before first game. I watched all games on the web.
I talked to [assistant coach] Mike Perno and the captains every day. I stayed plugged in. It wasn’t the same, though. Certainly, I was frustrated at times. In many ways I was frustrated for Mike Perno, who I thought did a very good job coaching. He changed diapers because there were 10 freshmen on last year’s team. I’m getting the benefit of their experience this year.
Q: What does it feel like to be back on the bench?
A: It’s taken me time to get into the flow of things. Remembering timeouts and managing halftime and pregame routines has been difficult. Coaching basketball, doing it so long, I just do what I do.
Interactions during the game, the postgame stuff, is where I want to choose my words wisely. I don’t want to overanalyze stuff. The time off from the game gave me a chance to push the restart button. I came back with a fresher, positive outlook. Sometimes, you get mired in a way, and want the guys to achieve at a certain level. I got frustrated by it. Having been away gave me a chance to look from afar and correct some of my flaws.
Q: Do you have a specific coaching style or do you prefer to match your style to your talent?
A: You’ve got to coach your guys. Coaches do have systems that work really well. I’m a coach that looks for a way to win each game. Putting our guys in the best possible scenario for them to be successful is what I try to do. We modify and change throughout the course of the year as our team changes.
I think any leader has to adapt to the circumstances and to the situations. All year long the circumstances and situations change. We’ve got Tyler Sayre back after sitting out all year after being hit by a car. I’m trying to manage his minutes. It would be easy for me to leave him in there because he’s my best player, but I can’t. It’s more of a process. I compare a basketball season to a marathon. It can’t be a sprint.
Sometimes, I try to sprint during a marathon. That’s not good. I look at things from a number of perspectives. I’ve never been a guy who is married to one style. I admire coaches who have great styles, but I look at coaching as stealing. If they ask me what I do best, it’s copy what other people do well.
Q: What are your most memorable moments in your illustrious career?
A: Probably coaching the first group of guys that came in with me as freshmen. Kids named Jeff Fryer, Mike Gutierrez, Mark Mondoux, Tony Fern and Chris Deubel. They were with me first day of practice. I watched them grow up. They put up with a young coach that didn’t know very much. I’m fortunate enough to call those men friends. It’s the 25th anniversary of [former Stillwater standout] Mark Mondoux’s passing. I’ve had the good fortune of coaching a lot of great players and students. I’m hoping the best for all of them.”