Monday, November 30, 2015 - by B.B. Branton
A young basketball coach with lots of drive and knowledge but little money was in desperate need of a dependable car to get from home to work and back.
A good friend gave his reliable $100 car to the coach and went out and replaced it with another $100 car.
That same friend – also an up-and-coming coach – had also helped his brother a few years earlier by taking a second tour of duty in the military so his brother would not have to go to war.
That friend who doubled as a coach four decades ago is current UTC women’s basketball coach Jim Foster.
The young coach who received the $100 car is UConn women’s hoops coach Geno Auriemma.
The two coaches meet tonight in McKenzie Arena at 6:30 as Foster’s team (UTC, 5-2) takes on Auriemma’s team (No.1 UConn, 3-0) in one of the biggest regular season games in UTC hoops history.
Both hall of fame coaches with a 3-3 win-loss record between them with No.
7 tonight. Foster coached at St. Joseph’s, Vanderbilt and Ohio State before being hired at UTC three years ago.
12/28/87 St. Josephs 65 Connecticut 52 Dole Pineapple Classic, Richmond, Va.
03/21/91 Vanderbilt 75 Connecticut 47 NCAA, Nashville, Tenn.
12/29/92 Vanderbilt 67 Connecticut 37 Hilton Head Super Shootout, Hilton Head, S.C.
03/25/96 Connecticut 67 Vanderbilt 57 NCAA Tournament, Rosemont, Ill.
11/18/01 Connecticut 69 Vanderbilt 50 Preseason WNIT, Storrs, Conn.
12/19/10 Connecticut 81 Ohio State 50 Maggie Dixon Classic, New York, N.Y.
“Back in the day, we were both married, had at least one kid each, had little money and did whatever it took to survive and live day to day,” said Foster.
The friendship and mutual respect goes much deeper than the game invented by James Naismith.
“We have been friends for years starting when we played intramural basketball together in junior college and then he coached for me in high school and at St. Joseph’s (Pa.) and we have taken family vacations together for several years,” stated Foster who is seven years older.
Great Coaches – Mr. Goodwrench They Are Not:
Jim Foster tells a story many fathers can relate to …“When my son Christian was about three I decided to give him a tricycle for Christmas … so Geno and I go about putting the thing together and to say we met with little success is a huge understatement … basically a disaster … it never rolled smoothly, ever ... just wobbled … ironically today Christian rides bikes for a living and is a pro cyclist.”
Each coach was recently asked a few questions about the other and their comments.
What Makes Coach Foster a Winner?
I think JIm understands how to build a program. He was at Saint Joe’s and won there, he was at Vanderbilt and won there and he was at Ohio State and won there. With him going to Chattanooga and being successful is no surprise to anyone because he understands the game, he understands people and he has a pretty good way of putting people in position to be successful. I also think he has the right temperament to be a successful college coach.
What makes Coach Auriemma a winner?
Geno knows what he wants in a program and he does not deviate from his formula … there are several ways to deliver his message to his players and he hires good assistants who know how to communicate that message … Geno understands the big picture better than anyone I know.
Are shere similarities in your coaching styles and if so what are they?
Some similarities but not as many as people might think. There are probably more similarities now, since I have been in coaching for over 30 years, than there were when I first got started. I don’t know that our styles were that similar 30 years ago but I think, as time has passed, they have become more similar.
We are both detailed oriented, like the ball sahred and defense is so important
Describe each other as a person
Geno Auriemma –
Jim and Donna and their family have been friends of our family for 40 years now. So we have always found them to be easy going, not a lot of drama. We kind of enjoy a lot of the same things. We suffer though some Philadelphia pro sports team issues! We enjoy the Jersey Shore and spending time with our families so it’s been a lot of fun for me to get to know him over the years and I look forward to heading down to Chattanooga.
Jim Foster --
Geno is very funny with a great sense of humor ... a great person … his biggest attribute might just be his generosity … he is very generous.
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com