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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Lange hopes to create winning culture on Hawk Hill

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Billy Lange, newly appointed men’s basketball head coach, was introduced to the St. Joe’s community on April 4 and was received by fans in Michael J. Hagan ’85 Arena. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Billy Lange was officially named the 15th head coach in St. Joe’s men’s basketball program history on March 28.

Just five days before, Lange received a phone call from Jill Bodensteiner J.D., director of athletics, telling Lange that he would interview for the job three days later.

Lange spent the three days in between that phone call and his interview preparing.He constructed a 30-page plan focused on team culture, as well as player and team development. According to Bodensteiner, this detailed preparation separated Lange from other candidates.

“Within 10 minutes of being in the interview, I knew that [Lange] was our next head coach,” Bodensteiner said during the April 4 press conference following Lange’s introduction.

Lange saw this preparation as a way to fit his basketball philosophy to the culture at St. Joe’s.

“It revolved around me getting my thoughts to a concise manner and then applying it directly to how it would work here at St. Joe’s,” Lange said.

According to University President mark C. Reed, who was part of the interviewing process, Lange fits what St. Joe’s men’s basketball is “known for.”

“We are known for our passion and competitiveness on the court and admired for our development of student-athletes,” Reed said during Lange’s introduction.

Lange shakes hands with university president Mark Reed during Lange’s introduction

Lange believes that player development starts with team culture.

“All players are unique individual entities as human beings, no two players are the same, and as a collective, they can learn from each other,” he said.

Lange wants the men’s basketball team culture to revolve around two aspects in terms of how players act on and off the court: “telling each other the truth” and “offering each other respect.”

Lange focused on player development during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers, where he was an assistant coach since 2013. According to Lange, while players may be similar in their position or playing style, they are uniquely different in how they can move forward and progress.

“There are a certain set of skills that [players] have to have, foundational skills,” Lange said. “But then each player has a unique set of skills and gifts as well. [I need to] learn what each player can bring, and then develop those strengths until they are maxed out. You have to have a very flexible system of player development.”

According to Lange, that same flexibility is what allowed 76ers forward Joel Embiid to grow and diversify his game, a product of player development. During his time with the 76ers, Lange found creative ways to perfect Embiid’s form shooting, putting his leg on a chair, allowing him to efficiently practice a one foot jumper.

“It’s interesting to watch Joel [Embiid] do all these different things knowing that when he came to [the 76ers], he wasn’t necessarily thought of as a player that could do what he’s doing now,” Lange said.

Lange believes that he can apply a similar, yet flexible coaching style to the players on the current Hawk roster.

“Great teachers become students of their pupils,” Lange said. “We have to spend time being intimate with our guys in terms of watching and studying them on film.”

Lange said he wants to create a certain dynamic among his future assistant coaches, who he hopes to have hired by May 27 at the latest, where they will have an understanding of how specific Hawk players operate on the court.

“We won’t hire a coach here that isn’t excited to get on the floor and work with basketball players,” Lange said. “We want an entire staff that will be on the floor.”

In order to avoid completely revamping the roster, Lange said players like redshirt sophomore forward Charlie Brown, redshirt junior guard Lamarr Kimble and freshman guard Jared Bynum need to stay. 

Brown officially entered his name into the 2019 NBA Draft. Bynum entered his name into the transfer portal and according to Lange, Kimble has done the same.

Lange has been consistently speaking with Brown since arriving on campus. During their initial meeting on March 28, Lange told Brown that he has two options.

“Firstly, [Brown] potentially has a guarantee to be an NBA draft pick, but then he has to decide if he’s comfortable with the range,” Lange said. “[Secondly], [Brown] might not hear what he likes to hear, and then he makes a decision. Those decisions are, ‘Do I risk going undrafted, do I feel good about trying to find my way on a summer league team or roster?’”

Lange stands in Hagan Arena after his introductory press conference

If Brown goes undrafted or is uncomfortable with where he stands after the draft, Lange said he is welcome to return to Hawk Hill. If Brown hires an NCAA-certified agent, he does not lose eligibility and is permitted to return to St. Joe’s. Due to NCAA rules, Brown has until 5 p.m. on June 24, the Monday after the draft, to inform Bodensteiner of his decision.

“Brown can come back to St. Joe’s armed with everything people have told him that he needs to get better at, knowing that he’s playing for a coach that knows what it takes to get him there,” Lange said.

However, if Brown, Kimble and Bynum do decide to leave, Lange will be left with a large void to fill, one that he said will affect his vision for the immediate future. According to Lange, his “current focus” is building a team of players that want to represent St. Joe’s on the basketball court. 

“[St. Joe’s] is a relationship for life,” Lange said. “I want a roster that fits modern basketball, and I want a roster of people that are going to love St. Joe’s.”

In regard to a long-term future, Lange has a plan, according to Bodensteiner.

“[St. Joe’s men’s basketball] must and will evolve with the special university that it represents,” Bodensteiner said during Lange’s introduction. “Change starts with a vision to be even greater than we are today and having a plan to make that vision a reality. Billy Lange has a vision, and Billy Lange has a plan.”

For Lange, he wants a group of players that embody the St. Joe’s tradition, creating a culture where each member of the program can thrive.

A roster of players that respect and appreciate St. Joe’s, that compete for the story of St. Joe’s basketball with a real driven, individual passion to pursue their dream of becoming a professional basketball player,” Lange said. “I want to watch our staff grow, watch our coaches get better. I want managers to be invested, have opportunities, take empowerment for how we run on a daily basis.”

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