4 Notable Quotes: Nate Oats
UB will take on Arizona State on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The matchup will feature a pair of head coaches who are very familiar with each other. Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley hired UB’s Nate Oats as an assistant back in 2013. Hurley left for ASU in 2015 and Oats was promoted. Their paths will cross once again in Tulsa on Friday. Oat’s addressed that and more during his press conference on Thursday.
Q. Do you see any similarities
between your program and Arizona State and what
differences do you see between them?
NATE OATS: Similarities, we’re both kind of gritty,
tough, hard-nosed. Bobby obviously a Jersey City guy.
Kind of get his guards to get after. We have really
good defensive guards. Kid like Dort is who all
defensive team in the PAC-12 as a freshman. I think
we both — Remy Martin plays is a lot of flare, and he’s
kind of their heart and soul and got a toughness to him.
If you look at our guard play, I think we both have pretty
tough, gritty guards that like to get after it and play with
some freedom. We both give our guards a lot of
freedom. They have little bit deeper, more athletic front
line. We’re probably a little deeper in the backcourt.
But for the most part, both teams play man-to-man.
He’s probably a little bit more zone and probably due to
the fact that he’s got lot more depth in the front line,
wants to play them more, and Saint John’s, they have
more perimeter job. We play fast, they play fast. We’re
probably a tad faster. That may be due to more depth
in our backcourt.
There’s not — it’s not like one team is all zone or one
team is pulling it in every time. One team is shooting a
bunch of 3s. When I coached under him, we had pretty
similar philosophies and I didn’t change a whole lot
when he left. Personnel change but philosophies
haven’t changed a whole lot.
Q. What did you learn from
Bobby when you coached underneath him?
NATE OATS: My first Division 1 experience, I learned
the whole how it’s done Division 1. I also learned how
competitive he is. I’m pretty competitive. I think a lot of
people, especially coaches, think they’re competitive. I
don’t think anybody realizes how competitive the
Hurleys are and that’s Danny and Bobby both.
Bobby — I haven’t coached under Danny. I’m guessing
he’s similar. You know what I learned? I learned why
he was such a good player. Because when you look at
him, he’s not taller than me. He’s not — he was athletic
back in the day to a point, but you just know after
coaching with him, you knew why he was so good
because he just wasn’t going to take any losses.
It was not fun when we had losses around there but the
point was made that I don’t accept losing and we’re not
going to be a losing program. Got it turned around
quick. That’s why he got Arizona State turned around
quick. He refuses to accept anything that deals with
As far as basketball goes, you obviously talk a lot
different stuff. I learned some point guards — I wasn’t
really a point guard. He was the best point guard
arguably in college basketball history.
I learned a lot about how he thinks as a point guard
and Coach and I listened a lot as he coached the
guards. I became a much better coach for guards and
point guards in particular, what you’re looking at here
and all that stuff.
Q. What are a couple of things that you sell players
on in terms of trying to get them to come to
NATE OATS: The weather, number one (laughter). No,
we do say this: The temperature in the gym in Buffalo
is the same as the temperature in the gym in Miami
during the winter seasons. Right up-front, if you’re
worried about what the weather is outside during the
basketball season, probably recruiting the wrong kid.
Tell me right up front if you’re going to try to go to the
beach or actually go in the gym and get yourself better.
In the gym the temperature is all the same.
The things we sell the most obviously, we’ve been
winning. Kids want to be associated with winners. We
go to the tournament, fourth in the last five years. Kids
want to play in this tournament. Our style of play is
one kids want to play. Third fastest team in the country
right now. We play a style it’s open, lot more like the
NBA guys. We’re big on player development. Guys
are able to use what they work on in the gym. You
build a relationship. That’s the bottom line, build
relationships. Kids trust you, we’ll make them better.
Q. NCAA Tournament, it’s been a lot since April of
2015. What was it like for you the day you found
out were you getting hired to know you had to
succeed Bobby Hurley and put your stamp on this
program using what Bobby set as a foundation?
NATE OATS: We wanted to continue to build. I had a
great relationship with the players that stayed. They
said something to Danny White, they would like to see
me get the head job. We had to recruit. At the time
when I was a recruit, I saw Bobby Hurley because
Buffalo didn’t have any tradition. Now I had to sell
Buffalo basketball. I couldn’t sell myself. I had no
name in the business.
We build relationships, been to the tournament. I put
my head down and started grinding in like early —
Bobby was good. I stayed in touch with him and Danny
as well. Those guys helped me through the first few
months. Both them had just gone through it, not that
recently, and I was only two years removed from high
school. Danny went straight from high school to
Wagner. Bobby had just been through it himself. They
both talked me through a lot of that stuff. Danny White
the AD was great. He helped me with everything. It
was a stressful couple months, but it was a good
couple months, too.