1987: M.S.S. Sports Coaching

Before he coached his Indian basketball players on any fundamentals, Scott Flemming had to teach the janitors how to mop the court correctly.

In a world where the national basketball team practices on a warped hardwood floor patched with duct tape and the sport lags way behind cricket, soccer and field hockey in popularity, Flemming is trying to help the team and sport experience success.

The Flemming-led Indian team did win the South Asian Basketball Championship by defeating Afghanistan in the finals and qualify for the prestigious FIBA Asia Championships held Aug. 1-11 in the Philippines. However, India lost all three games it played in the 2012 tournament and finished 14th out of 16 teams the year before. India has qualified for the Olympics only once—the boycott-depleted 1980 Games, where the national squad finished last.

Still, Flemming has high hopes for India’s players. Before coming to India in November, Flemming was the basketball coach and athletic director at Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio, a NAIA Division II school where he won 397 games, and an assistant for the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League. Flemming’s MVNU teams were consistently ranked in the top 25 NAIA poll and earned eight births in the national tournament.

“This has been a great opportunity for me to immerse myself in another culture and try to make a real difference in regards to growing basketball in India and impacting the lives of those who I work with,” Flemming, who earned his degree in Sports Coaching from the Academy in 1987, told the Alumni Network.

He leads a group of NCAA Division I-caliber players. NBA Commissioner David Stern believes India may have a potential first-round draft choice in the next five years, according to the May 6 story, “Wanted: 1.2 Billion Basketball Fans,” in Sports Illustrated about basketball in India and the many obstacles the sport faces there. Flemming was quoted in the story, too, saying his players have lots of talent but simply need more confidence.

In his interview with the Alumni Network, Flemming talks about basketball in India, motivating his players, changes in the game and his days at the Academy.

Alumni Network: What attracted you to taking over as the head coach of the Indian men’s national basketball team in November?

Scott Flemming: This has been a great opportunity for me to immerse myself in another culture and try to make a real difference in regards to growing basketball in India and impacting the lives of those who I work with. I once heard that we should all “do what we do best and go where it is needed most.” I am doing my best to fulfill that call here in India. I have been able to not only work with the senior national team but oversee the development of the youth national teams. It is also part of my assignment to train the coaches in India. Although we are always trying to win games, in the immediate future there is a long-range plan that I am focusing on.

AN: You told Sports Illustrated that the players simply lack confidence. How do you effectively motivate your Indian basketball players?

SF: I have learned that not all players are motivated in the same way. Periodically you need to motivate the team as a whole with inspirational messages, but I have found the most effective way to motivate is through individuals because everyone is so different. The best thing I can do is make sure my players know I have confidence in them. This in turn helps them to have confidence in themselves. I know this from my playing days. Probably the most effective way to do this is through one-on-one conversations away from the action. So much can be accomplished through this kind of personal dialogue.

AN: During your nearly 30-year career as a basketball coach, how has the game changed?

SF: One way the game has changed is through technology. There are now numerous high-tech methods to scout, evaluate and strategize. Although I have definitely tried to take advantage of some of these resources, they can be overwhelming and sometimes overdone. Obviously the game has become more global. Basketball is growing rapidly in many countries where it is still relatively new. You can even see this in our rules becoming more standardized. I think there may come a day when there will be one rule book across the world with some exceptions for younger age groups.

AN: What memories come to mind when you think about earning your Sports Coaching degree at the Academy?

SF: The people I met at the Academy certainly stand out when it comes to top memories. One of my best friends to this day, Paul Furey, I met at the Academy. I ended up hiring him when I was an athletic director and we worked side by side for 20 years. He is now the head soccer coach at Lee University. One particular memory that sticks out in my mind is helping to carry in and prop up the statue of the athlete, “The Pathfinder,” (by sculptor John Robinson) on the university grounds.